Arts

What I Read: February 2018

This is a bit of an abbreviated What I Read, because I’m excluding Romanov, which I’ve already written about.  I read 6 books in total, putting me slightly ahead of my goal of 5 per month.  The 5 books I’m talking about here were all extremely good!

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The Tea Dragon Society (Katie O’Neill) ★★★★★

This web comic turned graphic novel is so lovely!  Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, stumbles into the magical world of tea dragons.  They’re adorable, as is the little story told here.  I definitely wanted more from this world.

Crooked Kingdom (Leigh Bardugo) ★★★★

This was a little slow to start, also interrupted by the fact that my library loan ran out midway through and a had to wait to borrow it again.  Six of Crows was fun, but Crooken Kingdom had an emotional depth that blew me away.  While I enjoyed the heist story of Six of Crows, it’s the heart of Crooked Kingdom that was really compelling.

Chemistry (Weike Wang) ★★★

I read about Weike Wang who completed her scientific PhD at the same time as her MFA at two Boston universities.  She decided to become an author, instead of doing a post-doc and pursuing science.  I liked her already.  This, her debut novel, was good, but made me feel suffocated.  With a nameless narrator, you feel like you are the main character.  While she struggles with her PhD program, I felt like I struggled.  I didn’t like the nameless narrator at first, but the effect was successful.  I’d definitely be interested in reading more from Wang.

A Natural History of Dragons (Marie Brennan) ★★★★

This series, The Memoirs of Lady Isabella Trent, starts slowly, introducing you to the curious young Isabella, narrated by a much older, experienced Isabella.  She is infatuated with dragons and wants to study them, which a lady simply does not do.  As Lady Trent recounts her first expedition and drops hints about what happens, I found myself enthralled in the study and the character herself.  She’s a funny narrator.  This may not be an action-packed book, but anyone with an interest in anthropology would find it fascinating.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Laini Taylor) ★★★★

My first Laini Taylor book!  Strange The Dreamer has been in my stack for a while, and at this juncture, is still packed away, so I borrowed this from the library.  WOW is this story gorgeous.  I love Karou, and I love Taylor’s writing.  It’s so amazingly inventive.  With sinister angels invading the world, Karou finds herself targeted.  Of course, Karou isn’t exactly ordinary.– raised by strange monsters, collecting teeth for them in exchange for wishes.  I could’ve love that concept more.

What did you read in February?  How are you doing toward your reading goal?  Follow along for more on Goodreads!

Romanov Review

Hi guys, I’m mostly on semi-hiatus while I move into my new home and finish up wedding planning, but I wanted to drop by with a quick book review!  I’ve teamed up with Xpresso Book Tours to bring you Romanov by Samaire Provost.

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In an abandoned warehouse in Manhattan, two enemies battle to the death, while outside, a malevolent entity watches and waits and plots, eager for blood. On an island in the heart of Seattle, an immortal princess struggles to lead a normal life just as a flood of terrifying creatures starts to pour in through a portal that should not be there. A young man meets a classmate while walking home from the college library, and embarks on the most dangerous adventure he’s ever known – will he survive? A deranged madman hunts the girl he’s lusted after for a century, in a relentless pursuit for vengeance. A prehistoric, mythical beast jealously guards a primeval land, which is leaking into present-day Seattle. A sweet, forbidden passion blossoms between two lovers who steal moments whenever they can, while unbeknownst to them, they’re hunted by a deadly creature.

A royal family threatened at its weakest – yet lethal in its own right – is stalked by an ancient evil that will not rest until they are utterly destroyed: a nightmare incarnate that has waited millions of years for revenge threatens the very existence of the young lovers and their family.

Will they prevail?

Enter to win the book and find out here!

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Smoke City

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Smoke City really surprised me! I wasn’t so into it at first– the switching perspectives and snippets of newspaper and other media didn’t make it easy to get into the story– but I really connected with it emotionally by the end.

Specters are appearing all of the Los Angeles areas. These “smokes” only last for a few minutes. While they can be startling, they mostly just seem lost.

