1 star · Fantasy · fiction

Kill the Farm Boy: more like kill my interest in this book

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Kill the Farm Boy

authors : delilah s. dawson and kevin hearne

pages : [hardcover] 364

summary :

In an irreverent new series in the tradition of Terry Pratchett novels and The Princess Bride, the New York Times bestselling authors of the Iron Druid Chronicles and Star Wars: Phasmareinvent fantasy, fairy tales, and floridly written feast scenes.

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.

This is not that fairy tale.

There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.

And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.

There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.

review :

I’ve never DNF’d a book so fast. I’m sure that this is someone else’s cup of tea, but Kill the Farm Boy is not for me.

As something compared to The Princess Bride, possibly one of the greatest, funniest takes on fairytale tropes that still manages to tell a fantastic story, Kill the Farm Boy is nothing like that. I read slightly less than fifty pages and then, when I found out this had a sequel coming, decided to end things there. I have too many other books to read to commit to . . . this.

I’m genuinely confused because I feel like if this book was scaled back–like if the lewd jokes disappeared and the characters were aged down, this would work so well as a middle grade book. In all seriousness, I think readers would love that. Because in the 40-50 pages I read, there were at least a dozen poop and fart jokes. In an adult novel. Ooooooooookay.

Besides that, the rest of the humor wasn’t for me either. Like, there was a lady running around in an armored bikini, I think just because it would be ‘funny’ to have her do certain things in a bikini? The bulk of the rest of the jokes felt like I was reading a mash-up parody of The Three Stooges. And that sort of humor doesn’t work on the page.

That said, I’m sure someone will like this. But if this sort of humor isn’t for you–maybe skip it, because Kill the Farm Boy is more about the jokes than the plot anyway.

1/5 stars

 

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5 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Muse of Nightmares: I’VE DONE MY WAITING FOR THIS! IN AZKABAN!

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Muse of Nightmares

Strange the Dreamer #2

author : laini taylor

pages : [hardcover] 514

favorite character : lazlo strange

memorable quote :

Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s-eye yourself.

summary :

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

review :

Have you ever dreamed up something wild and improbable? Something that isn’t just in your mind but in your heart–your soul? These books are for those dreamers. The ones working toward those dreams and the ones who’ve realized them. The ones who’ve had others achieve them not knowing how precious they should regard them, and the ones who’ve reached their dreams only to find they are not quite what they had hoped they would be.

Lazlo and Sarai are dreamers. Their dreams are beautiful and kind. But Muse of Nightmares explores what can shatter or twist them into mere shadows of themselves. Dreams and nightmares are not so far apart. Laini Taylor effortlessly wove this thread in with another big theme in this book: what makes the different between a hero and a villain? Seen from different perspectives, the “good guys” might not be so great. The villain might be able to save everyone. The hero can destroy them all. Laini Taylor’s cast of characters is so diverse and flawed and lovely. One of the things most impactful in her books is the fact that the characters never shy away from their true selves. They do not bend to fit the plot; there’s no breaking of character here. The characters, and the character arcs, are gloriously complicated.

The world of Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares is so rich and beautiful that it’s hard not to crave more of it. The world-building here is fantastic; Muse picks up on it right where Strange left off. And the connections that appear, linking this story back to another beloved one by Laini Taylor, are both fun and curious.

I can’t wait to see what she’ll write next.

These books are like sugar and dreams–they’re so rich and sweet and beautiful, that you want to take your time sinking into them so you won’t overindulge. Still, you’ll be tempted to devour them all at once.

Muse of Nightmares is a perfect conclusion to this duology. It’s gorgeous. It’s terrifying. And it’s complicated. It’s . . . strange. And if you haven’t read either book yet, you should. Then you too can dream up something wild and improbable.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

Fantasy · series · young adult

This Savage Song: so you say you want to read about an attractive violinist


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This Savage Song

Monsters of Verity #1

author : victoria schwab

pages : [paperback] 468

favorite character : august

memorable quote :

I mean, most people want to escape. Get out of their heads. Out of their lives. Stories are the easiest way to do that.

summary :

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

review :

Part of me loves to read books years after their release. On my own time, with no rush, so I can fall right into the story.

The other half of me wonders why I didn’t read this years ago.

Okay. It was partly because I thought this was a contemporary book, and I don’t normally read contemporary. I KNOW. You’re thinking, Kayla, read a summary some day why don’t you. I don’t know how it got in my brain that this was, like, a light romance between some girl and a musician. Maybe because the cover looks like a contemporary?

