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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia review

    The first half of this book was 4 stars for me but it quickly went downhill.
     I wanted to slap Eliza through the last half of this book, not because of her anxiety disorder, I get that and I understand it, but for how disrespectful she always was to her parents.
     I know what you're going to say: "all teenagers act like that", but she took it to a whole new level. She wouldn't even ANSWER her parents when they asked a question and would instead roll her eyes or just walk away from them while they were still talking. Call me old fashioned, but my mama would've skinned my hide if I did something like that to her!
     Sure, my teen daughter has off days where she's moody but she's never as bad as Eliza and never gets a super condescending tone with me and I can't help but think that a young impressionable girl might read this book and think that this behavior is okay.
     Isn't it hard enough to raise a teen without an author making someone as bratty as Eliza a "heroine" in a book?
     Should her parents have posted what they did? Absolutely not. Should they have made more of an effort to learn about what she was doing online? Absolutely.
     This book made it seem like everything that happened to Eliza was her parents fault though, when in all reality Eliza pushed them away enough to where they had given up and just let her be so as to avoid her super emo behavior and uncalled for outbursts.
     I know that everything can't be a John Green novel where the parents are best buds with the kids, but this was too much. Eliza got a happy ending when I think she should've been grounded instead to be honest.

2 out of 5 stars

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen review

     This is not the type of book I typically read but after the first plot twist I was so sucked in that I had to know what happened and then there were even more twists after that! 
     I'm usually pretty good at predicting what might happen in a book plot but each time it caught me so off guard that I would have to go back and re-read the last few pages because I would have one of those "what just happened" moments. 
     I absolutely loved it, so good down to the very last page! 
     I especially loved how this book was able to show how an abusive relationship can come to be and why a woman doesn't just "get out". 
     I hate it when people say that about women in abusive relationships and I think everyone who tries to play know it all and say "why don't they just leave" should read this to get some understanding.       My mom went through this and the scenarios in this book really hit home because it's a lot of the same things she would describe to me; how my dad could be the most amazing person and she would think he was truly sorry but then things would be good for a while and it would start all over again....it's heartwrenching to know that Nellie/Vanessa's story isn't technically true but for so many women it is something they DO go through on a daily basis. 
     I highly recommend this book to anyone.  Like I said, I'm usually a reader of scifi/dystopian and I still thought it was incredible!

5 out of 5 stars

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses book #2) by Sarah J Maas summary

     This is going to be a hard one to write.  I've condensed 624 pages of book into this summary so of course I've skipped over a lot that I feel isn't "relevant" to the plot but I need to say that if you haven't read the second book and are trying to get the full story from this summary you WON'T be able to.  This is just the basic plot but I've skipped over most of the romance bits and a lot of details of the war to try to shorten this a little since it's already going to be so long.  In other words, if you expect to be able to read only the first and third books and use this as the mediator for the second book, it's not gonna happen because you WILL be confused.  This summary is only a refresher for those going into the 3rd book that have already read the other two first.  On that note.....

