Book Review: The Merciful Crow

Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, murder, mercy killings, animal abuse, discussion of discrimination/caste system.


513-1+H1+fLOfficial Blurb:

One way or another, we always feed the crows.

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

My Take: 5/5 Stars

I will follow until I must lead. I will shield until I must strike. I will fight until I must heal.

~ Margaret Owen

Margaret Owen’s debut THE MERCIFUL CROW lived up to expectations. I knew almost from page one that I would love this book. It had me right from the beginning with its unique world, interesting social structures, and new magic system. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a well-developed magic system. In my opinion, when it comes to designing magic, “keep it simple, stupid” is the way to go, and Margaret Owen kept it simple, yet found intricate ways to draw on that simplicity. It was a lovely design.

The found family in this book is also a breath of fresh air. I love that found family stories are becoming so popular, because they ring true and honest to me. This one was no exception. The main character was found, then she in turn found others, despite their differences, which was a beautiful message I want to hear more often.

I also weirdly appreciated the fact that the love interest wasn’t who I expected it to be from jump, which was great. In that aspect, The Merciful Crow was reminiscent of Spin the Dawn, another book with a love interest that wasn’t who I initially expected. Points for that! I read so much YA fantasy that when you can take me by surprise with something, you’ve done a great job!

All in all, I agree with the recommendation that this is a book for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake, and I am definitely looking forward to the next installment!

Question of the Day: What is one of your favorite magic systems?

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❤ Always,

Aimee

 

Book Review: Sky in the Deep

Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, graphic scenes of torture, animal sacrifice/death, sexual assault, discussion of sexual assault/rape.


41s62HDbBcL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Official Blurb:

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield―her brother, fighting with the enemy―the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

My Take: 5/5 Stars

“We find things, just as we lose things.” ~ Adrienne Young

SKY IN THE DEEP, for all its violence, is a bit of a quiet read. It moves quickly with its short chapters, but digs deep into the main character’s emotions. It deals with subjects that are heavy but poignant: family; loss; and most especially, the idea of othering. Who is really other, the book seems to ask.

At the core of the novel is an enemies to lovers romance trope, one of my favorites, but it goes beyond that, too. The story is about sacrifice and learning to realize how we define “enemy” and how flimsy that concept can be sometimes. It is a quiet reflection on the bias we hold because we were raised to hold it, a tough yet important subject set in a high fantasy world inspired by Viking lore, where it is perhaps easier to examine.

Sky in the Deep isn’t necessarily a book I would traditionally give five stars, because quiet books tend not to be my personal favorite, but this one was buoyed by a character who struck me deeply for one simple fact. She was not afraid to cry. Eelyn is a warrior, trained to kill her enemy without mercy since she was a toddler. Yet she cries on page–well, a lot–for lack of a more delicate way to say it. At first, I found it irritating, then I realized that by allowing her character this sensitivity, this vulnerability, Adrienne Young was doing something quite spectacular — she was giving us more than a warrior. She was giving us femininity in many of its possible forms, which is something I often find lacking in high-powered fantasy featuring lady warriors. Women warriors in literature tend to mirror their male counterparts by refusing to shed a tear. When they do cry, they are frequently critiqued by readers for doing so (NOT that I think that’s how men should be instructed to act, either), and I’ve often questioned this tendency. Are we being good feminists by making our females mirrors of men? Or are we being reactionary by saying, “I can do anything you can do.” Which is true, women can, but in my opinion, they should also do it in their own way. They should be strong in a way that is true to them. And Eeyln, remarkably, was.

So for this quiet book with a lot to say, I raise my glass and say well done. I cannot wait to read the next.

Question of the day: What’s the last quiet book you read and loved?

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❤ Aimee

Book Review: Spin the Dawn

Trigger/Content Warnings: War, PTSD, disabilities caused by war, fire, general mild violence.


