6 Hot August 2017 Book Releases

I know this post is really late, and so about half of these are already published, but I wanted to make sure I gave all of the August books a chance at fame*.  So, halfway through the month, we’re going to celebrate all of the August releases.  I have to admit, I’m VERY excited about all of these books even though I haven’t read a single one!

*ha, I’m assuming that my blog would help a book sell

Young Adult

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

Wonder Woman, by Leigh Bardugo—  I’ve heard A LOT of hype about this book, and after watching the Wonder Woman movie, I really want to hear this take.  Obviously it’s not quite the same story, but it sounds amazing, and I’ve heard it’s a must read for DC fans!

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

All Things NewAll Things New, by Lauren Miller– This book sounds TOUGH but really good at the same time.  It could definitely go either way but I feel like it’ll be emotional wreck of a book that I can’t put down.

Jessa has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels. 

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, where she meets Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world, perfect for fans of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

Adult Contemporary

The One That Got Away

The One that Got Away, by Melissa Pimentel— This SOUNDS ADORABLE and perfectly romantically fun.  I love “one that got away” stories, and this literally has that title, so why wouldn’t I read it?!?!? It seems like a perfect light read and I’m looking forward to seeing what other people think.

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren’t.

Ten years later, Ruby’s single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There’s barely time for a trip to England for her little sister’s wedding. And there’s certainly not time to think about seeing Ethan there for the first time in years.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago? Because there’s nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past . . . The Burning GirlThe Burning Girl, by Claire Messud— I can’t quite tell if this is adult or YA, but Goodreads is telling me adult so we’ll go with it.  Apparently Messud is an amazing author, and this book sounds really emotional and profound which I love.

Julia and Cassie have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge and Cassie sets out on a journey that will put her life in danger and shatter her oldest friendship.

Claire Messud, one of our finest novelists, is as accomplished at weaving a compelling fictional world as she is at asking the big questions: To what extent can we know ourselves and others? What are the stories we create to comprehend our lives and relationships? Brilliantly mixing fable and coming-of-age tale, The Burning Girl gets to the heart of these matters in an absolutely irresistible way.

Thriller

Emma in the Night

Emma In The Night, by Wendy Walker— aaaaah you can’t even understand how good this sounds. Dysfunctional family thrillers are my absolute favorite because they’re so twisted and messed up and exciting.  Plus it’s about girls and doesn’t have girl in the title so BONUS POINTS FOR CREATIVITY, WENDY!

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

The Readymade ThiefThe Readymade Thief, by Augustus Rose— This sounds hecka good, and has a super unique plot, which is something that you don’t find very often in a thriller.  I love the whole idea of it, and the female protag thing is always a bonus for me (although apparently that’s become a bit of a readily repeated trope now that people hate, but ROLL WITH ME HERE)…. and it looks like it’s set up for ROMANCE!

Lee Cuddy is seventeen years old and on the run. Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, she finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle, but the façade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. They believe Lee holds the key to it all.

Aided by Tomi, a young hacker and artist with whom she has struck a wary alliance, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city—empty aquariums, deserted motels, patrolled museums, and even the homes of vacationing families, but the deeper she goes underground, the more tightly she finds herself bound in the strange web she’s trying to elude. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her—and why.

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What books are you looking forward to for this month? Have you read any of the ones I talked about? 

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Guest Post: Really Reading, by THE Elm

I CAN’T EVEN STOP SMILING RIGHT NOW.  I have Elm, THE Elm, on my blog today.  I’m still not sure that this is really happening.  Since I first found her about a year ago, she has been one of my biggest blogging idols, and now her writing is going to be on MY blog! Elm is a 17 year old blind lifestyle blogger, self proclaimed rebel, singer, writer, talker (I hope lol) and, most importantly today, reader.  It may seem strange to some people, a blind reader, which is exactly why the post that you’re about to read is so special.


“Reading”, by Elm

As a child, I was a voracious reader. Similarly to any other bookworm, I was lost in the stories and characters of authors who spun their tales to be understandable to a younger audience. I’d spend hours pouring over a good book, delighted and enthralled in equal measure. That feeling sounds familiar to anyone who loves to read.