     This book picks up right where book one left off.  Feyre is preparing for her wedding to Tamlin, but still has horrible night terrors about what happened under the mountain.  Feyre is miserable because Tamlin has become super overprotective of her because although Amarantha is dead her minions still stalk the lands outside the court.  He won't let her leave the castle grounds and she feels like a prisoner.
     At the wedding, Feyre is doubting marrying Tamlin because he's become so controlling and Rhysand shows up to claim her debt (spending one week of each month at the Night Court).  He whisks her away and tells her that he heard her screaming for help through their bond in her tattoo and that's why he showed up when he did.
     Although Feyre expects to be treated as a prisoner while at Rhysand's, she is surprised to find that he treats her as a guest.  He begins teaching her how to read and how to use her new found abilities gained from the resurrection by the other High Lords when she was dead under the mountain.  Tamlin has been trying to hide these abilities out of fear that the other lords will try to kidnap her and use her as a weapon or even worse kill her for fear that she is more powerful than them now.
     Rhysand explains to Feyre that she needs to learn to use her abilities because war is coming.  She thinks he means that he is going to attack the other courts but he seems hurt by the statement and tells her that the king of Hybern is the one who will be attacking. 
     He tells her that Amarantha was one of Hybern's lieutenants and was a test of sorts to see how much the courts could be broken while he remained at a distance.  Now that Amarantha is dead, Rhysand has no doubt that another larger attack will come since he knows that the king wants to take over not only the fae realms but the mortal lands as well.  He asks that Feyre help him make Tamlin understand and to persuade him that they need to join forces for now against this bigger threat.
     Morrigan, Rhysand's cousin, comes in to tell Rhysand that an attack has happened in their court in a place called Cesere and that many fae have been killed.  She says they don't know who did it but that it has the same signs as another recent attack; the same type of tracks, bodies that showed signs of wounds from large blades, and no trace of where they came from or how they disappeared.  She tells him that his lieutenants Azriel and Cassian are waiting to meet up with him to receive their orders.
     After the week is up Rhysand returns and takes her back to Tamlin.  When she tries to talk to Tamlin about the coming war and training to use her abilities he tells her it's too dangerous and goes back to being overprotective of her.  Lucien tries to tell Tamlin that it may be best for her to learn but Tamlin denies even him and Lucien doesn't press the issue so at this point Feyre begins longing for the freedom the night court held for her.
    Ianthe (a high Fae who has come to the spring court to help Feyre get ready for her wedding/friends with Tamlin) helps prepare Feyre for the upcoming tithe in which all the villagers bring their taxes to Tamlin.  Feyre doesn't want to be the dress up doll they've turned her into but she's so broken from what happened under the mountain that she's just empty and allows it even though she feels like a caged animal under Tamlin's control.
    During the tithe ceremony, some water wraiths show up but they don't have the money to pay their tithe.  Tamlin gives them a short window to come up with it but Feyre feels bad for them and chases after them when they leave.  She gives them all her jewelry to sell to be able to pay their tithe.  Tamlin reprimands her for doing this saying that they must maintain order in the court but Feyre stands her ground.
    Later on, Lucien reports to Tamlin that there is activity on the border closest to Hybern.  When they start to leave Feyre begs to go with them, saying that she knows she can help them fight (more and more new abilities have been happening to her such as controlling fire, creating a shield around herself, and she even had talons like Tamlin's show up once when she was angry).  Tamlin refuses and when she won't drop it he locks her in her room with a ward around it before he leaves with the troops.
     In her anger and fear at being locked up and not understanding why Tamlin would do this since he knows her fear of being in another cell she envelops herself in darkness (another ability she didn't know she had) and begins screaming.  Morrigan shows up and winnows (teleports) her back to the night court.  When she awakes, she tells Rhysand that she doesn't want to go back right now and he tells her she can stay for as long as she likes.  He tells her that although he is the one who broke Tamlin's shield around the room, since he didn't set foot inside the home no laws have been broken and Tamlin can't start an internal war to come get her without angering the other fae for breaking court laws.
     She agrees to stay with him for a while to figure out what she needs to do.  He tells her that he has to leave for now because he has business in another part of the court and after what she just went through she doesn't want to be alone so she begs him to take her with him.  He tells her that if she comes with him she can't ever tell anyone about where they go and asks if she could keep that secret even from Tamlin and she tells him yes so they go to the city of Velaris.
     Velaris turns out to be a beautiful city so normal compared to the rest of the fae world that Feyre doesn't understand how it hasn't been found, and Rhys tells her that there are numerous spells protecting the city.  He chooses to let the rest of the fae see the night court as just the area called the Court of Nightmares in order to keep Velaris safe and so that it intimidates everyone else enough to where they won't try to attack them or find out more about the night court and discover Velaris hiding away.
     They meet with Rhysand's command at a "family" dinner since Rhysand counts these Fae as family to him.  There is Morrigan, Cassian (a warrior and commander of Rhysand's armies, Azriel (Rhysand's spymaster who can control shadows) and Amren, a small woman who we find out isn't actually fae or human at all; she was a prisoner in the Fae Prison and Rhysand released her.  She drinks blood instead of eating and everyone is terrified of her and no one knows what she actually is.
     At the dinner they talk about the threat of the coming war and Rhysand tells them that the king is planning to raise Jurian from the dead (he was the one that was trapped in the ring in book 1 and he is the extremely powerful warrior that had killed Amarantha's sister).  Rhysand knows this because the ring was stolen and now Jurian's bones held at the memorial at Sangravah have been stolen too.
    The others argue that this can't happen since the only way for someone to be brought back is for all the High Lords to agree to it and combine their powers as they did for Feyre and why would the king want Jurian brought back to life anyways?  Morrigan says the High Lords would never agree to help Hybern in this way.  Rhysand says he doesn't understand it either but he thinks that the king has found some other way to do it since he's taking such a risk stealing these items.
     Since Feyre doesn't want to go back to the spring court right now she agrees to work with Rhysand and the rest to try to stop the king from taking over the fae and mortal realm and bringing Jurian back from the dead.
    Feyre isn't fae or human now but a bit of both so it is decided that she will go with Rhysand to the Prison to speak with the Bone Carver, a being who is trapped in the Prison but with more knowledge than someone locked away should be able to have.  He only talks to those he thinks can offer him something and since he will be interested in what Feyre is they think she will be able to offer him answers to questions he will have about her in order to gain answers to THEIR questions.
     They go to the prison and Rhysand was right that the Carver will talk to Feyre.  He answers all their questions when she provides him info about her death and resurrection and the Carver tells them that Hybern has been ransacking the temples to try to find the 3 feet of the Cauldron, an ancient device that was said to have held all the magic in the world but when it fell into the wrong hands and was used for evil it was stolen back and hidden.  It couldn't be destroyed because it had been used to make all things so if it was destroyed life would be destroyed too.
     The feet were removed from the base to dull the Cauldron's power and then placed in the separate temples that Hybern has now ransacked.  The Carver then tells them that there is a book that was created from the last of the Cauldron's molten ore that was divided between the Fae High Lords and the mortal queens called the Book of Breathings that when put together can negate the Cauldron's power or control it wholly and in order to stop Hybern and the Cauldron's power they will have to have both pieces from the Fae lords (theirs is hidden in the summer court) and the mortal queens.
     They go to Feyre's old home in the mortal realm to try to convince her father and sisters to allow them to hold the meeting with the mortal queens there to try to get them to give them their part of the book.  Feyre's sisters didn't know that Feyre is a Fae now so they are in shock when they see her and what she is now and at first refuse to help but eventually agree.
     Knowing that the summer court will not work with the night court and give up the book willingly, Rhysand says that there is another way they can get the High Lords piece of the book.  They send a message to the summer court asking to meet with them to discuss court alliances and in the meantime Rhys tells Feyre his suspicion is that since she was resurrected by the High Lords and holds their power she can use her ties to them to detect where the book is hidden.
     To test this, he sends her to the Weaver who he says has been guarding something of his for a very long time and won't let him have it back.  He tells her that if he's correct, she will sense the item and as long as only his correct item is chosen amongst the Weaver's treasures the Weaver won't detect her since it is blind and only uses its sixth sense to catch thieves.
     Feyre manages to get the item (a ring) because she does feel the tug of Rhysand's hold on it but he had lied to her about the Weaver not detecting her if she chose correctly and it attacks.  She manages to escape and Rhysand winnows them back to Velaris.  She figures out that he did this as a test to not only see if she could detect items belonging to the high lords but also to teach her to control and overcome her fear in order to use her abilities.
     Feyre begins training with Rhysand and he reveals to her why he doesn't like Ianthe.  She tried to seduce him and many others of his court before Amarantha had captured him and he reveals that someone like her would have done the same things Amarantha did, using them as slaves to gain access to the High Lord's kingdoms and take them over.
     While Feyre is training one day the Attor shows up and tries to kidnap Feyre but Rhys saves her from it.  She is grateful until she realizes that he had sensed someone following her around and he has used her as bait to try to capture whoever it was.  Rhys and Azriel torture the Attor to try to figure out what it wanted with Feyre but the only thing it knows is that the king of Hybern had hired it to try to kidnap her and bring her to his court but it doesn't know why.  When they realize they can't get any other info from it they throw the Attor out the high window, thinking the fall will kill it.
     They finally get an acceptance from the summer court to meet with them so Rhys, Feyre, and Amren go there under the pretense of discussing court relations.  Over their days there, they all do actually become attached to Tarquin (the High Lord of the court) and his family and do want to be friends and make alliances with them, but they need the book so badly that they know they have to steal it, because friends or no they feel like they don't know the summer court well enough to just ask for it outright and if they are turned down and then have to steal it the summer court would know they are the ones who had taken it and there wouldn't be an alliance.
    After days of searching and trying to figure out where the book is hidden, Feyre sees a small tower in the ocean that is only visible when the tide is low and then disappears completely when high tide comes.  She feels the tug of the book there and when she nonchalantly mentions to Tarquin that she might like to see the little tower while on their walk to the market the next day she notices from the look in his eyes that this is definitely where the book must be.
     To be certain, Feyre slips into his mind and is able to get past his "mind shields" by making his own brain think that she is him using her ties to him from her powers.  She sees that he is wondering why she is asking about the tower and "does she know what's there" and at that point she is certain so she speaks with Rhys and Amren that night and they agree to try to steal it the next day.
     Rhys tells them that he had already mentioned to Tarquin they were thinking of leaving the next evening so he will just leave a note saying something urgent came up and they had to leave sooner than expected and no one will be the wiser.
    They go forward with their plan and Rhys flies them to the island and tower while the guards are distracted.  Amren and Feyre go inside and work their way down to the bottom.  The entire tower is filled with deep water and Feyre knows they have to hurry before the tide comes back in and buries them inside.  When they reach the door Feyre uses her powers to open the door and she is focused so hard on it that she actually manages to turn into Tarquin for a moment.  The book speaks to them and tells her that it wants to know her name.  She tells it her name is Tarquin and she is it's master.  It tells her to take it. When she picks it up it calls her a liar and the door slams shut behind them.
     Water begins pouring in and Amren uses her powers to force the door open so they can get out but when they are almost to the top of the stairs the door at the top closes and they are completely underwater.  All of a sudden the door opens and they are pulled onto the shore and it is the water wraiths.  They tell Feyre that their sister's debt is paid now and then they take off.
     After Rhys winnows them back to Velaris he explains that he had to knock out some of the guards because they were coming back since Feyre and Amren took so long and that the summer court will now know it was them.  Sure enough, a box with blood rubies in it shows up not long after and Rhys tells Feyre that whenever a grievance worthy of war has been committed against the summer court they send blood rubies as a sign to their enemy.  They've sent 3; one for Amren, Feyre, and Rhys.
     Rhys is upset not only because he did want to be allies with Tarquin and the summer court, but because he didn't think to glamour and erase the guards memories instead of knocking them out since that would have let them escape without knowing who took the book.  Feyre tells him that she doesn't blame him and they'll figure out a way to make amends with the summer court after they've dealt with Hybern.
     Rhys gives the book to Amren to decode since it is in an ancient language that she knows of.  He tells her that whatever information is in the book may help free her from the fae body that she is trapped in.
