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Jessica (HDB)

I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

To Kill a Kingdom - Alexandra Christo

I actually really, REALLY enjoyed this book. It's written a bit like a fairy tale, and it just kind of flows into this beautiful climax. Even the ending is what I would have wanted to for this book, and that's saying a lot!

 

See how vague I'm being? Well, that's because I won't spoil anything that way. I went into this book with no expectations, and enjoyed it immensely. Happiness!

 

I do feel bad for whatever I read next though.

Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

Isle of Blood and Stone - Makiia Lucier

Isle of Blood and Stone is the first book in a new duology by Makiia Lucifer, and the first Historical Fiction book that I've read this year. As a genre that I don't normally dip into, it should be noted that I'm still getting my bearings in books like this. It makes my reading of them take a little more effort than most other things, but I'm enjoying the ride. Which is why the fact that Isle of Blood and Stone is heavier on the history than on the fiction/fantasy side of things made this a bit of a rough read for me. I'm on the fence on this one, and I'll explain why below.

 

The story drops the reader directly into a day in the life of one Lord Antoni, with little to no explanation of why. It took me a minute to figure out that he was an important mapmaker, and that he was somehow linked to the royal family. Once I'd finally settled in a bit, and the big reveal of the chapter happened, the book suddenly fast forwarded eighteen years. So, to say that I started this book with no footing is pretty accurate. It took me another four or five chapters after that to really settle in, and feel like I had my bearings enough to enjoy the story.

 

What's great about this book though is that the characters are actually really intriguing, once you get to know them. Reyna, who was studying to be a mapmaker herself and unknowingly sets things in motion, made me pay attention. Once the discovery of the maps that may have been made by Lord Antoni, after his supposed death, came to light I was fully on board. By the time that Elias came fully into the picture, and the quest began in earnest, I was more than ready to follow along to the end.

 

Unfortunately, this is a really slow building story. I mentioned above that it's heavy on the historical portion of things, and that's definitely an accurate assessment. Action is scarce, and descriptions abound. The reader is taken back to the times of court politics and intrigue, but not in the way that I'm used to in the fantasy books I generally read. It's very heavily described, rather than shown. While the mystery aspect of this was good, it took so long for things to establish, and then longer still for things to pick up, that I found myself wanting to skim forward. I was invested enough to want to know how things turned out though, so that's a good sign.

 

Did I mention that I was on the fence? On the one hand, the ending ties back into the beginning and brings the characters and the plot full circle. All of my questions were finally answered, and I felt pretty satisfied. On the other hand, it took so long for me to actually settle myself into my surroundings at the beginning that it made things feel really slow. I see the potential here, and I liked the book enough to want to see what happens next. I only hope that the next portion of this story has a bit more action.

The Way of the Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks

The Way of Shadows - Brent Weeks

I'm being generous in giving this a three star rating, mainly because the beginning of the story was actually rather good. Unfortunately, that doesn't last long. This story plays on every Fantasy trope out there. It spends too much time on graphic death scenes, and not nearly enough time on actual world building. It treats women like weak minded pawns, whose sole purpose is to either die violently or be love interests, to advance the plot. Or what little plot there is.

I love Fantasy. Nothing makes me happier than to get lost in a new world, with new rules, and hopefully with some magic. I need guidance though. The author needs to care as much about their world and the characters as I do. Weeks didn't make me feel like he was invested. So I never felt invested. Things moved along quickly enough that I finished this, but just barely.

So three stars for a strong start and an okay finish. I don't think I'll be moving on to the other books in this series.

Willing Victim by Cara McKenna

Willing Victim - Cara McKenna

So I've been busy and haven't pushed any reviews out over here for a while, although I've been trying to remember to type small ones in on GR through my phone.

 

This was a rec from the lovely Whiskey in the Jar because I needed an anxiety distraction, and BOY DID SHE DELIVER.

 

Flynn is pure goodness, y'all. This book is hot. Like, smoking hot. It does appeal to a very specific kink, so if you're not into that you might not like it. However I was so impressed at how well actual CONSENT is worked into this book. Anyone who says consent isn't sexy is a liar. Flynn proves that over and over, and it makes him all the hotter.

 

So yeah, thanks Whiskey! You're the best <3.

The Window by Amelia Brunskill

The Window - Amelia Brunskill

Well now, this was a pleasant surprise! I don't think I've read too many YA mystery novels, or if I have I don't quite remember them, so this was a nice place to settle in. My first thought is that Amelia Brunskill has quite a talent for pacing, which I'll expand on in a bit. The Window drew me in, and I ran through it so quickly that it actually surprised me. I love effortless reads, and this book definitely fits that bill.

