Library Loot Wednesday!

I checked out seven books this week, two of which I’ve already read and turned back in, The Sleeper and the Spindle and Toil & Trouble. Both were excellent.

I also checked out The Dreaming Stars (sequel to The Wrong Stars), Inkmistress, Of Fire and Stars, Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, and Don’t Call Me Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex, and Life.

I have been getting through books at a pretty good clip; I’ve started posting reviews on Sundays too, because I’m reading more books than I’ll be able to post in a timely manner, when I read 4 to 6 a week but only post 3 reviews each week!

 

 

 

TTT – Top Ten Books about Witchy Ladies!

the bone witchTop Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and this week, because Halloween is tomorrow, the theme is Halloween freebie! So I’m doing my top ten on awesome witchy ladies. These are strong-willed women who have magic and use it with intent. They know what they want and they use the tools at their disposal to get it.

My first recommendation here is one that I’ve been recommending left and right since I read it – Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch. The second book, The Heart Forger, is also out, and the third book (The Shadow Glass) comes out in March! The main character in these books is Tea, and she’s a necromancer, and she is AMAZING.

poppy warSecond is The Poppy War, which is being followed by The Dragon Republic in May. Rin is a shaman, chosen by an extremely powerful god, and she’s about to just burn it ALL down to make things right. Excellent military fantasy.

toil & troubleOne I just finished reading (Review up soon, I promise!) is Toil & Trouble – 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft. It’s a YA anthology about witches and it is fantastic. It includes stories by authors I’ve previously read, authors I’ve heard of, and one author I’ve actually met! These women are badass.

girl who drank the moonThe Girl Who Drank the Moon isn’t exactly badass, but it is an amazing book about witches, and how perceptions and traditions don’t always get things right. It could probably pass for a middle-grade read, but it’s still involved enough to be enjoyable for adults.

trail of lightningNow Trail of Lightning is badass! Maggie Hoskie is a Native American monster hunter, and Coyote himself has taken an interest in her. This book is part dystopia, as it takes place after an apocalypse, in which magical walls rose around the reservation to protect it. It’s chock-full of Native American legends and language and traditions and it’s absolutely amazing.

CirceIn a list of powerful, knowing witches, I certainly can’t leave out Circe. This was a Book of the Month several months ago, and a follow up to Song of Achilles. I still haven’t read Song of Achilles, though it’s on my Kindle. Circe, however, blew me away and sent me into a reading slump because what could possibly follow that?!

forest1kForest of a Thousand Lanterns is a re-imagining of Snow White, but in an Asian-inspired world, and it’s the story of the evil queen instead of Snow White. The sequel, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, is out November 6th and follows the evil queen’s stepdaughter. I can’t wait!

crown's fateIt’s got more of a Christmas/winter feel to it than a Halloween feel, but Evelyn Skye’s The Crown’s Game and The Crown’s Fate is a duology on Russian magicians duking it out to become the Tsar’s Magician. Along the way, they discover they shouldn’t be fighting each other but are in too deep to stop. It’s a heartbreaker but it’s gorgeous.

fallenBack in the realm of necromancer ladies, we have Reign of the Fallen, built on the odd premise of a country where necromancers constantly resurrect people – so no one truly dies, but if resurrected people are exposed at all (they were voluminous shrouds all the time) they devolve into mindless monsters. Of course, this starts happening a lot, and the main character has to track down the cause. Looks like Reign of the Fallen is getting a sequel in January called Song of the Dead.

thepowerI’m going to end this list with a book that isn’t necessarily about witches, but is about women wielding a magical power – The Power, by Naomi Alderman, is a dystopia wherein women have evolved an electrical shock that they can shove into people by touch. This results in an overturning of the world order, where women are the physically more capable gender. I wish the book wasn’t quite so intent on the gender binary, but other than that, it was a really amazing book.

 

 

Book Review: Grace and Fury

grace and furyGrace and Fury
by Tracy Banhart
Young Adult
311 pages
Published July 2018

I didn’t actually have high hopes for this book – the description hits a lot of standard YA tropes. Sisterhood, switched roles, Royal/pauper juxtaposition…but WOW. No, this book blew me away.

In Serina and Nomi’s world, women are second-class citizens, forbidden to read, have romantic relationships with each other, or have careers of their own. Serina plans to be a Grace, effectively a concubine to the Prince, with her sister as her handmaiden. But it is Nomi who catches the Prince’s eye when she stumbles into him in a hallway, and Nomi that he picks. In a moment of weakness, Nomi’s secret is discovered and thought to be Serina’s, and rather than jeopardize Nomi’s new position, Serina capitulates and takes the fall. She’s sent to a volcanic island prison while Nomi struggles to tame her own rebellious nature long enough to gain enough influence to free her sister.

The book is about oppression and sisterhood, whether it be with those that share your blood or not. Along the way, we discover a different history of the nation than what is normally taught, and find a few men who sympathize with the women’s plight. (And eventually step up to take action alongside the women.)

It’s a quick read – the action starts on page one and never stops. Chapters alternate between Nomi in the palace and Serina on her island prison fighting for food, and both girls learn that what they saw as weakness in each other can be strengths in different circumstances.

The only downside to this book is that it ends with things unfinished. Not a cliffhanger, exactly, but the story is most definitely not done, and the sequel doesn’t come out until July of 2019! I will be snapping that up as soon as it releases because I NEED to know how these two sisters overcome their trials.