     The mortal queens finally agree to meet with them a few weeks later and they tell them that they will only give them their part of the book if Rhys can bring them proof that he is a man of peace as he says rather than one of war that they have heard rumors of.  Feyre knows the only way to do this is for them to see Velaris and how he has kept it safe and Rhys knows as well but he won't reveal Velaris' location; instead they will go to the court of nightmares and steal an all seeing orb called Veritas from Morrigan's father.  This orb is like a crystal ball that will show the queens Velaris without revealing its location and they know that the queens will accept this since they know of the orb and that it doesn't lie or play tricks.
     While they are on their way to the court of nightmares a hail of ash arrows comes toward them (ash arrows are poisonous to fae).  They try to track the attackers but know that they must get to the court before rumors are spread about the night court being attacked so they agree to come back later.     They manage to steal the orb from Morrigan's father, the ruler in the court of nightmares, with Rhys and Feyre distracting him by putting on a "show" in front of the court; that she is now Rhysand's "pet" and with them being intimate in front of the court (not sex, but close, and it's right in front of all the others).  They had set up this plan in advance as a distraction to show that she really WASN'T with Tamlin anymore and would be part of the night court, but at this point Feyre realizes she really does want Rhysand and not just for show.
    When they get back to Velaris, Feyre goes to see how Amren is doing with her progress on decoding the half of the book she has but Amren tells her that it won't make sense until they have both parts.  She also tells Feyre that the next day they will be heading to one of the Ilyrian war camps to try to track down the attackers from when they were headed to the court of nightmares and that Rhys won't be able to use his powers or winnow since this is how the attackers are tracking them; they can somehow sense Rhys's power and know where to find him when he uses it.
     Rhys starts training Feyre again while they wait to hear back from the queens since they sent word that they now have the proof they require, and the whole time Rhys and Feyre are falling more in love though neither will admit it.  During their training one day, Rhys tells Feyre about why he and Tamlin are enemies.
    When they were younger they were friends since both of their fathers were violent vicious rulers and they were not which forced them to be allies since their other family members didn't understand them.  As they became friends, Rhys taught Tamlin Ilyrian techniques of fighting and Tamlin's father saw this as a threat since he knew he was weaker than both Rhys and Tamlin.
     One day, Rhys's mother and sister were supposed to be traveling to a war camp where he was training recruits.   He was supposed to meet them halfway but was so busy with the training that he decided to stay at the camp.  When Tamlin's father got hold of the message that Rhys would be traveling alone to meet his family, he and his sons (including Tamlin, although Tamlin only went because he couldn't/wouldn't disobey his father) went to the meeting spot to kill Rhys.  When they didn't find Rhys there, they murdered his mother and sister.
     That night for vengeance, Rhys and his father winnowed to the edge of the Spring court and snuck in and killed Tamlin's father and brothers.  Although Rhys told his father not to, his father also killed Tamlin's mother and proceeded to Tamlin's room to kill him.  Rhys tried to stop him but when he caught up to his dad, Tamlin had already killed him as soon as his door was opened.  At that moment they had both become high lords as their parents died and rather than kill Tamlin Rhys ran away.
     A few days after as Rhys and Feyre are training again, Lucien shows up with two other Spring court sentinels and tries to convince her to come back with them and he tells her how Tamlin is broken without her and that she must come back. When she refuses he tries to grab her but she winnows away from him and uses her new shapeshifting ability to form wings like Rhys's from her back and tells Lucien that he should have helped her when he saw that she was being kept prisoner inside her own home but he didn't and that she knows the same thing would happen if she went back so she will NOT go with him and if he tries to come back for her she will kill him regardless of whether she thought of him as a friend once or not.
     After the encounter, they decide to go to another spot farther away to train so that Lucien won't be able to hunt them down again.  On their way there, they stop at an inn to rest but not much resting happens as the inn is full except for one room and Feyre and Rhys have to share a bed. Feyre finally decides to fully let go of her emotions and be with Rhys and tells him it doesn't have to mean anything, just "a distraction".
     The next day while they are flying through the woods they are attacked again while Rhys is distracted talking to Feyre.  Rhys throws Feyre into the trees so that she won't get hit by thee ash arrows that are now  hitting him.  She runs back to find him but he's already been taken away so she uses new abilities she didn't even know she had until now such as being able to see in the dark to find him even though nightfall has come and night beasts are prowling the forest.  She discovers him in a cave and assassinates ALL the guards around him (who turn out to be Hybern's men) but he's so weak from the poison of the arrows that he can't winnow them out so she is able to winnow them to a nearby cave.
     She can tell that Rhys is getting weaker and she doesn't know what else to do so she once again traps the Suriel and it tells her that to save "her mate" she must give him some of her blood since so many high lords powers flow through her and that he needs to eat some sort of root that is nearby to help with the pain until he heals.  Feyre is thrown off by the Suriel calling Rhys her mate since a mate in Fae terms means someone that you've always been destined to be with.  She asks the Suriel if Rhys has always known this and it tells her he's known a long time.
     She goes back to the cave and the Suriels advice rings true when Rhys does begin to get better.  She then asks him about the "mate" thing and he reveals that he's known ever since she was still human because he kept dreaming of her and even seeing her dreams but he didn't know who she was until he saw her that night of the festival when she was with Tamlin and he had chased off the would-be rapists.
     Feyre is furious after hearing him out because he did the same things Tamlin did; assumed he always knew what was best for her and kept her in the dark while everyone else around him knew that she was his mate too and that all of this had been a prolonged thing to get her to be with him.
     When they get back to the camp she asks Morrigan to take her away somewhere that he can't find her because she needs to think.  Morrigan sets her up in a cabin on a mountain where she, Cassian, Azriel, Amren and Rhys go sometimes to relax.  Feyre stays up there a few days and begins to paint again to clear her head.  She realizes why Rhys did what he did, not because he wanted to control her life but because he just wanted her to be happy no matter what choice she made, whether it be him or Tamlin and he wanted her to fall in love with him just because rather than it being "fate".
     Morrigan had said she'd check on Feyre in few days so when Feyre hears a knock she thinks it's her but it's Rhys at the door and she offers to make him some soup since he had to trudge all the way up there rather than using his powers where the Hybern army could find them again.  He tells her that when two people are mates that in the fae world the first rite to establish this is the woman making a meal for her husband.  She asks him to tell her everything while she makes the soup, and they both know it's her way of saying that this is his time to prove himself to her and whether she will give him the soup or not after she makes it.
     He tells her his story (I'm not going to recap all this since it's just a reiteration of how he knew she was his mate and what he endured under the mountain but you can reference pages 517-528 for it) and she gives him the soup and then they have a few wild days at the cabin together since they've fully given themselves to each other now.
     When they go back to Velaris there has been word that the queens are ready to meet with them again, but when they go and show them the orb and Velaris the queens say they still need to think on it.  Everyone rages at them to give them the book but the queens just winnow away.  One of the queens (who is only referred to as the young golden haired queen) left the piece of the book on her seat and there's a note inside saying that she believes them and that if anyone asks they had stolen the queens piece of the book since she trusts them not to rat her out.  With all they need ready to go they head back to Velaris to plan their next move to get into the king of Hybern's court.
     Amren manages to puzzle out what needs to be done in order for the Cauldron to be nullified once she has both book pieces and she tells them Feyre will need to place her hands on the Cauldron itself and speak a spell that is in the book.  Since she has the power of the high lords it will listen to her.  Before they can put the plan into motion though they are attacked the next day.
     Hundreds of Hybern soldiers show up with the Attor leading them.  The soldiers throw the golden haired queen to the ground as they fly in and she is impaled and killed on a fence spike.  Cassius is with Feyre walking along the pier when it happens and he uses his siphons to throw up a tremendous shield to protect them.  He tells Feyre to go back to their home since it is protected by wards but Feyre refuses to when she sees the Attor and the soldiers killing innocents all around her and instead calls her powers and begins demolishing the Hybern army; turning water into wolves that attack and drown the soldiers and then when some try to fly away she turns the water into ice causing them to fall to their deaths.  She then uses her winnowing ability to get to the Attor flying above and she kills him/it too.
     After the battle is over (Amren, Azriel, Morrigan, and Rhys were all fighting too) they know that they are going to be attacked again since this was only one vanguard from Hybern so they immediately form a plan to get Feyre into Hybern's castle to nullify the Cauldron using the book. 
     They leave the next day for Hybern's court (Mor, Azriel, Cassius, Feyre, and Rhys) and Rhys stays behind after they winnow in since the king will sense his powers but not the powers of the others.  They sneak in through an underground entrance Azriel had found on his scouting trips and Azriel and Cassius take down the few guards in this area for Feyre to go in.  When they reach the Cauldron Feyre pulls out the book to begin using the spell but Jurian shows up along with the king of Hybern and they are all taken captive.
     The king takes them to his throne room where Tamlin and Lucien are waiting for them along with the other queens.  The queens told the king of Hybern about Velaris after Rhys and Feyre had shown it to them and it turns out they've been working with the king all along because he sent Jurian as an emissary to them as a sign of "goodwill toward mortals" and he has them brainwashed into believing he is the good guy and will provide them with immortality using the Cauldron and the night court is as bad as everyone says it is. 
     Tamlin's motives were simpler; in desperation he went to the king and agreed to allow the king to pass through his lands and use the spring court as a base while the wall was destroyed if he would break the bond between Rhys and Feyre (the agreement bond, Tamlin has no idea they are actually mates and thinks Feyre has had her mind controlled by Rhys this whole time and has been a captive) and allow Feyre to come back to the spring court with him.
     Feyre keeps refusing to go with Tamlin and is trying to explain to the queens none of what the king says is true.  Meanwhile they are all trying to use their powers while they stall to be able to attack but the king has nullified their magic in his castle. 
     The king then brings in Feyre's sisters and when Tamlin tells him this wasn't part of their agreement the king reveals that Ianthe sold out Feyre's sisters to him and Ianthe is a "friend of his".  He turns to the queens and tells them that he will prove his honesty but turning these mortals into immortals with the Cauldron to show them it is safe to do so and that he really can make them immortal.  He throws Elain in first and she comes back out of the Cauldron as a fae.  Lucien runs up to her to give her his coat and when they look in each others eyes he tells her she is his mate.
     Nesta is thrown in next but she fights the whole time and as her head is being pushed under by the guards she points at the king of Hybern as a sort of promise that she will destroy him.  When she emerges she is fae also but Feyre senses in her a powerful rage in her blood and she knows that Nesta will not be just another lesser faerie.
     As a last resort not knowing what else to do, Feyre uses her light from the day court to throw up a ball of light that blinds everyone in the court and destroys the wards in there without anyone realizing it.  She then turns to Tamlin and runs for him and begs him not to let Rhys take her again and that she can't bear any more killing.  She has made the light seem like it was the "power" Rhys had over her and she managed to break it when she saw Tamlin again. 
    He believes her and says that he will protect her and he tells the king that he's done enough damage and he needs to break the bond between Feyre and Rhys as promised.  The king does it and Feyre's tattoos are gone, but no one knows that Feyre is actually the High Lady of the Night Court now because she and Rhys got married the night before after the battle in Velaris without telling anyone, and the only "bond" that has been broken is just the agreement bond and she and Rhys are still connected through their mating bond.
     Knowing that the wards are down, Morrigan grabs Feyre's sisters and winnows away to take them somewhere safe because the night court members here understand that Feyre has a plan and is only pretending with Tamlin.
     The queens begin going to the Cauldron to acquire their immortality and the king allows the rest of the night court to leave since he has no use for them now, but then he realizes that Feyre no longer has the book pieces because she had given them to Rhys.
     When Rhys arrives back to Velaris he explains to Amren and Morrigan that the bond between him and Feyre isn't broken and that her plan is to now be his spy within the spring court to help bring down Tamlin and the king of Hybern.  Cassian is present but the king shredded his wings with his magic so he's unconscious as is Azriel because the king shot him with a poisoned ash arrow when they were captured and now they are all waiting on a healer to come fix them since the wounds are too bad for Morrigan to fix with her healing abilities.
     It switches to Feyre's point of view as they arrive back at the spring court and Lucien is looking at her like he knows that she's lying because she isn't panicking about her sisters being taken by the night court, but if he admits it he knows he'll never see Elain again and Feyre smiles at him as she walks back into Tamlin's house to become her new role as spy for the night court.