Jess and Anna. Anna and Jess. The twin angle was a beautiful addition to this story, because of the even sharper contrast between their two personalities. The same on the outside, but so very different in all other aspects. I loved how Brunskill slowly unveiled Anna's thoughts and feelings, as Jess slowly dove further and further into her sister's life. I think it's such a truth that we never really know someone, even an identical sibling, as much as we think we did. For Jess, Anna's life is this enigma. It takes her death to change to that at all.

I usually hesitate to the use the phrase "compulsively readable", because it's one of those phrases that's tossed casually around the book world and shows up endlessly on covers. However, I can honestly say that this phrase applies to this book. Reading The Window is effortless. Maybe not content wise, since Jess' hurt is palpable and tough to read at times. Plot wise though, this book pulls you along in its wake. I found myself having to forcefully put this book down at bedtime, because I just kept wanting to know what would happen next. Brunskill has this beautiful slow burn going through this story. It gives you just enough to tempt you to the next chapter, and then does it all over again. I didn't mind one bit.

My only complaint, and the reason I gave this book 4 stars rather than 5, is the fact that it felt a bit anti-climactic to me. Now, again, I'm used to reading this genre in the more adult section of things. So I had to step back and remind myself that this book is written for a younger set of readers, and features a much younger protagonist. I had to point out to myself that many of the scenarios in other books I've read wouldn't play out in the life of a high school student. So, just take this as my personal preference more than anything. I enjoyed this book immensely. I powered through it like a madwoman. It just didn't hit that unforgettable mark that I look for in a 5 star book, and that's totally okay.

Long story short, read this. It's excellent.

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.

Reading progress update: I've read 20%.

The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

So far, this book is much more than I thought it would be. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I actually picked this book up without reading the synopsis because LOOK AT THAT COVER. Yes, it was a case of cover love. No, I'm not sorry. It's actually genuinely good so far.

 

I'm on a Fantasy kick again. I can't shake it. I'm going to assume it's because it's what I need to read right now, and just roll with it. 

Finally, finally finished.

Ink, Iron, and Glass - Gwendolyn Clare, Mike Heath

This book was painful to make it all the way to the end of, but I've already DNF'd so many books this month and this one was a request I actually made. So I powered through. It took me a month, but I finished.

 

It feels like Clare had a general idea of what she wanted to write, even a set of rough character sketches, and then never hammered it into anything solid. There were a lot of fabulous ideas here, but they were all over the place. Worldbooks are a really cool concept. The ability to create an entire world, simply by scribing it into one of these, sounded like something I'd normally fall in love with. The problem was that the descriptions only skimmed the surface. I never saw deeper than the idea itself, and that was the case for most of what is in this story.

 

Add in the fact that the pace feels maddeningly slow for most of the book, and then picks up in a mad rush to the end, and you have a book that drove me nuts. I never felt invested. Every time I thought sometime was starting to peak my interest, the book would meander away on a tangent and my questions weren't answered. Argh.

 

So 2 stars to this one, because I only 1 star books I didn't finish. Sorry book. Your cover was so promising.

FINISHED!

Boy's Life - Robert R. McCammon

I powered through this book, I tell you what. I kept waiting for small snippets of time to sneak in some listening, because I NEEDED to know what happens. Ugh. I need a physical copy of this book to hug. I loved every minute of it.

 

Someone should have told me not to listen to the end while I was getting ready for work this morning though. All the tears.

The Cruel Prince (Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) - Holly Black

After months upon months of ignoring new releases, and trying to stay away from the hype, I finally gave in and picked up The Cruel Prince. Okay, more accurately, it actually popped up on my library loan list and I went "Oh, that's right! I put myself on the waitlist for this!", and then proceeded to devour it. I knew I wanted to read this from the moment that I saw Holly Black's name across the cover. If anyone knows Fae, it's Holly Black. I had high hopes for this one and, I'm glad to report, I wasn't disappointed in the least!

First off, true to form, Holly Black expertly drags the reader into the darkly glittering world of the Fae. A world where things are both beautiful and terrible. A world where humans definitely are at a disadvantage, and where they are so enchanted by it all that they don't even seem to care. What I've always liked about Black's fairy world is that it isn't always a kind a one. It's one where there is suffering, war, and hatred. It's one where beautiful beings have sharp edges and sharper knives. It's the kind of world that you love to read about, but would be terrified to visit. In other words, it's my kind of setting.

Even more impressive is the fact that every single character who graces these pages is perfectly rendered, and multi-faceted. I was stunned by how easily I fell into step with Jude. Her inability to conform, despite the fact that it would have been the easiest thing to do, made me fall in love with her character. Jude is strong as steel, and equally as intelligent. The stark contrast between her, as a protected human in a fairy world, and Vivi, as an unwilling fairy in a fairy world, was perfection. I ate up their sisterly bond, swooned over the descriptions of balls and battles, and couldn't stop myself from hating the same people that Jude found herself hating. I think what made me fall for Jude the hardest was that she was never afraid to admit that she was wrong. She was human to the core, and beautiful because of it.

