Book 27 took some time to get through because I started to get a little indecisive on what book to read next and a little burned on reading books fast. So I just read a little at a time and then jumped right in. I am glad I did. Renee Ahdieh did an amazing job with this book Flame in the Mist. Ahdieh is really great at bringing different cultures and different times periods to life. And the love story actual pretty good, considering it was a young adult book.
So this book is about young Mariko, a young Japanese woman from a prominent family in feudal Japan. Mariko is being married off to the second son of the emperor to help your family’s standing in the empire. She is not that happy about this arrangement and is even less happy when her convoy is attacked and she is the only survivor. So what do you do when your convoy is attacked and it looks like a band of mercenaries known as the Black Clan (seriously, it’s not a racial joke, it the actual name of the group) is responsible? You, as an untrained warrior and a woman, dress like a boy and try to infiltrate this clan.
The book may be based in Japan but it reminds me of a historical Korean drama so much. I am not kidding when I say that I was reading this book and the author would describe something, I pictured the Korean counter part instead. I blame it on the fact that I have frequently watched historical Korean dramas. They are so full of political intrigue and romance. My favorite so far is a Korean drama called Scarlet Heart Ryeo, check it out. If you have watched this Korean drama, this book is just as good. Now just because I said this doesn’t mean that the book doesn’t read like it is based in Japan. I have watched enough anime and Japanese dramas to know how similar but how different the cultures of Japan and Korean are. I just happen to relate more with the Korean culture and it’s history because I lived there for 18 months after college. The book is based on Japanese culture and you can see and feel that as you read. But because my mind relates more with Koran culture and I know a good amount about both, my mind created the equivalent in Korean culture. I am just weird like that.
Enough about me. Mariko is an interesting heroine. She isn’t annoying at all, like most heroines in animes, the kind that has the high-pitched voice and has a “woe is me” complex. Mariko is really brave to try to live like a boy, knowing that if she were found out, she would be killed. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact was finally free. I think that is mostly the reason as to why she decided to hunt down the Black Clan instead of going home to her family. She probably saved herself doing that, since an enemy really attacked her and it’s not the obvious choice (that is your hint). It is really sweet to see the duality of her and her brother, Kenshin. Kenshin, her twin, is so devoted to his family and the way of the warrior. Mariko is devoted to knowledge and freedom. There is no question on whether she loves her family or not but there is definitely a question on whether her family loves her.
So I know this post is a little all over the place, happens a lot in my blogs, but all in all this is a great book and definitely something to read if you like reading about different cultures. Anyways, I see you soon with my next book. Hopefully it won’t take me as long to finish.
Okay we are at book 26 with the book “Hunted” by Meagan Spooner. So I didn’t know what I wanted to read next and decided to let my husband decide. I read him the synopsis of the books I was thinking about and he chose Hunted by Meagan Spooner. Out of all the books, he said that it was the one that sounded the most interesting. Boy was he right. I consumed this book. Why? This book is based on Beauty and the Beast. I mean, the same plot lines and everything but it was so different. It’s hard to explain.
You have a heroine who is known as Beauty (literally) who has a father disappear. The same father shows signs of madness before he disappears. (an allusion to the end of the Disney version when Maurice was going to be locked up by telling everyone about the Beast). You have a beast with a curse. You have the Beast taking Beauty hostage to take her father’s place. But it is so much more than that.
The curse the Beast has isn’t from being a selfish prick, like the Beast that everyone knows. His curse is based on the feeling of want, wanting everything. He’s not greedy but there is something that is missing and he wants things to help fill that void. The book also has a rich hunter who wants to marry Beauty, but he doesn’t go on a rampage to kill the Beast like Gaston does in the Disney version.
The differences in this book mainly have to deal with Beauty. She isn’t some damsel but a hunter and provider for her family. She is much like the Beast’s human part, she wants something other than what life and circumstances have to offer her. She doesn’t just want to marry a man and be a house wife. The forest and nature calls to her and she wants to be free, without the restrictions of a man. If she does marry, she wants to be with someone who understands who she is. The story revolves around her trying to figure out what she really wants. She goes after her father, finds him dead and blames the Beast because he was the only person there. The Beast, because of the curse and his melancholy, claims responsibility because he knows she will stay around to try to kill him and he needs her to find a creature to end his curse.
