Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

CK

“Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”
― Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom

 

Goodreads Blurb

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.

 

Review

Alright, so if you’ve read the first book in this duology then you know this is about a crew of friends who dabble in the illegal going-ons in Ketterdam in the Grishaverse. All of the same characters come back into play for this final book in the duology.

Kaz is still calling the shots, even if they are at last minutes and no one else knows what they are. Inej is still ambitious and wants to find her way back to her homeland and family and save other people being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Nina is dealing with the aftermath and withdrawals from taking the Jurda Parem and learning to harness a new ability that has come from the drug. Matthias is still trying to capture her heart and planning for their future. Wylan is finally seeing how horrid his father actually is. And Jesper is mending his relationship with his father and working on becoming a better person for his father and for Wylan.

There’s lots of moral lessons learned int his installment to the duology. I feel like Kaz and Wylan grew the most out of all the characters in the series. Kaz finally realizes what he has with Inej and shows her more kindness than he did in the first book and tries to open up to her more. Wylan basically goes from being a lost boy to a man and taking what’s rightfully his and not apologizing for it. I think Wylan is my favorite character in both books. Inej comes in at a close second.

One thing that I absolutely loved in Crooked Kingdom was how there was a crossover of characters from this series and the Shadow and Bone series. It was really neat to see them interacting together. Especially when they would reference Sankta Alina and knowing what really happened to her. It’s like that excitement I felt when I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and they brought it all the original cast members like Princess Leia and Han Solo.

One thing that surprised me was the death at the end of the story. I don’t want to say who dies because that’s a pretty big spoiler but it was heart breaking and it came out of nowhere! These characters complete impossible tasks on the daily and someone so small and trivial managed to kill one of them. It was so sad. Yet, the actual ending of the book wasn’t. I appreciated that from Bardugo. She takes you on an emotional roller coaster but doesn’t leave you with lingering sadness over the book. Most of the character’s still had a happy ending.

I’m not sure why that character was chosen as the one who was killed off? Maybe because they really didn’t have a home or place in the Grisha world? I’m not sure.

Overall, I gave this book 3.5 stars. While I did really like it, it was a little slow in some parts and seemed very similar to the first book. I wish they had been in a new setting or had bigger changes to the plot. It just felt very much the same.

I hope they make this duology into a movie one day. I think with it’s unique plot it would do really well if it was done correctly. It probably would be somewhat difficult due to the type of magic in the story but it has the potential to be one of a kind and awesome!

 

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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

ruin and rising

 

Goodreads Blurb

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

 

Review

I finally finished this one! I started it months ago and had to set it down. Not because I wasn’t enjoying it, I just needed to step away from The Grishaverse for awhile. I started off reading Six of Crows and then went back and read Shadow and Bone and then Siege and Storm. From there I tried finishing the series but I needed a brain break from it.

But I picked it up and wanted to get it read before school started and before the baby got here. And I loved it! I liked how it didn’t have a completely tragic ending. It seemed like a darker series that was heading that way for most of it but I was pleasantly surprised! I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

One thing that I can’t decide if I’m on-board about is who Alina ended up with. I love Mal, don’t get me wrong. I love how they grew up together and always looked out for each other but I feel like they both neglected each other so much. He was always off flirting and messing around with other girls before she get pretty and famous, and she could never make up her mind when it came to all of the men in her life. It just seemed like they both settled in the end.

In my opinion, I was hoping she would end up with Strumhond. I enjoyed his character more than Mal’s and it seemed like they just meshed well. They could have had time to fall head over heels for each other. But I guess in the end, it was best that Alina disappear after what happened on The Fold. Sigh. I just wish he would have fought a little harder for her. It was like each male in her life had something the other two didn’t.

Strumhond had charisma and charm and respect for Alina but was a little cocky.

The Darkling was a mysterious, torutred type who was on the same level as her. (Power wise) And who she seemed the most physically attracted too. But he was evil and awful. Unfortunate.

And then there’s Mal who she had a history with and who was her best friend but who neglected her and denied her until she became someone with power and fame.

It’s like there was no perfect person for her to end up with. But since she lost her power she became who Mal wanted her to be again. I just feel really conflicted about it.

