4 stars · history

Blog Tour: Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

Tsarina Book Cover

Tsarina

author: ellen alpsten

pages: [hardcover] 496

summary:

St. Petersburg, 1725. Peter the Great lies dying in his magnificent Winter Palace. The weakness and treachery of his only son has driven his father to an appalling act of cruelty and left the empire without an heir. Russia risks falling into chaos. Into the void steps the woman who has been by his side for decades: his second wife, Catherine Alexeyevna, as ambitious, ruthless and passionate as Peter himself.

Born into devastating poverty, Catherine used her extraordinary beauty and shrewd intelligence to ingratiate herself with Peter’s powerful generals, finally seducing the Tsar himself. But even amongst the splendor and opulence of her new life—the lavish feasts, glittering jewels, and candle-lit hours in Peter’s bedchamber—she knows the peril of her position. Peter’s attentions are fickle and his rages powerful; his first wife is condemned to a prison cell, her lover impaled alive in Red Square. And now Catherine faces the ultimate test: can she keep the Tsar’s death a secret as she plays a lethal game to destroy her enemies and take the Crown for herself?

From the sensuous pleasures of a decadent aristocracy, to the incense-filled rites of the Orthodox Church and the terror of Peter’s torture chambers, the intoxicating and dangerous world of Imperial Russia is brought to vivid life. Tsarina is the story of one remarkable woman whose bid for power would transform the Russian Empire.

review:

Tsarina is a book intended to throw off your expectations from chapter one. Within the most glamorous settings, among the most powerful people, shocking and gruesome events are retold. The book reflects that in gorgeous prose that recounts terrible trials from main character Catherine’s life in poverty, to marrying Peter the Great, to, after his death, finding the opportunity to make herself the most powerful woman in the Russian Empire.

This book is not light reading. Catherine, known as a child as Marta, suffers greatly because of several men in events that are told in detail, so readers who may be triggered by this should consider it in advance.

Catherine quickly learns she is capable of defending herself, using her mind and what resources are available to change her situation, and begins to move upward in station. There is danger for her everywhere, but with that comes some slim chance at greatness.

Other pieces of historical fiction are often bogged down with details that stall and stagnate the plotline. Tsarina reads more like a character study, focusing on Catherine and her life, her many tragedies and successes, providing historical context and information within the existence of these events. I liked this setup, particularly because I knew nothing about her or, really, the Russian Empire from this time period. The writing makes it easy to be immersed in her story.

If you are interested in historical fiction or overlooked women in history, I recommend Tsarina.

4/5 stars

4 stars · graphic novel · young adult

cute, unique graphic novel: the prince and the dressmaker

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The Prince and the Dressmaker

author : jen wang

pages : [paperback] 277

favorite character : frances

summary :

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

review :

I’ve never read a graphic novel like The Prince and the Dressmaker–stunning, beautiful, and just plain CUTE. Yes, there were moments that really stressed me out, but overall this book is creative, smart, and a joy to read.

Prince Sebastian has a secret: sometimes, he prefers to wear gorgeous dresses and go out as Lady Crystallia, making a reputation for himself among the elite in the fashion world. His dress designer is also his best friend–Frances, who has always dreamed of becoming a well-known fashion designer. But how can she achieve those dreams if the person she’s creating for has to live in secret? Will she have to remain a secret, too?

I liked how there were so many different layers to this book. You fear Sebastian will be caught; you fear he’ll need to hide an important part of himself throughout his entire life. You recognize Frances’ aspirations for her own career; you empathize with her willingness to sacrifice so much for an important friend. Both main characters are struggling with who they are and who they want to become; it’s intriguing to watch them grow and find themselves throughout the course of the novel.

While the plot shines, the illustrations sparkle. I loved the art style for this book, and the dresses created by Frances for Sebastian are truly breathtaking. I want to see real-life versions of them. Someone PLEASE cosplay as Frances and Sebastian at a convention. All of my dreams would then come true.

This is an excellent read for those wanting to read more graphic novels, who want to read more diversely, as well as those who truly may not understand situations and people so far outside of the gender binary. I really do think this graphic novel will spread awareness, and love, getting people who may have always thought one way about gender roles (and how even CLOTHING is gendered!) to ask questions that might bring them around to acceptance. It’s important to teach those who are willing to be taught.

The Prince and the Dressmaker reads like a lighthearted fairytale perfect for any collection. I’d eagerly read more by this author.