Meet Marvin– he remembers each and every one of his past lives, and they’ve all been horrible. He’s cursed to live a doomed life over and over again because he lit the fire that killed Joan of Arc. When a girl pops up on TV claiming that Joan has been reincarnated in her body, Marvin needs to meet her.

Then there’s Mike– he was once a great American artist, but his alcoholism has driven away his success, his talent, and his wife. Now he’s working at a fast food restaurant, destroying gallery windows in Portland, and generally spiraling out of control. When he hears that Candice, his now ex-wife who never quite gave up on helping him, has died, he needs to get to LA to her funeral.

And finally, Casper– he just wants to make a TV show about the smokes.

These three go on an unlikely road trip to LA, but what they really find is redemption. Keith Rosson’s “Smoke City” surprised me in its emotional depth. Even the detours (which to be clear, I am generally not a fan of) to characters like Brophy add up to something unique and special.

Want to read it for yourself?!  Here’s a giveaway!  (You can also win and Amazon gift card, so I’d follow that link!)

What I Read in May

April was a slower reading month for me, so I was a bit worried coming into May that I was losing steam.  I managed to read a solid 9 books in May, though, so I’m happy with that!

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When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

I completely devoured this book.  It was so beautiful, full of magical realism, and a truly important story.  It’s a subtle romance between Miel, a strange girl who spilled out of a water tower and has a rose growing from her wrist, and Sam, who paints moons and hangs them in the trees around town.  I can’t recommend this book enough!

Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman

It’s been a while since I read Alice Hoffman.  (By that, I mean read Practical Magic in junior high.)  This was a quick read– interesting at times, ultimately a story about people.  There are parents worried about their young child’s lack of physical growth, but with their own issues as well, an old lady and her rebellious granddaughter sent as her caretaker.  I felt like it lacked enough resolution for me to really connect with it.

The One by Kiera Cass

The Selection Series really went downhill for me.  This was my least favorite of the original trio.  I know there’s one more in the core series, but I don’t think I’ll be reading it.  People that like these books seem to prefer just the story of America and Maxon.  Knowing he was going to ultimately choose her, the book just felt like filler to get to that point.

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

I have fond memories of reading The Wrath & the Dawn, since I did so while I soaked in the bathtub of my Kyoto hotel room.  I preferred this, its sequel, because of how much more magic played into the story.  While the first in the duology was more of a straight-forward retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, The Rose and the Dagger found its own story.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The Shadow and Bone trilogy really surprised me.  Once I got into the first ook, I truly enjoyed every moment of the quest for the magical beasts that would amplify Alina, the Sun Summoner’s, powers.  I loved the Darking, twisted and complicated.  We get the history of Morozova in this book and finally some resolution to the Alina and Mal story.  Ruin and Rising was extremely satisfying!

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

This was my least favorite of the Miss Peregrine’s series, I think.  It felt like a lot of filler, as did the second book, really.  It was a satisfying ending if you really enjoy this series, but I think I just didn’t?  I was intrigued by the first book, but after that the story really felt dragged out for me.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

After When the Moon Was Ours, I was DYING to read more by this author.  I can’t say that this one captivated me quite as much, in fact, I found it a little hard to get into.  The alternating perspective between two main characters is not as distracting as the fact that one of them speaks French and the other Spanish.  It’s about rival traveling performance troupes– both of which seem so cool!  Once I got into it, I loved it.  There is a heavy dose of magical realism at the end instead of throughout, which is a slightly jarring if you’re not expecting it!

An Ember in the Ashes by Saaba Tahir

Wow, this one really surprised me!  Again, I found it a bit difficult to get into.   Once we get into the world of the Masks, things get really interesting.  The story feels familiar, but unique.  It’s about Laia, whose brother is captured by the empire.  She joins the resistance to get him back, but is sent as a slave spy to a deadly military academy where she meets Elias, who struggles morally with his place in the empire.  It’s a great adventure, and I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel!

Follow along on goodreads to see what I’m reading now!