End of book 2

Friday, November 3, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green review

I've come to the conclusion that John Green books just don't affect me the way they do other people.  The writing was good, I think he did an excellent job of capturing the things that go through your mind when you have a mental illness, and I loved all the characters as I usually do with his books....but I always feel like there's not really a plot.  These kids just go about their daily lives and it's a biography of what they experience each day rather than there being an "endgame" and it's been this way with every one of his books for me.  I'd give this one 3.5 stars simply for how beautifully he did capture Aza's thoughts and illness, but the story as a whole only gets about a 2.5 out of 5 because it was kinda boring.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Warcross by Marie Lu summary

     Emika is living in NYC struggling to make ends meet after the death of her father.  She becomes a bounty hunter to try to pay the bills and the book starts with her going after a high value bounty. 
     The bounties she takes on are for the police who are searching for disreputable characters in Warcross, a virtual reality which has taken the world by storm (think the OASIS from Ready Player One). 
     She catches her bounty but another bounty hunter called it in that they had caught them first so even though she is the one that turns the bounty over she doesn't get the reward money. 
     Since she and her roommate are about to be evicted from their apartment for nonpayment she becomes desperate and hacks into the opening ceremony of the Warcross championship, which is like the Olympics where the best of the best at Warcross compete for cash and prizes.
     She hacks in to try to steal some powerups from the players, which are shown as marble looking items that assist with speed and other advantages in the competitions and some are worth a lot of money so that's why she is trying to steal them.
     In the process of the hack, she is glitched into the game and can be seen by all the spectators.  She immediately logs out but her face is on the news within hours and she awakes the next day to a phone call from none other than the creator of Warcross himself, Hideo Tanaka. 
     He tells her that her debts have been taken care of and he wants her to come to Tokyo to meet with him.  She of course agrees since he is her idol and she has looked up to him since she was a little kid.
     Upon arriving in Tokyo he tells her that he has a job for her.  She will be entered as a wildcard in the Warcross championship to help him find another hacker who is messing with the Warcross system. Each of the teams in Warcross selects wildcards from the player base each year so this isn't unusual and she'll be able to go in incognito.
     He chooses her because only one other person has been able to hack into the Warcross games which is this unknown entity named Zero and so that's why he feels that someone of her caliber will be able to catch them.  Her reward will be 10 million dollars if she succeeds, but he tells her that he has also hired other hackers too so it is a competition in itself to try to see who can catch Zero first.
     Emika is picked by the Phoenix Riders to be their wildcard and she is first wildcard pick which starts even more tabloid fodder about her even though we find out later on that Hideo didn't even set that part up.  Asher (the Phoenix Riders captain) chose her on his own since he realized how great her hacking skills must be with glitching into the tournament.
     While hacking into her team and other teams personal files to try to find clues about Zero (Hideo thinks Zero is another Warcross player), Emika discovers that the other wildcard on her team named DJ Ren has many firewalls on his info where the others don't so she begins to tail him, suspecting he is Zero. 
     During this time, she has meetings with Hideo regarding finding the hacker and they begin to fall in love based on their shared life experiences.  His brother was abducted when they were young while they were at a park playing, and she shares with him her father's gambling addiction and death and her mother's abandonment.
     At one of their meetings, Hideo gives Emika a hack which can get past Ren's data encryption if she can get close enough and she uses it on him in the tournament while they are playing and manages to grab a file that is called "proj_ice_HT" which she figures out means "Ice Hideo" aka assassinate Hideo.  She turns the info in to Hideo and even though an assassination attempt is made on his life at one of the events he tells her to continue tracking Ren and they will act like Ren isn't a suspect for now in order to glean more info. 
     Emika follows Ren into the Darkcross (an underground of Warcross with illegal betting and powerup trades along with other illegal things like virtual prostitution) one day to try to find out more about what he's doing. 
     She sees him betting on a Darkcross game and another entity shows up in head to toe black armor and she realizes it is Zero. 
     Ren and Zero begin placing strange betting numbers on the game and she figures out it's a code and begins recording the numbers. 
     Later on in her room she finds that the numbers are coordinates around the world at some of the biggest cities and she sees that Zero has much more influence and is planning something even bigger than she thought for the Warcross finale.
     At one of the last games of the tournament in an underwater level Zero glitches himself and Emika into a cave away from the eyes of the other players and spectators and offers her an alliance, saying that if she'll help him he can pay her more than Hideo but she of course refuses. 
     He once again shows up at the Warcross championship apartment she shares with her team and asks her to reconsider and when she refuses he steals the memories she had of her father that were stored in her files and then he blows up the aparment building. 
     She and her teammates make it out, but Hideo tells her that he's pulling her from the tournament since it's become so dangerous and he can't lose her.  He also has Ren arrested for questioning and pulls him from the tournament as well.
     Emika knows that whatever Zero has planned is huge and she can't let it go so even though she promises Hideo that she'll stay out of the investigation, she tells her teammates everything and they agree to help her catch Zero. 
     One of the other players in the game, Tremaine, reveals to Emika that he is another of the bounty hunters searching for Zero and he gives her the info he had collected which includes another piece of the proj_ice encryption which she then is able to decrypt and sees that it is a plan to install a virus in Warcross through the artifacts in the final game.
     She once again goes into the black market and with the money Hideo has given her buys several illegal powerups to use in the final game. 
     When the game starts she takes over the new wildcard on her team's account and goes into the game as him.  She finds out that Zero has glitched into the game by the same means and is controlling the account of the opposing team's captain.  She manages to steal the artifact from him and deactivates it and the artifact from their team too, preventing Zero from installing the virus.  He tells her that "she triggered it" and she tells him that she has stopped him and he needs to give up at which time he tells her that all he is trying to do is STOP Hideo and then he disappears.
     She confronts Hideo about it and he reveals to her that he has upgraded the neurolinks used for Warcross so that now instead of just receiving data and letting the users control the link to their mind, he can now use that same link to control them instead and he is planning on using it to stop any crimes and she has helped him activate it since she didn't stop Zero. 
     He shows her a current happening where a man is planning on robbing a convenience store.  The neurolink kicks in and his brain is "rewired" so that he puts the gun away and leaves, forgetting what he was planning on doing.  Hideo explains to Emika that this will stop all crime in the world (this has been his plan all along because of what happened to his brother and the guilt he feels about it) and he asks her to understand and help him and even though she sees the good it could do she also sees that it takes away free will and it breaks her heart to do it but she tells him he will have to do this on his own and she can't be a part of it.
     Emika goes back to the Warcross apartment to meet up with her team and explains everything to them.  She realizes that with one of her hacks she has still been gathering info on the Warcross players while in the game which means that she has some of Zero's files now.  She begins going through them and finds that Zero is actually Hideo's brother, Sasuke.
     Emika wonders why Sasuke hasn't come forward in all these years.  Is he being controlled by someone else to act against his brother?  Does he even know who he is anymore?  Is it even Sasuke or is this just another deceit?  Around this time she gets a message from Zero which says "My offer to you still stands" and all her filed memories of her father are returned to her.
     Emika wonders who she should actually be helping; Zero, who tried to stop Hideo but used such violence in the process, or Hideo, who she really loves but doesn't want to endorse because his plan takes away free will.
     The book ends with Tremaine coming outside to tell her that another bounty hunter contacted him and that he thinks this hunter can help them with finding Zero and Emika agrees to go with him to find the bounty hunter while still being unsure on who she should actually be trying to stop.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan review

I had my hopes set way too high.  That's what I get for reading 5 million reviews before deciding to pick this up thinking it would be the best thing since Ready Player One.  I should have known the bar had been set way too high to try to compare it to that book since it is one of my favorites, but I kept seeing comparisons to Ready Player One and so I was vibrating with anticipation to read this and stalked my mailman all day long while I waited for it to arrive from Amazon.

I really liked the writing in this book, but I think I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if I understood more about "tech" stuff.  Some of the references were way over my head, which is why I may not have enjoyed it as much as Ready Player One since it was all video game and 80's references and that was right up my alley.  Still an enjoyable read though.  I wish there had been more to the puzzle solution but the fact that it wasn't anything "heavy" made it feel more realistic. 

Not a life-changing book by any means but still a fast enjoyable read, just don't expect as intricate of a game as RP1 has.  I think the comparisons between these two books revolve more around the easy to read, geeky writing than the plot itself.  If you go in knowing that you will still enjoy this book.

3 out of 5 stars

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern review

     Okay, so first let me say that I'm not trying to be different in my opinion of this book just to be "different".  I truly wanted to enjoy it since all my friends did, but I didn't and I couldn't.  Is the circus magical and amazing and just as awesome as every other book reviewer in the world seems to think it is?  Absolutely!  The problem lies in that this is where the magic stopped for me.  
     I cared nothing about the characters, to me they were all just skeevy and conniving (maybe this is why I didn't like them, since I prefer to always try to see the good in people). I felt no connection to the "love story", the ending was very "meh", and we never get a good enough sense of the characters emotions and personalities since so much of the book is spent explaining the different intricacies of the circus itself.  
      After I read a book that I don't like, I try to go back and think about what the author could have done differently (for me, I know that others adore this book and I'm in the minority) that might have made me like it, and with this book it's a problem I don't think could be fixed, because the only way the magic of the circus would still be there and yet the character development become better would be if it was another 150-200 pages long to give a more in-depth look at the characters lives outside the circus.  
     This would present a huge problem as by the end I was already bored and just wanted to be done with it, so if I had to slough through another 150 pages it might have become a DNF rather than just a book I didn't enjoy but did at least complete.  
     So with all that being said, I'm torn.  I love the atmosphere and the descriptions of this amazing place, but it was definitely very forgettable and I feel like in a couple months time someone could try to discuss a plot point in the book and I won't even remember what they're talking about because I've pushed it to the back of my brain in favor of other, better books.  Like I said, I'm definitely in the minority, but just because a book is about magic doesn't mean that it IS magic like a lot of people had led me to believe.