The beauty of this book is that it is rich in fairy tales without making it completely fantastical. It seems so real but a fairy tale at the same time. It is hard to explain. All I know is that my husband was correct in getting me to read this book first. It was really good and I loved it. I think I am going to ask his opinion more often, see if he is really good at picking interesting books or if it was a fluke. Well I talk to yall after the next book
Book 25 was a doozy for me. This book is by an author that I adore since I read her first book The Historian. Elizabeth Kostova wove such a wonderful tale with the Historian, I added half of Eastern Europe to my “must visit” places. When I saw that she was writing another book, one that sounded more up my ally then the book she wrote after The Historian, I had to read it. It was interesting and time consuming all at the same time.
So the story starts with Alexandra, an American woman who is trying to heal still after a tragedy that happened in her past (one that I felt was never concluded and was a little disappointed about) She traveled to Bulgaria and, in a weird coincidence, ended up with an urn with someone’s ashes inside. She sets out with her taxi driver (who just so happens to get interested in knowing more about the man who died) and a dog that they found to figure out the mystery of the man in the urn.
So this book is different in the fact that you read Alexandra’s story about figuring out her mystery and the story of the man they were investigating. Kostova is known for her changing points of view (you should read The Historian, it had stories within stories within stories).
Now this book was really amazing. I say that because Kostova does an amazing job of making you care about the main characters and you see them grow. She describes everything so well that you can easily picture the beautiful landscapes her characters are traveling through. She also really shows how the culture and history is significant to the places her characters visit. That being said, I did have one problem with this book. The main character, Alexandra, is trying to find the wife and son of the man whose ashes she holds. She met these people very briefly when she first acquired the urn and dreamt of the son ever since. The son is in his late 30 if my calculations are correct and she is 28 (not that I should judge in age, my husband and me have a bigger age difference than is traditional). At the end of the book, when the mystery is being solved and the reader is entering the climax and resolution of the plot, a sudden romance starts between the two. The son describes Alexandra as someone his father would have loved to meet, before he knew that much about her. He thought to leave his father’s ashes in her hands suddenly at the beginning, without knowing her at all. Then, after the climax, the author puts hints that they are going to end up together. It just seemed kind of random and not really a great ending for the story. I mean, I understand wanting it to seem like Alexandra would make her life in Bulgaria and whom better then with the son of the man she learned so much about, but it just didn’t work for me. If he was someone she got to know and vice versa throughout the book (like he was on the mission with her to figure out the mystery of his father) then it would have been more believable but that’s probably it. I did like that a strong masculine character turned out to be gay. It breaks the assumptions people have about gay males and really show cases that someone sexuality doesn’t change them from being a good person to someone weird or over the top.
Well those are my thoughts for this book. I am happy with this book and was slightly sad at the end (you have to read to understand). I was surprised on how much this book contained but didn’t as well. Read the book to make sense of that statement as well. See you next book.
Book 24 is a book by Eleanor Herman called the Legacy of Kings. I actually listened to this book as my book challenge this year has an audiobook requirement that I have to fulfill and I was going on a 10 hour trip to visit my husband who is a state a way for work. I did the audible 30 day trail and got this book as it has been on my to read list for a while now and was a 16 hour audiobook. Perfect for the trip to and from my husband.
So this book is about Alexander the Great in his teen years, before he because the Great. There are other people involved in the story and there is a magical aspect as well so it sounded interesting to me. The book skipped from 6 different people’s point of view. Katerina is a peasant girl who has a mysterious ability to talk with animals, kind of, and a mysterious grudge against the Queen of Macedonia. Alexander is obviously one of the points of view. There is also Jacob, friend and “lover” (they just claim to love one another) of Katerina. Hephastean, friend of Alexander and a hot head, is another point of view. Cynane is Alexander’s half sister and obsessed with procuring magic through the sacrifice of a person who has committed the true betrayal. Finally, Zofia, the Persian princess who decided that she is in love with a solider and ran away from home because she doesn’t want to be married to Alexander. These are all the people that we see the story through.