51s0ENhtkLL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Official Blurb: Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

My Take: 5/5 Stars

“Don’t become the kite that never flies.” ~ Elizabeth Lim

This review is long overdue because SPIN THE DAWN, Elizabeth Lim’s stunning debut, was my favorite read for the month of August. I was originally attracted to Spin the Dawn because of its beautiful cover but also the fact that it was blurbed by Tamora Pierce. Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite authors of all time and she does not blurb many books, so my curiosity was piqued seeing her praise of this one. So, even though I wasn’t 100% sure on the blurb (due to the fact that I’m not so into fashion), I grabbed a copy on sale at Barnes & Noble.

Guys, this book is not really about fashion. I mean, it IS. The main character’s main goal is to become the royal tailor. Problem is, she’s a girl, and only a man can occupy that position. But there is SO much more going on in this book than a Project Runway styled competition. This book is SO much more than a Mulan retelling (although it is that and it’s such an interesting take). When I was about one third of the way through, I understood why Tamora Pierce had blurbed it: the book is paced like one of hers. And if you don’t know what I mean by that, I mean it is FAST. Elizabeth Lim has a way with handling time. She manages to put a lot of information and time and action and adventure into not a lot of pages. It’s definitely what I admired most about this book.

My second favorite aspect of Spin the Dawn was the heart-pumping, butterfly-inducing, swoon-worthy romance. If you’ve been around here long enough you know I am a SUCKER for a good romance, and this one was excellent. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t go into details, but trust me, it was good.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah J. Maas, or anyone who loves Project Runway, or anyone who enjoys a great, high-paced fantasy with lots of romance, orrrrr anyone at all, really. Seriously, it’s good, go get it!

Question of the day: Who is an author you admire for his/her/their skills when it comes to pacing?

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❤ Aimee

Book Review: Nevernight

Trigger/Content Warnings: Extreme violence, gore, death. Violence toward children, child death, animal abuse and death, extreme brutality, sexual content, and prostitution. Emotional manipulation, use of sex as a weapon, torture, and slavery.


51PXn+wAl2LOfficial Blurb: In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic — the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.

My Take: 5/5 Stars

“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us.” ~ Jay Kristoff

Mia Corvere, the main character of Jay Kristoff’s NEVERNIGHT, is the anti-heroine any writer worth his/her/their salt salivates over. Mia is feisty, strong, powerful, and murderous, yet she never loses her humanity (or her charm). Her motivation is clear, as are her goals. She is focused, but not mechanical. She makes mistakes and wrong choices. But we never stop rooting for her.

From almost the first page—actually—from the first page, I was hooked. Kristoff is a master of his craft. His writing is descriptive but not wordy, blunt but not boring, and darkly humorous. It sucks you in and spits you back out begging for more. More Mia, more Mr. Kindly, more violence and brutality and blood.

Nevernight was so good that as soon as I closed my Audible app on book one, I immediately began book two, Godsgrave. Yes, I did listen to it, and yes, I did love the narrator, though I have heard mixed reviews on him with this book. Personally, I thought Holter Graham gave the story a bit more magic and mystery. I felt like I was listening to a grand narrator of a play. He made it sound like theater, and for this particular story, I thought it was more than appropriate.

I will make a special note for this book, however, as I’ve seen this come up on multiple occasions. Nevernight is NOT young adult. It is an adult book with a protagonist who is a young adult. These are not the same thing. This book is incredibly violent, has explicit sex scenes, and is full of cursing and dark jokes. If these are not your cup of tea, I promise you, you will not like this book. Be warned.

As for me, September 3rd and the release of the final book of the trilogy, Darkdawn, cannot come soon enough!

Question of the day: What’s your most anticipated fall release?

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❤ Aimee

Book Review: Furyborn

Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, parental neglect, emotional abuse (parental), sexual assault.


51cl1gq0zuL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Official Blurb:  When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable―until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world―and of each other.

My Take: 5/5 Stars

Some say the Queen was frightened in her last moments. But I like to think that she was angry.