However, I have never read a paperback or hardback book. I have never browsed the shelves, looking for a good title in my local library. Why, you may ask? I’m visually impaired, registered as blind; I read in braille or through audio books. It’s all I’ve ever known or will know: does that mean my experience is somehow separate, apart from those who read so-called “conventional” or paper books?

Braille books are, ordinarily, huge. I used to get them from the RNIB Library in bags, 3-5 volumes for each book. As a little girl, I could sometimes barely lift them: I’d heave them onto my knee and whenever they came in the post, I’d shriek with excitement. I used to sit in a little chair beside the CD player, listening to my favourite books that I got from the limited selection in my local library or, for my birthday or Christmas, bought from Waterstones. That, instead of computers or the TV, was what truly interested me. It was different, yet it was my world.

Now, instead of ordering from the library, I read eBooks – either by connecting a Braille display to my phone or by using the text-to-speech technology on my phone. I prefer the former because it lets me feel more connected but when I don’t have as much energy, I use the speech. As I’ve been blogging and now have more online friends who read, I’ve realised that my childhood experiences – even the way I read now – is quite simply separate from how people who can easily pick up a book can read.

I sometimes come across the argument that to read an eBook, or maybe even an audiobook, is not as enriching or is not the same as reading a book from the library or from a bookshop. To tackle this, you have to ask yourself: “What is reading?” Is it the ability to rest in the quiet spaces of a library, head bent over a book until nothing exists but the characters and stories? If so, I have not had that experience; then I haven’t truly read. However, I know that I have absorbed just as much as any other person. I’m not dissatisfied without the weight of a supposed “real” book in my hands – real being in quotation marks – and I am no worse off. I feel absolutely no sadness that I’ve never been able to see words on a page. Listening to an audiobook, for me, is still reading as it was how I could connect with such beloved characters.

It isn’t “a shame” that I can’t experience the wonder of print on a page. The methods by which I read are different – I may read differently – but the emotions I feel are the same. I’m still able to cry over books – which I do often – and I can still feel utter fury at what a character does. It neither decreases my enjoyment nor makes me feel somehow worse off. When I was little, it never crossed my mind that I was at a disadvantage.

This is just my story. There are a myriad of other people who, for whatever reason, cannot read print books. Some may not be able to afford to buy the books they would like in paperback or hardback; some books may not be available in their country; they may not have a library or good bookshop near them.  For some, ⠑⠠⠃⠕⠕⠅⠎ may be a “last resort” but it doesn’t mean that they are somehow less. I don’t know their stories and so I won’t try and speak for them. If others can’t access the same materials as some people, there are so many other ways to read than the traditional.

Reading can be subjective. In the same way that human thoughts and behaviour can’t be assigned to different boxes, the way that people read and react to what they read can’t be categorised so easily. Some people, for instance, will prefer eBooks to Print books and vice versa; nobody should be shamed for that. However, those that can’t access one or the other aren’t necessarily unhappy with it, in the case of myself. Just because an idea is different doesn’t mean it’s somehow less.

If information is subject to interpretations in books, surely the way in which it can be read can also be different? To that effect, if different interpretations are as valid as each other, can’t that be applied to the way people read?

What do you think – what is reading to you? Is there a definition of “reading”, or may that idea be up to the reader who interprets the words?


Love this post? Make sure you go visit Elm @ Just Call me Elm or Something and jump into her world.

 

Review: The Darkest Lies (Annoying Characters and Little Plot)

By Barbara Copperthwaite

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4.05

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publication Date: May 12th 2017

Format Read: Phone Ebook via Netgalley

Goodreads Summary: A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming.

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It took all of my strength to keep reading this book.  I got bored just as short way through, thrown off by the 2nd person POV and the fact that the plot was not very interesting, but I kept reading, something which I’m fairly glad of.  The last 20% of the book was incredible, and bumped my rating up a star.  The first 80%, however, didn’t hold my interest at all.  

