I have to admit, I was beyond ecstatic when I got approved for an ARC of this. I've seen it circulating on Goodreads prior and once I read the description I was SOLD! Well, if you know me then you know that anything that has "thief" in it sells me basically. I just love my grey characters!
But Sancia is much more than just a thief. Sancia is different, and I don't mean it in the "ohhh I'm so pretty but I think I'm so ugly special snowflake character" way - these should be outlawed by the way, lol. Sancia is strong, witty, brave and brutally honest. She also is not the one to fall down to peer pressure. You know how in most fantasy books it's "hey I just met you but can you go and do all this crazy dangerous stuff for me that can get you killed but it's a prophecy so you must do it" ? Well, Sancia is having none of that. Sancia knows how and when to say no, and when to say yes and I loved her for that.
If you can't tell, Sancia is my girl, and I truly enjoyed her character. Every little bit of it. And I also enjoyed Clef a lot. Clef is the most hilarious and at the same time the saddest character out there. You just have to read this to experience this paradox. And as I am a reader that always goes for the side characters, Berenice is the knees bees - the only complaint is that I wish we got more of her. Next book hopefully!
Now, the whole time I was reading this- I felt at home. Familiar. And then I realized why. It gave me the biggest, strongest Mistborn vibes. A street urchin with anxieties, a heist, a voice in the head, people able to fly in the air, god-like characters and much more. Is this Mistborn re-imagined or is this an ode to Brandon Sanderson? Fine with me either way to be honest, because I loved it nonetheless.
The writing did feel a bit silly to me at first, especially the dialog. Might be because before this book I just finished The Return of the King, and coming back to regular language after the grandeur of Tolkien was a bit shocking. But once I got used to it I enjoyed it tons. It was so readable - I flew through this in 3 days (would have read it faster if I didn't have to work). Damn you work!
The book held my attention almost completely, but it did have few moments in which I started drifting away, but which book doesn't, right? Also I must mention - the book got progressively more and more brutal. Like, wow hold on to your chairs brutal.
Lastly, I want to talk about this book's diversity. Flawless. You know how most books nowadays force diversity on the reader (because that's where them only are apparently). Well. not this book. It was so seamless, so perfect and it gave so much dimension to the story. Especially thankful for two main characters having ptsd and for how believable it was portrayed. But I am evermore thankful for my "ship" for sailing.
I was dismayed to learn that the book ends in a way that makes you want, need, must must must read the next book immediately. So, Jackson Bennett, you better write second book soon and quick, thank you.
Big thanks to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for an advanced copy of the book. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
So I resolved to dedicate the rest of 2018 to reading only fantasy books (adult mostly, with one or two YA thrown in). But for Dry I made an exception because when Shusterman writes a new dystopian I must read it!
This was an impossible to put down read, definitely, but it wasn't as good as I thought it would be, unfortunately. Which kind of doesn't makes sense said together like that, but hear me out. The writing, the pace and the subject were gripping, but the character development together with some plot holes definitely put a damp into it.
The beautiful and also scary thing about Shusterman's books, is that they feel so real. So freaking real. This might as well have been a news report on TV - it was so believable. And that is the scary part of it. Sure, Dry is just a book, today. But tomorrow, or 2 years from now it might as well be a reality.
California draught is a real thing that has been happening, and as far as I can tell will only get worse. But will it come to the events that this fiction book portrayed? I think it will. And I also think that it will come to even worse of an outcome.
Environmental tendencies and using is the real reason why I love Neil Shusterman so much. Scythe was full of them , and Dry has even more. And I truly think that it's just way we need. We need to read about what might happen to us if we keep living the way we live now. We need to see the ugly side of humanity, if only so we can prevent it in the future. Hopefully. The sad part is, the natural disaster wasn't a true problem in this book. The true problem were the people who created the disaster in the first place. And who handled it so terribly wrong. I don't think that the planet will eventually kill us. I think that we will kill each other first.
The writing was superb. The pace made this book read like a movie - which I loved. The characters .... Ehh. They were good, or they had good potentials but I don't think any of them reached it. They just weren't flushed out enough. It may have to do with too many POV's throughout the book. The reader never got a chance to fully attach to a specific character, really.
The plot also had quite a few holes and things that weren't explained well enough (why was a 13 year old home alone for weeks? Were there two helicopters at the end? and many more...). I honestly kept wishing for more water shortage related facts - how they got there, how other states near the lake managed to be okay, but only California crashed and burned. I just wanted more science behind the disaster. But nook instead focused largely on the characters and how they were navigating it, which is fine, but I wanted more of a background.
