Currently Reading: 12/11/17

HOW IS IT ONLY 2 WEEKS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!???? That is just crazy and awesome!

Cover- The Girl in the Tower

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

So, the fact that the release date for this book was pushed back from January to December somehow didn’t come to my attention until everyone started posting reviews! That just means instead of waiting another week or two, I’ll be starting The Girl in the Tower this week. I dearly hope it is as lovely and magical as the first book and I think it’ll be  a perfect read for these chilly wintry days.

I’ll also be listening to another audiobook this week, but haven’t quite decided on which one.

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Invictus by Ryan Graudin – Review

Cover- Invictus

Published: September 26, 2017

Publisher: Little,Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Series: Standalone

Pages: 458 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.


I’m a bit ashamed to admit how long it actually took me to read this book. From the first time I picked it up and began reading to the finish, I think it was about a month. Now, during this month I was getting married, going on a weeklong trip, and trying to finish last minute moving so I kind of have a good reason for taking so long to finish it up. This is also in no way indicative of the book being bad, slow, or wholly unsatisfactory in any way. It was actually a very fun book and I enjoyed both the story and characters.

Invictus is possibly the only YA time-travel novel I’ve ever read. How is that possible? It was reminiscent of Wesley Chu’s Time Salvager, which I loved and at first I was concerned that the two books may be too similar for me to really enjoy Invictus. This, however, wasn’t the case because while there are striking similarities, this particular book is much lighter and obviously geared towards a younger audience less concerned with the science fictionand more concerned with character dynamic. This is a world where time travel is a career choice – heck, there’s even a school for it! Those that travel do so to record moments in history without disrupting the natural course of events and each traveler has a crew along to help out with medical, historical, or technical crises.

Farway Gaius McCarthy has time travelling in his blood and he’s on track to graduate top of his class and have a crew and ship of his own… until he flunks his final exam. Now he’s working black market jobs with a crew of his closest people… until a strange girl shows up, steals his mark, and nearly gets them killed. This sets off a series of events that leads to some startling revelations, a rushed quest to save the world in 100 pages or less, and several rather touching personal moments between the characters. The whole crew was likable enough, but I felt they were rather immature to have a ship and time travel, with the constant risk of destroying history. Not something you should let a teenager do, am I right?

Overall, this was a fun book and I’m glad I finally finished it. If there is a sequel, I think I’ll read it just to see how things play out. I’ve heard that Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf books are even better than this which makes me want to check them out more than I already did!

Friday Face Off: 12/8/17

The Friday Face Off is a weekly meme created by  Books by Proxy where bloggers can share their favorite book covers. A theme is set each week, bloggers pick a book that fits the theme, select various covers, and then pick their favorite. Upcoming themes can be found on Lynn’s Book Blog.


This week’s Friday Face Off theme is:

‘Do not go gentle’ – a cover featuring the night

My choice for this week is The Space Between the Stars, which I read earlier this year and really enjoyed!

While all of these (except the foreign language edition) are really appealing, I think the one below fits the story the best and I prefer the color scheme.

Star2

Waiting on Wednesday: Beyond A Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- Beyond A Darkened Shore

Prior to searching out a candidate for my Waiting on Wednesday post I hadn’t yet heard of Beyond A Darkened Shore. Now that I have, I’m absolutely going to read this when it is released in April 2018. From the synopsis, it seems like this has possible Irish (just based off names) and definitely Scandinavian or Nordic themes which is AWESOME. I’m down with Vikings pillaging and plundering in my books, especially when there’s a crow on the cover. This book has very positive early reviews and I’m excited to pick up a copy since it’s exceedingly rare that I receive YA arcs.

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson – Audiobook Review

Cover- Oathbringer

Published: November 14, 2017

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Stormlight Archive #3

Length: 55 hr 2 min

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Timesbestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together–and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past–even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.


It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been more than 3.5 years since Words of Radiance was released, but here I am having finished up Oathbringer a couple days ago. I attribute this to the prolific nature of Brandon Sanderson’s writing – he’s always releasing a new book and it’s always a good one. I have to say, The Stormlight Archive and the Cosmere as a whole is probably the most impressive creation that I’ve come across in the fantasy world and as such the books are among my most anticipated releases. I pre-ordered the audio version of Oathbringer and then bought the hardcover too because have you seen those endpapers, the embossed cover, the jacket art, or perhaps the interior sketches? Yeah. It’s a gorgeous book and it needed to be on my shelf and even if you don’t plan on buying or reading it you should take a peek at it next time you’re in a book store.

