Book Review/Discussion|One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Ever since I read Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, I’ve been desperately waiting for this sequel to come out. I got my hands on it as soon as I could, and I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed it!

It’s really hard to talk about this book without majorly spoiling the first. Trust me when I say that you do not want to be spoiled for the first book. If you have not read it, please click out of this review and come back when you have at least read the first installment. I have a brief, spoiler-free review up on GoodReads for One Dark Throne, so you can check that out here if you’re still curious.

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ARC Review | The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Title: The Girl with the Red Balloon
Author: Katherine Locke
Publisher: Albert Whitman Company
Pages: 256
Release Date: September 1st, 2017

The premise of this book is what drew me in originally. I mean there are time-traveling balloons, how does that not hook you? I’m such a sucker for books that involve time-traveling. I expected this book to lean more on the adventurous side, but it was one that was all about the characters. For once, I was not mad about it.


SynopsisWhen sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process. 


Even though this book is only 256 pages, it tackles a variety of tough topics such as antisemitism, racism, genocide, what it’s like to live in totalitarian regime, and more. I applaud the book for not only tackling these subjects, but also not romanticizing them. It treats the situation our characters find themselves in in a very real, dark way. I think the reason it is able to do this so well is because of the character development.

This is a very character driven book. It is told in three different perspectives: Ellie, our accidental time-traveler; Kai, the Romani boy she meets upon arriving in East Berlin; and Benno, a Jewish teenage boy living in Germany during the Holocaust. All three story-lines interconnect to create a full picture. There is also Mitzi, who doesn’t get her own POV, but is definitely an integral part of the stories.  I loved all four of our main characters, and really felt like I knew them inside and out by the end of the story. The different perspectives allowed you to see the character from all angles.

Character driven books are very hit or miss with me, as I definitely prefer books with intricate plots. However, I didn’t mind the slow plot as much here, because I found the characters so interesting. Part of the reason why they were so interesting was because they all came from different walks of life. Ellie is a Jewish teenage girl who accidentally travels back in time thanks to a red balloon and finds herself in a place where practicing her religion is illegal. Kai is a Romani teen from London, who moves to East Berlin to protect his sister. Mitzi is a German teenage girl who was kicked out of her house, because she is a lesbian. Then there’s Benno who is a Jewish teenager that we watch live through the Holocaust. Each of them share the similarity of being forced to survive in a world that does not accept them. Not only are their backgrounds and stories intriguing, but their personalities just leap off the page. It’s hard not to fall in love with them.

Another thing that I really loved in this book, was it’s theme of faith. You don’t often read about YA characters who are religious or see religion talked about. I liked that it was a part of the conversation here. Both Ellie and Benno are Jewish, and each have a different relationship with their own religion. It was interesting to read about each of their own views on religion and how they differed. I should mention that none of this came across as preachy.

Some other things I loved, was exploring East Berlin through the lens of our characters. Since this is a multi-perspective story, you got to see East Berlin from different perspectives which was cool. The romance in this book was also very solid. I was definitely swooning over our male lead. I also really enjoyed the writing style. There were a few issues I had with the book though.

The biggest problem I had was with the plot. As I stated before, the plot was a little slow for me. I didn’t mind it so much, because the characters were so solid. However, the mystery plot line could have been much stronger. I thought that it needed more tension and could have been executed better. The reveal was surprising, but could have been much more shocking had the whole plot line been better developed. I was underwhelmed by the plot for the most part, which was a little disappointing because of the premise.

I will say, that there is a moment where the stakes are raised in an extremely effective way. However, it was only one moment. I wish that the rest of the whole mystery plot line was handled as well as that moment.

I also wanted to know more about the magic system. While it did make sense, I just wanted more information on everything and see it happen more on the page. I wanted to learn more about the inner workings of the balloon factory, the magic system, and basically everything. There are definitely some unanswered questions at the end of the book, and I hope we get an answer one way or another.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Girl with the Red Balloon. I absolutely adored the characters, and liked that the book went to some dark places without holding back. I finished the book only wanting more, especially with that ending. If you enjoy character driven novels, I definitely recommend picking it up!

