Book Review: The Book of Crows by Sam Meekings

 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the review, first I want to talk about the unique way I read this book. I read The Book of Crows on The Pigeonhole. They are a website where you buy a book and read it collectively with other people. You say isn’t that a book club and can’t we do that right now? What guarantees me someone won’t read ahead? Well… the thing about The Pigeonhole is that they release staves approximately each night, so everyone is at the same spot in the book as everyone else. This gives you the opportunity to read the book and discuss it in real time. I thought it was pretty neat and if it weren’t for this format, I most likely would have never read a book like The Book of Crows. 

Summary:

A young girl is kidnapped and taken through the desert to an isolated mountain brothel. Two thousand years later, after a suspicious landslide near Lanzhou, a low-level bureaucrat searches for a missing colleague. A thirteenth-century Franciscan monk, traversing the Silk Road, begins his extraordinary deathbed confession, while five hundred years earlier, a grieving Chinese poet is summoned to the Emperor’s palace.

In a series of delicately interlaced stories, Sam Meekings’ richly poetic and gripping second novel follows the journeys of characters whose lives, separated by millennia, are all in some way touched by the mysterious Book of Crows, a mythical book in which the entire history of the world – past, present and future – is written down.

Review:

Holy Crap. That ending. I didn’t see it coming at all. But… Alright, let’s rewind…

At the beginning of the story we learn about a woman who is now in a whorehouse, and a man on a journey to find his friend. It starts off slow, but picks up quickly and you start piecing the story together. As you continue to read, more characters are brought to light and you start seeing how each character is connected to The Book of Crows. Many want to find it, while others want to destroy it. There is great mystery surrounding the book that has been revered and searched for centuries.

Each character’s story you are introduced to throughout the book is in a different time era. I really enjoyed this because the reader is able to see how much intrigue and chaos the book has caused. It’s legacy has lived through many generations.

Overall, I really like the concept, how the story was set up, and how each key part of the story was revealed. I believe that reading it in staves how The Pigeonhole set it up made my reading experience better because you had to hold on and ponder on what you read, adding to the mystery of it all.

I feel like the average YA reader might not like The Book of Crows, but if you are a history lover and/or mystery in itself, you might enjoy it.

 

Rating:  4/5

Disclaimer: I’d like to thank The Pigeonhole for providing me with a copy of The Book of Crows. Receiving this book for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

ARC Book Review: The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley

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Goodreads Summary:

Baseball player Kyle Sawyer has many labels: bad boy, delinquent, ladies’ man, fearless outfielder… Only one of them is actually true. But then sweet ballet dancer Faith Gladwell asks him to help wreck her reputation, and everything goes sideways.

Faith knows a thing or two about love, and what she had with her cheating jerk of an ex wasn’t it. When he starts spreading rumors about her being an Ice Queen, Faith decides it’s time to let a little bad into her life.

Lucky for her, Kyle Sawyer—dark, dangerous, totally swoonworthy Kyle Sawyer—is landscaping her backyard over Spring Break. Shirtless. And if she can convince him to play along, “dating” Kyle will silence the rumors.

But Faith’s plan threatens to expose Sawyer’s biggest secret of all…and that’s a risk he’s not willing to take.

Review:

The Bad Boy Bargain exceeded my expectations. I was expecting for Kyle to be an actual bad boy, not a “fake” bad boy. To think he was the complete opposite of the persona he put off just so he could cruise through high school without having to be bullied or sought after for the wrong reasons is heart-breaking  and made him more adorable. Faith is a whole other story. She is Ms. goody two shoes who seems to be dating doochebags all the time. Especially this last one, Cameron, is a real piece of work. And the thing is that Cameron and Kyle have some unfinished business so when Cameron cheats on Faith and Faith breaks up with him, she decides to get revenge by going out with the notorious bad boy Kyle.

The Bay Boy Bargain is a story that deals with the pains of teenage life. It shows how one small action can change your school life. To us who are older it may seem silly that it’s so life or death per say in the teenager world, but we all know that in that point of our lives it feels like life or death.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Vero Signature copy

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I’d like to thank Entangled Publishing for providing me with an ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

ARC Review: Recoil by Joanne Macgregor

Recoil

Goodreads Summary:

When a skilled gamer gets recruited as a sniper in the war against a terrorist-produced pandemic, she discovers there’s more than one enemy and more than one war. The Game is real.

Three years after a series of terrorist attacks flooded the US with a lethal plague, society has changed radically.

Sixteen year-old Jinxy James spends her days trapped at home – immersed in virtual reality, worrying about the plague and longing for freedom. Then she wins a war simulation game and is recruited into a top-secret organisation where talented teenagers are trained to become agents in the war on terror. Eager to escape her mother’s over-protectiveness and to serve her country, Jinxy enlists and becomes an expert sniper of infected mutant rats.