~ Claire Legrand

Those who know me know that I am a sucker for elemental magic. My own books are about elemental magic. The very first manuscript I ever wrote, at the tender age of twelve, featured a mage who could wield all six elements within my magic system, so when I read the blurb of FURYBORN, I was all in.

Furyborn turned out to have so much more intricacy than simply its magic system, though. The storytelling was impressive. The book is written from two points of view, two women with powers who live a thousand years apart. Yet, as their stories weave in and out of one another and start to come together, the reader has no choice but to find herself in awe of the net she’s been pulled into. It’s a book that unravels itself, and leaves the reader thinking about it long after the pages are done. One of those books that almost demands a reread now that you understand it in its entirety. It’s spectacularly well done.

In addition to the magical way the story unwinds itself, the characters are unique and dynamic. Their development through book one is smooth and well-integrated. Even knowing what the reader knows about the characters at the outset, she can’t help but be sucked into the dramas of their lives (and trust me, their lives ARE dramatic). Legrand pulls the reader along, wending through the twists and turns of the character arc of each of her point of view characters as they crisscross one another like comets shooting in opposing directions. As a reader, you want to know more about these characters. You want to follow them, so as a writer, Legrand definitely knocked this one out of the park.

Furyborn is dark, though, definitely at the upper spectrum of young adult into the new adult territory. But if you’re into elemental magic and inspired plotting, this book is for you.

If you could have only one elemental power, what would it be?

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❤ Always,

Aimee

Book Review: Monday’s Not Coming

Trigger/Content Warnings: Domestic violence, child abuse, child neglect, homophobia, bullying, missing persons.


41xccpePQhL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Official Blurb: 

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried.

When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

My Take: 5/5 Stars

Rumors are born with legs that can run a mile in less than a minute. Rumors eat up dreams without condiments. Rumors do not have expiration dates. Rumors can be deadly. Rumors can get you killed

~ Tiffany D. Jackson

Tiffany Jackson’s MONDAY’S NOT COMING is outside my usual reading lane. I bought it on sale on Audible because it was recommended by Audible and because the blurb sounded interesting. It is proof that I should read outside my usual reading lane more often. It blew my mind and broke my heart.

Monday’s Not Coming is the type of book that lingers. It sticks with you, hovering there in the back of your mind. It is a cool chill against the skin. It’s the type of book that makes you wonder. What does it mean? What is it trying to say? It’s the type of book that you have to unpack and unravel slowly, over time. It’s a book made for discussion and debate. It’s a book full of characters you will want to hold close and protect. Mainly because you can’t.

This book is so full of love it hurts to turn the pages. Love and grief and twists. You know, in your heart of hearts, where it’s going. You know and yet… you wish you didn’t. You hope you don’t. You cling onto the fragile prayers of the main character as if they are your own. The only you want is to be wrong. It is beautiful and compelling and haunting in so many ways.

It’s really hard to talk about Monday’s Not Coming without spoiling anything because once I find myself talking about it I don’t want to stop. I want to pour out all my feelings and I can’t do that without explaining away so much of what gives this book its power. So I won’t. I will just say that you should read it. Then tell all your friends to read it, too, because you’re going to want someone to discuss it with.

What about you? Do you like a good discussion book? If so, who do you discuss books with?

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❤ Always,

Aimee

 

Book Review: Finale

Official Blurb: 91xyJ8LjggLWelcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final audiobook in Stephanie Garber’s number one New York Times best-selling Caraval series!

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end….

My Take: 5/5 Stars

Occasionally, there are minutes that get extra seconds. Moments so precious the universe stretches to make additional room for them.

~Stephanie Garber

FINALE was my second most anticipated read of the year (right after KING OF SCARS) and it did not disappoint even a little bit. By page 55 my heart was thumping, and I was in a frenzy. I squealed in glee, I gnashed my teeth in anticipation, I growled in frustration. I would put the book down so I could savor it only to start twitching, desperate to pick it back up. I read it, naturally, in one sitting. I was frustrated with myself for being unable to read faster yet irritated with my need-to-know nature because I knew I would be devastated by the time the book was over and my hands were empty.