As for the backstory with Morozova and The Darkling. I kind of saw that coming. I knew they would end up being related in some way. It was inevitable. I think that story about Morozova was supposed to be loosely related to Rasputin’s death and the whole myth of Anastasia Romanov surviving the family massacre that happened in Russia. His death seemed similar and there was a girl who miraculously survived… Lot’s of parallels. And Rasputin was thought to be more than just an adviser, he had a strange hold over the czar.

I liked the parallels, it made it interesting. And Ravka seems so Russian anyway. The landscape, the names, the way of life, the politics in the story.

I gave this book 4.5/5 stars because I enjoyed it so much. I am trying to finish up Crooked Kingdom right now and will hopefully have a review up in the next week! I can’t wait till Leigh Bardugo’s The Language of Thorns novel and her Wonder Woman book come out!

 

 

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star Touched Queen

 

“I love you,” he murmured into my hair. “You are my night and stars, the fate I would fix myself to in any life.”
Roshani Chokshi, The Star-Touched Queen

 

Goodreads Blurb

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

 

Review

This book! Omg this book. It has been a great summer for reading. It’s the first summer I’ve gotten to relax and I’m not doing a million and one things so I’ve really enjoyed knocking out a few books on my TBR. I’ve read 24 of 35 books for my Goodreads challenge so far. I’ve been trying to burn through them pretty quick since I know I won’t have a ton of time to read once the baby gets here in September and teaching makes it hard to read for pleasure in the first place.

I picked this book up in Baltimore when we were visiting my husbands family this summer. I’ve been following the author, Roshani Chokshi on Instagram and Twitter for awhile now. She and Sabaa Tahir crack me up but this is the first thing I’ve ever read that she’s written. I know she has a sequel to this book out now, A Crown of Wishes, but from what I’ve read about her she also has some published short stories. And she’s working on a middle grade mythology novel for Rick Riordan’s new mythology publishing line coming out. I’m super excited about it! I love his books and now I love hers!

I was blown away by this book straight away. Her writing style is very eloquent and whimsical and it reminded me a lot of Renee Ahdieh’s writing style. Which might partly be because they’re both writing about Indian mythology and folklore but I just really enjoyed it. The entire story and the world building was so beautiful! Enchanting would probably be the best word for it.

I also highly enjoyed the main character Maya. Yes she’s technically a Princess but she didn’t come off that way. She’s an ambitious character who knows what she wants and loves with everything she has. And I appreciated how Chokshi didn’t make her perfect. Most heroines in books are beautiful, talented, witty, etc. While Maya was quick-witted she was also a normal 17 year old girl. She was has normal teenage insecurities and suffers from mild acne and has nappy hair. Everything about her is great in the book. She’s very relatable and endearing and strong-willed. There’s nothing at all I would change about any of the characters in The Star-Touched Queen.

Then there’s the Dharma Raja, her Prince of Death (Amar) who always finds her. Hubba-hubba! He is Mr. Perfect! I love him! He is patient with Maya and keeps a tree of memories for her to always remind her of their past lives together. He is a deity so he’s had to bring her back multiple times and always finds her because she has a very specific horoscope when she’s born. A dark, and mysterious horoscope that most people fear.

There’s something so romantic about reincarnation and the idea of finding your soulmate in each life. Like in the N’SYNC song “This  I Promise You” from back in the day when J.C. sings “I’ve loved you forever… in lifetimes before.” One of the best lyrics ever! I’ve always wanted to read, and even thought about writing a story about lovers who find each other in each life. This whole story was just really special!

And then Nfritti comes along, who used to be Maya’s best friend in a past life but who is heartbroken over losing her beau, and feels like Maya betrayed her and did not help save him since she’s the queen that rules over death takes revenge on her and Amar. Maya must sift through all of the truth and lies weaved from Nfritti and from the half-truths that Amar has told her since he cannot speak about who he is and what he does until the moon allows it. Putting her blind faith into people is hard to do when the entire world has always been cruel to her and treated her like a pariah because of her unfortunate horoscope.

When Maya doubts herself and makes a huge mistake she must go to great lengths to correct her errors. This is when the story gets really interesting. Maya befriends a crazy, demon horse, aids her old kingdom and little sister who is now grown, and travels far and wide to get back to Amar and defeat Nfritti before it’s too late.