She’s immediately drawn to Quinn O’Riley, a charming and subversive intelligence analyst who knows more about the new order of government and society than he is telling. Then a shocking revelation forces Jinxy to make an impossible decision, and she risks losing everything.

Recoil is the first book in a Young Adult dystopian romance trilogy, and makes great reading for lovers of Rick Yancey (The Fifth Wave), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), and Veronica Roth (Divergent).

My Review:

Recoil is the most recent work by Joanne Macgregor. It takes place in modern day United States, three years after a terrorist attack used biological chemicals to unleash a plague. The story is very realistic dystopian fiction. It’s full of elements that terrorist attacks cause- hyper-awareness of foreign residents, larger defense industry, mass media reporting on threats, politician comments about terrorists.

Jinxy starts out naive, playing a game that eventually leads to recruitment with the military. She takes the words of the media, politicians, and her unit commander Sarge for face value- believes they have the people’s best interests at heart. At 16, it makes sense that she would trust those older than her. It isn’t until Jinxy meets Quinn that she starts to question her missions, especially when he finds out she is a sniper. Jinxy understands why she needs to shoot the infected rats, but when she is required to shoot other animals, and eventually is given more classified missions, she has a difficult time, trying to reconcile herself and her values with the values of her unit and the military. Macgregor does an excellent job of showing Jinxy’s progression from being naive to doubting herself and her missions to taking matters into her own hands, making her own educated decisions.

Quinn is a fascinating character. He is also super hot with an Irish accent (swoon). He does what is required of him, but also has his own secrets that are kept from Jinxy. He helps Jinxy open her eyes and understand that her missions are not what she is being told. There is a strong attraction between them, but her missions separate them- pit on against the other. I will say I had a difficult time with the start  of their relationship. It just sort of happens and I couldn’t figure out what drew them to each other. But by the end Macgregor had me rooting for their relationship. And the way the book ends, I just need to know what happens next.

There is a quote in the book- “We’ve repatriated hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of foreign residents, refugees, and workers. We’ve insulated ourselves, sealed our boarders against immigrants and imports and competition… And as a nation we’ve channeled billions into a defense industry that was sitting idle after the last wars fizzled out.” It is scary how closely it describes our current country. We have a presidential candidate who wants to build a wall on the US/Mexican boarder to keep illegal immigrants out; we have alienated anyone who looks middle eastern and have grouped all those who practice Islam into the terrorist stereo type. This novel is so realistic I can see something like this possibly happening.

If you enjoy dystopian settings, this is a great start to a fascinating realistic series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for providing me with an ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

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Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

Goodreads Summary:

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My Review:

A Court of Mist and Fury is passionate, heart-breaking, breath-taking, deeply-emotional, illustrative, immortal.

A Court of Mist and Fury is Sarah J. Maas’ follow-up to her A Court of Thorns and Roses. I adored the first novel in this series and the second blew my mind to pieces. Maas’ world building is enchanting. Every aspect is so detailed. It makes settling into the story that much easier.

At the start of the novel Feyre is heart breaking; she has such a difficult time accepting her actions Under the Mountain- living with killing innocent fae. In this rescued world, Feyre has to now handle being Tamlin’s consort, planning a wedding, parties, holidays. But, having faced and defeated Amarantha, Feyre is not the same person. For one, she is an immortal now. For two, she wants to help rebuild the Spring Court and Prythian. But she wasn’t the only one to out broken and battered. Tamlin is having his own nightmares and they revolve around losing Feyre again. So when Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court, comes to claim the bargain he and Feyre made, Tamlin loses it.

But that bargain between Feyre and Rhysand may be the only thing to save Feyre.

I loved, loved, loved the Night Court. It is so well built and protected. Within the Night Court, there are two separate courts- The Court of Nightmares and the Court of Dreams. Each is spectacular in their own right. Each is very different from other courts. And I unquestionably savored getting to know Rhysand and his inner circle- Cassian, Amren, Mor, and Azriel. They are the complete opposite of Lucien- Tamlin’s lap dog.

The relationship between Feyre and Rhysand is one of passion and power, but also one of respect and equality. When Feyre visits the Night Court, Rhysand doesn’t hold her captive, like Tamlin tried to do. Rhysand understands what Feyre needs to heal her heart and soul. And he doesn’t hold back. When she wants to help, he allows her, trains her, shows her that she is not a pet or pawn to be used willfully.

“No one was my master- but I might master of everything, if I wished. If I dared.”