From the cover of Grace and Fury:

BOLD
BRUTAL
BEAUTIFUL

Serina Tessaro has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the Heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. It’s her chance to secure a better life for her family, and to keep her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, out of trouble. But when Nomi catches the Heir’s eye instead, Serina is the one who takes the fall for the dangerous secret her sister has been hiding.

Trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one option: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to save Serina. But this is easier said than done . . . . A traitor walks the halls of the palazzo, and deception lurks in every corner.

Meanwhile, Serina is running out of time. Imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive, surrounded by women stronger than she is, one wrong move could cost her everything. There is no room for weakness on Mount Ruin, especially weaknesses of the heart.

Thrilling and captivating, Grace and Fury is a story of fierce sisterhood, and of survival in a world that’s determined to break you.

Book Review: All I Want for Halloween

all i want for halloweenAll I Want for Halloween
by Marie Harte
Romance
345 pages
Published 2017

This will just be a quick one, as this is your normal smutty romance novel. I picked it up for the PopSugar prompt “Based on Halloween” and it is that. But it’s also the typical “lust at first sight and the sex is so good that they get to know each other and just happen to be absolutely perfect for each other.” The cover blurb makes it sound like most of the plot revolves around mistaken identities, and that is absolutely not true. I’m also not sure where that cover comes in, because the woman dresses up as a warrior princess, not a gothic lady. Sooooooo that’s questionable.

I have issues with the “deciding not to use condoms in the heat of the moment without actually discussing it with each other” and only really talking about it after the fact, but, sure, don’t let realism keep you from enjoying a good (and pretty hot) smutty novel.

The bonus first two chapters of Collision Course in the end of this book did more to make me want to read more of this author’s work than the entire rest of the novel did. *shrug* It’s a decent bit of smutty fluff, but nothing outstanding.

From the cover of All I Want for Halloween:

Tonight, Sadie Liberator plans to let go. 

Dressed up and anonymous, Sadie feels powerful, sexy, and free. Where better to lose herself than a costume party? 

Gear Blackstone’s cheating ex and scheming best friend have managed to spin his life into a serious downward spiral. At least with a mask on he can cut loose for one night. And cut loose he does – with the sexiest, snarkiest woman he’s ever met.

After a scorching-hot encounter, Sadie and Gear are desperate to find each other in real life. But can the heat last when the masks come off?

Book Review: What If It’s Us

what if it's usWhat If It’s Us
by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Young Adult Gay Romance
437 pages
Published October 2018

This was a super cute gay romance that I read for YA_Pride’s Twitter Book Club. The authors have separately written some pretty popular YA books; Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Albertalli) and They Both Die at the End (Silvera), neither of which I have read yet, so I had no idea what to expect with this one!

The book alternates viewpoints between Arthur, a Georgia boy in New York for the summer who recently came out as gay but has not yet gone out on a date with anyone, and Ben, who recently broke up with the boy he lost his virginity with. The difference in experience between the two is a plot point, as is the temporary nature of Arthur’s visit to New York.

There is SO MUCH in this book. These are complex characters, and the romance between the two is simply the frame that the rest of the book revolves around. Arthur is still coming to terms with what being out means for him; he thinks his friends are being weird about it, his parents are fighting all the time, he’s never dated and doesn’t really know how to go about doing so. Ben is recovering from heartbreak with his first boyfriend. He’s Puerto Rican but can pass for white, so people forget and think he’s white, and that upsets him. His break up, and his best friend’s, has splintered up their friend group and he misses the group, and his best friend seems to have moved on and doesn’t have time for him anymore. He’s in summer school, with his ex, and is struggling to pass so he can continue to his senior year of high school, while Arthur is an amazing student who’s probably getting into Yale. All of this is set against the glittering backdrop of New York, seen as wondrous and new through Arthur’s eyes and boring and old through Ben’s. There’s just SO MUCH going on.

I did have to double-check a few times who was narrating the chapter I was reading, but Twitter said the audio book actually has separate narrators for Arthur and Ben. So if you like audiobooks, that might be the better way to go for this book.

I loved that this book didn’t just explore the romance between the two boys, but the friendships they had with each other and the people around them. More than a romance, I think this is a book about building your own family. People who will be there for you whether you’re dating them or not.

Twitter also mentioned that the book could be disappointing if you were reading it for either of the author’s signature styles. No one dies, and it’s not completely happy fluff. So definitely set aside any expectations based on their previous books. I hadn’t read them, so I enjoyed it for itself.

The next YA_Pride book club pick is This Is Kind Of An Epic Love Story, and we’ll be talking about it on Twitter at 8pm Eastern Time on Thursday, November 29th, using the hashtag #YAPrideBookClub. Join us!

From the cover of What If It’s Us:

ARTHUR
is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN
thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway show?

But what if it is?

Best friends Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, and heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together – or pulling them apart.

Friday 56 – Grace and Fury

grace and furyThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

Today’s quote is from Grace and Fury, about two sisters whose roles have been unexpectedly swapped.

The narrow-faced guard handed out scratchy towels and a handful of clothes to each of the prisoners. Serina donned the underwear, faded blue pants, and threadbare shirt as quickly as she could. It took far less time to get dressed when there weren’t corsets, endless rows of buttons, fragile lace, or high heels to contend with.