Also, I thought it was quite comical that when we finally get a sensible YA main character it feels very weird at first. I couldn't understand why this girl was so mature and why wasn't she boy crazy and drowning in puberty? Which is embarrassing to admit, but it is what I've come to expect from YA books. But I seemed to forget that this is Shusterman we are taking about. And his girl characters rock hard (looking at you Citra!).
In the end, while I do think that the book could use a bit more flushing out and a bit more plot development I still absolutely recommend it to everyone. If only for the topic that it covers. It's so important. And we need more books like this. Real life dystopian books (is that a genre?Can it be one?)
Big thanks to the Simon TEEN publishing and Simon and Schuster books for young readers for sending me an advanced copy for the review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
Not exactly the hobbit food, but my tomato sandwich looked so good I just had to include it!
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
This second installment (or the middle of the book to be more correct) is phenomenal. If you had some trouble trudging thought the songs and the first and second breakfasts in the first book, this book is your reward. The story, the characters, the sass! The Two Towers is the best of Tolkien bottled up in a bottle. The bottle of the finest, richest wine.
“I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to.”
Many new characters came onto the scene and I adored every single one of them. Treebeard especially, and the fact that he was somewhat based on Tolkien's friend Lewis (the author of The Chronicles of Narnia) was beyond heartwarming. Literary world needs more friendships as one that Tolkien and Lewis had. Two literary geniuses who inspired each other, put each other in each other's books and dedicated books to one another.
As with every great fantasy book that I read I find myself unable to pick just one favorite character - instead I have a small army of favorite characters. Because each of them brings something different to the book, something that I love. The Two Towers is full to the brim with my favorite characters, and yes, Treebeard is definitely one of them. An ancient race of tree beings (very badass beings at that) that can turn the ground upside-down if they get angered enough. But they also could spend hours just enjoying the wind and the earth.
Which brings me once again to Tolkien's tremendous love for nature and the environment - it is one of the very prominent themes of the book, and one that fills my heart with joy. Because of his innate affinity for beauty of nature - Tolkien's writing and descriptions are transportive. You can almost imagine yourself in Middle Earth - being carried high up by Treebeard, or getting lost in the marshes.
Another character that stole my heart with his very first appearance is Faromir - a man even more honest and righteous than Aragorn. Faromir is one of the very few (well one of the only two characters in the whole book who aren't tempted by the ring and its power, not even a little bit) and for that Faromir is definitely a top character for me. Because if you read the book you know how much it says about the person if they aren't even tempted.
But few rival to Sam Gamgee in terms of awesomeness. I am one of those people who thinks that Sam is the true hero of the story, and book two proves so much of that. Sam is the man, thetas honestly all I can say, because his actions speak for themselves.
“Don't leave me here alone! It's your Sam calling. Don't go where I can't follow! Wake up, Mr. Frodo!”
The Two Tower's pacing is perfect, while The Fellowship of the Ring was very slow to begin, because of the extensive lore that was being explained, the second book is full of adventures, action, sassy comments, beautiful friendships and also sad moments.
Cannot wait wrap up my journey with The Return of the King, although I will also be sad to leave the Middle Earth.
Since I am devoting the rest of 2018 to mostly fantasy books, I decided to make a TBR - to keep me on track.
1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (re-read)
I've already started on this, and already finished The Fellowship of The Ring and have about 100 pages left in Two Towers.
I'm thinking I will pause after Two Towers to read a different book, since I will be busy next week and don't it to affect my beautiful journey of Middle Earth *insert heart eyes here*
2. Dry by Neil Shusterman (arc)
I was very lucky to get a physical arc of this and I cannot wait to read it. This is the only non fantasy book that makes the list (so far) in my 2018 TBR.
I fell in love with author's Scythe series (also dystopian) and I am sure that I will enjoy this one as well.
Shusterman writes very realistically, it feels like his novels could happen any time now. Especially one that is set in such a realistic California future (sadly).
3. We ride the Storm by Devin Madson
I've read The Vengeance Trilogy by Madson (including the novella that goes with it) and now I am ready for more brutal adventure.
The only downside is that this book is the only one out in the series so far, and I will have to wait some time before being able to continue. And who likes waiting??
I heard that this one is even more brutal than The Vengeance one, so eek, will see. Hopefully I won't get traumatized, ha.