The basic concept is that a young teenager, Beth, goes missing, and the book is told from the perspective of the mother telling the story of her DIY detective work to her daughter.  There were also perspectives from Beth (from the night she goes missing) and a mysterious individual mixed in.  

Bottom line is that nothing in this book got me super attached.  The plotline wasn’t intriguing, I hated Melanie (the MC, aka Beth’s mother), her partner in solving crime seemed like the biggest stock character I’ve ever met, and all of the “villagers” had 0 dimension.  They were all flat.  The only one I liked is the husband, and I felt like even he did a thing that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of his character ,at all.

Luckily the ending was good.  Well, one of the endings.  The major storyline that everything was working towards fell flat for me, but in the last 20% Copperthwaite had a side story line that she had been progressing and made it the center stage, and for me THAT was the only intriguing part of the novel.  

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Beth is the girl who goes missing.  You really only hear about her from her mother’s POV, and occasionally from her own, but she’s a dynamic, interesting girl, and I liked her and wished the best for her.  That’s probably the only reason I didn’t DNF.  I HAD to know what happened to Beth.

Melanie, the MC, is Beth’s mother, but she just MAKES ME SO MAD I CAN’T EXPLAIN.  She’s not that good of a person, although she thinks she is, and she’s super self absorbed and can’t see the world around her.  It was painful, and I found myself looking forward to the short, one page segments that were not from her point of view just so that I didn’t have to listen to the whining drunk anymore.

Glenn, her partner in solving the crime, is a figure from her childhood who she was not exceptionally close with, but happens to waltz into her life and “just want to help”.  Mel bought it.  So he’s around for the entire novel, and despite this fact, he has ZERO DIMENSION.  I don’t understand how I can read a whole book with him at center stage and still not really KNOW him aside from the one central fact (it’s a spoiler so I won’t say).  It’s weird.

The husband, Jacob? (I think, we’ll go with it), was my favorite character, but the author made him do something so completely out of character with everything else we saw that he started to feel fake as well.

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The plot was very, very slow.  This 433 page book could have easily been condensed into 200 pages and you would not have lost any of the red herrings, dramatic moments, etc, because there was so much WASTED SPACE SPENT DOING NOTHING.  

Of course, that changed slightly in the last bit, where there was action, character development, a big reveal, an oh shit moment where you realized what was really going on, and an overall good pace.  But that doesn’t happen soon enough.  

I know books won’t have action the whole way through, but something needs to be happening, or at least characters being developed, for it to be interesting.

And the whole “why won’t the village talk” thing that propelled the entire plot felt fake and strange to me, their motivation not really that good.

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  • Beth
  • The Ending
  • Laughing at MC’s stupidity and lack of awareness for the world around her

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  • Melanie, her stupidity, and her lack of awareness for the world around her
  • Slow Plot
  • Poor writing style– there was nothing remotely extraordinary about her writing, the whole thing was very simple and told straightforwardly.
  • OBVIOUS display of clues– there was never any clue that I looked back on later and was like, ooooh I missed that… It was all shoved aggressively in your face.

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None.  There’s one character who may or may not be gay but that’s all.  And he’s in the story for like 5 minutes and accused of hurting Beth.

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SPOILERS ABOUND, ALTHOUGH NONE ARE THAT BIG.

  • A child is brutalized and left to die
  • Child is raped
  • Drinking problem to deal with other problems
  • Drugs abound

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This book was a 2 star read all the way through, but the ending was 4 or 5 stars, so I adjusted accordingly with a 3.  I wouldn’t recommend this book to anybody, but if you already have it, you might as well read it and see where it goes, it wasn’t so bad as to warrant you not reading it at all.

I’d love to know what other people think of the character development, because for me nobody except Beth felt real.

Buy on Amazon

Add on Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Have you read this book? What did you think? Have you read anything else by Barbara Copperthwaite?