4/5 stars

 

 

4 stars · Fantasy · young adult

ACE OF SHADES: give me the sequel now

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Ace of Shades

The Shadow Game #1

author : amanda foody

pages : [hardcover] 411

memorable quote :

She was a pistol wrapped up in silk. She was a blade disguised as a girl.

favorite character : levi

summary :

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

review :

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO boy I wish I’d read this book ages ago when it first came on my radar (and especially when my gorgeous beautiful wonderful friend gifted it to me). ACE OF SHADES is so completely unique, and fun, and also terrifying, so basically you’ll love it.

The book is told in dual POV between Enne and Levi, who are both absolute messes and stress me out a lot even though I love them. Enne is new to the city, trying to find her mother and manage not to die in a place that tends to chew up any outsiders who wander in. Levi is a street lord struggling to support his gang and also trying not to die. They team up: Levi will help Enne find her mother, and Enne will pay him for the trouble. They just don’t expect the search to take so long, or for things between them to get so complicated.

I think what I loved most about ACE OF SHADES is that the characters feel so real. They’re imperfect, constantly making mistakes, pissing each other off, and doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons. I never had any doubt about their motivations, and for me, I’m weak for character-driven novels. I like being able to get inside their heads and see their world from their perspective. ACE OF SHADES is interesting because at times when Enne and Levi have the same goal, they’ve grown up with such differing experiences that getting to see each POV was interesting. I liked comparing their thoughts, to their actions, to the dangerous consequences.

I also love a good setting. New Reynes is a city I kept picturing as Las Vegas except, I guess, a little dirtier and magical (?). Everyone in ACE OF SHADES has abilities/affinities that they’re very good at because of their bloodline, which I guess isn’t really magic but if you’re THAT good at something . . . It’s magic. And it just added another interesting layer to the puzzle that makes up this book.

It wasn’t complicated to follow the rules of this world, because the worldbuilding was done *chef’s kiss* beautifully. There was no info-dumping!!! I hate it so much when authors pause the action to overexplain every little piece about the world; I loved how we get to explore the intricacies of the city and their society through Enne and Levi. We see things as they show them to us. It’s perfect.

Honestly, if you’re looking for a unique book filled with interesting characters and an ending that will make you immediately want the sequel . . . here it is. Don’t make the same mistake I did and take so long to pick up ACE OF SHADES. No need to gamble with your own happiness . . . hehe. 🙂

4/5 stars

 

4 stars · fairy tale · Fantasy

The Bear and the Nightingale

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The Bear and the Nightingale

Winternight Trilogy #1

author : katherine arden

pages : [hardcover] 323

memorable quote :

Nothing changes, Vasya. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.

favorite character : vasilisa

summary :

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

review :

This is one of those books where I constantly wonder why it took me so dang long to read it. The Bear and the Nightingale is beautifully written. It starts off a little slowly, but I absolutely love the old-style fairy tale tone that dominates this book. It’s the kind of long book that you just sink into without wanting it to end–which is why I was excited to see that it was a series after I finished this one!

This is one of those stories I absolutely recommend to the fairy tale retelling fan who feels like they’re read everything out there (aka someone like me, hello let’s be best friends). This is new, exciting, and gives you that delightful retelling feeling without absolutely knowing where the plot is going or what will happen with all of the characters. There’s no room for the mundane, only magic.

I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to reread it (and get my hands on the next one)!

4/5 stars

 

 

4 stars · Fantasy · series · young adult

We Hunt the Flame = hot hot hot

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We Hunt the Flame

Sands of Arawiya #1

author : hafsah faizal

pages : [hardcover] 472

memorable quote :

We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.

favorite character : altair

summary :

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

review :

We Hunt the Flame is one of those books where I’m torn between why didn’t I read this sooner and why did I read this now when I need to wait so long for a sequel. The world-building is spectacular. The characters are wonderful, flawed, and cunning. I love a good plot that revolves around a deadly quest. All of these elements come together to form a book that’s exceptionally unique.

Or maybe it just tricked me into falling in love with two of the main characters so I just had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next.

We Hunt the Flame is told in dual POV. Zafira lives in a place where people are dying because there’s no magic, except for the magical winter spread by the impassable forest encroaching on her village. Nasir lives in wealth, but suffers because of his line of work: assassination. The two have very different goals when they meet on their quests: Zafira wants to return magic and save everyone. Nasir knows he needs to kill her.