Predictable. I am so, so very predictable. Because I did read it too fast, and I was upset when I had no more book. I felt like that inquisitive yet sad character in one’s mind who picks up the book and shakes its pages a little, hoping more story will fall out. Sadly, this was the end of the legend of Legend and Donatella and Scarlett. But I look back and realize that I loved every single moment of following them, which is surprising considering (in my humble opinion) it is hard to pull off a good close. This was a good close. Yet it left enough open that I thought about it and thought about it and considered reopening my fanfiction.net account for some good old fashioned wish fulfillment. Because, I don’t do spoilers here, but there was one someone I wanted to see more of. (As an aside, when you want to write fanfiction about a book, the author has done it right).

The world of Caraval has been magical, but the thing that pulled me back every time were the characters. Especially Tella. Fierce, stubborn, brilliant Tella. When I read Caraval, I loved Scarlett so much I could barely contain myself. I loved her because she was something you don’t see often in YA fantasy: she was soft and cautious and agency came slowly to her. Tella, in a nutshell, is a girl like me. So when I opened up Legendary, I was nervous at first to see it was from Tella’s point of view. But then I realized Tella was amazing in a different way. Tella was the girl I want to be. And seeing them both evolve and shift and grow and change has been a complete joy. Stephanie Garber is the kind of writer I aspire to me. The kind of writer who is unapologetic and honest. Whose characters draw you back time and time again.

I have no idea what is in store next for Stephanie, but whatever it is, you can be sure I’ll be lining up to get my hands on it.

This week’s question: What’s your favorite (finished) series?

To Enter Caraval Read These First: 

Caraval Buy Links:

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To Finish the Legend of Legend Read These:

Finale Buy Links:

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❤ Aimee

 

Book Review: Shortest Way Home

9781631494369_p0_v5_s550x406Official Blurb: Once described by the Washington Post as “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of,” Pete Buttigieg, the thirty-seven-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has now emerged as one of the nation’s most visionary politicians. With soaring prose that celebrates a resurgent American Midwest, Shortest Way Home narrates the heroic transformation of a “dying city” (Newsweek) into nothing less than a shining model of urban reinvention.

Interweaving two narratives―that of a young man coming of age and a town regaining its economic vitality―Buttigieg recounts growing up in a Rust Belt city, amid decayed factory buildings and the steady soundtrack of rumbling freight trains passing through on their long journey to Chicagoland. Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s legacy, Buttigieg first left northern Indiana for red-bricked Harvard and then studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, before joining McKinsey, where he trained as a consultant―becoming, of all things, an expert in grocery pricing. Then, Buttigieg defied the expectations that came with his pedigree, choosing to return home to Indiana and responding to the ultimate challenge of how to revive a once-great industrial city and help steer its future in the twenty-first century.

Elected at twenty-nine as the nation’s youngest mayor, Pete Buttigieg immediately recognized that “great cities, and even great nations, are built through attention to the everyday.” As Shortest Way Homerecalls, the challenges were daunting―whether confronting gun violence, renaming a street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., or attracting tech companies to a city that had appealed more to junk bond scavengers than serious investors. None of this is underscored more than Buttigieg’s audacious campaign to reclaim 1,000 houses, many of them abandoned, in 1,000 days and then, even as a sitting mayor, deploying to serve in Afghanistan as a Navy officer. Yet the most personal challenge still awaited Buttigieg, who came out in a South Bend Tribune editorial, just before being reelected with 78 percent of the vote, and then finding Chasten Glezman, a middle-school teacher, who would become his partner for life.

While Washington reels with scandal, Shortest Way Home, with its graceful, often humorous, language, challenges our perception of the typical American politician. In chronicling two once-unthinkable stories―that of an Afghanistan veteran who came out and found love and acceptance, all while in office, and that of a revitalized Rust Belt city no longer regarded as “flyover country”―Buttigieg provides a new vision for America’s shortest way home.