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Review: Lola

9780451496102

By Melissa Scrivner Love

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.63

Genre: Thriller

Publication Date: March 21st 2017

Format Read: Physical ARC

Goodreads Summary: The Crenshaw Six are a small but up-and-coming gang in South Central LA who have recently been drawn into an escalating war between rival drug cartels. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six appear to be led by a man named Garcia . . . but what no one has figured out is that the gang’s real leader (and secret weapon) is Garcia’s girlfriend, a brilliant young woman named Lola.

Lola has mastered playing the role of submissive girlfriend, and in the man’s world she inhabits she is consistently underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter–and in many ways tougher and more ruthless–than any of the men around her, and as the gang is increasingly sucked into a world of high-stakes betrayal and brutal violence, her skills and leadership become their only hope of survival.

An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman who combines the genius and ferocity of Lisbeth Salander with the ruthless ambition of Walter White. Lola marks the debut of a hugely exciting new thriller writer, and of a singular, magnificent character unlike anyone else in fiction.

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This was essentially a book about a gang, more specifically the leader of that gang, who happens to be a woman.  Their gang gets on the wrong side of the mob, and Lola has to deal with being a secret leader, a woman, trying not to get herself killed, and saving her gang all at the same time.  This was a great idea for a plot line, in my opinion, and that is what carried me through the novel with a 4 star rating.  If it hadn’t been for the solid plot, I might not even have been able to finish.  The actual writing style was weak, and I often had to reread sentences just to make sure I was properly understanding.  Overall, I would recommend if you have a deep love of the genre, but not if you’re looking for a well written book.  The two need to be separated for you to enjoy.

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Lola, the main character, is absolutely totally completely awesome.  She comes off as this passive, submissive housewife to a gang leader, but really she’s a total badass who doesn’t play by anybody else’s rules but her own.  Just becauses of how amazing she is, it makes it very feminist, because Lola is very set on not listening to what the “big man” says, and making a name for herself despite the fact that she’s a woman.

The other characters were not nearly as well developed as Lola was, but that was okay because it was told from Lola’s perspective and they were really just side players in her story.  If you aren’t interested in Lola’s personality, you probably won’t enjoy the story at all, since she powers it through and is the only very well developed part of the story.

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The plot in this story was my favorite part, by far.  It was very well written, and it was a strong story line which built properly without twisting off into some far fetched fantasy.  The author did a great job keeping it realistic, intertwining side stories in such a way that helped develop Lola’s character and show what type of person she was while still moving the main plot along.  I thought the pacing was perfect, and would have given a solid 5 stars to just plot alone.

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This was written present tense, which threw me off a whole ton of times, but maybe that’s just me having an issue with the way it’s written.  I was willing to put that aside as a personal problem, but in general it just wasn’t well written.  The sentence structure felt very middle school, and I never encountered a single word that I didn’t know.  It felt very basic and young, which was weird for me in an adult novel.  It’s not like I was expecting anything spectacular, but it was less than other “fluff” reads that I typically read.

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The plot was absolutely incredible, Lola was well developed through actions, words, and just being able to hear inside her head.  I would highly recommend this just based off of the story alone.  However, you have to know going in that it’s not spectacularly written, or you’ll be disappointed.

Disclaimer: I received this book from LibraryThing and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Have you read LOLA? What’s your opinion? Have you read any other gang banger books that you’d recommend?


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Review: The Bone Witch (Dramatic Details and an Amazing Plotline)

By Rin Chupeco

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.53

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: March 7th 2017

Format Read: Phone Ebook via Netgalley

Goodreads Summary: The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

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This is one of those books that takes you a while to get into, but once you do you don’t want it to end.  I think part of the reason for this is that it’s a series (which I didn’t realize when I requested it) and it takes place in a world very, very different from our own, which meant that it required a lot of worldbuilding.  Plus, Chupeco uses a lot of flouncy, descriptive imagery in her writing, which makes me vaguely nauseous at times and reminds me of the reason that I wasn’t a huge fan of Jane Eyre.  It just felt like there were some paragraphs that took FOREVER to read, just to describe a girl’s hua (a type of apparel with Asian roots)

That being said, I still adored the story and gave it 4 stars because the characters were magnificently developed, and the plot was interesting.  It kept me going throughout because I desperately needed to figure out what would happen to Tea.  The book follows her story, so it is sort of a fantasy coming of age novel, which is something that I appreciate.  Plus, there’s elements of (semi-unrequited) romance, evil beasts which must be defeated, and a girl struggling with her identity.  It’s perfect.