I’M HERE TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. This is definitely a fantasy, sort of dystopian fantasy (but not in the overdone, mid-2000s sort of way). This Savage Song is beautiful. The story is told in two points of view and at first there was that thing happening where I preferred reading one over the other. Then we got to know the characters, their pasts and motivations, and I fell for both of them. Hard.

This Savage Song is one of those fantasies where the less you knowing going into it, the better, because the world-building here is so great that you don’t need to know anything in advance. Sure, I would die within a day if I lived in this place, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to imagine it.

Also, this book is a little . . terrifying. And I loved it. And I realized that I need more slightly horrifying protagonists in my life, who are really pure cinnamon roll characters underneath. That dynamic will never get old.

All said, I can’t recommend this book enough. I finally got around to it because of a friend’s recommendation, so let me be that friend to you: Read. It. Now.

5/5 stars

 

 

1 star · Fantasy · young adult

A Court of Mist and Fury: where did the plot go?

 

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A Court of Mist and Fury

Author: sarah j. maas

favorite quote :

To the people who look at the stars and wish, Rhys.

favorite character : rhys

summary :

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

review :

I know that many people love this series, which is why I’m very okay with stating that I did not like this book. It doesn’t need me to vouch for it; this isn’t my kind of thing.

A Court of Mist and Fury begins where the last book ends. One thing I did appreciate about this book is that it genuinely shows the consequences of book one on these characters who had to live through it. They’re scarred, physically and psychologically, they’re depressed or angry. They’re imperfect, and the ways in which they fit together before the events of A Court of Thorns and Roses don’t really exist anymore. They need to find a new way to live.

What follows is just . . . not very good writing. Without giving anything away (for the people like me who are very late to reading this series) the plot seems to sort of disappear, when convenient. There is a big push to find and accomplish certain things because a new threat is rising, and yet it somehow simultaneously leaves Feyre with months to do things that don’t affect the ‘plot’ very much at all.

When certain things do appear, there is no real correlation relating them to the bulk of the book, much less to the first one. The world-building here is a mess, as things aren’t mentioned until the moment they’re served up to the reader. Then, we’re either given a two page info dump to catch readers up on information the characters supposedly knew all along, or no real explanation is given which leaves the prose filled with confusing holes.

Part of my problem here is that because we aren’t given the full scope of the world and the stakes, it’s very difficult to care. You can’t care about something that might be destroyed or lost if it only appeared pages beforehand. You can’t be worried about any situation because Feyre is now as overpowered as someone like Superman. I understand that not even she know what she’s capable of, but her training is described so vaguely and off-handedly that it’s impossible not to think that there’s no limits to her abilities. We never see her struggle with the depths of her power or strain under physical exhaustion. Because we aren’t told the extent of the abilities she’s been given, with each new situation that is presented, she can come up with some miraculous solution that literally pops up out of nowhere with no precedence. Forgivable, maybe once or twice, but it happens over and over and over again. She isn’t even the only deux ex machina to appear in this book!

Some miscellaneous things that weren’t very enjoyable:

–Feyre thinking of herself as beautiful and then consequently appearing shocked when anyone else says that she’s beautiful

–this book could have been 100 pages long because apart from the beginning and end there were only a few plotty chapters in the middle

–villains spieling too much about their motivations while simultaneously not making much sense at all

I understand that most people read these books for the romance and the . . . raunchy bits. As someone who would read for the fantasy and story over that, I think perhaps this series is aimed toward a different kind of audience. But to give readers two characters to ship together, these important story elements shouldn’t be sacrificed.

1/5 stars

Fantasy · series · young adult

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: immediately a favorite

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Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)

author : susan dennard

pages : [hardcover] 416

memorable quote :

Sometimes justice was all about the small victories.

favorite character : safi

summary :

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

review :

Why did it take me so long to finally read this book?? It’s been on my TBR since 2016. I could have been in love with this series and Susan Dennard’s writing two years ago. Because Truthwitch is now–immediately, wholeheartedly–one of my favorite books.

My best recommendation is for you to pick up this book without reading any more on it. Let yourself be immersed in the story itself. Dennard creates such a detailed, fantastical–terrifying–world that’s impossible not to get drawn into. This is one of those fantasy novels where you can easily picture yourself in the setting. You wonder what sort of witch you’d most like to be, in their world. You wonder who your allies would be. And your enemies.

I always say that plot comes second to me, just behind the characters, but this one really holds out against an amazing cast. Really, with the nuanced, flawed; and hilarious main characters, everything else is just extra. Every unpredictable plot twist or witty quip or bit of romance. Yes, there are some very intriguing relationships developing here that I’m already obsessed with.