I gave this book 5/5 stars. It’s one of the best romantic stories I have read in YA and just an overall magical ride throughout the book. I can’t wait to order the second book. Chokshi is such an amazingly talented writer!!!!

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

prosper.jpg

 

Goodreads Blurb

“I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness.”

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host. 

 

Review

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alex Bracken is one of my favorite middle grade novels now. I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much! Usually I read middle grade books as fillers in between awesome series I’m reading or if I’m in a reading slump between books. I received an ARC of The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding from the Texas Library Association convention so my book looks a little bit different than the actual published copy of the book. I wish it looked more like the one they went with. I like the fox on the cover and Toad, the kitten with wings is on the back. The one I have is a little plain and looks unfinished.

This is the third novel I have read by Bracken. I read Passenger last year and it took me quite awhile to finish. I think I kept forcing myself to read it when I wasn’t in the mood for the genre because I really liked the book it was just a whippin’ to get myself to finish it. I loved the plot and how it was like Outlander for teens. And then I read The Darkest Minds a few weeks ago and loved it.

But I sped through Prosper Redding. The character is just so strong in his convictions, even if he knows it doesn’t make him the most popular kid. I enjoyed reading about how much he loved his twin sister and how he can really teach kids to stand up for what they believe in.

The setting was awesome in this book too. It was very Halloween-esque. It reminded me a lot of Halloweentown, the Disney channel movie from the early 2000’s. It was full of witches and creatures from the Downstairs (the demon world that Alastor, his parasite demon is a prince of). And while it was a little creepy at times, it was highly entertaining and so different and unique compared to anything else I have ever read. Especially with being a middle grade novel! I can’t wait to get the published version of it when it comes out to keep in my classroom. I think my 7th graders will love it! Maybe we can even read it as a book club book since I run that at my school. It’s a little thick for that but I think the kids would enjoy it a lot and it would be fun to read aloud to them during meetings or at Read-a-loud Lunch.

This book definitely leaves you with a cliffhanger so you know there’s going to be sequel. Prosper always struggles with the idea of making a contract with Alastor, except when one of his family members is kidnapped and taken to the Downstairs. Will he be able to save them from the demon world below? Is he strong enough or will his new demon friends help him?

I hope Alexandra Bracken is working on the sequel as a type this. I want to know what happens! I gave this middle grade novel 5/5 stars.

Sidenote: I posted the above picture with the ARC and my cat Junebug and Bracken responded! She just said “I’m so happy you like this one! And Junebug is a cutie!” It made my day!

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Black Widow

 

Goodreads Blurb

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…

 

Review

I want to start off by saying I gave this one 3.5/5 stars and then I want to explain why.

I think this novel was geared to a younger audience than I was anticipating it was. I was expecting a full on YA book, but it read a lot more like a middle grade book. With that being said, it was very easy to read and entertaining. However, I felt like every single relationship in this book was a little too forced and moved a little too quickly. I didn’t understand any of them except for maybe Black Widow’s and Ava’s.

I thought Alexei and Ava’s relationship moved way too fast. It may have been more believable when I was about 12/13 years old but it came off cheesy in the book. Then there was Alexei and Black Widow’s relationship… totally threw me for a loop. It was like once the secret was out, Alex was so gung-ho about it that he couldn’t stop the cheesiness from oozing out of his mouth. I just wished that had been tamed a little bit more in the book.

In the beginning of the novel, Black Widow is rescuing Ava when she is a child from a crazy Russian guy preforming a science experiment on her and who has had both of the girls as captives at one point or another in their lives. So it was really easy for them to relate to each other, and Ava had no parents anymore so Black Widow was her savior. But then betrays her by not ever stopping by to check on her when she needs her. That dynamic relationship I can get behind. I understand it. The others were too forced.

Another thing that halfway confused me in this book was that Black Widow is not the main character… but the book is titled Black Widow: Forever Red and has the Marvel logo on the front. So shouldn’t the front runner in the book be Black Widow? I know it has alternating perspectives between Black Widow, Ava, and Alexei but it still felt like the main focus was on Ava the entire book. It was a little disappointing.