4. Proven Guilty (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
It's been a really long time since I read Dresden Files, at least 2 years that's for sure.
I stopped on book 8 and now I am hoping to jump back in, and just pick up where I left off.
Thankfully, Butcher is very good at reminding the reader what happened in previous books, so I'm not too worried. I am worried that my taste has changed and I will find this not as good or as entertaining as I did before.
I will start with book 8 and if I'm still into it I will try reading more this year as well.
5. Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
I am hoping to read the first trilogy in 2018 (this series is soooooo long). they are set in different times and realms as far as I know, but the whole thing is still very, very large. So I figured the first 3 is a good place to start.
I decided to pick this up because a few book-youtubers that I watch speak very highly of it, so I wanted to see for myself. Plus Robin Hobbit is very renowned in fantasy, and that's what I'm doing this year - just reading all of the fantasy!
Side note, I adore these cover editions.
6. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Not much to say here except that it's time for another Sanderson book - it's been way too long.
I've been a bit grudgy after the last book in Mistborn (era 2) - I did not like that one at all. But, I think I'm past it and ready for more Sanderson's magic and feelings that he hits you with oh so beautifully.
So far, this is a standalone (although there are plans for book 2 already), so it's nice to read something that you don't have to continue in right away.
7. The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest
Probably only one of the very few YA fantasy books that will be on this list - I might add two more. I am stepping down from YA almost completely and will only read books from authors that I know and like, or if I do a very extensive research on them. I've read way too many crappy ya books and I don't have time or patience for the anymore.
But Iron Flower I am very excited about!! And if there's a third one I will read it as well. It's a continuation of The Black Witch and I cannot wait to see where the story goes.
8. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
The Poppy War has taken the reading world by storm and I want to see what's it all about.
So it's better be good!! :)
I love good asian inspired fantasy. I heard that this book is brutal, but what are you gonna do - it's fantasy after all.
I really know nothing else of this book, so I will just have to read it and see.
9. The faithful and the fallen series by John Gwynne
I'd love to read the whole series in 2018, but they are so big - gigantic really that I'm not sure I will be able to.
These have been also highly recommended to me, so I am very excited. Plus I am in love with these covers, ahhhhh.
10. The Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao
Julie C Dao surprised me with the first book in this series, and I literally cannot wait for the second one to come out (November hurry up).
The first one was so good, I couldn't believe it was a debut (I was also lucky enough to have an arc of the first one).
This is ya as well, but this is the author that I trust (I added her to my favorites with just one book - and that's huge for me).
And that is it for part 1 - It's quite ambitious, because lots of these are very chunky books, but hopefully they will be worth it, and hopefully I will find many favorites among them. Part 2 will be coming when I made at least a dent in part 1 :)
“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”
I don't even know how to start this, so I might as well start with a story.
I was about 8 or 10 years old and sick again (I was a very sickly kid), with either a very bad flu or a very bad cold (there was a lot of coughing). So my dad borrowed from his coworker 4 books and brought them home to me (I grew up in times when people borrowed and shared, not just shopped and shopped). The books obviously were The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings "trilogy" (it's one book really, just split into 3 upon publishers intent). So I started reading. Suddenly I wasn't sick in my room anymore, I was in The Shire, I was guessing Gollum's riddles, I was running from Smaug I was in Rivendell bound under elven beauty and all I needed to do, all I must do was get that ring to Mordor to be destroyed. I was in love. Then many years passed and after all of 3 movies were released they were showing them on TV. I remember sitting at the foot of the couch and waling for 10 minutes at the Boromir scene, I just couldn't stop.
I don't remember how many times I read the books, but this is my very first time reading it in English. And anyone who says that the books are hard to read because of the way they are written, honestly needs to purchase a dictionary because they really are not. The language is beautiful. Sure, Tolkien gets off topic and could ramble a bit, but that doesn't make it hard to read at all.
“Three Rings for Elven-Kings under the sky
Seven for the Dwarf-Lords in their halls of stone
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie”
Here is what Tolkien in his own words had to say to those who dislike his books:
"Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer."
He was a sassy sweet old man! :)
Lord of the Rings (and all of the books set in that world) are not just books. They aren't something to be submitted to publisher because of the due date, or not something to be filled and stretched out because of the word count requirements. He spent 12 years writing Lord of the Rings. They are a labor of love - and it shows. It shows in every word, every description - it doesn't feel like fiction (which was Tolkien's true intent), it feels like a historical recollection of fantastical things that truly happened. That's why you don't just read the books, you go to Middle Earth and you live it.