This story captured my heart and soul. I couldn’t have asked for anything better and there is nothing I would rewrite. RATING: 6 OUT OF 5.

P.S. If you haven’t been to Target to read the exclusive story, go and read. It makes the story that much more juicy… and explains some things between two characters I now ship so hard.

***SPOILERS***

I do want to talk in depth about somethings. So if you haven’t read the novel, please don’t read below this.

***SPOILERS***

I had no clue that Rhysand and Feyre were mates and it blew my mind when the Suriel stated so. I could feel the passion building between them, the teasing and taunting, and I waited for the dam to break. (And if I am being honest, which I am, I shipped them so hard from the moment Rhys saved Feyre during the wedding to Tamlin- who wouldn’t fall in love with him). It took 75% of the book to do this. And when it did- WHOA. I know this book is advertised as Young Adult, but it definitely boarders on New Adult with the descriptive sexual scenes.

I also came to hate Tamlin by the end of the novel. And for good reason. He did nothing to help her while Under the Mountain. Rhys is completely correct, when Tamlin had the chance to help Feyre, he just kissed her in the shadows; he sat and Amarantha’s side idel, while Rhys had been her whore for 50 years and was doing everything in his power to get Feyre out. Knowing that they are mates makes the bargain even better now, while he couldn’t tell Feyre he loved her, he showed her in helping her win. Maas did an unbelievable job making me hate Tamlin more than I already did before Feyre was rescued at the beginning.

And finally- the end. I was stunned. The revelation that Feyre is the High Lady of the Night Court was shocking. The fact that no one new, that Hybern only removed the left glove, she was able to pretend to break their bond and go back to the Spring Court to bring Tamlin and the King of Hybern down is marvelous. Also shocking, was Elain being Lucien’s mate; now he has a higher stake in the war. He knows Feyre is lying about the bond, but at this point, he isn’t willing to risk Elain’s life- even if she is immortal now. And the fact that Elain and Nesta are immortal now changes a lot. My Nesta-Cassian ship can sail, sail, sail.

I could really gush forever about this book, but I’ll stop here. If you want to chat about spoilery things, let me know in the comments and we can email- booksinmybed@gmail.com, or find and DM on twitter- Liz_Anne_B.

Predictions for the third book:

  1. My Nesta-Cassian ship will sail
  2. Lucien will betray Tamlin to save and be with Elain
  3. There will be a war
  4. While I didn’t talk about the priestess above, Ianthe will die
  5. Tamlin will either die or be put in the Prythian version of jail
  6. Hybern will die
  7. Amren will be released
  8. I am worried that Cassian, Mor, or Azriel will die
  9. Rhys and Feyre will have children (in an epilogue probably- hopefully)

Rating: 6 out of 5

ARC Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Tell the Wind and Fire

GoodReads Summary:

Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.

The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…

My Review:

Gotta be honest… I didn’t finish reading this book. I managed to get through 50 percent before calling it quits. I just wasn’t able to get into the plot and I didn’t connect with the characters.

Lucie is a girl who did whatever it took to help free her father at the beginning of the book. And throughout the rest, she just stuck quietly by her boyfriend’s side, afraid he might find out about who she was… and who she wasn’t. For a character who could’ve been so strong and resilient, she felt quite 2 dimensional.

The world itself was colorless. I didn’t understand the true different been Light New York and Dark New York. Where were they in respect to each other? Side by side? Dark underneath? And it didn’t make sense that one day someone discovered light magic and that was it, the world changed. The world building needed to be more substantial and thought out.

I had a difficult time with the doppelganger idea. What is the plot point of bringing in a doppelganger at the start, having Lucie treat him as an equal, helping him, and then not seeing him again for half the book. I thought, maybe Lucie was meant to be with him. By meeting him, interacting with him, showing him her true self, she would finally allow herself to tell Ethan the truth about her past. The doppelganger would give her a chance to return to Dark City and she would help with the revolution. It is made quite  clear Lucie doesn’t agree with the counsel- those in charge of the laws in Light City. From what I scanned of the last 50%, this doesn’t happen.

The counsel itself was a confusing group. Did they make the laws for the nation? Or just for Light New York and Dark New York? How was the rest of the nation handling the magic? What were the far reaching implications of the doppelgangers and light/dark magic.

Lots of plot structuring didn’t make sense. And now looking at the description, it doesn’t make sense either. I think if there was more editing/re-reading the plot holes could’ve been filled and some of the run-on thoughts of the characters could’ve been deleted.

Rating: DNF (DID NOT FINISH)

Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, Clarion Books for giving me the chance to read this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my review.

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Book Review: Scarred by Joanne Macgregor

Scarred

GoodReads Summary:

“Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful.”