So a few things that I really enjoyed about this book is the historical aspect and the interesting take of magic. Some things that I did not like about this book is the lame names for the different magic (Snake blood, smoke blood…..seriously?!) and how some of the character’s act.
Zofia is probably the worst character in my opinion. Granted I say this because her story really doesn’t connect with the main story like everyone else does. She is literally a country away and her story is more self-contained then really part of something bigger. Now I am sure that Herman is going to connect her to the main story in the later books, as this is the first in a trilogy (like the majority of YA books does nowadays) but I really wasn’t interested in her story and I was not happy when her story came up on the audiobook. I was most interested in Katerina’s story and how it connected to Alexander.
Other than Zofia, I really didn’t like Cynane as well. She was so whiny in my opinion, just like Zofia but, in a way, worse. She was trying to gain power just because she wanted power. Her mother died before finding this Smoke Blood magic that would make her invincible and she wanted it for herself as well. Not only that, no one had ever really treated her wrong or bad. She wasn’t caste aside, she was abuse, she was given privileges that most royal women don’t get. She wanted power so she could get back at Olypius, the Queen of Macedonia (yeah, she isn’t liked all that much). I get wanting revenge but to purposely set up someone to betray the one person who has ever really cared for them so you can kill them for their blood so you can get revenge make your just as bad as the person you are trying to kill.
Other then these two characters, I really didn’t mind the book at all. It was entertaining and I found myself finding any excuse to drive to finish the book in the end. I have already purchased the second book and am waiting to read it. I am really interested to see where this story will go and how it will blend into the history of Alexander the Great that we know.
Book 23 is a book called Frogkisser by Garth Nix. Now Garth Nix is a favorite of mine because I love his Abhorsen series (if you get the chance to read it, you should) so when I saw this book pop up as something new, I had to read it. Now the story is much different from his previous series I mentioned and because of this, it really took me some time to get through it. I mean, really. It wasn’t a hard book to read but it was as interesting and the characters weren’t as important to me as in the series I read. I don’t feel like there was a lot of character development. Granted, I do believe this story was meant for a younger audience then his Abhorsen series as that is how it read, but I really wanted to see the in-depth characters that Nix is great at creating. Heck, this man got me to feel bad for a bad guy that I hated at the beginning of the series.
So anyways, Frogkisser is kind of a novel that is satirical about other fairytale books that have been all the craze lately. In the young adult genre fairy tale retellings are really popular. I know because I have a good amount on my bookshelf at home. I love the traditional fairy tales, not the Disney ones, as I read them in Grimms book or in Hans Christians books when I was young. My dad got me these, so I thank him for that. The only stories that I have not read the original are the Lion King (actually based on a story from Africa) and Aladdin (I didn’t read A Thousand and One Nights). So this book was interesting to me because of not only my childhood memories but with the new craze of today.
The story is about Anya, a second princess who is told to go on a Quest to save her sister’s prince and to defeat her stepstepfather (yep, two steps) because he is an evil sorcerer who wants to take over the kingdom. Anya is accompanies by her loyal talking dog, a human that was turned into a frog, a human that was turned into a newt, and an otter that was turned into a human. Transformations are a huge thing in this book. That seems like the worst thing that can happen to anyone is to be turned into an amphibian. Anya becomes known as Frogkisser because she uses a special lip balm that can undo a transformation of someone and turn him or her back into his or her original form. That is what started the Quest, Anya had to turn her sister’s prince back from a frog.
So along this journey, Anya meets a band of robbers that are good and have a moral code. Actually, they want to reinstate the laws that were in place before the whole kingdom (because in this story there are many kingdoms that were once a part of one kingdom) was destroyed by a flood. She was also helped by the Good Wizard who’s magic is different than a sorcerer, and the 7 dwarfs that accompany her. All in all, it’s really hard to really find anything at fault in the story but there isn’t anything really amazing or cool to talk about. I felt neutral the whole time I was reading the book, which is why it took so long for me to finish it. I didn’t really care about the characters or where the story was going or anything. I just wanted to finish the book.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t as interesting as I was hoping it would be. It was one of many books I bought with my income tax return to pat my library and it came from a good author so I had high hopes for the story. Since it was a mixture of all sorts of fairy tale characteristics, I thought it would be funny and interesting but I just couldn’t find all of that like I was expecting too.