The ending of this book took me completely by surprise. It went from an action packed, superhero, spy story to having a sad ending. And since it felt like a middle grade throughout the first 2/3 of the book I was surprised when you were hit with something as heavy as the ending. I don’t want to say what happens in case any of you reading this haven’t read it yet.

There is another Black Widow novel out right now. I’m not sure if I will purchase it for myself but I will probably end up buying it to put in my classroom library for my middle school kiddos. I think Black Widow and Ava are both great female heroine’s in the superhero realm and you can never heave enough of those! Especially for girls in middle school. I think they will enjoy it.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

 

Dimple

Goodreads Blurb

The rom-com that everyone’s talking about! Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

 

Review

I’m not going to lie. I totally judged a book by it’s cover on this one. Well I judge based on the entire dust jacket. It’s STUNNING! I love the colors, Dimple on the front is adorable with her henna and her Starbucks iced coffee and the back is hilarious. I love it! And the orange really makes it POP!

I started seeing this book get lots of attention from authors like Sabaa Tahir and Roshani Chokshi and I love them both so I picked it up one day while perusing Half Price Books. When I read the inside cover I was hooked! It sounded like the perfect summer read. And it was!

Dimple is this really head strong girl who resents the fact that her parents are already looking for the I.I.H (Ideal Indian Husband) for her right out of high school. She wants to be her own person and she wants to go to Stanford in the fall and get a start on her programming career. Her idol is this computer guru, Jenny Lindt, who is helping the winner of the summer program develop an app.

Dimple is stunned when her parents agree to let her go to the summer program in San Francisco after finding out it’s $1000. But she’s not going to question them too hard because it’s a dream come true to her!

Once getting there an Indian boy walks up and makes a bad joke about her being his future wife and how he can’t wait to start their life together. This is where Dimple promptly throws her iced coffee in his face and runs away.

You find out in Rishi’s chapters that his family has already arranged the marriage of he and Dimple with her parents and they all knew they were going to the same summer program…except for Dimple. He thought she knew about the arrangement as well and would be just as excited to meet him as he is her.

After some reflection and girl talk with her new roommate and friend, Celia, Dimple comes around and realizes she’s been too harsh on Rishi. This isn’t his fault, it’s her parents for not telling her about it. At this point she feels like no one is taking her seriously.

But Rishi and Dimple get assigned as partners in the program and from there a friendship buds… along with some romantic feelings. The whole time Dimple is trying to fight her feelings because she just wants to win and wants to go to college unattached in the Fall but she falls hard. Rishi on the other hand is more traditional and still wants to woo her. He’s completely fallen for her unruly hair, her spirit, and her ambition.

What they learn in the end is that some of the unlikeliest people can bring out your best qualities. I don’t want to spoil the ending so you’ll just have to read it! 🙂

I gave this book 3.5 stars. I don’t usually read a whole lot of teen romance books. Especially ones without witches or wizards or dragons but this was a great in-between book and a refreshing summer read. I really enjoyed it. It would make the perfect beach book! Dimple and Rishi made me feel that excitement of a first love again and I really enjoyed both characters. Not to mention their parents, they were hilarious! And supportive. It’s just a really cute, happy read.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

 

threedarkcrowns

 

Goodreads Blurb

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

 

Review

This story is unlike any that I’ve ever read. It’s dark, it’s full of love, and coming of age, and power. Three sisters Mirabella, Katherine, and Arsinoe are separated as children and are raised honing 3 very different skills. Mirabella can control the elements such as wind, fire, and water, Katherine is trained as a poisoner, and Arsinoe is waiting for her gift, an animal companion.

These sisters are raised to hate each other because they are each others biggest competition. While there are 3 of them, only 1 can rule the kingdom. Each sister is pitted against each other and must try to ultimately destroy the others, for you cannot be queen with the others still alive out in the world.

One sister is starting to have memories flooding back to her about her childhood and how much she loved her sisters, one is looking in all the wrong places for the answer to her problems, and one is a weakling who must lean on the help of others to help her succeed. So who will win the throne?

This story was equal parts suspense, tragic love story, and fantasy. I loved all of it. And I found myself rooting for unlikely people in the end. I am very excited about Blake’s new book One Dark Throne coming out September 19th of this year. I met Kendare Blake at Texas Teen Book Festival last year in Austin, TX. She is one of the nicest author’s I’ve ever met. Meeting her and meeting Garth Nix have always stood out to me because they we’re the friendliest author’s I’ve ever met. They both took the time to get to know the people waiting in their signing lines and it meant a lot to me.