I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that P.Jackson adopted that same approach to making his movies - he didn't just make them, he lived them, which also shows in every second of the three films.
In the diverse universe of different races my favorite are the elves. And not because they are so ethereal and graceful, but because of their affinity and relationship with nature. Elves are always sad because they know that earth is dying and the they won't be able to slow and stall that process forever. They respect nature above all and they live in harmony with it. Unlike orcs and goblins who only see nature as materials for making their weapons and other scary things.
Tolkien himself disliked technology and how fast it was advancing. He liked things true and simple. He liked the countryside, he liked his old house set in the greenery of nature - his haven in a fast changing world.
Next after elves were hobbits in their love for nature. Hobbits didn't like technology either, and in the Shire they truly lived in their own world. If you read the prologue you will learn that except the plow and a windmill hobbits really didn't have any other advanced tools (I know a windmill is not a tool, but it's a means of making things). Hobbit's philosophy is simple and beautiful - give a hobbit a garden and he's happy. They liked their comfort, and they liked there tea, they also liked to eat 6 times a day, which I totally get on board with. I won't go into any other races, except this two that are my favorite, because then my review will be half as large as the first book.
“He loved mountains, or he had loved the thought of them marching on the edge of stories brought from far away; but now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth. He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.”
The book starts with an extensive genealogy and history of hobbits, which is important to know to understand them. Because even with danger at the front door a hobbit will still want his second breakfast. If you read the books and watched the movies they are quite a few differences, especially in the first part of it. I like both ways of starting up - one sets you up with a lot of information which you really need to truly grasp the feel of the things, and the other creates a very fast paced chase which glues you to your screen.
The scope of Tolkien's creation is tremendous - he had so much material that it's still being published. He created a separate language for his books, he created a whole world of extensive mythology - I honestly don't know how he kept his notes straight. The man, and his works are pure genius. Also, all of this was done before google. Just let that sink in.
I feel like modern fantasy authors should strive to write more like Tolkien did. And I don't mean in the same style or anything. But with love. Treat their books as if they were real, not merely a fiction. Step into the world they create and live the story, not just write it. Nowadays authors try to either shock the reader, or to trick the reader - and while it often works, it shouldn't always be the case.
The first book doesn't bring much in a sense of human interaction, or much action, due to it being weirdly split at a point - remember to threat the books as one. It's a one long and epic journey, and book one is merely a set up for it. Lord of the Rings itself is merely a drop in the vast ocean of Tolkien's universe, and I plan to drink the whole thing. Or swim in it.
"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king"
I'm not saying that this trumps Jane Eyre for me, but it's on the same level! Wow! Why did I wait so long to read this book I have no idea. I might have read something by Wilde in high school, but that was so long time ago and in another language that I just can't remember. But no matter because I will definitely read more by him from now on.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is simply a masterpiece. The writing, ohhh the writing! Think of gooey, dark and smooth chocolate being poured gently and delicately over some fresh strawberries - that's what his writing feels like!
Every word is perfectly in its place, every description is so rich and lush and it all flows most beautifully together. And somehow Wilde managed to pair up his beautiful writing with the most cynical story. People say he's witty, and people aren't wrong.
The way he weaves the narration is superb. He makes you think, he makes you agree and then he makes you feel like a horrible human being because you agreed to his quite evil musings. I loved how the power of suggestion was the driving force in the book. How just a couple of words spoken in the right moment and the correct time could gloss over somebody's mind. How somebody can talk themselves out of almost everything. How one's resolve can fade easily if there's somebody to bend it in the wrong direction just a little bit.
In the course of a novel we watch a decent human being turn into a vile creature, and how a person who pushed him to it remains untainted for the most part - brilliant, simply brilliant.
The review will not be honest if I don't mention a chapter (11 I believe) which was pretty boring, because it was just pages of descriptions of things, but even that can be forgiven on the scope of how good everything else was.
I tend to not be able to express my thoughts well when I liked the book so much, but to sum it up The Picture of dorian Gray is a classic that I will re-read many more times in the future and I feel like I will get out of it something new each time. If you only must read one classic book - red this one.
I know it's a little past half year mark (not a little, but still) so I decided to take a look at my reading stats this year, and compare it to the previous year.
All stats are taken from my Goodreads which I think is a very cool option that GR has.