My Take: 5/5 Stars

“Good policy, like good literature, takes personal lived experience as its starting point. At its best, the practice of politics is about taking steps that support people in daily life—or tearing down obstacles that get in their way. Much of the confusion and complication of ideological battles might be washed away if we held our focus on the lives that will be made better, or worse, by political decisions, rather than on the theoretical elegance of the policies or the character of the politicians themselves.”

~ Pete Buttigieg

This book was actually hard to give a rating if I’m honest. It was excellent, but not in the way I usually expect excellence from a book. It wasn’t fast paced and action packed. It wasn’t moving or emotional. But it was smart, extremely smart, and it was thoughtful. It made me think… a lot. It made me lift my head and pause my audiobook and go, “Hm.” It made me slow my regular jaunt on the elliptical and stare out the window at my office gym in silent contemplation. And for that, I give it five stars.

I caveat my five star rating with that introduction, though, because even for memoir, this book was different. Memoir, in my experience at least, usually involves some kind of riveting subject matter: fanatical religions; conversion therapy; abusive parents; famous figures; hilarious anecdotes; and cooky adventures, things of that nature. SHORTEST WAY HOME features exactly none of that. Yet, it still held me. It held me in a way Michelle Obama’s book Becoming held me. It held me because it was smart and thoughtful and… normal. It held me because Mayor Pete has good, sound ideas, and because he is refreshingly honest. He is human in a way that is endearing, as anyone who has seen him do an interview probably already knows. His memoir is quiet and contemplative, yet not without passion. In fact, it has a surprising amount of passion for a surprising array of subjects. Interestingly enough, this book had me excitedly texting my father (an environmental engineer) about its extensive discussion of how South Bend, Indiana, used the minds at nearby Notre Dame to help develop a new sewer system which saved not only the environment, but also money. But it’s this fact––that the book makes the ordinary seem extraordinary––that made it deserve all the stars.

In addition to that, Mayor Pete himself is startlingly impressive, though I bet he is too humble to claim such an adjective. Yet, there is no other that fits him quite right. He is only 37 years old (six years older than me, but who’s counting?) and he’s already accomplished so much. He went to Harvard, then was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. He worked for a big consulting firm, worked on various campaigns (including for John Kerry and President Obama), then before he was even thirty, was elected mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He was also an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves, serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan (while he was mayor, people). Oh, and he wrote and published this book I’m talking about. P.s. he’s also running for President of the United States as the country’s first openly gay candidate. Like… what? This man, I’m telling you.

Anyway, like I said, you might not be glued to your seat, eyes wide as your fingers tremble to turn the next page, but Shortest Way Home is a must read for any policy nerd who loves America and wants to be challenged into rethinking some of our most deeply held beliefs. Oh, and I listened on Audible and Mayor Pete narrated it himself and for a first timer, he did a great job!

Today’s Question: Tell me about a book that was really good but for a different-than-usual reason!

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Hope you’re having a great week!!!

❤ Aimee

 

 

 

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, sexual assault, physical assault, murder, themes of racism/brutality against black bodies, emotional abuse, parental abuse, slavery.


A1agLFsWkOLOfficial Blurb:

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

My Take: 5/5 Stars

I teach you to be warriors in the garden so you will never be gardeners in the war.” ~ Tomi Adeyemi

I feel like I have to premise this post by telling you about how much I admire Tomi Adeyemi. Number one, she’s a Harvard grad which always impresses me (I’m a snob, I’ll admit it). Number two, she was only 24 years old when this book, her debut, came out and hit the NYT Bestsellers List at NUMBER ONE. It’s been on The List for 61 consecutive weeks. And she was even YOUNGER when she landed her record-setting, three-book deal. Also, I’ve listened to her on several podcasts and the like, and she’s brilliant and inspirational.