Truthfully, even the plot the blew me away. It was perfectly paced, and set up in a way that I never saw the next move coming until right when Jude did. Black weaves a gorgeous web on court intrigue, filled with backstabbing and death. Even when I was absolutely sure that I knew where things were headed next, I was wrong. It was wonderful. I love a plot that keeps me on my toes. As for the ending, well, I knew going in that this was the first in a series. So I'll say that the ending is good for a first book, and satisfying enough. You'll see, after all, that I did give this a full five star rating.

If you're looking for viciously lovely Fae, more court intrigue than you can shake a stick at, and a book that will keep you reading well into the night, this is for you. 

Reading progress update: I've read 80%.

Boy's Life - Robert R. McCammon

Okay, this book is going on the shelf right next to IT. Right next to all the books that have so much magic wrapped up into them that it doesn't even feel like that the author is trying. I've sobbed, I've giggled, and I'm just so in love with every single thing about this story. What a life. What a story.

 

I was telling my friend last night, over dinner, that my favorite part about IT is the message that adults forget their childhoods all too easily. That life makes us new people, and those new people forget the magic that they experienced. This book has that same gorgeous message, and I'm taking it to heart.

Reading progress update: I've read 61%.

Boy's Life - Robert R. McCammon

Damn you book.

 

*all the tears*

 

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

Boy's Life - Robert R. McCammon

This book just keeps getting better and better. It might be my current hormonal state, but I keep tearing up on how beautifully done this snapshot into the life of one young boy really is. E. recommended this, so I already knew that it was going to be good. I just didn't know how good it was really going to be. I'm SO impressed.

Reading progress update: I've read 65%.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) - Holly Black

So, surprisingly, I'm really digging this book. Well, I guess it's not all that surprising. If there's one thing that I know for a fact, it's that Holly Black can write about the fae. I've read a few of her other fairy related books, and have always been impressed with how easily she can pull her readers into their dark and beautiful world. My biggest issue is usually the plot! It never seems to be as good as the world building.

 

In this book, I'm actually really seeing what I've hoped for from Black for a long time. It's her same darkly glittering fairy world, but the plot here is superb as well. There's court intrigue, strong characters and, unless the ending lets me down, a good build up towards the end.

 

I desperately hope this book doesn't fail me, because I'm kind of in love right now.

GIVEAWAY!

Emergency Contact - Mary H. K. Choi

Hey loves!

 

I'm giving away a copy of this gorgeous book on my blog, courtesy of Simon Teen and Big Honcho Media. If you have a U.S. mailing address, and this looks like something you'd like to read, would you please go and enter? :D

 

Click here!

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Sunburn: A Novel - Laura Lippman

What to say first about this book? Ah! Lippman came into my life, way back when I was a new blogger, when I ended up with the 11th book in her Tess Monaghan series for review. I remember being a little worried that I wouldn't be able to pick things up so late in the story line, but there was Lippman's exceptional writing picking me up and taking me on a journey anyway. I ended up loving that book, and I've been a fan of Lippman ever since! So imagine my excitement when I was asked to be on the tour for Sunburn. It's been long enough since I read one of her books that I was eager to see if her writing was what I remembered from before. Oh, it was. You'd best prepare for some gushing.

It's so impressive to me when a book can completely command your attention from the first few sentences, and Sunburnaccomplishes that easily. Polly's story, while you don't know who she is just yet, pulls you into its web. I found myself utterly invested in this woman, and unable to look away as everything she'd planned slowly fell into place. I know that I'm being vague, and you can understand that it's a purposeful vagueness. There are just too many things that I can't give away, without ruining your enjoyment of this spiderweb of a book. Just trust me when I say that Polly's story is extremely layered, and totally worth taking the time to uncover.

Plus, while the whole plot thread is just deliciously mysterious, it's really the characters themselves who steal the show. Polly is the perfect unreliable narrator. She's easy to love and hate in equal measures, depending on what is newly being revealed to the reader about her. She's shrouded in doubt, yet with enough humanness to make her likable. Adam, on the other hand, is this rock in shifting sands. He's strong, reliable, and yet slowly being eroded by our dear Polly. As the book reaches a climax, and Adam's real plight comes to light, I'm sure you'll find yourself just as stunned as I was. There's a lot to love about how well laid out this book really is.

So why the four star rating, rather than five? I can easily pin that on the fact that the ending, while completely plausible, didn't really suit my tastes. That doesn't mean that it won't be perfect for most readers. That doesn't mean it isn't an excellent ending overall. That's just me, being my nitpicky reader self, being completely transparent with you. I didn't love the ending of this. Still, it's a totally solid and enjoyable read. The twists and turns are wonderful, and I'm still impressed. Lippman hasn't lost her edge, and I hope she never does.