So far I am almost exactly 10,000 words behind from my 2017 word count. And I still have 4 months to go, so I'm pretty sure I will beat it.
This one is so interesting! I only gave 5 stars to 10 books in 2018, and 3 of them were re-reads! I have either become very cynical, or I have just been reading a lot of duds this year. I'm pretty sure it's the combo of two.
My most popular rating is still a 4 stars for both years.
In 2017 I haven't given a single 1 star, which changed in 2018! I guess I was nicer in 2017, lol. In 2018 I gave 7 books 1 star rating! Savage!
The largest book I've read so far was The Black Witch with a count of 608 pages.
Surprisingly most of my books are e-books so far! That just proves how much into NetGalley I've been! It's also proven by the fact that half of my books were either NetGalley or ARC's from publishers! Maybe that's why I had so many duds this year? Because I haven't been choosing my ARC's properly?
My let-downs also comprise a bigger percentage than my favorites, which is also kinda sad.
Fantasy is a prevalent genre, but other genres beat it so far. Since I experimented a lot with my book genres this year, but I will remedy that with the rest of 2018 reads.
I've also read 3 classics this year (all of which I really enjoyed!) , so I'm surprised they aren't showing up on the chart.
The largest book I read in 2017 was Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix, which was also a re-read for me.
2017 was such a happy year - look how many favorites! Look how much fantasy I've read! Ahhhhhh, I sincerely hope that 2018 gets better reading wise for me.
But I also had quite a few let-downs in 2017 as well.
And contrary to 2018 I barely read any ARC's and e-books in 2017, and I don't know if it's good or bad, I guess it all really depends on the book.
The rest of the year reading plans:
I will make a more detailed post about my rest of the year TBR, but for now here is an overview.
I am planning to devote the rest of the year mostly to reading epic fantasy. I have many series I am planning to start, and one series that I am planning to re-read.I also have few ya fantasy books that I might also give a chance if I have time.
I'd also love to read at least one more classic in 2018, I already read 3 this year so I'm quite proud.
There are also a couple of new releases that I am excited for and hoping to squeeze them in as well. One of them being The Dry by Neil Shusterman - so ready for that one!
I had to sit on this one for a while before I decided that I was ready to write a review. Partly because I'm a lazy potato, but mostly because I was bitter about this book's ending.
Rating this was very hard as well, because I enjoyed this less than I did the first book in the trilogy (and I rated that one 4 stars), but I also could not deny how brilliantly everything was wrapped up, so I couldn't give this less than 4 stars either. So you see why I had to sit on this and ponder.
But let's go back to "I'm still bitter" stuff, because I really am. Did I think that my favorite characters would survive the book?? Yes, I did. I was so naive! So childish. To be honest, now that I think about it - I'm surprised that anybody survived!
This definitely wasn't a happy ending book, at least not for me. But there was a little sweet moment that softened the blow (I guess...). See, still bitter. The fact that the characters I absolutely loathed survived didn't help either.
I mentioned this before (in my review for the 1st book) that I absolutely recommend reading the novella In Shadows We Fall before this series - because it brings much dimension to the story and the characters, and I have to mention it again because book 3 wrapped everything in such a way that everything came full circle. It's hard to explain without spoilers so I'm afraid you will just have to see for yourself.
Reasons why I didn't enjoy this as much as the other two books (I adored book#2!) were mostly related to characters - I loathed Hana. And Malice. Equally, I'm pretty sure. It's quite comical because in book two I was so busy hating Katashi that I didn't realize that Hana was so much worse.
I also didn't care for sexual content in this book. I liked the placing of it in book 2 because it brought a lot to the story, but here it was more like "been there done that..." and it just didn't add anything to my experience, maybe except the ick factor. Also, all of this brother/cousin loving didn't sit well with me. I know, I know - different times, pure blood and all that, but I still think that it's absolutely gross.
I'm not even sure that I need to mention it, but the writing is absolutely superb, all throughout the trilogy. It's just so addictive and easy going (despite the very dark content) that I couldn't help but swallow these books up. I would have read them much faster to be honest, but reading e-books hurts my eyeballs, so that kinda slowed me down. I feel like that was important to mention because I was in a middle of book 2 when I just had to take a day break to let my eyes rest and I couldn't stop thinking about the book that whole day! That's how good this series is!
I can't wait to read We Ride the Storm - the only book by Madson I haven't read yet. I discovered her few weeks ago and already read 4 of her books- oops.
Freelance BETA reader.