There will be a second book in this world, but according to Katherine Locke it is going to be more of a companion novel. While I’m excited to read more in this world, I hope she does some sort of a follow-up with this book. I need to know what happens next!

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I would love to hear your thoughts on this book! Did you love it or hate it? Anyone else have a major crush on Kai? Also, I’m still not over that ending. I literally screamed out loud when I got there in disbelief that that was the end. Let’s talk about it in the comment section below. 

 

 

ARC Review | Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Title: Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 384
Release Date: August 29th, 2017

I successfully finished reading this before it’s release date, but I failed at posting this review before the release date. I’m a bad book blogger, I know. However, I’ve finally sat down at my computer so that we can talk about this interesting book that has gotten a lot of mixed reviews. Let’s get straight into it.


Synopsis: Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home. 

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.


This was the first ARC I was approved for on NetGalley and I was excited to receive a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. What first intrigued me about this book was it’s gorgeous cover. As soon as I read that Sal was a thief, I knew I needed to read this, because I love books about thieves. I also was interested to read a book with a gender fluid MC.

As mixed reviews started flooding in on GoodReads, I was hesitant to pick it up. It seemed like a book that people either loved or hated. After reading it, I can say that I found myself somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed reading it, but I have a lot of mixed feelings on some aspects.

We’re going to start off with the things that I really enjoyed. One of the best things that this book has going for it was it’s action packed plot. There was so much action in here that it kept me engaged. Also, it completely delivers on the whole audition to be an assassin thing. While this plot line is nothing new, Miller does not hold back with the violence and brutality that comes with trying out to be an assassin. In a way it felt fresh, because when I usually read these types of books the violence can be romanticized. I liked how how harsh it was at times, because it showed how brutal of a world these characters were living in.

Speaking of the characters, there were a few that really stood out to me. Sal, our main character, was certainly one of them. Their revenge plot line was interesting and I enjoyed the character growth in this book. I thought Miller did an excellent job handling that. I also liked that Sal was not good at everything instantly and we saw them become more skilled over time. It felt more realistic and showed us Sal’s vulnerabilities.

Two other characters that I really loved were Maud and Ruby. I felt that they were both standouts and couldn’t help but get excited every time they appeared on the page. I especially loved Maud, she was probably my favorite character. She was an atypical strong female character, which I appreciated, and I really loved her backstory.

I also really appreciated the representation that was in this book. I’ve never read a book with a gender fluid character before, so this representation was new to me. However, I thought Miller did a great job at explaining Sal’s identity without making it a big plot point. I loved the fact that the book doesn’t focus on it and it’s just a part of who Sal is. It was so refreshing, because often times I feel like books that try to represent different kinds of people are about what makes them different. This was just about a character who auditioned to be an assassin and is trying to get revenge. If your curious to read a review from an own voices reviewer, check out this one. I should also mention that there is some bisexual rep in here as well!

While I really enjoyed all of these things, I did have some problems with this book. All of my problems really stem from one thing and that is the writing. There were many areas that the writing could have been stronger. In terms of the plot, I thought that it could have been paced better. The pacing honestly was just all over the place. Also, the way that Miller did the ending was just strange. It almost felt like the book had two endings, and because of that I thought that it was a little too long.

Even though I thought that it was too long, there was so much that I wish she had expanded on. Like the world that she created was interesting, but she developed it in such a funky way that it took me so long to figure out all of the political details and magical elements. I get that she was trying to tie all of this info in when it was relevant to the plot, but I could have used more exposition in the beginning. Also, Miller could have done a better job at handling her characters. She had a ginormous cast, but the only characters that I really felt like I knew were Sal, Maud, Elise, and the members of the Left Hand. I could differentiate between the more prominent auditioners, but I wish there were better descriptions of all the rest of the characters. They all sort of seemed to blur together.