I’m not sure there’s any book out there featuring enemies to lovers that I’m not destined to fall for.

The supporting cast is great too (including my husband, Altair) although it seems like almost every character speaks fluent sarcasm. I enjoyed this for the most part, but sometimes it becomes hard to determine who’s talking when all of their dialogue ends up being very similar. I liked that everyone had very different (sometimes hidden and mysterious) motivations, making the plot even more complicated. I love it when YA has layers, intrigue inserted over all of the action and romance.

The one negative I have to say about this book is that sometimes the transitions in the plot are a little too jarring. If anything, I think We Hunt the Flame could have benefited from being slightly longer. There were some scene transitions (and even some points within the same scene) where something would happen and I would be left wondering how the heck we as the reader had gotten there. It’s fine to provide less information during chaotic/action-filled scenes, but there was never any backtracking that explained what we’d missed, when everything had a chance to calm down. I know I always talk about how I detest info-dumping but at some points it felt like this book did the opposite and withheld some information. Unfortunately I can’t give any specific examples without spoilers, and I did enjoy this book so . . . you’ll just need to read it for yourself and then we can discuss.

I liked where this book ended and how the setup is coming together for book two. I think it’ll be interesting–I think especially with all of the groundwork this book has done, there won’t really be as many moments of confusion for me as this story continues. It seems like we might get other points of view in the rest of the series too, which I wholeheartedly welcome. Let me into their heads! Give me all of their secrets! Well, not all of them. We’ve come so far and yet there’s still so much mystery wrapped around some of these characters.

If you’re a YA fantasy fan, definitely check out We Hunt the Flame. It’s exactly the right combo of familiar, beloved YA tropes with a unique storyline. It sort of subverts the whole chosen one narrative by having more reluctant (and angry, stabby) main characters. And truthfully, it’s a lot of fun!

4/5 stars

 

 

4 stars · fiction · young adult

Amelia Westlake Was Never Here: a diverse book we needed

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Amelia Westlake Was Never Here

author : erin gough

pages : [hardcover] 368

favorite character : will

memorable quote : So I do what any self-respecting person would: I go after her screaming.

summary :

A fiercely funny, queer romantic comedy about two girls who can’t stand each other, but join forces in a grand feminist hoax to expose harassment and inequality at their elite private school.

Harriet Price is the perfect student: wealthy, smart, over-achieving. Will Everhart, on the other hand, is a troublemaker who’s never met an injustice she didn’t fight. When their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the unlikely duo reluctantly team up to expose his misdeeds, pulling provocative pranks and creating the instantly legendary Amelia Westlake–an imaginary student who helps right the many wrongs of their privileged institution. But as tensions burn throughout their school–who is Amelia Westlake?–and between Harriet and Will, how long can they keep their secret? How far will they go to make a difference? And when will they realize they’re falling for each other?

Award-winning author Erin Gough’s Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is a funny, smart, and all-too-timely story of girls fighting back against power and privilege–and finding love while they’re at it.

review :

This is the contemporary high school story I didn’t know I was waiting for.

Amelia Westlake Was Never Here tells the story of two girls who become unlikely allies in an attempt to shake things up at their boarding school. Will has always been a little unconventional and a lot into politics. Harriet is more likely to suck up to her teachers than to stand up against something. When the two agree that something is not quite right at their school, they start an anonymous campaign together and begin by targeting their sexist, creeping gym teacher. They create Amelia Westlake, a fake student who pulls harmless pranks to point out terrible things that are happening which the school is attempting to sweep it all under the rug.

Will and Harriet’s dynamic is hilarious, and frustrating, and perfect. The story is told in their alternating points of view. Will’s perspective is always quick, moving forward recklessly and without thought. Harriet’s is more restrained, as she forces the world around her to bend to her will, and the way she words things is stiff and filled with superfluous vocabulary words. I love it. It’s so rare to see a book so easily dive into the heads of two very different characters and have the writing style change to adapt to each personality.

This story is about teenagers, and the amazing thing about it is it speaks about real issues people in high school encounter—real, terrifying issues—and it never talks down about these girls. There’s never a moment where the book seems to doubt they’re capable of fighting against the injustice at their school simply because of their age. I feel like it’s incredibly empowering and poignant for the young adults who’ll be reading this book. Undoubtedly some will be dealing with the same issues Harriet and Will are fighting against. One lovely thing about Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is the truth behind its message: one voice speaking out against the rest can be enough to turn the tide.

