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Red Queen ~ Victoria Aveyard

January 16, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/ Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Teen
400 Pages
ISBN: 9780062310637
Source: Amazon

I feel like, to some extent, it’s hard to read political science fiction, these days.

When the state of the world is so unpredictable and power dynamics are shady as ever, I have been slightly cautious about moving in the direction of anything that lays these themes out in the wide open air.

However, I am a Political Science major at heart and I love when writers manage to capture our current struggles and devastating systems dynamics within a world that seems as if it isn’t our own.

In the Red Queen, society is divided into two starkly contrasting segments: the Reds (the working class) and The Silvers (the ruling class). The disparity between the two factions is made more relevant to our current situation (and my job in veteran’s affairs) with the added twist of conscription. Of course, as in all stories and in real life, there are forces and entities that straddle these barriers, throwing wrenches into the plans of those in power. As can often be the case, a greater movement is both sparked and moved forward from its previous standing, with the actions of a single protagonist.

Said protagonist, Mare, is one of my favorite heroes in a while. She is not perfect, not by a long shot, not particularly brilliant, beautiful, nor clever. She is, however, willing to do what it takes to get her friends and family to safety, and that, in my mind, is the greatest asset of all.

This is one of the twistiest plots I’ve come across in a while so I won’t go into too much detail. You should, however, know that you should hold on to your heart and trust absolutely no one.

Definitely a great start to this series.

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Crown of Midnight ~ Sarah J. Maas

January 15, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books
448 Pages
ISBN: 9781619630642
Source: Barnes and Noble

I have had the advantage of coming to Maas’s books much later than a lot of readers.

Because of that, I knew that the first book, Throne of Glass, was really more like the pilot. You know how the very first episode of a t.v. show is always a little lukewarm and disjointed? I’m not saying that Throne of Glass isn’t great; I’m just saying that I knew to sort of hold my breath until the second book when I knew things would take off (thank you previous Court of All of the things experience). And good heavens was it worth the front end work!

This is the second book in the Throne of Glass series but the fifth (Is that even correct? Yes.) book I’ve devoured by Sarah J. Maas. It is just magical. Maas not only writes fantasy and strong female characters well, she also does the ensemble dance with such artistry, I always end up wanting to go live with her dashing and daring (and usually entirely too lovable, in a sort of bloodthirsty way) crews.

By now, you should know about my policy on sequels. I’m saying absolutely zero words about the plot. I will say this before I spoil anything: because I came into this series late, there were quite a few things spoiled for me (thanks internet) and I’m slightly bitter but, really, even though the earth-shattering reveal from the end of Crown of Midnight made the conclusion slightly less earth-shattering. the journey was well worth it.

I adore the way romance and lust are only a sidestep to the greater plot and that, though there be love triangles, they are complex and unsorted and just seem real in a way that heartache and longing exist in the real world.

On to the next one. If you haven’t picked up Sarah’s books, what exactly are you waiting for?

Throne of Glass ~ Sarah J. Maas

January 13, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books
406 pages
ISBN: 9781619630345
Source: Barnes & Noble

Remember how I was obsessed with A Court of Thorns and Roses, way back in December? Oh, those many, many days ago!

I never thought I’d find another book, never mind another series, that would hold my attention or warm my soul exactly the same way. Well, it turns out that all I really need is Sarah J. Maas.

I started her Throne of Glass series, yesterday, and, ahem, it appears that she does, in fact have some sorcery in her typing fingers because, once again, my heart is lost into the wind.

To be perfectly honest, I have never really been a huge epic fantasy kind of gal. Sure, my family loved Lord of the Rings and stuff and, sure, my little sister was an Elvin princess for her actual wedding, but, like, for me. I was never really that girl.

But, again, Queen Sarah, changed all of that.

In Throne of Glass, captured and jailed assassin, Celaena Sardothien is basically rescued out of the frying pan of a prison cell and thrown into the fire, fighting to the death, for a single spot as the king’s personal henchwoman. All you really need to know is that magic is “officially” banned and, well, it’s Maas, so, either draw your own conclusions or read the book. I can’t say another word. Just know that you’d better pack a seatbelt, a helmet, and some snacks. One other thing to add: at least the first book in series has the added bonus of parading around as if it’s a supernatural whodunnit which, if you know me in real life, you know is one of my very favorite things of all time.

A few things I absolutely love about Throne of Glass (that are also present in her other series), include but are not limited to her strong but fallible female characters, her stoic, yet vulnerable male characters, and her ability to write female friendships in complex, yet steadfast ways that have some adventure but very little infighting.

One of my favorite things about at least the first book in this particular series has to do with the narration. Instead of assigning a single point of view per chapter, the voice of the story changes fluidly throughout the book. For me, that seemed to build the characters up more solidly and much quicker than other methods.

I think this was Sarah’s very first published book and it really doesn’t read as if it is. It has the same magic and charm that her latest books offer up and, if you’re going to start somewhere, start here.

Peter Pan and the OTHER Kind of Faeries.