Rating:  2 out of 5 stars

Friday, October 6, 2017

Before She Ignites (Book 1 of The Fallen Isles trilogy) by Jodi Meadows, the summary

Main Characters:
Mira Minkoba- main character, labeled as Hopebearer
Aaru- love interest? cellmate
Ilina- Mira's best friend/dragon sanctuary attendant
Hristo- Mira's protector/bodyguard/friend
Gerel- Mira's cellmate/she was a soldier before she was imprisoned
Tirta- cellmate (not in Mira's block)/Mira's friend before she is found to be a member of the Luminary Council
LaLa- Mira's pet dragon
Crystal- Ilina's pet dragon
Altan- Mira's nemesis, he is a prison guard but is an undercover Drakon Warrior
Chenda-  cellmate, known as The Dawn Lady, she is the representative of the Twilight Council, a mirror image to what Mira does as Hopebearer for the Luminary Council

Need to Know:
There are six (seven if you count Damyan and Darina as two) Fallen Isles, each having their own culture and a god/goddess representing that Isle.  The names of the isles and their culture are as follows:
1.  Harta- very good at growing things and tending the land
2.  Bopha- worship shadows cast by light, it is found that Chenda who is a Bophan can even remove her shadow from her body and get it to do her will, unknown if other Bophan's can do this too
3.  Damina (this is actually two Isles, Damyan and Darina, but most people count them as one)- these people worship kindness and love above all else.  This is where Mira is from.
4.  Idris- value silence above all, have their own silent language made of finger tapping, like a personal Morse code
5.  Khulan- value warrior skills and train all children from a young age to become great fighters
6.  Anahera- to be honest, I don't remember much on this Isle being mentioned in the book, if anyone has info on it please let me know in the comments!

     At the beginning of the story we get to know Mira.  She is a teenage girl who is known as the Hopebearer.  The Hopebearer is a mouthpiece for the people of the Isles and their government, the Luminary Council. Her father is a powerful official who works hand in hand with the council and created a treaty called the Mira treaty which helped to unite all the Fallen Isles (named so because they worship 7 gods who fell to the Isles so the story goes) in trade and development, along with blending of the peoples.  Before this treaty, most Hartans, Bophans, etc would only stay on their one Isle and socialize with their own culture.
     Now, what you need to know about Mira:  her mother is very hard on her, telling her she's never good enough, her sister Zara ignores her because she's jealous of Mira, and Mira has crippling anxiety and some OCD (she uses counting as a means of calming herself although she tries to keep it secret).  She really loves dragons, and her two best friends are her bodyguard Hristo and also Ilina, who is the daughter of the keepers of the dragon sanctuary on their Isle.
     Mira, Ilina, and Hristo explore the dragon sanctuary anytime they have free time, and Mira has a small dragon who is her pet named LaLa, while Ilina's pet dragon is named Crystal.  One day while exploring they find that some of the dragons are gone from the sanctuary and that there are wheel tracks like they had been taken rather than flying away.
     Upon going back to Ilina's parents, her parents tell them to ignore it and let it be but they can't, and they later find shipping manifests in the paperwork at the sanctuary showing that the dragons are being shipped across the sea to their enemies on the mainland, the Algotti Empire.
     Mira goes to the Luminary Council to let them know what's going on and that they have an enemy somewhere in their midst doing this, but the Council promptly throws her in prison.  The prison is known as the Pit and it is where the most dangerous criminals are sent never to be seen or heard from again.
     While there, Mira makes friends with her cellmates, especially a boy in the cell next to hers named Aaru, and he begins teaching her the silent code of his people and it's hinted at that Mira begins to fall in love with him.
     There's also Gerel who is in the cell across from her, a former Khulan warrior who was top in her class until she was imprisoned for trying to destroy the Pit after seeing the awful things done there when she and her squad were forced to train in the Heart of the Great Warrior (the area in the building beyond where the Pit is, filled with statues of the fallen gods and great warriors).
     Altan, the prison guard, tells Mira that she can choose to take a job in the prison in order to gain better privileges.  She agrees to go to work as a cleaner for a woman named Sarannai who is over the kitchens.
     Sarannai is an evil woman, the same who Gerel told Mira about that caused one of her fellow warrior trainees to die.  She had given them 14 buckets and told them to clean and that those who didn't do it would be removed from training (a great dishonor to the Khulani who's only sole purpose is to be a warrior).
     There were 15 trainees, so the one left without the bucket was forced to try to steal another trainees bucket in order to do his cleaning.
     It forced the trainees to turn on one another and the other trainees ended up beating the 15th boy so badly since he was hindering them from finishing their cleaning that he later died.  This is why Gerel hates the Pit and Heart of the Great Warrior so much.
     Mira manages to complete her cleaning with the help of Tirta's guidance who is working in the laundry at the same time Mira is trying to clean.  Tirta tells her what needs to be done in order to not invoke Sarannai's wrath, and although Sarannai is never kind to Mira she tolerates her because Mira does a good job on her cleaning.
     One day, Altan tells Mira to come with him and he interrogates her about what she knows about the dragons.  She refuses to tell him anything but realizes at this point that he is a hidden Drakon warrior and that the Drakon warriors are still around.  I guess we should discuss some backstory on the Drakon warriors since I'm sure it's going to come up in later books....
     Drakon warriors are Khulani who rode dragons at one point in time before the Mira treaty came to be (yeah I know, all I can think of is Toothless and Hiccup too).  When the treaty was written it said that all Drakon warriors were to be disbanded and the dragons placed into protective sanctuaries since the dragons were seen as parts of the fallen gods the Isles worshipped and should be cherished and protected, not used in war or to ride.  Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program....
     When Mira refuses to tell Altan anything he takes her back to her cell block but all the other prisoners have been moved.  He leaves her there with a small bag of food and water by herself and then all the noorestones are turned off and she is in complete darkness.  She is left like this for four days and begins to hallucinate and even almost dies of thirst.
     She awakes to Aaru pouring water into her mouth through the hole in the wall between their cells where they usually talk.  Altan comes just as she almost regains consciousness and takes her to the interrogation room where she breaks down and tells him what she knows about the shipping manifests and the dragons being sent overseas so that he will leave her alone and not put her through that torture again.
     The next day, another prisoner shows up and it is Chenda (see Chenda's description in the character summary at top).  She doesn't recognize Mira but Mira recognizes her as do a lot of the other prisoners since Chenda was even more of a public figure than Mira.
     When everyone begins questioning why Chenda is there, she makes a speech, saying that she stood up for what was right and was imprisoned for it.
     She claims that the Bophans want to deport all the Hartans back to their own Isle because all the crops have begun to die and the Bophans think it's the Hartans fault since they are supposed to be the masters of the land but aren't able to stop it.  Some Bophans had even begun BURNING Hartans alive to try to force them to do better at "trying" to fix the crops.
     When she was expected to give a speech written by her government saying the Hartans should be sent back home she instead stood up for the Hartans and was put in prison for it.
     The government's explanation to her people was that she had given secret information about the Bophans to her Hartan lover and that he had burned 14 Bophans in retaliation for the previous killings (it's true she did have a Hartan lover, but he didn't kill anyone).  When this information was released to the public he was beaten to death when he was arrested and she was thrown in the Pit for being an accomplice.
     Not long after this revelation, Mira is sent for by Altan again along with Aaru.  Altan tortures Aaru with noorestones by combining them with an element that causes them to burn a person from the inside out and then placing the bowls of noorestones under his feet.
     Altan thinks Mira has more information about the dragons that she isn't revealing, and it's true that she hasn't told him about the noorestones being sent to the enemies as well, so she starts to reveal that to him too but has a panic attack and tells Altan she can't think while Aaru is being tortured.
     This info about the noorestones is important because Mira, Hristu, and Ilina discovered that the 10 largest noorestones in the Isles are being shipped to the Algotti empire.  Noorestones of that size are enough to power a huge ship, which means that someone is sending both these and the dragons to the Algotti so that they can invade the Isles and have a quick takeover.
    The Algotti empire has slowly been taking over countries on the mainland for years but had always left the Isles alone until now.  Mira and the others figure out that the shipments must mean the Algotti are soon planning to invade and take over the Isles as well, using the dragons as weapons along with their large ships.
      The noorestones under Aaru suddenly explode drenching everything in darkness and killing the other 3 guards in the room besides Altan who it knocks unconscious.
     Mira realizes Aaru is the one who caused the explosion when she sees that the noorestones on the wall are dimming and brightening as his heart beats when she checks his pulse to make sure he's alive.
     After this while Mira is in recovery from the cuts of the shards of the noorestones, members of the Luminary Council show up to get her.  They now want her to do the same thing that Chenda wouldn't do;  say that the Isles cultures should be separated and all sent to their own lands.
    The reasoning about WHY the Councils want everyone separated so badly now isn't evident in this book but I'm sure it will be revealed in the 2nd or 3rd installment.  Maybe to make them all weaker for the Algotti takeover instead of having any combined forces?
     Mira refuses to recite the speech they've written for her and instead gives her own about everyone loving each other and that the different cultures should all work together.  This infuriates the Council and their representative chosen to be Mira's escort (named Elbena) cuts a huge gash into Mira's face as punishment while in a fit of rage.
     This is a huge thing for Mira as part of being the Hopebearer is that she has always been pampered and kept beautiful to look the part of an elegant representative of the people and that has made her very vain about her looks, especially since her mother always instilled in her that she must always be beautiful.
     In the meantime, Hristo and Ilina have been disguised while all this is happening and they come to Mira's room to help her escape after Elbena leaves but she tells them she can't leave, that she has to go back to the Pit to rescue the prisoners there since she is certain that Aaru, Gerel and the others aren't in the Pit because they've actually done anything wrong and she can't just leave them there.
     Elbena and the other guards storm into Mira's room around this time and throw both her and Hristo and Ilina all in the Pit.
     Altan once again comes to interrogate Mira and she knows he's not going to hold anything back now that the Luminary Council won't be coming for her again.
     He releases a young dragon named Kelsine into the cellblock and tells her that the dragon might not be able to get to her friends in their cells but it will make it really hot in there (breathing fire at them) while he's interrogating her so she'd better make it quick.
     He tells her that she lied about the ports the dragons were supposed to be at because he sent his people there and no dragons were found.  She thinks back to when she and Elbena arrived at Bophan when she was supposed to give her speech after the Council came to get her.
     When they first arrived at Bophan port, a large ship exploded and a dragon flew out of it.
     It was Lex, a dragon from the sanctuary that Mira and Ilina always roamed.  When Mira called for Lex, Lex came to her and immediately calmed down even though she'd been frantic moments before.       Mira had only been thinking of trying to save Lex when she called for her and didn't notice the guards bearing down on them.  They recaptured Lex while Mira fought against them and Elbena portrayed it as that Mira was saving the people from the dragon by calming her.
     At that point the people started calling her not only Hopebearer but Dragonhearted because of her unique ability to calm the dragons and Mira couldn't tell them any different for fear of being killed by Elbena and the Council if she tried to tell the truth.
     After everything had calmed, she realized that Lex shouldn't even have been at the port because the ship shown on the manifests as being in Bophan which was headed for the Algotti Empire was supposed to leave days before then.
     Coming back to the present, she says that the shipping schedules must have been switched when the Council discovered she'd found the manifests in order to prevent her from telling anyone the plans (like she had told him).  He believes her and asks what other routes could have been taken.  She is adamant that she doesn't know and doesn't even know why they would do this.
      At this point, Altan tells her that the she shouldn't be surprised by what the Council does because the Mira treaty is a sham and that the treaty sold the islands to the Algotti Empire.  She tries to deny it but he begins a very convincing theory; in the treaty, it states that the Isles will bow to the one true authority, which Mira always assumed meant the fallen gods, but Altan says it's the Algotti Empire.
     He thinks the Council is sending the dragons as payment so that the Algotti don't attack them for now.  The Algotti Army is endless, growing with each country their empress takes over, and he says that the Isles know this and so send gifts of dragons and noorestones to try to appease the Algotti empress and get her to leave them alone for the time being.
      This has upset the gods of their Isles though as the dragons are their "children", hence all the earthquakes and dying lands as of late.  Altan says he wants to get the dragons back so they can fight the Empire and be Drakon warriors again and save their people.  Mira wants the same, but doesn't want to work with Altan to do it since he's been so cruel to her and his ways are so violent so she tells him that she won't be his puppet anymore and he attacks her.
     She manages to fight him off and grabs a noorestone that's being used for light on the wall to use as a weapon.  In her distress and anger, while holding the noorestone her skin begins to radiate fire and the noorestone starts pulsing.
     Altan comes at her to try to kill her and she stabs him with the noorestone and he goes down because now he is burning from inside, the same as Aaru did with the chemical/noorestone combo.        She realizes that she is able to have the same effect on the noorestones as whatever chemical Altan combined with the stones when he was torturing Aaru but she doesn't understand how or why.
     She goes back for her friends in their cells so they can try to escape and encounters Tirta on the way.  Tirta reveals that she is on the Luminary Council and has been keeping an eye on Mira but that she's on Mira's side and wants to help her and that she needs her to come with her.
     Mira doesn't trust her now and runs.  When she gets back to the prison block, she is able to calm Kelsine just as she did with Lex on the docks and begins releasing her friends but Tirta and the Luminary Guards show up along with Altan and his guards.  A huge earthquake also hits at this time causing even more havok.
      Hristo and Gerel begin fighting the guards and Aaru starts releasing all the other prisoners to help them fight.     
     Chenda, once she is released, tells Mira to take the bag of runestones she has and hold them up to cause as much light as she can (Mira had taken all the stones from the armory where she encountered Tirta even though she didn't know if she'd be able to use them as weapons again).  With all the light, Chendra's shadow behind her has turned to blackest black and she wills it to separate from her.  It turns into a silent assassin and begins murdering all the guards.
     It seems the tides have turned with Chenda's shadow helping but Altan throws his baton at Chenda, knocking her out and causing her shadow to return to her.
     By this time, Hristo and Gerel are worn out since they are the only two "real" fighters of the group and Mira can see that she and her friends are about to lose this battle.
     In her distress her power returns once again and she can feel her body heating as she holds the noorestones, but with this many in her hands she can feel how much more powerful she is.  She yells at all of her friends to run and then she channels the noorestones' power and causes a huge fireball that takes out all the rest of the guards.
     She blacks out for a moment but when she wakes up Aaru is there with her.  Around them the whole cellblock is in ruins. When she went supernova or whatever you want to call it he stayed to help her and was able to protect himself from her fire with his own powers.
     They get out of the cellblock and meet up with Hristo and Ilina who tell them that Altan and a couple of his guards got away but they aren't sure where Tirta is.  They also let her know that Gerel has a spot she says is safe that they can go regroup at and they should head there.
     Around this time, LaLa and Crystal also show back up.  No explanation as to how the dragons found them, I guess LaLa may have sensed Mira when she released the noorestone fire?  Who knows, but that is the end of book one and I'm sure all the questions will be answered in the remaining two books.