Of course, I’m also a sucker for the dynamic between these two, where they bicker and claim to hate each other while truly they’re getting a better understanding of what each is going through. There were parts of this book that had me laughing, squealing, gasping—parts that made my heart hurt, because they’re so relatable and part of anyone’s experience in growing up. This is a coming of age story that helps readers truly decide: would you rather be a bystander, or make a change in your world?

Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is a book that is here, and will be important for a long while.

4/5 stars

4 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Salt by Hannah Moskowitz: unique and seaworthy

 

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Salt

author : hannah moskowitz

pages : [hardcover] 258

favorite character : indi

summary :

Even though their parents disappeared during a hunt three months ago, seventeen-year-old Indi and his siblings, Beleza, Oscar, and Zulu, continue to roam the Mediterranean on their sailboat and hunt down monsters–but Indi yearns for a more settled life for his family, and he hopes that his parents’ journal with its tantalizing hints of a treasure, will provide them all with the means of escape from their nomadic and dangerous life before it is too late.

review :

What would you do, if your family was a group of seafaring monster hunters, and one day your parents leave and never end up coming back?

Indi and his siblings (Beleza, who likes to think that she’s in charge; Oscar, who wants to be a doctor; Zulu, who’s the youngest and should probably really be in school) grew up on the ocean. They belong to no place, only to each other. When the worst happens and their parents don’t return from a hunt, Indi and Beleza need to keep track of the kids. They need to keep themselves alive. And, maybe, they need to get some revenge.

Salt is a story about family. An unconventional one, because they have an unconventional life, but siblings are mostly the same toward each other whether they grow up thousands of miles from the sea, or right on top of it. Indi and his brother and sisters are part of that rare group of people who know that monsters exist. Because of this, their parents dedicated their lives—and their children’s lives—to keeping all of those ignorant people on their safe. It’s their job to learn about where a monster is, and then destroy it before it figures out how to eat them.

I really liked this book because it was so different. Indi’s voice is a unique one, trying to be tough in the face of his parents’ disappearance, all too young when he realizes how much has been left on his shoulders. He doesn’t even want to hunt monsters; what he wants more than anything is a normal life, and you can feel the anger seeping into his thoughts and actions as he’s forced to follow in his parents’ footsteps. It’s incredible relatable, even in this incredibly unique situation.

One thing that completely pulled me out of the story, though, was how jarringly the plot would move ahead. In one moment, we would linger over a quiet scene that’s great for characterization but does nothing overall for the plot of the book. Then something big, that the words have been building up to for a long time, will be breezed over in a few sentences, or referred to off-handedly because we don’t get to see that scene at all. I think it’s possible not to make the monster-hunting the center of the story without completely discounting it. The story’s content shouldn’t have been an afterthought to characterization. Even then, characters would sometimes make absurd choices that seemed only tailored to move the plot forward . . . the plot which the book had already deemed unimportant.

Overall, though, I really did like this book. I liked reading about Indi and his family; I liked never knowing what was going to happen next in their rough-and-tumble lifestyle. Salt is something new, something refreshing (even when there’s no freshwater to be found, cue the laughter). Hannah Moskowitz’s books are always unique and fun to read.

4/5 stars

 

4 stars · adult · fiction

The Girls at 17 Swann Street: beautiful, powerful novel

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The Girls at 17 Swann Street

author : yara zgheib

pages : [hardcover] 384

favorite character : anna

summary :

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

review :

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street is a beautifully deceiving book. The writing is a light, almost delicate style of lyric prose, while the content of the book is jarringly serious. The main character and narrator, Anna, has anorexia. The story follows her entering in-patient treatment, because her husband and her family and, sometimes, Anna, are afraid she is going to die.

I’m not sure if she was named “Anna” purposefully as a nod to how some refer to anorexia as “my friend Ana”. Because Anna tries to befriend those around her, tries to make the people in her life happy, and realizes nearly too late that her attempts to please the people around her are truly costing her those relationships. She is convinced that to succeed, she must be thinner, “better”, and the easiest thing to control in her life is how much food she eats.

I feel like the writing style worked perfectly for this book. It makes it easier to connect with Anna the person, rather than seeing her completely through her disease. There are so many stories where illness becomes the focus, not the character behind it or their struggle, and The Girls at 17 Swann Street makes all of these women feel real. You get to know them at their most vulnerable selves; you get to know their wants and fears, their dreams beyond this facility they’re currently living in.