Well, off to read a new book. Hopefully this one will meet my high expectations as I loved the last book this author wrote.
Book 22 is a love story, literally. It is about a founding father and his wife and how they met and fell in love. Alexander Hamilton is a founding father of America and did much to help lead this country to its independence. It was really awesome to kind of see and relate how a courtship would take place in colonial America, how there was still this change between freedoms for all and the way the aristocracy ran things in a monarch England.
So this book was inspired by Hamilton, the Broadway hit. I admit that I have not seen this play but it sounds really interesting. From what I understand, it does showcase the love between Eliza and Alexander Hamilton. I really just wanted to read a sweet love story and it seemed really interesting, so I picked it up and read it. It reminded me of all the reasons I hate love stories and all the reasons why I was so addicted to them in high school.
This book does have some predictability to it. It is a love story after all. Boy meets girl, one of them falls in love faster than the other but the other falls shortly after. The same thing over and over. There is also always a miscommunication between the two or something that makes them doubt their partner’s love for them. The predictability about it is kind of why I hate romance books now, also the miscommunication, because it always happens and I swear it isn’t as hard as people in the book makes it seem to clear up a misunderstanding. I have been in situations where if I hadn’t talked to my husband, it could have ruined our relationship. But if you value your relationship, you will say something to right a miscommunication. It always bugs me beyond words that heroines in romance novels will not say anything when the man does something to upset them or when they think something is up and the man doesn’t care. Just ask him, put him on the spot. And then if they do put the man on the spot, the man always gets uncomfortable and will do something stupid and lie because they don’t want to be vulnerable. It gets on my nerves so much.
Now what I do love about romance novels, the actual connect that is developed between the man and woman. Especially at the end when they learn to let their walls down. Now, confession, I always love the romance story where man falls in love first and pursues the girl. The man never gives up, and they are a little more aggressive in the courtship then when the woman falls in love first. Also, the woman is always so subtle and expects the man to catch the little hints and when they don’t, the woman will give up. That gets on my nerves so much.
SOOOO to pull all of this together. I love the fact that Alex was so clear in his attentions from the get go about loving Eliza and did all he could to court her. Though he didn’t tell her outright, he did all of the right things and was an amazing hero for our book. Eliza was a reasonable heroine, she actually didn’t let the miscommunication get the most of everything. Unfortunately she did doubt Alex because she didn’t talk with him openly, which is technically the thing of the time period she is living in. She also followed along with her parents plans to marry someone else, who she did not like, who was a sexist pig, all for money. She was actually going to go ahead with marrying this man even after he almost raped her. I would have run away, I am sure someone would have taken her in. I would have killed the man, actually. Now don’t worry, Eliza and Alex end up together, of course, so it’s all happy endings, just a little stressful there at the end when you don’t know what is going to happen.
All in all, a really quick and simple read (even though it took me a couple of days to read it, I get distracted a lot lately). Hoping I will get through the next couple of reads faster, I am running behind on my reading challenge. I need to catch up.
Book 21 is Heartless by Marissa Meyer. Now if the author’s name sounds familiar, last year I read a book by her called Cinder, which is a retelling of Cinderella in a very interesting and science-fiction way. I did enjoy the story of Cinder, so when I saw that Meyer was going to be writing a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, I thought it would be something I would be interested in. That being said, I have grown a little board with retellings of the same kind of fairy tale (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast) so seeing something a little different was interesting. But truthfully, this isn’t really a retelling, as is a craze currently in the young adult genre, but actually a backstory for one of the most interesting villains we have from Disney, the Queen of Hearts. How did this Queen become so mean and bloodthirsty? This story is a creative way to imagine how this came to be. It is fitting that the title of the book is Heartless, for it ends with the Queen of Hearts.