So why did it take me so long to get to this read if I admire her so much and KNEW this book would land on my Five Star list? Well, because I’m kind of a jerk about big books these days (I know, it’s ridiculous, I used to adore big books but as I get older I just… hesitate), and this book was a TOME on my front door. I had it pre-ordered (naturally) and was so excited when it arrived. Then I opened it and… it was bigger than I expected.

Anyway, I have been trying to break myself of this stupid, new fear over big books by getting them on audiobook, which I did for CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE, and I’m actually SUPER glad I listened to this one. It’s narrated by Bahni Turpin who is one of my favorite audiobook narrators in general, but this was the best performance of hers I’ve heard thus far. It was magical. Bahni SINGS in this book, and I seriously never wanted her to stop. I wanted her to sing me the entire book. I wanted someone to put her on a stage and make this into a single-player performance. It would be long, I admit, but maybe we could do like a fifteen-part series? Please? I know the book has sold movie rights, but can someone cast Bahni? It was such an amazing listen. Also, I just looked Bahni up to see who I’d cast her as, and she’s gorgeous and would TOTALLY be an amazing mom to Zélie, just saying. If anyone at Fox 2000 stumbles upon this gushing rant, you can take this idea.

Ahem… back to the book. Children of Blood and Bone was as magical as Bahni’s performance of it, naturally. It had me from page one. One of the hardest things about writing a book, somewhat weirdly, is finding the right place to start it. This book had about the best starting point of anything I’ve read in recent memory, which made my writing brain happy.

That wasn’t all, either. Stylistically, this book was smart. Because I don’t do spoilers here, I won’t get into anything too complicated, but I will say that there are creatures in Adeyemi’s book that are constructed in a way that had me going, “Wow, that’s really brilliant what she did there.” The way she constructed her world, and her characters, had me really thinking about how much work she put into the writing of this novel.

Yet with all its smart style and flashy world building, what resonates probably the most with the reader is characterization. Adeyemi’s characters stick with you. They’re delightfully messy, fully rounded, and totally relatable. Even the villain. This book is written in three points of view and each one brings you a different worldview, all as understandable and complicated as the next. Through the different lenses she uses, Adeyemi brilliant fleshes out the complications of her world, and ours. Again, smart.

Needless to say, I adored this book. But forewarning, it did end on an aching cliffhanger. Good news though, the next book Virtue and Vengeance, is slated to release in December of this year. And yes, I have it preordered already!

Tuesday’s Question: Who is your favorite audiobook narrator?

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❤ Aimee

 

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, rape/sexual assault, physical assault, domestic violence, slavery.


27774758Official Blurb: Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My Take: 5/5 Stars

There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.

~ Sabaa Tahir

I am late to this party, I know. AN EMBER IN THE ASHES has been on my TBR for so long that the book I own still has the above cover. It was bringing me actual shame to pass by it on my shelf, but I was also daunted because my days have been busy lately and it seemed so… large. But I finally decided to tackle it and WOW.

In some previous blog posts, I talked about a few of my automatic five star rules. I said if a book makes me cry it gets an automatic five-star review. I also said if a book makes me want to create it gets an automatic five-star review. Now, I introduce you to rule number three: the book that makes me stay up past my bedtime to binge read. Because despite the fact that An Ember in the Ashes initially daunted me with its size, I read it in one sitting, staying up well past my bedtime to finish it.

Dynamic. That’s the word that kept running through my mind as I raced through this book. It’s dynamic. This book moves. I could barely wait to get to the end of each page, desperate to turn another, to follow these characters, to know more about them. When we talk about a character-driven story, we should certainly talk about An Ember in the Ashes. The two main characters of this book push it forward in a fast-paced whirl of a song. And I loved every single second of it.

What seemed daunting at first didn’t turn out to be in the least. It was a quick read, if only because I became lost in it. It took me to a place where time no longer mattered. A brilliant story crafted by a brilliant writer. My only regret is that it took me so long to jump on this train!

Tell me about a hyped book that lived up to its hype!

Buy Links:

Amazon

Audible

iTunes

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❤ Aimee