Monday, September 18, 2017

American War by Omar El Akkad review

I feel like I've been on a 4 star kick lately, but that's because I've had amazing luck of the draw and found fabulous books that I wouldn't even have thought to read based only on their summaries. This is not as I first suspected it would be (a post-apocalyptic type world at war, although the war does play a huge role); it's moreso a story about one family, even moreso one girl who changes this world forever and gives us an insight as to the why through her eyes.

I'm not usually a fan of war books, but Sarat's story touched me. All she wants is to protect her family, sometimes making terrible choices in the process, but then that's just the way of life. Sometimes you want to protect something so much you end up hurting it/them in the process, and this helped me relate to her on a deep personal level and I think a lot of other people will too.

It's not a beach read by any means, there is a lot of depth to this story and you can sometimes get so caught up in this depressing world that you'll need to come back to reality for a while before you dive back in, but that is a great testament to the author's world building. From what I've seen this is a debut novel from him, so if his first is this captivating I can't wait to see where he goes from here. Highly recommend!

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon review

Okay, so this would have definitely been 5 stars if some things that happened weren't a little too "romance comedy movie", but it was still a VERY enjoyable book with a super sweet ending.  I haven't read a book that fast in a long time, so if I absolutely DEVOUR one like that I know it has to be pretty captivating.  If you are a fan of books like "The Fault in our Stars", "The Probability of Miracles", and anything teen romance I know you would definitely love this.  Heck, I loved it and I'm a 32 year old woman so maybe it's good for adults too!

4 out of 5 stars

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Brother by Ania Ahlborn review

I waited two weeks after finishing this book to give my final opinion on it because I really needed to think about how I wanted to rate it.  First off I should say that it's very predictable, and that's why I had such a hard time with my star rating on it (hovering between two to four at any given time as I thought about what I'd read) but the storytelling overrides the predictability by a mile.  Hell, even when I knew who you know who turned out to be to Michael I was still rooting for them to get together when I know I shouldn't have been(maybe I've been watching too much Game of Thrones).  I want to give a true and proper review of everything I felt while reading this but I know that spoilers would be flying out of me like geese going south for the winter since everything about the book is what you FEEL for these characters so I'm going to avoid that and just say this:  this family is JACKED up in the best/worst possible way and you will never have rooted for a cannibal before the way you will if you read this book.  I'm off now to go purchase everything that Ania Ahlborn has ever written :)

4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer review

     I'm not sure where to begin with this review.  I think the book was good??  I know that sounds strange, to not understand whether I actually liked it or not, but the last 50 pages still have my head spinning trying to wrap myself around what happened.
*Spoilers ahead and I dunno how to make a spoiler tag so you've been warned!*