So basically you have the same situation that tends to come up in these princess stories about a princess that has fallen in love with someone that is seen to be beneath her position. The difference is, Cath is not a princess but is part of the gentry, the nobility. She can’t marry someone who is not without a title and, even worse, she can’t be the land best baker like she always wanted. Unfortunately, because of her ability to make such wonderful treats, the King of Hearts has decided that he is in love with her and wants her hand in marriage. The problem? She has no attraction to the King what so ever and is, instead, attracted to the new court joker, Jest (who I want to say is a magician David Copperfield style). This, of course, creates our main conflict. What will Cath chose?
Now this is what gets me in these stories and I love that Meyer acknowledges it as well. The parents of the girl always say they want their child to be happy and they know what is best and push her, literally, into the role as Queen. Honestly, if they had actually been a parent and let Cath make the decision on her own, none of the killing that happens later would’ve happened. Before Cath walked down the aisle, her parents ask if this is what she really wants, if she is happy with what is going to happen because Cath had changed in attitude so much. Cath looks at them and gives an ironic smile and tells them things would have been so different if they only asked that sooner. They set all of the death into motion because of their own ambition, really. It really does make me mad. That is one thing I am grateful for. My parents would give me their advice and if I chose differently, they were there to help me get back on my feet, but I learned from my own mistakes.
So basically, after reading this book about the villain’s story (another craze thanks to Wicked) I can completely understand as to why the Queen of Hearts became so bloodthirsty. Spoiler
She literally had her heart removed to deal with the trauma of seeing the man she loves beheaded right in front of her, for no reason but killing a monster that couldn’t be saved. Killing a monster who’s husband could not come to grips that his wife was not coming back. I completely understand why as I would turn into a heartless witch is someone did that to man I love right in front of me.
Well, I hope you like my perspective of the story. I really did enjoy the story, though I understood that it had to deal with the heart but, seriously, another love story? Anyway, see you next book.
Book 20 is another star wars book (I do like Star wars lol) called Aftermath by Chuck Wendig. Now the difference between this book and the other books that I have read about Star Wars is that it is a lot more complicated. I mean that this book takes place in the Outrim of the galaxies that Star Wars talks about and with that is a lot of different and strange species. Think back to all the movies, Luke’s and Anakin’s home planet is part of the Outrim. There are so many different species of beings that exists out there. Same for this book. It is what made it so hard to get through. This is also the beginning of a trilogy that is supposed to help show what happened to the Empire and how it starts to turn into the New Order that fans see in The Force Awakens.
This book is about Norra, a pilot for the Rebels and now New Republic. She is going home to see her son only to find trouble. The Empire is trying to rebuild in the Outrim. The start of it is a secret meeting of the higher officials that are still alive and free. With this meeting, there is a bounty hunter after an official there. And for good measure, let’s add in a deserter. The story starts slow because the author has to get all the characters in place and set up their backstory to this story, so basically a good portion of the first part of the novel is exposition for the book. Once you get past the exposition, it is actually a really interesting book. The interesting thing about it is, the whole story is just a couple days long and really nothing big happens. The ragtag team learns of the meeting and tries to capture or kill the members of meeting because they are such high officials in the empiric military. There is also something about rescuing a high official of the new republic militia in there but they don’t really rescue this person, he kind of rescues himself. All in all the book wasn’t that bad. For me, I didn’t really get all of little hints to things because I am not as a die hard fan of Star Wars as others, so I don’t know about things that can be hinted at, but I don’t think there was anything in the book to hint at why Luke is where he is in the Force Awakens or what leads Han Solo’s son down the dark path. The only hint that I got was that we get a little hint to who this new sith lord is, the person guiding Ben Solo in the Force Awakens and where he is from.
Anyways, this isn’t a horrible book to read, but because it took so long to get into, I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be with it. But if you love Star Wars, definitely read the book. Until next time.
