Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Blogger's note: I'd like to apologize for two Mondays that have gone by without a new review. I recently started grad school, which means that I can't read as much as I used to. For the foreseeable future, reviews will no longer be every Monday, but will be posted when they are written. Thank you.

More info*
Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Ace Books
Pages: 417
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 16+
Series: Noctis Magicae

Gray is a talented magician, studying at the best college in the country, when he suddenly finds himself in the kind of trouble that can't be easily fixed. He's taken to work at his professor's country home in the north, which is where he meets Sophie, the professor's second daughter. But there is more to the professor and Sophie than it seems at first, which leads Gray and Sophie into an dangerous adventure which could change the entire country.

This is a revisionist, fantasy historical novel. The world building is great and fully developed; not once did I feel like Hunter was talking down or delving into exposition, instead it was natural and understandable.

Though this is the first of a series, it reads as a standalone. It was enjoyable to read (solid 3 stars), but it took me a long time to get through it. This could have just been because of life events, but I did find myself wondering when it was going to end.

There was no language or sex.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 388
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 16+

When Bailey moves across the country to live with her dad, she attempts to find the guy she only knows as Alex she's been chatting with online who lives in the same town. Instead, she ends up meeting Porter, a cocky and rude surfer boy who Bailey can't seem to get away from. But when things start to change with Porter, will Bailey be able to forget Alex?

This is kind of a take on You've Got Mail or The Shop Around the Corner—two people meet through writing to each other and don't realize when they meet in real life who they are.

What makes it interesting is that both Bailey and Porter are damaged, both physically and mentally. It makes their friendship and interactions deeper and more difficult to understand. Fortunately, there isn't a lot of misunderstandings, or if there are, they don't last long.

There were times when I wondered about descriptions of the town, set in central California, since I've been to that area and it isn't the sunniest and usually isn't very warm, but the characters would be wearing shorts, but I suppose it could be different from where I was thinking.

There is swearing and sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Waterbrook
Pages: 308
My rating: 3.5
Ages: 14+

Jane and her sister Celia run a fairly successful tea salon in San Francisco. But then the rent is raised to more than they can afford, they move their younger sister out to Austin, Texas, partly running from their past and partly because they have people willing to help them. Callum has just returned to Austin after a medical discharge from the marines. Sure that no one could love a man as broken as he is, he has come to terms with living alone--until he meets Jane.

This retelling of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is populated by fun and interesting characters. While most retellings and adaptations of Austen's novel seem to focus on the oldest sister, this is told from the alternating points of view of the middle sister Jane and Callum Beckett.

This book isn't meant to be taken very seriously. I wouldn't say it's a masterpiece, but it's fun and enjoyable. Simple and easy to understand. I read it in less than 24 hours on the weekend. There are some recipes at the end of certain chapters, and quotes about tea and Texas at the beginning. I'd say that it is cozy.

There were a couple of small continuity mistakes here and there, but nothing that really bothered me.

No language or sex.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 300
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 15+

Alice doesn't believe in luck; at least, not good luck. So when she buys her friend Teddy a lottery ticket as a joke for his birthday, she doesn't expect anything to come of it. But the next day, Teddy becomes the youngest winner of the lottery ever. Alice is scared what this change will do to her best friend--who she has been in love with for years.

I usually love Smith's characters; however, I really didn't like Teddy. Even at the end. He had ignored and brushed off Alice so many times, got mad at her for sharing her opinion, and never seemed to try to see things from her side. Then he would get jealous and childish when she seemed interested in another person. Even at the end of book, I still just couldn't find myself liking him.

That said, I did like the book and the concept of it. Who hasn't thought what they would do if they won the lottery? How would life change or not change? How would it affect your friends and family? Though, really, the story was more about Alice growing and learning about family and friendship than Teddy winning the lottery. And the writing was spot on.

There is some mild language, but no sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 400
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 10+

Peregrine was raised thinking she was a Lakti--a member of the ruling class. Then a fairy comes to her and tells her that she is a Bamarre, the oppressed people who were conquered by the Lakti generations ago. Perry must make the decision to continue to live as a Lakti or to embrace being a Bamarre to save her people.

This is a prequel to Levine's The Two Princesses of Bamarre, telling the background of the freedom of the Bamarre that is referenced. To be honest, it's been a long time since I read Two Princesses, but this book stood on it's own. I just wanted to pick up on the Easter eggs and allusions.

Levine has been one of my favorite authors since I was a kid, so I was excited when a new book came out. This has shades of multiple fairy tales and stories, without being tooI don't know if this is her best book, but it was exciting and a good read, especially if you are a fan.

There is no language or sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 388
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 16+

Lucy in secure in her life as a Pastor's Kid, relying on her faith and her relationship with her family to guide her life. But when her mom is diagnosed with cancer, Lucy's faith fails her and she starts pushing back against the things she was taught. Instead of helping with her parents' church camp over the summer, Lucy becomes a counselor at the "hippie" camp. It's there that she learns about who she really is and what it means to love and be loved.

I just really love Lord's writing. It's so approachable and easy to read, but with a depth that usually comes from much more complicated writing. I like the view of Lucy's crisis of faith--I think it's something that a lot of people go through. She still held onto the things she was taught, and still wanted to be faithful, but was angry at God.

There comes a time in every teenager's life that they need to learn for themselves and stop relying on their parents to tell them how they should be. And there comes a time when a child learns more about their parents as people, with histories and faults. Lucy learning these things and growing as a person and a friend was natural.

Also, I cried several times.

There is some swearing (about four f-words) and mention of sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentmer

More info*
Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Crown
Pages: 399
My rating: 3.5
Ages: 16+

Not only did Carver lose all three of his friends at once, but he has to live with the guilt of knowing he caused their deaths. Not on purpose, but caused all the same. With school starting, Carver isn't sure how to face everyone without his friends. Battling crippling guilt, Carver has to come to terms with what happened, even while being blamed by those around him.

I didn't mean for my last two reviews to be about grief and death, but sometimes these things just happen. However, this is a completely different look at grief and guilt than was in Letters to the Lost. This time, something that Carver did directly attributed to the accident that killed his friends, and it's something he has to live with. What I think is important though, is that in grieving, we all start thinking of things we could have done different and we all experience that guilt and need to come to terms with living while others are gone.

This book also deals with panic attacks, being blamed, and friendship. It's not a deeply depressing book, but it does deal with serious subjects.

There is some language and sexual talk.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.