     I guess what's confusing me is that I still don't understand WHO the characters were or WHAT they were other than Rachel and Borne.  When it's revealed that Wick isn't human, it's not explained (at least I don't remember an explanation) for what his purpose actually is.  Is he just a piece of biotech built at the Company who's purpose is to be an assistant to the other scientists?  Was he made as a scientist to transcend the capabilities of human thinking in order to complete the "fish project" and therefore Mord?  WHAT ABOUT THE FOXES???? Are they the people who had worked in the Company and then were turned into tech? So many questions!
     Also, what the HECK is up with the Magician?  I thought that who she was would be fully revealed but then she just gets her head bashed in.  Throughout the whole book she didn't really seem that bad; I mean, she was just trying to get allies to kill Mord and bring the city back to life and that's why she wanted Rachel and Wick isn't it?  Why were they so adamant against that?  Why did Rachel kill her?  Because she led the proxies and the weirdo kids to them?  Was it something to do with that portal thing?
    The portal thing is another reason I'm so confused.  I don't know if I was just too tired or what while I was reading last night, but I'm soooo out of the loop when it comes to what that painting/portal thing was supposed to be.  I'm going to go back and re-read that section again tonight once I get home and I'll update if it becomes more clear, but right now I'm just kind of wtf on it.  If anybody can explain that scenario I would be very grateful.
     Maybe I've just been reading Stephen King and YA for too long and this book is too advanced for my little brain or something lol.
     I did love Borne just like he was my own little alien squid pet, but I also understand why Rachel did what she did.
     Say you have a dog who is extremely vicious and bites everyone it sees except for you and even the best trainers can't correct it; you still love that dog with all your heart but you know you have to give it up and get rid of it, that's just how it is.  I think that's what happened to Rachel and Borne.  A terribly sad result but it couldn't be helped and I completely agree with her decision.
     If he had stayed with them he would have eventually "sampled" them or if that didn't happen, then once the rest of the city figured out what he was doing they would have come after him and he would have led them right to Wick and Rachel.
     So anyways, as it sits I give this book about 3.5 stars just because I'm still so confused even after the ending and I feel there could have been less time spent describing Rachel's torn feelings and more time going into detail about the Magician and that portal doohickey.  If I go back and re-read tonight and have a light bulb moment I'll immediately reverse my decision and give it a solid 4 to 4.5.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Rabbit in Red by Joe Chianakas review (or lack thereof)

I'm not one to dnf books most of the time unless I just don't have the time to finish them but that wasn't the case with this book. I was really excited to read this book since it was based on a game and the author was a fan of Ready Player One (one of my faves) and took inspiration from it, but instead I got a very cliche "name-dropper" which mentioned other books/movies/shows/popular media every 5 seconds. I made it to page 46 and that was as far as I can convince myself to read. I have many other books on hand waiting to be read and I won't be wasting any more time on a book that feels more like it was written for a tween than an adult. I give it two stars because the concept seems interesting but I can't handle the writing anymore to be able to find out if the actual "game" is good or not.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood review


   Yes, I'm going to be one of those people.  You know, the "the book was way better" type of people, except it's in reverse for me.  It was definitely a first for me; I actually liked the show better than the book.  In the show, I related a lot more to Offred, but in the book she just seems weak.  Would I have done the same things if put in the same situations? Probably, but I'm one of those people who also hates myself for my weaknesses so that's to be expected.
     In the show, I was rooting for Offred to succeed in getting away from this horrible place but after reading the story, I felt kind of bitter that she is the one who escaped rather than Ofglen, who was actually taking the initiative to help the women stuck in Gilead while Offred was trying to avoid it and just have her fun with Nick.
     The story with Moira is also much more intricate in the show so I was really disappointed to see that both she and Luke are hardly mentioned in the novel.
     I will say one thing for the book, the world-building is very good.  You feel like you are there with Offred as she walks past what used to be major landmarks but are now reduced to only abandoned or military outpost buildings, and you feel her suffering as she looks at those hanged or forced into servitude.
     I do also appreciate the fact that in the book the Commanders and their wives are painted as older couples.  I understand why the show picked "beautiful people" to play the parts for better ratings, but it did feel more realistic that Offred was forced to be a surrogate for someone she wouldn't willingly be with if things were different.
    Again, if I had read the book before seeing the show I would probably be right there with the others in rating it as a 4 to 5 star book, but having seen how much the show expanded on the idea of Gilead I have to only give it about a 3 now.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter review


3 stars out of 5

     Okay, so here's the thing: my low star rating may make it seem like I didn't enjoy this book but I really did. I absolutely devoured it in just a few days, which is really saying something considering I've been in one of those "reading ruts" where I look at my books and I want to read but then get distracted with work, cleaning, life....and just don't finish  more than a couple pages at a time before I get bored. Surely it's not just me that does that, right?
     The writing and world building was excellent and I really came to feel for the characters. So why the 3 stars? Well, I found myself skimming a lot. I honestly think this book could have been about 50 pages shorter and nothing have detracted from it. After the 4th time of the "things" in the woods being described down to every minute detail I began skipping over the constant reiterations. I guess the detail was a little bit TOO good in it.
     Also, this has nothing to do with the level of writing or the greatness of the story but that ending pissed me off. I get that characters get killed off in books but he totally could've thrown that shiz from outside the cave and still escaped. I know that's vague, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers here, just trying to express my displeasure with said person's death grr. Overall, definitely worth reading for the horror fan, but it's not exactly one for the ages that will haunt me in my sleep

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor summary

     We start this book with learning a little bit about Lazlo Strange.  His last name isn't his own but rather a name given to all orphans from the war (it's never revealed what the war was about, it just says a war about nothing).  When his family is killed in the war he is sent to a monastery to be raised by the monks and they give him the name Lazlo.
     Lazlo is charged with taking care of an old senile monk named Brother Cyrus who talks nonsense a lot about a place called Weep, a city that used to have a different name but the name was stolen away by magic so now it's only known as Weep.  Lazlo begins taking the stories to heart and begins to believe it is a real place filled with warriors like gods called the Tizerkane and beauty beyond compare.
     He runs away from the monastery since they don't like "dreamers" who keep their heads in the clouds and ends up at the library where the chief librarian Master Hyrrokkin takes him on as an apprentice. Lazlo spends his whole childhood and teenage years here but still dreams of Weep and has even written several books on the place based on theories from different books he's found throughout his years in the library.
     One day Thyon Nero, the godson to the queen and a master alchemist who has figured out how to turn lead into gold by creating azoth (a secret essence sought by alchemists for centuries before this) comes to the library and says that he wants Lazlo's books delivered to his house. Lazlo wants to refuse but knows that he can't since Thyon is a very powerful man in the city due to his reputation, so he delivers them to Thyon.  It's then that we learn that Thyon and Lazlo have a history.
     Lazlo knew that Thyon was trying to create azoth, and when he is out delivering some books one day he hears a noise that sounds like a hurt animal, but when he goes to see what it is he realizes it's the Duke of Vaal beating his son (which is Thyon) and telling him he has to create azoth soon before their whole city falls due to the tremendous debts they owe and he's taking too long.  Thyon tries to tell his father he's doing his best but his father says his best isn't good enough.  Lazlo feels sorry for Thyon and feels a sort of kinship with him because the monks used to try to beat him into obedience and get him to quit dreaming about lost cities and becoming a warrior.
     Lazlo doesn't know much about alchemy but he has read a book called Miracles for Breakfast about fairy tales from the Unseen City (Weep) and there was a theory in there that the alchemist was himself the secret ingredient to distilling azoth and the conjunction of human soul with elemental could create it.
     Lazlo takes the book to Thyon's home and gives it to him.  Thyon isn't grateful though and is instead angry that Lazlo is pitying him due to what he saw so he takes the book and slams the door in Lazlo's face.  It's not long after that it's revealed to the city that Thyon made azoth.  Thyon shows up at Lazlo's door one day and threatens that if he ever tells anyone how it was made that he will kill him.
      A few days after Thyon requests Lazlo's books, Tizerkane warriors show up at the doors to the city.  These are the warriors from the stories of Weep.  They come riding spectral creatures and they request an audience with all of the city.  Everyone is in awe since these people aren't even supposed to actually exist.  Lazlo realizes that this is why Thyon wanted his books; the queen has told him that the Tizerkane were coming and he wanted to try to impress them with his knowledge of Weep.
     The leader of the Tizerkane, Eril-Fane, also known as the Godslayer, speaks to the city and tells them that they are going to different cities and recruiting the best and brightest minds because they have a dilemma that no one has been able to solve, and although they are known as not letting outsiders in this time they have decided to make an exception and whoever solves their mystery will be greatly rewarded, but he can't tell them what it is he needs help with, just that they will have to see it to understand.
     Thyon of course is recruited along with other alchemists and scholars, and when the Tizerkane start to leave, Lazlo gathers his courage and begs Eril-Fane to let him join them.  He speaks to Eril in the tongue of Weep and Eril is impressed so he agrees to allow Lazlo to come with them as his assistant.
     Many months later they arrive in Weep and the mystery is revealed as they go into the city.  A huge temple in the shape of a seraphim is suspended over the city blocking out all daylight on the city with its wings.  Eril-Fane then tells them the story of what happened to the city:

     Hundreds of years ago, the temple came down from the sky and inside were 6 Gods called the Mesarthim, with skin as blue as azure; 3 men and 3 women.  Weep felt these were angels but they turned out to be cruel beings who would steal men and women from the city who were "of age" and reproduce with them and use them as slaves in the Citadel (this is what they called the giant temple in the sky).  After using these people for many years their memories would be wiped clean and then they would be sent back down to the city to live out the rest of their lives but they were never the same after that.
     Eril-Fane was taken by Isagol, the goddess of despair, as her lover and he ends up staging a rebellion against the gods and kills her and everyone else in the Citadel, hence how he has come to be such a hero within the city and known as the Godslayer.
     He tells them the Citadel is made out of a metal they call Mesarthium.  One of the gods named Skathis could control it and bend it at will and turn it into anything he wanted but the scholars of Weep have been unable to do anything with it since Skathis death. No knives, poisons, anything will even put a dent in it.  Hence why he's brought them there; so that hopefully someone can figure out a way to remove the empty Citadel and restore light to the city.