Seventeen year-old Sloane Munster is trying to reboot her life after a serious car accident left her badly scarred and emotionally traumatized.

Starting her senior year at a new school, she’s delighted to see Luke Naughton, a swimmer whom she once crushed on, in the class in front of her. But when he glares back at her with disgust and revulsion, she’s shocked and hurt, and assumes it’s because of her appearance. Despite misunderstandings, the chemistry between them sparks and love grows against a background of guilt, secrets, and mounting tensions at a school where bullying is rife and Sloane is not the most deeply scarred person.

Sharp with bittersweet humor, Scarred is an intense, beautiful, compelling story of life, death and fighting for love against all the odds.

Review:

Scarred is about Sloane Munster, who suffers from a tragic accident in her life, leaving her physically and mentally scarred. Due to the trauma, she spends almost a year in hiding, finishing her junior year with private tutors. But through the help of her therapist, Sloane attends a new school for senior year, where she runs into old faces, new faces, and has to come to terms with the actions of her mother as well as herself and how she will move forward with her life.

Joanne Macgregor’s writing is a graceful look at the physical and emotional aftermath of a tragedy in a person’s life. It is evocative. It doesn’t push aside the effects mental illness has on a person. Or how, through the support of friends, family, and love, a person can move forward in their life- move past the tragedy and see there is a bright future ahead of them.

When I first started this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. Sloane Munster felt very one dimensional- she was focusing on how she looked and how her life used to be. She was beautiful. She was popular. “I didn’t used to get called anything nasty about my appearance, I used to be pretty. The GG’s- short for Gorgeous Girls- that’s what our clique was called, in my old school.” However, after moving further into the book, Sloane becomes more than a one dimensional character. The scar is just a representation of her emotions. By the end, I fell in love and didn’t want it to end.

Sloane is a truly tragic, and complex, character who has to adjust to her life A.S.- after scar. The girls at her new school taunt her looks, which shows just how juvenile and immature teenage girls can be. It also is a reflection of our society and how much pressure we put on young girls when it comes to physical appearances. She has to deal with boys staring at her. She has to acquiesce the lose of her family and guilt of ruining another family.

I truly enjoyed when Luke, Sloane’s love interest, was given a chapter. He is a central character, not only to Sloane’s development through out the book, but to the story itself. Seeing his point of view is vital to understanding his involvement in the accident and how he develops as a character. As a side sub-plot, the book also address the treatment of others in general, whether it is a student-student relationship, a student-teacher relationship, or a child-parent relationship, and how that can impact a person’s life, positively or negatively.

Joanne Macgregor is a counseling psychologist who specializes in victims of crime and trauma. It is very apparent that she knows what she is writing about; it is captivating and emotional and clearly understood from a psychologist’s point of view.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a gripping story of tragedy, loss, and survival. I think an anthem to this book is Scars to You Beautiful by Alessia Cara. Go listen to it during/after reading this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for the opportunity to read Scarred in return for an honest review. Receiving this book for free doesn’t influence my opinion.

Novella Review: Proposal by Meg Cabot

Proposal (The Mediator, #6.5)

GoodReads Summary:

The last place Suze Simon expects to find herself during Valentine’s Day is a cemetery. But that’s what happens when you’re a mediator – cursed with the “gift” of communicating with the dead.

That’s how Suze has ended up at the graves of a pair of NCDPs – Non-Compliant Deceased Persons – whose drama didn’t end with death. It’s Suze’s job to make sure they move on—for good.

But the NCDPs aren’t the only ones with problems. The reason Suze is spending her Valentine’s Day with the undead instead of her boyfriend, Jesse, is because he’s having so much trouble adjusting to life after death . . . not surprising, considering the fact that he used to be an NCDP himself, and now his girlfriend busts his former kind for a living, while he tries to cure his kind of what used to ail him.

Can Suze use her mediating skills to propose a mutual resolution, and bring all these young lovers together – including Jesse and herself – especially on the night Saint Valentine declared sacred to romance?

Or will she end up alone—and possibly undead—herself?

Review:

First of all, I am so so so so so excited not only for this novella, but the book that comes after this novella. I didn’t think we would EVER get another Mediator series book. The series seemed so finished, but I always hoped and dreamed that we would get something. And we did.

Meg Cabot’s Proposal is a spectacular way to dip you toes back into the The Mediator Series. It is full of the usual NCDPs and Suze’s own throw a punch first, ask her questions later mentality. Of course their is a ghost who needs her help and the only way to help him is to punch her way through. And by her side is the ever swoon worthy Jesse de Silva.

Before jumping back into Suze Simon and her mediator ways in Remembrance, check Proposal out first. You don’t want to miss what happens!!

Rating: 5 out of 5

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