And then that ending, that really takes what’s left of your heart and shoves it through a shredder.

But, like, in a good way. It’s fine. Read it anyway.

I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. Don’t delay as much as I did–read it now!

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard: SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD

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Sightwitch (The Witchlands #0.5)

author : susan dennard

pages : [hardcover] 208

memorable quote :

What is life except perception?

favorite character : ryber

summary :

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard, Sightwitch is an illustrated novella set in the Witchlands and told through Ryber’s journal entries and sketches.

Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch…

Before Merik returned from the dead…

Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight—and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.

On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.

Set a year before TruthwitchSightwitch is a companion novella that also serves as a set up to Bloodwitch, as well as an expansion of the Witchlands world.

review :

I can’t say it enough: I’m so glad that I finally read these books. The Witchlands series is something special. It’s creative, immersive, and nuanced. The characters are lovely, flawed, and relatable. The diversity is done well. The plot is . . . well, I don’t think my heart can take much more. If you haven’t read these books yet, start with Truthwitch, then read your way here.

Sightwitch is a collection of maps, drawings, and journal entries that not only tell more of Ryber’s story. They give a better perspective to this world as a whole. More of the fun (well, sometimes terrifying) world building that couldn’t be lingered over in the first two books. It’s a look into the past–sometimes the very far past, as in thousands of years, and sometimes just the earlier days of characters we’ve learned to love. It all blends together in this beautiful, much too short book that will keep you reading late into the night.

I just didn’t want to put it down.

There’s adventure and romance, yes. But also bravery–characters coming into their own. Loss. Reunions. Hope, and plans for the future. Worry, and the chance that literally everything will crumble to ruin.

Sightwitch is quieter than the previous two books, possibly because it is a prequel. It doesn’t have as many characters or locations as the others, and I love it. I love being drawn so personally into the lives of these characters we really needed to learn more about. Basically what this book taught me above all else is that I will read anything Susan Dennard writes and won’t be pleased until there are, like, fifty books in this series.

So if you haven’t started to read it yet . . . you should probably pick it up today.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

2 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Monstrous Beauty: a gruesome but disappointing mermaid tale

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Monstrous Beauty

author : elizabeth fama

pages : [hardcover] 295

favorite character : ezra

summary :

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

review :

I love mermaids, and I’m forever searching for my perfect mermaid book. I’m still searching, because Monstrous Beauty turned into a monstrous disappointment.

I went into the book only knowing it would involve mermaids in some way–my favorite way to dive into a book involves knowing as little as possible in advance. In the first fifty of so pages, I was in love. The story alternated between two points of view, Syrenka (a mermaid in the 19th century) and Hester (the typical ‘normal’ girl in a contemporary setting). I liked the disparity between the two POVs, though was more invested in the past (because MERMAID). The prose was good, though tight and plain as sometimes happens with contemporary, even contemporary fantasy.

And then.

Things began to go downhill with the dialogue, when I soon came to realize that no one was saying anything that a normal person would ever say. In the chapters from the past, the language choices could be more forgiving, but Hester and her friends in the present didn’t talk at all like teenagers or . . . Actually, anyone that I can think of. For example, she continuously refers to her love interest as her “lover”, and I can’t think of any teenager who’d do so and wouldn’t immediately burst into laughter afterward.

Then the insta-love. Why must mermaid novels ALWAYS include insta-love? It painfully exists here and even then, it can’t seem to remain consistent. On one page Hester claims she’ll never love anyone else again if she loses her beloved. On the next she muses about whether she’ll live to see her grandchildren. Then again, if she falls in love so quickly, perhaps she falls out of love just as fast.

Then the ghosts. Why were there ghosts? Somehow they fit into this version of mermaid lore that we’re never really given clear parameters on. I love ghost stories (and, contrary to my love of mermaids, have indeed found ghost stories I love). But the mermaid mythology here was complicated enough without introducing the spirits, most of whom seemed completely irrelevant apart from adding a few extra pages of attention and making Hester seem like a bit of an idiot. I mean, she wonders why no one else seems able to see or hear these things, and knows about people who died in those exact spots, AND knows mermaids exist . . So can’t put two and two together to decide ghosts are real as well.

I did like how dark this story went with the mermaid myth and the tone it took in the chapters from the past. But that initial attraction wasn’t enough to save it from all of the problems thrown in there.

I can’t recommend this book.

2/5 stars