While I read, I was reminded a lot of the book “Memoirs of a Geisha” mainly because the life of an Asha, which is what Tea was training to be, is basically like a magic Geisha who at times has to go out and slay beasts.  Since I always found geisha life mildly appealing (don’t judge please) now my main goal in life is to be an asha.  Anyways, back to the review…

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Tea, the MC, was super cool.   And her name is pronounced Tay-uh, which I didn’t know until about halfway through when some minor character had trouble pronouncing her name.  Not only could she use magic to raise the dead, but she was totally badass and a strong character, which made me love her.  There was no “I need a man to save the day” whatsoever in this book, which was one of my favorite parts ever.  I thought Tea was very very well developed and relatable, because you never saw her as just one thing.  From the opening scene, she was this super powerful Asha, but also had some weaknesses, strong family ties, and wasn’t immune to what other people thought of her.  Chupeco made her this incredible female lead while still showing that she was vulnerable, which made me relate to her more than I would have otherwise.  She was also super dynamic, because she went from being somewhat more nervous, frightened girl to someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer, which is exactly the type of progress that I love to see.  And this is only book one.  The fact that it isn’t going to take Tea the entire series to become “tough” is a testament to the writing and makes me wayyyyy more excited to read the next books in the series.

There are virtually no men in this novel except for the love interests, and Tea’s brother Fox, whom she rose from the dead.  I think that made it very women’s empowerment-y because it was women that were teaching and helping Tea “come of age” without the influence of a male role model to help her.

All of the minor and side characters in the novel had strong backgrounds and you could see how they became the people which they are today.  You wanted the best for all of them, especially Mikaela, Tea’s sort-of mentor.

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Hmmmmm…. what can I say here.  The plot was very very good, but at times I felt like Chupeco put the story on hold in order to write overly detailed descriptions.  And I don’t mean there wasn’t a lot of action in parts, because there was always stuff happening, and Tea developing, but there were a lot of paragraphs of description that almost made me ditch the book in the opening parts.  I don’t understand why there had to be so much flouncy detail.  I think part of it was Chupeco wanting to make the reader understand teh worldbuilding aspect better, but the bottom line is that it put me to sleep and caused me to move very slowly through the book, since I just didn’t want to pick it up.  That being said, I felt like it got better– or I just got used to it– as it went along, and the story itself makes it worth pushing through the beginning.

The plot contained flashforwards every chapter or two to Tea on a beach after she has already gone through a lot of her story.  In the whole book, the story lines never intersect, which is weirdly cool.

The ending has a sort of present-timeline plot twist which is confusing to everyone (I think) even if you had guessed that it would come, because Chupeco doesn’t really explain it at all.  That being said, I think it’s coming in the sequel and that we haven’t caught up in the past timeline plot yet.

A lot of this story had a coming of age, geisha training vibe.  I wouldn’t recommend this book if you’re looking for a tale of adventure and defeating monsters.  It’s not that.  It’s more about Tea’s emotions and the way which she develops both as our protagonist and in her feelings and confidence.  I think the next book will have more of a defeat the system feel to it, but this book did not, so bottom line is you won’t enjoy it if that’s what you’re looking for.

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I think I’m going to make a list, because listing is fun and why not.

  1. Tea’s development and the way she was always portrayed as just as strong, if not stronger, than men
  2. Mikaela and the motherly yet all powerful role she played in the book while still having weaknesses
  3. The wordbuilding.  Let me tell you that it was amazing.  Like, so unique and vibrant and real.  You literally wear your heart in a necklace, and have to kill this unkillable monsters called daeva on a yearly basis.  I felt like I was really in the world, and could imagine it just as well as I can my own.  (That’s actually why I put Chupeco in my dream worldbuilding panel, if you were wondering)
  4. Likh’s whole story line was perfect, but I can’t really explain without including spoilers so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
  5. The plot twist at the end of the past timeline was so so so good
  6. All of the side character’s personalities and yet realness.  Nobody was a one dimensional character, not even the “mean girl”, thank gods for that.
  7. The geisha-ness

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Another list, you ask? Why not, I say!