     What they don't realize though is that the Citadel isn't empty.  When Eril-Fane slew all the gods he also went into the nursery and killed all the children so that there wouldn't be anymore "godspawn" either (hence the haunted look in his eyes; no one knows that he killed infants in the war against the Gods; he only killed 30 children though and Lazlo asks him later on what must have happened to the hundreds of others through the union of god and Tizerkane and Eril-Fane tells him he doesn't know where they are). A little girl named Minya managed to save four of the babies and hid until Eril-Fane was gone and now they are all teenagers at this point and living in the Citadel unbeknownst to the citizens of Weep.  The godspawn living in the Citadel are as follows:

 Sarai-a girl who every night sends hundreds of moths out of her mouth to light on the brows of the citizens of Weep.  She can invade their dreams through contact with the moths, and she plants it in their heads that the Citadel mustn't even be looked at, hence how the godspawn have stayed safe from any further invasions all these years. She isn't a bad person though, and through their dreams has come to learn that although she still harbors resentment towards the humans for what they did to the other gods and godspawn, she understands how awful the gods were to them now and has forgiven them.

Sparrow- a girl who can grow plants just by touching them.  She is the reason they've been able to live in the Citadel so long.  When Wraith (their pet hawk) would drop seeds he got from the wilds she would grow them into food.  She is in love with Feral but is too shy to say anything about it.

Minya- the godspawn who saved the other children.  She never grew up though, and although her mind is on the same level as all the others, she still looks like she's only 6 years old.  She is very evil and captures the spirits of the deceased of Weep when they die and keeps them prisoner.  Some she uses as servants, but she tells the other godspawn that when the other ghosts disappear it's because she lets their spirits go, when in reality she's keeping them locked up in the heart of the Citadel to use as an army against the Tizerkane if they ever try to come back to the Citadel.  The others don't know this because the door to the heart is only opened just wide enough for a small child to get through and Minya is the only one who still fits in there. She is the daughter of Skathis but didn't end up with his gift of being able to manipulate Mesarthium so any open/closed doors have been stuck like that since his death.  It's also why they've never been able to just leave the city, since the Citadel is stuck in suspension and can't be moved.

Feral- the only boy of the group.  He can control the weather and uses this ability to water the food that Sparrow grows and provides them all with drinking water. He and Ruby are sleeping together once they find out that they are about to be killed by the Tizerkane (more on that later)

Ruby- she can shoot out fire from her fingers.  She is very outgoing and wild.  Seduces Feral later on in the book.

     Sarai learns through the newcomers dreams (all the scholars and alchemists that Eril-Fane has recruited) that they are planning to come to the Citadel to try to figure out how to move it. It is at this time that Minya reveals her ghost army to the rest of them.  They are appalled that she has kept these people's souls trapped all these years but Minya tells them it's for their own good.  She sets up the ghosts all around the Citadel to protect it when the Tizerkane and newcomers arrive.
     It's also revealed that Sarai is the result of the union between Isagol and Eril-Fane and is Eril-Fane's daughter.  She sends moths to his home now that he's back but it is actually Lazlo that is in Eril-Fane's bed since Eril is still outside the city (he sleeps out there now to prevent the nightmares of the Citadel that Sarai has planted in his head, even though he thinks he just has the nightmares because of the city itself and doesn't realize she's the one that has given them to him).
     Sarai slips into Lazlos dream and is immediately taken aback by the beauty of it.  He dreams of Weep, but not as it looks in real life, but the way he always imagined it, with flying banners, beautiful flowers, all types of wonderful creatures walking around together in harmony, etc.  She is mesmerized by the sight of it and walks right up to Lazlo inside his dream since the dreamers can't see her when she invades with her moths.  She is in shock then when Lazlo looks right at her and asks "who are you?"
     She immediately removes her moth from his brow but can't resist going back in again the following night to see the beautiful city he has imagined.  She realizes he's dreamed her into existence in his version of Weep now and she slips into the place of the "imposter" Sarai and begins to talk to Lazlo.  Lazlo thinks that she's Isagol since he's seen photos of Isagol and Sarai looks just like her and Sarai goes along with it just so that she can learn more about him.  Night after night they meet in his dreams and they end up beginning to fall in love.
     One of the scholars that is brought to the city has created a flying machine buoyed up by balloons (I just picture it as a hot air balloon with some wings), and they take it up to the Citadel the next morning, even though Sarai warned Lazlo in the dream the night before that they shouldn't come up there.  Lazlo thinks it's really just dreams though and so doesn't heed the warning.  The balloon carries Lazlo, Eril-Fane, Azareen (Eril-Fane's wife and another warrior who had been taken by the gods when she was younger), and the pilot of the balloon.
     When they arrive to the Citadel, Minya sends the ghosts out to kill them and Sarai runs out ahead of them and tells Lazlo to run because Minya is going to kill them.  This is the first time that Lazlo and any of the others realize there's godspawn living in the Citadel.  They fight off the ghosts and manage to escape, and Lazlo reveals to Eril-Fane that he thinks he's been dreaming about Sarai and not Isagol all along.  That night when he goes to sleep she comes to him via her moths and reveals who she really is, and over the next few nights she explains about her and the others and she and Lazlo fall even more in love.  Minya meanwhile is using her ghosts to keep Sarai captive in her room after what she did.
    Thyon has been working on trying to create something that might melt the mesarthium anchors suspending the Citadel in place (there's four anchors around the city that are working like magnets to hold the Citadel suspended over the city).  He's been drawing from his spirit to use azoth for it but it has been ineffective up until the time that Lazlo brings him some food and offers up some of his spirit since Thyon looks so weak from constantly drawing his.  Thyon accepts it and sees that Lazlo's spirit in combination with the azoth does melt some of the mesarthium.
     He goes to Lazlo's house in the middle of the night demanding to know what he is since it's only his spirit that works.  Lazlo was in the middle of kissing Sarai in his dream so he's ticked that Thyon showed up but when Thyon keeps explaining about how his spirit worked on the mesarthium he runs out to one of the anchors so he can try to touch it and see if it does anything.  Sarai follows him with her moths so that she can see what's going on.
     On the way there a huge explosion happens.  It is Drave, an explosionist who was brought to the city as a last resort in case no other options worked for moving the Citadel.  He was tired of being made fun of by everyone else for not helping so he decided to try to blow up one of the anchors. It doesn't work of course and instead of detonating the mesarthium it sends the explosion shockwave out toward the city and downward into the ground.
     The explosion kills Drave as he's running away and Lazlo is knocked out.  Sarai sends her moth into his unconsciousness and realizes he's still alive since he's having a dream, but it isn't a dream about Weep this time.  Instead, he's in the middle of the woods that he used to play in as a little boy and he's digging at the ground.  She goes up to him and asks what he's doing and he tells her he's trying to find himself and she sees that he's dug up a feather and realizes it's one of Wraith's feathers.  She's afraid he's brain damaged from the blast and tells him he needs to wake up.  He does and sees that the anchor is now falling into the ground due to the earthquake happening from the blast.
    The Citadel starts to tip since once of the anchors is disappearing. and without thinking Lazlo runs toward the anchor and grabs it.  The power he actually has is finally felt in him and he begins to manipulate the mesarthium so that it fills in the cracks in the earth where the earthquake is happening.  He also uses his manipulation powers to fold the wings of the seraphim so that light comes back into the city and the wings aren't pulling the Citadel off balance anymore.
     After all this happens he looks behind him and sees Eril-Fane and a bunch of others standing there and he realizes that he is now blue when he looks at his hands.  Lazlo is revealed as a godspawn.  He stands there waiting for Eril to say something and swears to Eril that he had no idea what he was until that moment. He waits for his reaction to see if they'll kill him or praise him for saving the city and after a while Eril tells him "thank you for saving us".
     They begin hearing screaming down the street and Lazlo remembers seeing something fall when the Citadel started to tip so he rushes to the screams and sees that Sarai has been impaled on a wrought iron fence when she fell from the Citadel as it tipped and is dead.  Lazlo grabs her body and manipulates the mesarthium to create a beast to fly up to the Citadel and when he gets there he goes straight in to Minya and asks her to capture Sarai's spirit.  She tries to attack him with the ghosts but he uses the mesarthium to block their way.  She is mad that she's no longer in control, and tells him that she will capture Sarai's spirit.  Sarai walks in and she and Lazlo embrace, then Minya takes control of Sarai and has her tell Lazlo that if he doesn't do everything Minya says that she will release Sarai's spirit into the void.  He agrees to do whatever Minya says so that Sarai will still exist.

End of book 1