Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch | ARC Review


Stats:

Title: Ice Like Fire (Book #2)
Author: Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzar + Bray, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Page Count: 479
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

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Entwined by Heather Dixon | Review

Stats:

Title: Entwined
Author: Heather Dixon
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2011
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy of Manners
Page Count: 472
My Rating: 3 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

my thoughts:

This book had been sitting on my shelf for years, so I decided to listen to it on audiobook since I couldn’t motivate myself to pick up the physical copy.

As far as the audiobook, I felt that the narrator was perfect for this book. She managed to create different voices for each of the sisters so I could kind of keep track of their ages, which was helpful as we have a lot of sisters to keep track of. Even with the engaging narrator, I still struggled to connect to this book. I felt that it was too long, and dragged on. The first half of the book was especially slow, and left me thinking “so what?” The characters were especially irritating and immature in the first half. Seriously, all they cared about was dancing. I have noticed that Dixon tends to write YA that leans younger (as she did with Illusionarium), and that was true for this book as well.

I felt that the last part of the book picked up some. We finally got to see the big conflict of the book happen, which had been building up all through the first half. We also got to see some maturity from our characters, and more of a focus on the familial relationships, which I enjoyed.

Overall, I’m glad I listened to this on audiobook, because I do not think I ever would have devoted the time to the physical copy. While I ended up enjoying some elements, I thought the book was overall too long, and I wasn’t very attached to the story or characters.

Do you have any fantasy of manners that you enjoy?

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Update #2 | ARC August

This is my second update, as I skipped last week’s update. That week I was working on two books, one as a buddy read, as well as being incredibly busy with my parents visiting for the week. So I didn’t end up finishing any ARCs that week. But I tried to make up for all of that this week.

Book 3: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

17564519I absolutely adored Rae’s Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, and this did not disappoint either. As a first book in the series, this was incredibly strong, and set up a lot for the future of the series. All of the characters are complex and real. There are a lot of different themes explored such as friendship, family, feminism, and gender roles. Rae’s first series was full of strong, and diverse characters, and this one is setting up to be as well. I will be doing a full video review on my channel closer to release date.

book 4: fans of the impossible life by Kate Scelsa

24039396This was a very highly anticipated LGBTQ+ read of mine that was described as being a bi-sexual love triangle. I highly enjoyed the first half of the book. I enjoyed the characters, and it was full of diversity, both in terms of sexualities and race. The writing style is also unique, as it is told in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, depending on which character you are reading from. But ultimately, I did end up having some problems with this one. Mental health is a strong theme in this book and I do not feel it was handled appropriately in many cases. I also do not think this was marketed properly, as no characters use the term bisexual in the story. Additionally, there are also some issues of consent as well as drug use that are not addressed and that I found problematic. I have a full review with my thoughts coming closer to release.

book 5: cut both ways by Carrie mesrobian

23718736This was another LGBTQ+ read and I ended up picking this one up directly after Fans of the Impossible Life, as this was also supposed to be a bisexual love triangle. Again, I was disappointed. I do not understand the point of this book. It had no plot or conflict resolution. The characters do not develop, and the main character, who is an asshole, is the same at the end as he was in the beginning. He has virtually no consequences for his actions. Additionally, for a book that is supposed to be about bisexuality, the character never once says he is bisexual. There are also some issues with consent in this one as well. I found the main character to be both bi-phobic and misogynistic. The depiction of bisexuality in this book is particularly problematic, as the main character frequently says “I want both” when referring to his girlfriend as well as his gay best friend that he is hooking up with. The bisexual community has been fighting to get people to see that not all bisexuals are in fact non-monogamous. Polyamorous and bisexual are two different classifications. But the author was playing them off as one in the same. There are so many more things to discuss and problems I had with this story, but I will leave it at that for now. A full review will be out closer to release date.

upcoming:

I am currently reading Six of Crows (finally!). After Six of Crows, I am torn about what to pick up next. I’m torn between What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (which I’m praying does not disappoint!) or A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston.

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan | Review

thelightningthiefStats:

Title: The Lightning Thief (Book #1)
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion, 2005
Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy
Page Count: 377
My Rating: 2.5 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (From goodreads):

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

my thoughts:

Firstly, I read this on audiobook, and the narrator completely affected how I felt about the story. His narration was over the top and annoying, even on 2x speed.

Secondly, I really feel I missed my window of enjoyment on this book. This series was started in 2005 when I was already a junior in high school and too old to want to read this series at that point, so I don’t have nostalgic feelings towards it. I also have a very hard time finding middle grade I enjoy. I went into this book with too high of expectations, considering these factors.

I did not end up enjoying this book. I found both the story and the characters to be immature. While I understand that this is a middle grade story about 12 year old characters, I felt that Riordan was talking down to his readers. I have read some wonderful middle grade, and even if the story and themes are more simple than other genres, the writing does not have to be condescending. Also, while I understand a story about mythology is going to have a certain level of whimsy, I could not suspend my disbelief for most of the story. I cannot believe that any untrained 12 year old, demigod or not, can defeat 12+ horrible mythical creatures within the course of a few weeks. I had a hard time connecting to the characters, and didn’t find myself caring about their stories. I enjoyed some of the retelling elements, but many of the gods felt like over-the-top caricatures instead of realistic characters.

While this book was a disappointment for me, I do plan to continue with he series. Sadly, I will most likely continue on audiobook, regardless of the narrator, as I do not have the time or motivation to devote to reading the physical copies of the series at this time. I am only reading this series in order to get to the Heroes of Olympus series (GASP! I know!), so audiobook is the easiest and quickest way to get through them at this point.

Feel free to yell at me for my blasphemous statements in the comments.

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Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal | Review

9480534Stats:

Title: Shades of Milk and Honey (Book #1)
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Tor Book, 2010
Genre: Adult – Historical Fantasy
Page Count: 304
My Rating: 4 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (From Goodreads):

Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended by Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Shades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen…if only she had been a fantasy writer.

my thoughts:

This book is the perfect read for any fans of Jane Austen or fantasy of manners. Everything about this feels like stepping into a Jane Austen novel, with magic. With that being said, some people are going to enjoy that while others are going to find it unoriginal. I happened to be in the camp that enjoyed it.

Firstly, the writing and world building makes you feel as though you’ve stepped right back into Regency England. I felt like I was watching the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice while reading. The magic system of glamour added a new and interesting touch, as it was a passive kind of magic used for art and aesthetics, rather than the typical offensive magic we see typically for fighting.

Secondly, the characters are all Jane Austen archetypes. Again, some people may find it unoriginal, but I found it comforting. I immediately enjoyed our main character, who reminded me very much of Lizzie Bennet. The familial dynamics explored were also reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice.

Lastly, the story was also one that feels like Jane Austen canon. That did make it slightly predictable, but for me, that was enjoyable. Again, I found it very comforting and familiar, so I was able to fly through this book and it left me feeling satisfied. This is the first book in a series that I plan to continue.

Overall, as is painfully obvious, this book felt nostalgic for me even though it was my first time reading it. All of the elements felt familiar and cozy. If you are not a fan of Jane Austen, you will not enjoy this. While it wasn’t the most original story, I found it fun. I have heard the rest of the series gets a little more original, while maintaining all of the elements I enjoyed, so I look forward to continuing.

Let me know what you thought of Shades of Milk and Honey or if you plan on reading it!

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