I remember some years ago, this book was intended to focus on Szeth and, if I recall correctly, had the working title of Skybreaker. This for whatever reason didn’t work out that way and instead focuses largely on Dalinar and his past and present. As with each of the previous books there’s plenty of screen time for other favorites like Shallan and Kaladin – YAY! There are a ton of characters in these books and as the series progresses more and more are added, leading to more subplots. I really loved how this book filled in the outline we had of Dalinar – his past is brought to light one segment at a time and we really begin to see why he was/is considered such a formidable warrior and why others are baffled at his change in character. Dalinar’s story weaves seamlessly into the main story arc of Oathbringer and his personal struggles were very moving. The theme of reconciling with one’s past was heavily prevalent in this book and I think every single major character dealt with this – particularly the Radiants. This was a solid theme that was easy for readers to connect with and inspired excellent character struggle and growth.

Oathbringer is the most wonderfully complex story – so many plots and subplots!! I LOVED EVERY PAGE OF IT. The setting changed on several occasions, from Urithiru to Kholinar to previously unvisited areas of Roshar which was a refreshing change from the Shattered Plains and the war camps that featured so prominently in the previous book. The impact of the Everstorm on the people of Roshar was well explored – the devil’s in the details, you know? Some countries were devastated, while others had a chance to prepare, even if it was short notice. The subject of the sudden loss of the main labor force was also well discussed considering all the other stuff that needed to be in this book. Did I mention the shocking and potentially life changing revelations that happened in this book??? That’s not even touching on the plot twists that happened. Sanderson knows how to write an engaging cinderblock sized book, that’s for sure. If he released the entire Stormlight Archive series at once, I would buy it and gladly spend 500 hours listening to the audiobook because his stories just never get old or tiresome.

I don’t think I could have asked for anything more from this book! I am beyond thrilled at how amazing it was and that fact that I never once got bored during the entire 55+ hours of audiobook. Once again, Michael Kramer and Kate Reading had an outstanding performance with plenty of emotion and excellent differentiation between the characters. I loved how the good vs. evil theme has become even more prominent but the lines between just and unjust have blurred – who’s actions are justified? Do the Radiants have a right to do what they’re doing and do the Parshmen have a right to enslave humans in recompense for their past treatment? There are deep themes here and anyone that says fantasy is shallow or all the same has clearly never read fantasy. I have no serious issues at all with this book and would only like to say that I found Shallan somewhat irritating on occasion due to her many faces and personalities. I wholeheartedly recommend this series and am eagerly awaiting the next installment!

Currently Reading: 12/4/17

Cover- Guns of the Dawn

Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky

This is another book that I’ve been wanting to read for ages and it was recently released in audio format. This was basically a sign that I needed to pick it up and see if it can compare to other much beloved flintlock fantasies. Very excited to dig into this during my long work hours this week.

 

I’ll also be finishing up Blood and Sand this week, which thus far has been fantastic.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – Audiobook Review

Cover- Into the Drowning Deep

Published: November 14, 2017

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction

Series: Rolling in the Deep #1

Length: 17 hr 14 min

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.

But the secrets of the deep come with a price.


This book was just so much awesome! I don’t often read anything that can be construed as horror (or even sort of scary) but when I read the synopsis of Into the Drowning Deep, I didn’t hesitate to send in my request! I received the audio version from Orbit/Hachette Book Group and I’d highly recommend that format for audiobook fans. The narration was solid and emotional with a good range of character voices. Really helped me feel immersed (or submersed) in the book.

I love my sci-fi with a heavier dose of science than is usually found – space is cool, but give me a near future and scientific anomalies any day. This is sort of what I got from Into the Drowning Deep, but with more scientist than science. It starts off with the mysterious and somewhat terrifying disappearance of the Atargatis – a ship sent out by the Imagine media giant to hunt for mermaids. This was supposed to be one of those deals where they make up drama, throw in some factoids about the environment, and go home. They got much more than they bargained for and footage of a horrible, monstrous attack was leaked to the public. Years later, we follow the sister of one of the Atargatis victims, the scientist who led to that fateful voyage in the first place, and a number of other characters who were more or less interesting. I almost hate to admit that Tori and Dr. Jillian Toth were two of my least favorite characters and they were also two of the main characters. Both were obsessed with the mermaids and their various wailings about the Atargatis voyage really started to get on my nerves. All the secondary characters were much more likable, especially Olivia and the twins.