  1. The excessive description
  2. The romance aspect that wasn’t really going anywhere but just felt like two people who had a crush on each other but neither would admit it but not in the awkward tension kind of way, just in the “we’re too little to be in a real relationship” way
  3. Not much else!

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This whole book drew a lot from Asian culture, and the MC is a PoC, which is great and super rare in the fantasy genre as a whole.  I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the culture, but I do think that  it made the book more real than it would have been otherwise.

There was a minor character, one of Tea’s friends, who ended up being transgender and coming out over the course of the book, which is really awesome because of how accepted and the fact that Tea never once thought that it was anything out of the ordinary.

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The dark asha (so basically Tea and Mikaela) cut themselves in order to draw their runes in the air, which I’m not really sure is a trigger or not, but I figured I’d include it.

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“I would much rather remain undetected in the shadows than saunter out into the light, with my flaws out for all to see.” (chapter 11)

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Once you got past the over description, the book was really solid, and I’m very excited to read the next books in the series when they come out.  I think the worldbuilding was incredible, and would highly recommend to fans of YA fantasy who don’t mind it being minimally action-y.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Guest Post: Inkblots, Page Formatting, and my Kids

Most of you probably know that I’ve been asking other bloggers to write guest posts for my blog, since summer is a really tough time for me personally to be writing.  Well, although I haven’t actually gotten a guest post from a blogger, I did get in touch with Dylan Callens, an author, and he agreed to write a guest post for me!! Since he is currently in the process of publishing his novel, Interpretation, he decided to tell us more about the unique process of creating the images at the start of each of his chapters.  For me personally, this was fascinating to read about, and I hope you feel the same!

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Inkblots, Page Formatting, and my Kids

When I sat down to start formatting the interior file for my new novel, Interpretation, I wanted to do something neat at the beginning of each chapter.  I perused through images of nicely formatted book interiors on Google as a first step.  

I like chapters that have fancy first letters and interesting fonts but these are pretty common and it didn’t really fit the theme of my book.  After the first few chapters, things get a little… harsh for my protagonist, Carl Winston.  I continued searching and found a few examples with pictures at the top of the chapter, which I really liked.  I thought about how I could adapt that to my novel and finally, it dawned on me:  I could use inkblots, since the book is based on a number of psychological experiments.  There is even a moment where Carl does an inkblot test.  

A quick sigh of relief escaped my lips because I am no artist.  I figured that I would be able to lift inkblots online and dump them at the top of each chapter.  But then I started to think about copyright laws.  Plus, each online image was a different size, some with ugly backgrounds, and most with a low resolution.  Plus I needed thirty-one of these things.  

I soon decided to abandon my search and just make the inkblots myself.  Well, sort of.  

What I did was dupe my children into making them for me.  I told them, “It’s a fun art project,” not leading on to the fact that I had secretly created a sweat shop to produce antiquated psychological pseudo-art.  We took out the cheap acrylic paint, some recycled paper, and randomly threw globs of paint across the page.  A quick paper-fold and a smash of the fist – voila!  Insta-art.

It’s quite amazing how effective inkblots are at inspiring the imagination.  As each one was created, their excitement grew.  “That one looks like a crab!”  “That one looks like fish!”  “That’s a heart!”  

Every time that they saw something interesting in an inkblot, it drove them to make a new one, in hopes of discovering new images.  Which is exactly what I want a reader to do when they come to a new chapter.  

There was a down side, though.  Once they knew that this was for my book, both my ten and eight year old agreed that they wanted a royalty deal for their art.  And they drove a hard bargain.  According to the contract that I was forced to sign, they now get 90% of my royalties.  