Book 19 is a book I have heard about for 2 years now from various sources. And now that it has become this new series on Netflix and everyone is watching, I figured that I would check it out. Because I am book reader, I had to start with the book first and then watch the series. Thirteen Reasons Why. If you haven’t heard about this book, it’s pretty simple. A girl commits suicide and leaves behind these tapes to the people who pushed her to the edge, her thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Each instance that contributed to her decision was recorded. The game is, in accordance to the order of people who affected her, the main character has each person listen to all the reasons why she killed herself.
Now my thoughts on this book, I personally don’t understand what happened to Hannah, the main character, to fully commit to taking her own life. I say this because I know how it feels to have people look at you and snicker and to say mean things. I went through that as a young child. I guess because my parents noticed my behavior changing and got me help through my school. Now I know that each person is different and each person reacts differently but what really gets me is that there were several people Hannah could’ve have reached out too and several of the reasons she put on the tapes, weren’t real reasons. I know different people have different reasons, but a couple of the tapes Hannah made didn’t belong because they were more like things she let be done to herself. I am not going to go through all the reasons but if you read the book, you will see where she decided to be more self destructive than have things done to her. She became accepting to the things and actually put herself in the bad situations that she blamed people for.
One of my students said that Hannah said whiny and a bitch. Now I don’t agree with that statement fully. At the beginning of the book, when things happen, she did nothing to stand up for herself, the main instance was in reason 3 when someone smacked her butt and said something degrading. If she said something or done something and it could’ve stopped then.
I don’t know. I am not much of a fiction reader, and if I do read it, it is usually adult fiction, not teen fiction. I really don’t know why I can’t understand completely why Hannah killed herself in this book and the reasons she gives. I know suicide is a very sensitive and a very important subject, one I worry about constantly because I am a teacher and something like this could happen to one of my students and I would not want that to happen. For me personally, I just can’t comprehend taking my own life for the reasons Hannah gave. I would have reached out sooner, when there were several people to help me. I think it’s because I know how this would affect the people around me, I couldn’t kill myself. Anyways, the book itself is actually a well written book and does highlight a very important issue. I just hope that with the popularity the show has created, it will bring more awareness to the students across the world and maybe teenagers could see how their actions impact others but also see the signs in case someone they know is going through something too.
Book 18 is A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi. This is her second book, her first being The Star Touched Queen, which I read last year. This book was different but the same, if that makes any sense at all. The one thing that I really love about Chokshi is that she uses tales from her own culture to create these interesting and colorful stories and not the usual fairytales that are told over and over again. The only problem with that is that it can be hard to imagine the places and things she describes because it isn’t something usual in my reality. And when I say tales from her cultures, I feel like they are as big and amazing a mythology but are told like fairytales so I am not sure what to name them.
Anyways, the interesting thing about this book was that is was unpredictable in the overall plot but predictable in the interaction between the two main characters. Throughout most of this book, I was unsure as to what was going to happen next and where the story was going. I was only sure of two things, both characters will survive in the end and the two main characters will fall in love with each other. Now how they fall in love and where they start showing it seemed a little more forced than I think was intended. I believe Chokshi was really good at showing how strong and independent her female heroine was that she didn’t make it believable that the same character to let down her walls so easily. And though it could be that I haven’t had something as life changing as a journey that showed all my fears and vulnerabilities to another person to bring my walls down but it seemed a little forces. That one is really about perspective.
What I really love and have always loved with this particular author is the colorful and magical world she creates with her books. By this, I mean the Otherworld and all the creatures and realms within the Otherworld. It’s amazing but can be hard to imagine if your imagination is limited. When they say high fantasy, this is beyond that. This is something that you have to have knowledge of the culture these tales come from to even to begin to get some of the things she describes. I say this because I had problems with imagining some of the things she describes. It’s not a bad thing. For something who has very limited, and I do mean limited, knowledge of the culture that has created these magical stories, I was able to still imagine a colorful and beautiful world. Just some things were a little fuzzy in my imagination then others.
All in all, this book was amazing and I am happy that I read it. Now I need to start reading more. I have fallen behind because of a lot of personal reasons. The most important is that I got married recently; the planning and such kind of took away from my reading. But don’t worry; I have so much planned to read and write about. See you next time.
Let's enjoy the many worlds there are to enjoy, in just our own heads.