Book Review: Through a Dark Glass

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On her seventeenth birthday, Megan of Chaumont discovers she’ll be sold as a bride to the brutish Volodane family—within hours. Her father grants only that she may choose which one of the ruthless, grasping lord’s three sons she weds:

~ Rolf, the eldest: stern, ambitious, and loyal?
~ Sebastian, the second son: sympathetic, sly, and rebellious?
~ Or Kai, the youngest: bitter, brooding, and proud?

As shy, horrified Megan flees the welcome dinner for her in-laws-to-be, she finds an enchanted mirror that will display how her life unrolls with each man, as if she were living it out in a breath. But there is no smooth “happily ever after” in her choices.

Deaths and honors, joys and agonies, intrigues and escapes await her in a remote, ramshackle keep, where these rough but complex men reveal one side and then another of their jagged characters—and bring forth new aspects of Megan, too. But the decisions of one teenaged marriage-pawn reverberate much farther than any of them have guessed . . .

Pros – What If….? Trope with bonus Sliding Doors feeling, realistic “you can’t always win everything”, decent variations between each character’s “door”

Cons – Events until a certain point are repetitive feeling, folk break “Guest Right” constantly

Notes – There are spoilers for each path here. If you would like a spoiler free review, please head to my Goodreads review

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Book Review: Sufficiently Advanced Magic

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Five years ago, Corin Cadence’s brother entered the Serpent Spire — a colossal tower with ever-shifting rooms, traps, and monsters. Those who survive the spire’s trials return home with an attunement: a mark granting the bearer magical powers. According to legend, those few who reach the top of the tower will be granted a boon by the spire’s goddess.

He never returned.

Now, it’s Corin’s turn. He’s headed to the top floor, on a mission to meet the goddess.

If he can survive the trials, Corin will earn an attunement, but that won’t be sufficient to survive the dangers on the upper levels. For that, he’s going to need training, allies, and a lot of ingenuity.

The journey won’t be easy, but Corin won’t stop until he gets his brother back.

Pros – familiar RPG world mechanics make it easy to understand the plot from A to B, friendship and communication are important here, The Voice of The Tower

Cons – Familiar RPG elements make this a repetitive read, Corin’s at times baffling thought process/leaps of logic, convoluted “bad guy” scheme

Notes – ok this review gets a little long winded and I apologize for that, but the book itself is pretty long (620ish pages / 22 hours audio)

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Book Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

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When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and some distance from her past.

And nothing could be further from what she’s known than the crew of the Wayfarer.

From Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chatty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. That is until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn’t part of the job description.

The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure, and mishaps for the Wayfarer team. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe… as long as you actually like them.

Pros – Rosemary, the crew at large, the examination of the diaspora that can occur so easily and unexpectedly in some cases

Cons – what ends up happening to one of my fav characters

Notes – I listened to the audiobook for this, so some of my spellings may not be as perfect as they could be. I tried to check them against the hardcopy of the book I have whenever I could

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Book Review: Before She Ignites

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Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

Pros – Mira, the entire theme of not being silenced (by yourself or others), dragons

Cons – Plot points brought up and left dangling (I know this is only the first book but still), the format, Mira toddled between realistic in her naivety and unrealistic a bit too frequently for me

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Book Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

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Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

Pros – Jack, the Moors, Jill (yes I’m surprised)

Cons – None. Except you know poor Jack’s happiness…

Notes – While technically the second book in the Wayward Children series, this is a prequel to EVERY HEART A DOORWAY in terms of Jack & Jill’s story. As such if you already read EVERY HEART you know the outcome of Jack’s choice here, but the choices made to get to that choice are what’s most intriguing.

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Book Review: Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

 

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Get ready for a world in which anyone can have the powers of a god or the fame of a pop star, in which human achievement soars to new heights while its depravity plunges to the blackest depths. A world in which at least one cat smells like a seafood shop’s dumpster on a hot summer day.

This is the world in which Zoey Ashe finds herself, navigating a futuristic city in which one can find elements of the fantastic, nightmarish and ridiculous on any street corner. Her only trusted advisor is the aforementioned cat, but even in the future, cats cannot give advice. At least not any that you’d want to follow.

