Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen

Summary from Goodreads:
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.
I think I liked the concept of this book more than I actually liked the book itself. I did enjoy it. How can I not enjoy a book with the tagline: “An Austentacious Romance”? I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. And each chapter of this novel begins with an Austen quote. Oh, and the male main character is often compared to Mr. Darcy. This book was practically calling to me since I learned of it’s existence.
However, it took me almost 2 weeks to finish. For me, that’s a long time. And, it’s really not a long book. It’s slow. One can argue that not a lot happens in the book. However, not a lot happens in a Jane Austen novel either, and I tend to complete those in a sitting. Also, I would argue that a lot more happens in Dangerous Alliance than actually does happen in a Jane Austen novel. There’s a bit more action. There’s abductions, abusive husbands, divorces, scandals, attempted murder, etc. Yet, it still took me almost 2 weeks to read!
I think my problem was the predictability of it all. I knew from the very first pages how it was going to end and why. I did not feel that way when I first read Jane Austen. It felt a bit like if I were to watch an episode of Scooby-Doo. You know that the Scooby gang isn’t really being haunted by a real ghost. It’s really someone greedy who wants money, or the big house, or the land the big house is on.  This book didn’t have any ghosts in it. But, it had that same kind of “duh…” feeling. And as the reader you feel a bit like the only Velma in a world of Shaggy’s who only see the surface level ghosts and not the greedy landowners want something more.
Literally, every single character was Shaggy. No one was catching on to anything. I get that a lot of characters were scarred from things that happened in the past. And I get that this book takes place way before Scooby Doo does, or Agatha Christie novels, but still. No one was catching on to things at all. And it was driving me nuts.
The main character was brave. I loved that she put her life at risk to save her father. She’d do literally anything for her sister. She didn’t seem to care about the financial situation of the man she was in love with. She had a lot of good things going for her. But, she couldn’t figure out something I figured out from the first few pages? I feel like her literary aspiration (Elizabeth Bennet) would not have been so blind.
Any way, it was a fun historical book. The Austen references were charming. I still read the whole book. It worked as a nice escape for me during a not so great couple of weeks. But, it did take me a very long time to read –mostly due to my frustration of feeling like the only Velma in a world full of Shaggy’s. I guess I still rate it rather highly because it does still make me happy. I give it a 7/10.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Wonder Woman Warbringer the Graphic Novel by Leigh Bardudgo and Adapted by Louise Simonson

Summary from Goodreads:
She will become one of the world's greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. Based on the New York Times bestselling novel by Leigh Bardugo, this graphic novel adaptation brings to life Diana's first adventure beyond the hidden shores of Themyscira.

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law--risking exile--to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn't know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer--a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies--mortal and divine--determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.
I was so excited to see this book turned into a graphic novel. I remember loving Bardugo’s version of Wonder Woman. There was a lot I didn’t fully remember about the story because it’s been a long time since I had read it. But, I remember thinking it would make an awesome graphic novel. I remember it being a fantastic friendship story. I loved that it wasn’t all about the romance. It was more about friendship and feminism, and proving yourself against all odds.
I am happy to report that the graphic noel kept these tropes, and as far as I can remember, kept all the key plot points that Bardugo used. I loved getting to really see Diana and Alia’s friendship develop over the story. And I loved watching the origin of Wonder Woman in this light.
I loved getting the Greek mythology tie-ins as well. The art felt both modern and classic at the same time. It felt new and unlike any other comic book art I’ve seen, but it also felt like I was reading a comic book –like this could be canon if it wanted it to be, if that makes any sense. I knew I was reading about a super hero. But, it was a modernized, super inclusive, totally feminist superhero that I am so down for!
All in all I thought this was another great version of the Wonder Woman story, and I’m really glad I decided to pick it up. It was fun to get to see it this way. Enough time had passed since I read the actual novel that it almost felt like a new story. The art was gorgeous. I can see this appealing to old fans and possibly drawing new fans in too. I give it a 9/10.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A Good Week in Books (215)

I finished reading 2 books this week. My reading has slowed down a bit. I’ve had a stressful couple of weeks, but I’m working to stay positive and there are just so many great books out right now, that I know my reading will pick up again soon.  I received 3 new books for review. Thanks you, Macmillan! They are particularly gorgeous-looking this week, which makes me even more inclined to start reading!
The new books:

In the Shadow of the Sun
by Em Castellan
Cottons: The Secret of the Wind by Jim Pascoe and Heidi Arnhold
The Golden Age Book 1 by Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Pages and Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James

Summary from Goodreadsd:
A magical adventure to delight the imagination. A curl-up-on-the-sofa debut from a uniquely talented author.

