Sunday, 19 April 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up (34)

On the Blog
Since we skipped this last week, these are all from the past fortnight. :)

I haven't gotten many new books recently, but these two did show up unexpectedly for review during the week:

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
It's About Love by Steven Camden

I don't know much about either and they're not ones I would've chosen myself, but I'll give them a try -- I've heard good things about Michael Grant and It's About Love does sound like it'll be interesting.

And I also got the audio book of Burial Rites by Hannah Kent with an audible credit I had. I'm only two chapters into it but I love it so far (both the book and the narration). It's one I've been meaning to read for ages and I also wanted to try an audiobook of a book I hadn't read before (so far I've only listened to audio for rereads).

And that's all, I think? What've you all been reading?


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle 
by Rachel Hawkins

Summary: Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
I'm not sure if I made a mistake reading this right now, because I stupidly went into it thinking it was a standalone novel when it's actually the first in a trilogy (I've been trying not to read any new series recently until I get through ones I already own)... But, I regret nothing. Because I loved the book, really loved it.

It was fun and funny and cute and had a cast of characters that I pretty much adored. And, the best part is that it's a very feminist book. Harper is a stereotypically girly girl -- she likes fashion and make-up and dressing up for school dances, and she's popular and a cheerleader...and she's also intelligent and driven and kind and fierce and strong. She becomes totally kick ass without changing who she really is, and I loved that.

Basically, it reminded me of what I loved about Legally Blonde and shows/movies like Buffy, where the female characters may toughen up and their experiences do have an impact on them but they don't start shunning their femininity to be taken seriously as a kick ass heroine. So many books and movies (and people) treat femininity and strength (especially physical) as if they're mutually exclusive traits in and I have a lot of respect for the authors that don't do that, because stereotypically feminine traits aren't a sign of weakness, as much as society has ingrained that into us.

...And before this review turns into more feminist rant than review, I'll get back on track: I loved the other characters too. I loved that it wasn't catty, I loved that it had parents who actually parent and that it had a love triangle that felt genuine and didn't vilify one of the guys to make the other more appealing. I really, really loved that the guys respected her -- they didn't treat her like a damsel in distress, she had faith in her abilities and so did they and... Yeah. So much character love going on here.

I think that's about enough gushing for one review. Basically, Rachel Hawkins is a fabulous author and I'm ashamed this is only the second of her books that I've read (will remedy that soon), and this book is multiple kinds of awesome and adorable. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
Sabaa Tahir
[April 28, 2015]
ARC via publisher

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier — and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Man, did this one gut me. A lot of the times, really hyped books end up as a disappointment, because how can they possibly live up to what we want them to be? I read this one pretty damn early, but there was still a lot of hype. And it deserves every ounce of it.

Sabaa Tahir is a hypnotizing writer. She just has this way with words and weaving stories and going in and out of perspectives that drew me in completely and had me turning pages like crazy. It was spell bounding and beautiful and haunting because this is NOT a happy book. Which I think was part of the magic - Sabaa doesn't pull any punches. She's willing to go to George R.R. Martin levels of playing with your feels. 

I loved the characters. Laia and Elias had this really intense life style in an incredibly dangerous environment and you could feel it, but these characters managed remarkably well. They were easy to sympathize with and like and care for, despite everything else going on.

I also loved how unapologetically dark AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is. This isn't a light, fluffy, happy read. It's dark and it only gets darker and God the sequel will destroy me. Sometimes books try to pull back and give you lightness in the dark, but there wasn't much of that here. It was true to itself.

I don't really have a lot to say about this one. I just know it blew my mind and I'm keeping the ARC and getting a finished copy because it really was that special. I loved this book with all my heart even as it wrecked me. It's not a book for everyone and some of you may need to be cautious going in, but if you can read it, you absolutely should. The hype is legit.



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