I found the story to be fast paced, though not always with action. There were lots of little discoveries and tiny dramas unfolding in the midst of the larger story, which I like. It gives a story depth and nuance. The larger story punctuated the day to day life aboard the Melusine with terror, lament, and bloodshed leaving those aboard the Melusine shaken and leaving me hungering for the next page. This story was addictively good so I can overlook things like the abrupt and convenient ending. Things were going terribly aboard the stupid, semi-functional, luxury laboratory ship and then someone TURNS ON THE LIGHTS allowing a speedy escape and sudden salvation for our characters. How convenient.

Overall, this was a thrilling book with a beastie that has not yet been overdone in today’s market. This makes two of Mira Grant’s books that I’ve read now and I’ve been really impressed/ satisfied with both. I do hope to read more Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire books in the future and have my eye on her novella series published through Tor. If you’ve read this one, let me know what you thought!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature a book that we just can’t wait to get our hands on!


Cover- The Queens of Innis Lear

Something about this book has drawn me back again and again – the title alone sparks a great deal of interest for some reason and the cover is equally appealing. The Queens of Innis Lear seems to have elements similar to Three Dark Crowns as well as the upcoming Daughters of the Storm, but I’m definitely okay with this because it’s basically the comfort food of books. This will be released March 27, 2018 by Tor Books!

Paradox Bound by Peter Clines – Review

Cover- Paradox Bound

Published: September 26, 2017

Publisher: Crown

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand alone

Pages: 373 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Synopsis:

Eli’s willing to admit it: he’s a little obsessed with the mysterious woman he met years ago. Okay, maybe a lot obsessed. But come on, how often do you meet someone who’s driving a hundred-year-old car, clad in Revolutionary-War era clothes, wielding an oddly modified flintlock rifle—someone who pauses just long enough to reveal strange things about you and your world before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires?

So when the traveler finally reappears in his life, Eli is determined that this time he’s not going to let her go without getting some answers. But his determination soon leads him into a strange, dangerous world and a chase not just across the country but through a hundred years of history—with nothing less than America’s past, present, and future at stake.


Forrest Gump always said “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” and that statement also applies to books. Sometimes you get a dud and sometimes it’s a hidden gem. Paradox Bound is of the latter sort – I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into but I loved every second of this bookish roadtrip. From the very first chapter I was pretty much hooked – a girl named Harry who travels through history in her Model A, runs out of fuel at an inopportune moment and thus meets little Eli Teague, changing his life.

Harry (Harriet) Pritchard and Eli Teague are kind of the epitome of likable characters. They’re both good people with honorable goals and they jive really well together.  The secondary characters vary – the travelers introduced are much the same, but the Faceless Men…. They’re pretty creepy. Let me do a bit of backtracking now because the Faceless Men are important. First of all, Harry and Eli (and the other travelers) are trying to find the physical manifestation of the American Dream, which has been missing for years. Since its creation, the Dream has been guarded by the Faceless Men who, despite the disturbing lack of facial orifices, can function beyond the capacity of normal humans because they have Certainty. Certainty is best described in the book – it’s like being your house in the dark; you can still navigate without eyesight because you just know where everything is. The Faceless Men no longer search for the missing Dream, but now hunt down travelers searching for it because they are out of place in history. I picture them as a cross between Slenderman and the Observers from Fringe. Gives me the heebie-jeebies.

It’s difficult for me to explain exactly why I liked this book so much and it seems to have just struck the right chord with me. A combination of the characters (good and bad), concept, and plot mixed together turned out like the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The whole roadtrip thing is like quintessential Americana. Cruising across the US with the windows rolled down with your pals… just my kind of thing. Paradox Bound is a quirky time-traveling adventure that I absolutely loved!

Currently Reading: 11/27/17

Last week was really busy and Oathbringer is REALLY long so I’m still working my way through that as well as Steal the Stars. I’ll be able to finish Steal the Stars up soon-ish and plan on starting this lovely…

Cover- Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

Warrior princess turns gladiator – WIN. The initial reviews are all positive, so I hope it lives up to my hopes and dreams. I won’t be posting a review of this until the release date in January, but I’ll be happy to let you know if it’s worth the time if you ask!