Kendare had never been to Texas and was telling me about the things she liked about it and asked me if I was student and then talked to me about how I’m a 7th grade Reading teacher. I just really enjoyed meeting her. It’s so funny how someone so friendly and nice writes such dark fantasy. I love that! I hope she returns to Texas sometime so I can get her to sign a copy of One Dark Throne when I get it!

If you’re looking for an interesting story, with unique world building and plot lines you should pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed! It’s unlike anything you have ever read.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

the darkest minds

“We’ll just have to try to make better mistakes tomorrow.”
Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

 

Goodreads Blurb

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

 

Review

I haven’t started a new Dystopian series in awhile.  I’ve had this book on my shelf for at least a year, maybe more. But I’ve followed Alexandra Bracken on Instagram for awhile now and the first book I read of hers was actually Passenger, and I really liked it. I thought it was a little slow in the beginning but I loved the story line and the ending.

While following Bracken on Instagram I saw her post a few stories talking about how The Darkest Minds is in production right now. I had not heard that it was going to be a movie until I saw her posting from the set one day. I think she has a cameo in the movie. IMDB says Mandy Moore and the girl who played Rue in The Hunger Games are going to be in it. I think the girl who played Rue is actually playing Ruby, the main character. Pretty cool! So naturally I had to pick up the book then and read it. I can’t have the movie coming out before I read the book! It’s pretty thick but I finished it in about 4-5 days.

The story is fast paced and I enjoyed the characters. It did seem a little cliche only because I read a billion and one Dystopia novels in the past few years because they got so popular but I would not think it was cliche if I had read it 2 years ago. I just got a little burnt out on it I guess. But not enough to deter me from reading it!

The story had elements of a Dystopian but it also kind of reminded me of X-Men. All the kids between certain ages like 8-18 or so developed these abilities. And if you didn’t develop these abilities, you contracted an illness called IAAN that killed you. And 98% of the population of kids between 8-18 have died rather than develop special abilities. Some can mess with your mind in different ways and effect your feelings, some can move things with their minds, others have crazy photographic memories and are good analytically, and then some can control electricity. Each ability is labeled with a color in the book, so if you can move things with your mind you’re a Blue and if you can control peoples thoughts or dreams you’re an Orange. And some of the abilities are more prevalent than others.

Anyway, the government doesn’t know what to do with these kids now. They are a danger to society in their eyes and instead of creating programs to help them they basically make these concentration camps and keep the kids in those. They take them from their families and make them work and live in these sad living conditions and none of the officers are nice to them. And some of the colors that pose bigger threats (such as Orange and Red) mysteriously are taken away from the camps and the other kids have no idea where they have taken them. Did the government decide to kill them? Did the government decide to try and use them as weapons? That’s something we still don’t know really.

Early on in the story, Ruby and another boy get liberated from the camp. They both had been posing as Greens even though they are Oranges. They used their abilities right when they got into the camps to stay undercover. And the officers don’t allow the kids to use their abilities so there is never a way to really check what color you actually are after you’re sorted unless you get caught using them.

They are liberated by a woman posing as a doctor but who is actually a part of the rebel group called The Children’s League. They say they just want to help all the kids, even though they’re only rescuing Oranges at the time, but you find out they want an army for themselves and not everything is black and white with them. They may be doing some good but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in The Children’s League.

Once Ruby figures this out she runs off and finds a small group of kids surviving on their own looking for a camp of kids that supposedly have a powerful Orange that helps connect people back with their families. But just like everything else in this story, nothing is black and white. Like most Dystopia stories, the characters must grow up and realize that the world is full of grey areas. And what trading one evil for another means.

I went and bought the second novel, Never Fade, yesterday. I am very excited to continue Ruby, Liam, and Chubs story. However, I did take a little break from reading fantasy. Crazy! I know. But it’s summer and I wanted a summery read so now I am currently reading When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. It’s a cutesy, college romance about two Indian students are pushed together in an arranged marriage by their families. The boy, Rishi is all about it because he appreciates tradition but the girl, Dimple just wants to focus on college and becoming an App designer. It’s been a quick, happy read so far. I’m a little more than halfway done with it.