My only complaint is that by getting into Anna’s head so completely, dialogue is sacrificed a little along the way. Some of the interaction between the characters is very stiff and feels melodramatic more than natural. Still, it’s possibly the least important part of the story, so it doesn’t detract from the overall message of the book.

As someone who has not had any personal experience with this disease, I can only assume this is an accurate depiction of what life in an in-patient facility might look and feel like. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’d like to get a better understanding of anorexia, which you might not know much about. Beyond that, the writing is on the whole excellent, so I’ll be looking forward to whatever Yara Zgheib writes next.

4/5 stars

 

4 stars · science fiction · young adult

Landscape with Invisible Hand — a great, unique sci-fi read

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Landscape with Invisible Hand

author : m.t. anderson

pages : [hardcover] 149

memorable quote :

The hand that records is also what makes everything unclear.

favorite character : adam

summary :

National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson returns to future Earth in a sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization.

When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth – but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents’ jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem “classic” Earth culture (doo-wop music, still-life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they hate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go – and what he’s willing to sacrifice – to give the vuvv what they want.

review :

I’ve been excited to read this book since I received a sampler of it at last year’s Book Con. I can honestly say it was everything I expected and more.

Landscape with Invisible Hand serves up a tone that tastes like a blend of contemporary YA and sci-fi aliens. The Earth has had contact with this extraterrestrial species for years now and those creatures that found Earth came in peace. They promised to cure all disease and end meaningless jobs. They promised to help. And they did . . . didn’t they?

The story revolves around Adam, a budding teenage artist who has many problems. Most extend from the vuvv–those aliens that didn’t quite invade. Because things on Earth . . . aren’t looking so bright. But they aren’t in an interstellar war, or anything, so it can’t be too terrible. The story is told through Adam’s paintings; each chapter title is a different landscape he’s done. It’s an interesting look at the world through his eyes–what comes from the humans, what the vuvv have touched, and what happened when the two species blended on the planet.

I loved this book. It’s so different from anything I’ve ever read before. This isn’t your typical take on sci-fi, it’s no typical coming-of-age. It speaks just as much about our current worldview and society as it does about interplanetary consequences and arrangements. I always love a book that leaves me thinking afterward and I believe this is one that I won’t be able to shake for a while.

This book is very short, at around 150 pages. That’s partially why I don’t want to get into anything more specific. There isn’t much room there for me to not spoil anything important. But if you’re looking for a unique book, with beautiful writing and characters that are funny and a little absurd, definitely pick this one up. If you’re bored of alien and dystopian tales that all feel the same, this one will definitely be unlike any you’ve read before.

And it leaves you to think about what would be worse when humanity finds aliens, or the aliens find us: war, or ‘peace’?

4/5 stars

 

 

4 stars · adult · mystery

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: loved it as much as the movie

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gone girl

author : gillian flynn

pages : [paperback] 415

memorable quote :

There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.

favorite character : amy

summary :

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

review :

I really enjoyed this book. I’m not one for thrillers, or mysteries, or the like. On top of that, I watched the movie before ever picking up the book, so I knew what all of the twists would be before page one.

And I still enjoyed it.

Gone Girl is . . . Well, I’m sure almost all of you have heard of it, even if you haven’t seen or watched it. At its core it’s a crime novel, following the timeline of an investigation and considering the impact that modern TV and film has had on police work. Not to mention how public perception tends to warp opinions long before anything goes to trial.

I loved that the book has alternating points of view. We hear from Nick, husband of the missing woman. We hear from Amy, who disappeared with hardly any clues left behind, through her past diary entries. The disparity between the written word and the first person account of Nick’s POV was surprisingly compelling. Flynn doesn’t underestimate a reader’s intelligence. She isn’t one of those authors who feels the need to hold the audience’s hand and walk them through step by step what is happening. Instead she trusts them with the mystery and the suspense, leaving them the pieces to draw their own conclusions. It works well.

I think another thing I loved about this book, that would perhaps turn off others, is how realistic and flawed all of the characters are. None of them are very likable. None are portrayed as perfect. Sure, it makes it easy to hate all of them, but by then you’re so wrapped up in the story you don’t care. You don’t know who to root for. You don’t know how you want it to end!

I will definitely read more by this author. I love that she’s unexpectedly won me over and who knows? Maybe I’ll love this genre a little more because of her.

4/5 stars