Honestly, I just wish this book had been better executed. It had so much going for it, but the writing really effect the impact. I really did enjoy the plot and certain characters, but the writing held this back from being a 4 or 5 star book for me. That being said, I did enjoy reading it. The action packed plot really was fun to read. I have a feeling that the next book in this series will be even better, as this is Miller’s debut novel. Also with the way that it ended, there is just a lot of different ways Miller can go. There is a lot of potential there.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Anyway, I would love to know what you thought of this book! Did you love it or did you hate it? I would love to know all of your thoughts! Also, I know that I received an uncorrected proof, so I’m sure some of the grammatical errors were fixed. However, I’m curious to see how much changed. So if you’ve read a completed copy, please let me know what you thought of the writing itself! 

 

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson — Review

PaTitle: Mistborn: The Final Empire
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 659
Published: July 17th, 2006

I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to review this book, because I have been talking about it non-stop on this blog since finishing it. Well, almost two months later and here I am, sharing my thoughts with you.


In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.


This is the first book in Sanderson’s Mistborn Series. I actually learned of this series before I joined the book community through my cousin and a good friend. Both of them recommended this book to me, and I was definitely intrigued after learning that there would be heist elements. I tried not to get too excited about the heist elements, because I did that for Six of Crows and was let down (at least in the heist department). I was expecting to enjoy this book, but I was not expecting to be absolutely blown away by it.

Everyone raves about Sanderson’s writing and world building for a reason. This was my first experience reading an adult fantasy novel, and I was definitely intimidated. High fantasy is something I recently have gotten into, plus the book is huge (my copy was 659 pages)! I was worried I would be overwhelmed by everything and majorly struggle through it. However, Sanderson builds his world and magic system so well that at no point did I feel lost. Everything made sense and I could actually see this magic system being a real thing. It was so believable and cool. On top of that, he knows how to craft an intense plot and develop an awesome team of characters.

If you know me, you know that I’m a sucker for a good team and ensemble cast. This book gave me a team that I could root for and get behind. Sanderson has a lot of characters in this book, but he balances them extremely well. They are all well developed and distinct. Some of my favorite characters included Ham, Elend, and our course Vin. I really related to Vin, and seeing her learn allomancy and navigate the dark side of Luthadel was cool. The way she grows as a character in this book was well executed and a ton of fun to read.

Well developed characters don’t always equal a good plot and interesting plot in books. When we talk about them they’re either character driven or plot driven. That is not the case with this book! The plot is intricate and action packed. I had a hard time putting this book down when I was reading it, because things got so intense. I needed to know what was going to happen next and it kept me on the edge of my seat. There were also some really surprising twists, that I was not expecting at all! It’s hard to completely take me by surprise, but this book did that! My God, I’m still not over it. It was also really well paced, at no point did I think it dragged. Maybe the beginning, but I credit that more to getting used to the world.

I thought that the heist aspects of this novel were well executed. I’m a sucker for anything involving heists or thieves, it has made me a little critical when this premise is used. However, I thought Sanderson used these elements to his advantage. I really enjoyed how he used the heist structure to introduce his characters and shape the plot. I think the structure allowed for the twists to have a stronger impact. It worked for me and I think these elements definitely made me fall in love with the book even more.

Honestly, this book has become a new favorite. I loved everything about it. It made me laugh, cry, swoon, and even shout at it. It was just all around excellent, and had everything that I wanted in a book. I cannot wait to read the sequel. I’m waiting until I visit my friend who has completed this series to start it, so that I can talk to him about it. If you’re looking for a damn good story, I recommend picking this up. If you love fantasy and have not read this yet, what are you doing? Go read this now! If you’re not a big fantasy fan, I still think you will enjoy this!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

If you’ve read this book, I would love to hear your opinions on it! Did you love it or hate it? Were the twists as shocking to you as they were to me? Please let me know down in the comment section below.