Eleven year-old Tilly has lived above her grandparents' bookshop ever since her mother disappeared shortly after she was born. Like the rest of her family, Tilly loves nothing more than to escape into the pages of her favourite stories.

One day Tilly realises that classic children's characters are appearing in the shop through the magic of `book wandering' - crossing over from the page into real life.

With the help of Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland. Tilly is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago, so she bravely steps into the unknown, unsure of what adventure lies ahead and what dangers she may face.
This is another gem I picked up in Paris, on my honeymoon. In case you were wondering what do two librarians do on their honeymoon? Besides go to a lot of museums? We find bookstores. The funny story here though is, I actually purchased this book’s sequel first, not realizing it was a sequel! Huge mistake! It just looked so adorable, and it was signed by the author! And it took place in Paris. It just seemed like the perfect book nerd book to buy in the moment. Of course I noticed my novice mistake later that evening…
I made Nick walk all the way back to Shakespeare and Company. “Make” is a harsh word. He didn’t really need to be persuaded. I explained the situation to the bookseller who then handed me book 1 and told me I was the third person to come back for book 1 that day and it was the last copy! They did a good job of displaying book 2! The power of book displays.
Any way, long story short, I’m so glad I made that extra trip and found this book because it’s wonderful. And so much of it, ironically, has to do with bookshops. I imagined the bookshop of the story to look a lot like Shakespeare and Company.  
Who hasn’t dreamt of talking to and befriending, and maybe even falling in love with fictional characters? This book makes it all seem possible. That alone makes this book a dream. Then add in a great friendship story, a family mystery, an undercover library, literary references galore, jumps into children’s stories, adventures with pirates, Alice in Wonderland themed bookshop parties, literary baked goods, and well, this book was just magic.
This is a book for booklovers. This is certainly a book for every girl who’s ever imagined herself in Avonlea with Anne or Wonderland with Alice. But, it’s also for anyone really who loves a good adventure and who refuses to leave a good mystery unsolved. I definitely see other stories where this author got her inspiration (like Inkheart by Cornelia Funke), but I fell like Anna James has made this fun trope her own, and I cannot wait to get started on the sequel. I give this one a 9/10.

Monday, February 3, 2020

A Good Week in Books (214)

Look at me not waiting weeks to come back and blog again! I read just one book this week, but it was a good one! And I received four new ones for review. Thank you, Macmillan! I love it when an author I love comes out with something new and I wasn’t even expecting it.
The new books:

Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier
The Story Seeker by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb
The Girl Who Fell out of the Sky by Victoria Forester
All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Summary from Goodreads:
All her life, Spensa's dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she's a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumors of his cowardice are true—he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them.

Spensa is sure that there's more to the story. And she's sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars—and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself—and she'll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.
First off, the summary for the book is basically a recap of book 1 and gives absolutely nothing away of book 2…that should have been a huge clue to me that book 2 would be nothing all like 1 and everything would change drastically. Nope. I was shocked, surprised, and at the edge of my seat the whole time. Wow. And I’m kind of debating how on earth I’m going to talk about this second installment because I’d like to keep the world in suspense…It’s fun not knowing where this book goes. I don’t want to spoil it or anyone.
I just read a couple of other reviews on Goodreads, and I’m happy to report that so far everyone else is keeping mums the word too. But, others seem to think the sequel was slow. I think it was maybe 3 or 4 times faster than the first book. I might have even liked it more. From the first page, there is action. And there’s the kind of reveal that takes me back to The Maze Runner when literally everything got turned upside down for me.
The book is loaded with action, spy missions, tons of flying, lots of interesting new characters (though don’t worry –the old ones are there too), political intrigue, strategy, and some of the most impressive and creative world building I’ve ever read. I’m not kidding. The world Sanderson writes is insane. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s both fantastical and believable at the same time. I wish I had a fraction of this author’s world building capabilities.
I also loved watching Spensa’s growth through this novel. She has so much to learn about herself and about perception. She hated how everyone perceived her and her father in book 1, but she has so much to learn about perceiving others. Watching her become more open-minded though is so hopeful and promising. She becomes more of a leader because of this. She ends up bringing people together in a unique way and it’s so cool to watch.
This book ends with such a cliffhanger. Literally, my jaw dropped…several inches…and I loudly whispered, “No….” because it was the middle of the night I didn’t want to wake Nick up. But, I need the next book now. Waiting for it will be painful. I guess Sanderson excels at writing cliffhangers as much as he does world building. I can’t wait to see where the series goes and how everything ends. I give this one a 9/10.