Ultimately, the joke’s on them, though.  They agreed to royalties on net income, not on gross revenue – and I dump most of my money back into books.  Let that be a lesson learned for them!

For me, interior design is typically a tedious job but having my kids help with it really brightened up the process.  I love the way that each chapter title looks.  More importantly, whenever I look at the book, I’ll be reminded of them and the fun that we had creating the images.  I’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that when someone looks at those inkblots and tries to decipher what the image is, I’ll know that my kids inspired the reader’s imagination.   

So, no matter how hard it was to format those pictures properly, and no matter how much effort went into the rest of the book, my favorite part of this novel are the thirty-one inkblots scattered throughout Interpretation.

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About Dylan Callens

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Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water. His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious.

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About Interpretations

Interpretation200pxCarl Winston awakens to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tries to soothe him. Neighbors gather in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they see him. The crowd cowers back, afraid of this monster. 

Carl runs. His life of luxury is ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl sees a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest comes to a sudden halt when he collapses. As darkness shrouds him, a figure hovers from above. 

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon finds Carl and nurtures him back to life. Together, they continue the journey, finding out that their lives have too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepens, an unknown nemesis attempts to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.

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What do you think of Interpretation? Have you ever had an inkblot test? 

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DNF Review: The Orphan Master’s Son (Good for Sleeping To)

By Adam Johnson

Rating: 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4.06

Genre: Contemporary North Korea?

Publication Date: January 10th 2012

Format Read: Audiobook

Goodreads Summary: An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master’s Son follows a young man’s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea.

Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.

Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”

Part breathless thriller, part story of innocence lost, part story of romantic love, The Orphan Master’s Son is also a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love. A towering literary achievement, The Orphan Master’s Son ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of today’s greatest writers.

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I cannot even logically explain to you how this could possibly be described as a great book, let alone “part breathless thriller”.  It actually put me to sleep. Like, I listened to it as an audiobook and realized that I wasn’t even listening to what they were saying anymore.  The writing was SO SO DRY AND BORING and practically nothing interesting happened in the plot.

The book was terrible, and that’s disappointing because I was really excited to read it, after seeing reviews and stuff.  But I only made it 40% through and then I had to stop because I was boring myself literally to death.

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The main plot is of Jun Do, which I think is the North Korean version of John Doe, a basic person that could be anyone.  He is an orphan and then goes through a bunch of different jobs, including a kidnapper, before getting stuck in basically an internment camp, and then his story ends.

It picks back up with Commander Gah being interrogated, but it’s not the real Gah (I’m guessing on the spelling, so let’s just change his name to Blah) so I think we’re supposed to assume he’s Jun Do.  So blah/jun do are being interrogated to find out what happened to Blah’s wife, and the interrogators know he’s not Blah but need him to be because that’s what everyone says he is.  And that’s where I stopped reading.

I read that it gets better, but I couldn’t do it.  Honestly the author could have condensed all of part I into about 20 pages rather than 100, and it would have been far better.

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Jun Do was the least relatable character in the history of relatable characters.  I LITERALLY DIDN’T CARE IF HE LIVED OR DIED.  It was completely irrelevant to me, that’s how poorly developed he was.  I didn’t give a shit about him or his life and just wanted him to get on with it.  There were plenty of details about the sky, but none about the person.

 

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I wanted to love this as a North Korea insight book, but I couldn’t.  If you like dry literature that may or may not be historically accurate (I heard it wasn’t) then go for it.

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It’s boring.  The writing style is bad.  The audiobook guy drones in an asian accent and speaks too quietly to hear even on full volume on my phone.

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Everyone was Asian!!!!!
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Jun Do is a disowned orphan, women are taken advantage of, there are kidnappings, life basically sucks, but don’t worry because there’s no details about anything so it’s never that dramatically triggering.

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Don’t read this book.  Or do, and use it to fall asleep at night.  It won a lot of awards, but honestly I don’t know how.  I’m lost.  (I also want to note that this is only the 2nd time I DNFed a book in my entire life)

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Have you read any other books about North Korea that would be better that I can read? What did you think of this book? Should I have kept reading?


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