January 12, 2018

Good morning, ya’ll!

Well, I think it’s safe to say I have found a secondary Sarah J. Maas love. I know that Throne of Glass came out before A Court of Thorns and Roses but I read them in the reverse order, so, Throne of Glass gets to be my second.

While I am thoroughly immersed in lands of faeries and royalty, I thought I would catch up on a booktag that was inspired by my very first magical place.

The questions stem from Peter Pen who will always be my number one.

A series that never get old: A Court of Whatever Sarah J. Maas Comes Up with Next
A book that saves you from your reading slump: Anything by Brene Brown because she is a goddess.
A villain you cannot take seriously: I never believed that Snape was truly a villain. does that count?
A book that takes you to another world: Probably The Left hand of Darkness (which is a classic and if you haven’t read it, go do so, now.)
A book that comforts you: Anything inside of The Raven Cycle. It’ my happy place.
A book that you are loyal to: Oh! Anything by Umberto Eco. either that or The Glass Bead Game.

Ok, that’s all for this lazy Saturday morning, Back to reading. Feel free to answer these or just tell me what you’re reading.

 

 

Six of Crows ~ Leigh Bardugo

January 11, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
480 pages
ISBN: 9781627792127
Source: Amazon

I have been throwing my heart all over great ensembles, lately, and I am so glad that I get to add Leigh Bardugo’s band of misfits to those ranks.

Bardugo, herself, cites Ocean’s Eleven as one of the catalysts for Six of Crows, so I went into the book with that lens. And that isn’t an inaccurate description of the bare bones. I always love stories that revolve around a single idea that can be spun and woven into a snowball of characters and events. I love the process of assembling or re-assembling a team, of a crew coming together from various corners of the city or earth.

I’m an athlete at heart so, hey, can you blame me for loving a good rallying cry?

You’re sensing a “but” and it’s coming but it’s a good one.

While Six of Crows is, in fact, a great team building, heart racing, heist story, it is also so much more than that. Bardugo manages to weave in elements of addiction, substance abuse, sex trafficking, free will, slavery, and prejudice within the otherwise jaunty adventure.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m a social worker and I will imagine those themes in places where they aren’t. But, really, the social justice aspects and mental health threads thick throughout are really there and, for me, those heavier elements are the things that made this book a slam dunk.

I’m on to the second book and I highly recommend this one.

Eating Fire ~ Kelly J. Cogswell

January 10, 2018

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Genre: Non-Fiction/Activism/LGBTQAI
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
237 pages
ISBN: 9780816691159
Source: Charis Books

A young, starry-eyed Kentucky twenty-something lands in New York City in the early nineties, sketchbook, guitar, and dreams in her pockets. In the grunge and starlight of the ACT-UP era, Kelly Cogswell runs in and out of light and shadows with her merry band of Lesbian Avengers, artists, and writers, finding her home and finding herself in the process.

Sounds good, right?

It sounds like fiction and reads like it, too. I’m sure there is some flowery prose added to some of the elements of the book but I tracked down events and names and dates and, yes, folks this is really Kelly’s life.

I ended up picking this up for a paper, last semester, and it has become one of my favorite recommendations.

Though the queer culture of New York and the time period vary from other times and places, the narrative and energy and action are so clearly representative of the queer communities we’ve all encountered, in one form or another. I find so many narratives written by men for these communities which is great in and of itself, however, it’s sometimes very needed to have that strong, clear, queer female voice singing out for this purpose.

I’m really glad I’m back to reviewing, going into this semester so I can work a little real-life work into the fictional stuff. Especially the sexuality fiction, but the harder stuff in general, is always better taken with a lot of the true history behind the concept.

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin ~ Sarah J. Maas

January 9, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books
720 pages
ISBN: 9781619634480
Source: Barnes and Noble

Remember that time you read this series that convinced you that you were a fearless warrior?

Remember, too, that you cried real tears when the third book ended?

I guess that was me.

Y’all, I knew within the first one hundred pages of Sarah J. Maas’s first book that I was in for it. Without going overboard, these are the books I think I knew I would always grow up to read.

But because some of us are still not caught up, I won’t go into too much detail, here, other than to say that I was terrified that the third book would not outdo the second.

I have arrived safely at the end to report to you that it does.

While A Court of Thorns and Roses tentatively steps into the world of Faeries and humans, leaving A Court of Mist and Fury to run roughshod over our poor demolished, lovesick hearts, Court of Wings and Fury is just another beast altogether. There is a LOT of fighting but it’s not all physical battles and political meetings. Fighting for lives, for love, for loyalty, and friendship makes the tapestry of this fabric and it’s gorgeous.

The most magical character in this entire series is the all-encompassing entity of friendship. The Night Court (ahem, no more from me!) just embodies that tight-knit band of brothers and sisters I think each one of us craves but rarely finds.

I am so obsessed with this story and I am still crying because there are no more books until May. Pardon while your resident fearless warrior goes off to pout about it.