Will Zoey figure it all out in time? Or maybe the better question is, will you? After all, the future is coming sooner than you think.

Pros – …fast paced?

Cons – disturbed me greatly

Notes – I have a hard time grading this book. I’d give it 3 Stars, because it did keep my attention and it was engaging on a level, but the utter brutality and dis-likability of the entire cast is hard to get over.

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Book Review: Soleri

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The ruling family of the Soleri Empire has been in power longer than even the calendars that stretch back 2,826 years. Those records tell a history of conquest and domination by a people descended from gods, older than anything in the known world. No living person has seen them for centuries, yet their grip on their four subjugate kingdoms remains tighter than ever.

On the day of the annual eclipse, the Harkan king, Arko-Hark Wadi, sets off on a hunt and shirks his duty rather than bow to the emperor. Ren, his son and heir, is a prisoner in the capital, while his daughters struggle against their own chains. Merit, the eldest, has found a way to stand against imperial law and marry the man she desires, but needs her sister’s help, and Kepi has her own ideas.

Meanwhile, Sarra Amunet, Mother Priestess of the sun god’s cult, holds the keys to the end of an empire and a past betrayal that could shatter her family.

Pros – Kepi, women came into power, friendship goals

Cons – Sometimes hard to keep track of who relates to who, plans got a bit convoluted and unnecessarily messy at times

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Book Review: Final Girls

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Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Pros – the reveal at the end, Quincy, the entire book

Cons – not gonna lie my one and only Con for this book is such a huge spoiler I can’t put it here

Note – I can’t stress enough pay attention to the details in this book. Every. Single. One.

Spoiler – I don’t spoil anything! Not even whether or not people live or die!

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Book Review: The Blazing Star

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the-blazing-starSixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

Pros – Egypt! Sikara and Alex’s bickering, not insta-love just add teen lust

Cons – Alex’s general attitude, lack of context at times in regards to people, vague undefined time frame

Note – Isn’t that cover beautiful? You should also check out the book trailer, also gorgeous!

Spoiler – my historical note at the end contains spoilers for the Egyptian/Ancient Personages that appear in the book as well as documented history. Please refer to my GR Review if you’d like to avoid all of that.

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Book Review: North Sea Dawn

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In 1066, the death of King Edward put the right of the English to choose their own king in jeopardy. Normans were set to invade England and claim the throne. The Vikings were preparing to launch raids against the British to grab land and wealth. One tiny island stood trapped between two opposing forces.

Lady Julia Cruithne is left with the responsibility of Aurelius, an island rich in trade but poor in defense, when her older brother is killed defending England. She has to secure the continued freedom of her people – through the meager means available to a woman in Medieval Europe. She believes she will have only her own sharp wits and determination at her disposal, and she must consider sacrificing her own freedom to an arranged marriage in order to keep the war from spreading to her island.

Eric Vandalsson is a man well-used to battle. He has won honor, wealth, and reputation fighting across Europe, but he has never earned the prize he covets most: a home. He agrees to invade England on the condition that he be the first to select lands and a woman from the spoils. Unfortunately for Eric, the invasion is not as easy as was promised, and he finds himself without his prize, without a king, and in desperate need of a safe harbor.

When the war spills over to Aurelius, Julia will forge a desperate, unlikely alliance to protect her people. The huge, taciturn Viking is skilled enough take on any opponent, but Julia did not expect to want to consider him as more than a guard. Eric will protect her from invading armies, but their agreement is tested when old allies become enemies and a new king, William of Normandy, casts his eye towards a rich island and an unmarried Lady. Eric will have to convince Julia that she does not have to give up everything she desires in order to save what she loves.

Pros – so finely written, the give/take relationship of Julia & Eric, the strength of the secondary characters

Cons – slow start, you sometimes want to tell Julia to take what she wants screw everyone else

Spoiler – Its a historical romance with a heroine who wants to live her life the way she chooses with the man she loves. How else do you think this will end if not happily?

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