What are some of your TBR summer reads? Any good recommendations?

 

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

 

Lady Midnight

 

Goodreads Blurb

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

 

Review

Edgar. Allan. Poe. I love Poe. I took a college class over his stories and his theme of ratiocination at Texas State and it was one of the most interesting classes I ever took. I love his stories and I love his poems so much that I teach “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven” every year to my 7th graders during our poetry unit. So the fact that this story is parallel to “Annabel Lee” made it so much better for me. And each chapter is titled from the lines of the poem.

I really enjoyed how Clare dipped into the morbid romance of this story. It was different than her past plot lines in The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. She is really good about diverse plot lines. Yeah, there’s always teen romance and everyone is usually coupled up but she’s gone from Jace and Clary thinking they were siblings and dealing with those feelings, Jem, Tessa, and Will being in a tragic love triangle to Emma and Julian being stuck in a Parabatai bond and not being allowed to be romantically involved. I’ve enjoyed all of their stories.

It took about the first 80-100 pages to get into this book because I hadn’t read a Shadowhunters book in quite some time. Probably two years or maybe even longer. I devoured The Mortal Instruments late in high school and in college and was behind on the Shadowhunter game so I didn’t really have to wait on reading any in that particular series. I was more caught up with The Infernal Devices. And I picked up Lady Midnight in Austin last year when it first came out but it sat on my bookshelf forever. Mostly because it’s so ginormous. I didn’t want to read it during the school year because of the size. It’s hard to stay invested in large books when I’m working during the year so I saw the big ones like Lady Midnight and the Outlander books for summertime.

I also had recently watched the first season of The Shadowhunters series on TV and it was alright. I was wanting to watch the second season but it felt too cheesy so I think it put me off of Shadowhunters for awhile.

I will be purchasing Lord of Shadows sometime though. I’m not sure if it will be before or after the baby is born in September though. I put myself on a book buying ban in order to help save money for us to move and for baby stuff. And those books are over $20 when they come out! Sheesh! Too much.

I know many people really liked Tiberius the best out of all the characters in Lady Midnight but I think my favorite was Mark. Ty is cool, and quirky but he still seems pretty weak. I think he will grow more in the next few books. Maybe I’ll change my mind about his character then. I’ve always been a sucker for a good faerie story so I loved reading about The Hunt and how he was adjusting back to Shadowhunter life after being stuck there for so many years. I loved the Wicked Lovely books in high school. And now I love the Sarah J Maas series A Court of Thorns and Roses. The faerie genre has never been too big so I love when I find good faerie stories. I like the idea of the different courts and how there’s all different kinds of Fae with different abilities. It’s all very seductive and unique.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. It was nice revisiting an old favorite world. I gave it 4.5/5 stars. What did you think about it?

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

phantom-tollbooth.jpg

 

Goodreads Blurb

Hailed as “a classic. . . . humorous, full of warmth and real invention” (The New Yorker), this beloved story -first published more than fifty years ago- introduces readers to Milo and his adventures in the Lands Beyond.

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . . .

 

Review

I picked this up as a summer read because I’ve seen so many book reviews talk about how it is one of their favorite children’s book from their childhood. I had never heard of it until recently. Coincidentally, my mom and some of her friends created a book club for their kids this summer and this is the first book they are reading and discussing so I decided this was the perfect time for me to start it as well.

It’s a very quick read. There are tons of illustrations which really help you visualize the world in which it is set. It reminded me of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s very out there and silly. I gave it 4/5 stars. I may have enjoyed the book more if I was reading it as a child.

I think the book teaches some great lessons to kids. You first meet the main character, a boy named Milo, he is a grumpy, ungrateful boy who complains. But once he goes through The Phantom Tollbooth, he meets different eccentric characters like Tock the dog who is part clock, and takes time very seriously and the Humbug who is a more obnoxious character who is a bug and leads them on their journey. Equipped with a tiny car and two unlikely allies, the gang must travel through Dictionopolis and Digitopolis in order to coerce two rival brother-kings to agree to bring back Princesses Rhyme and Reason the Kingdom of Wisdom to help straighten out the Kingdom.

The kings are ridiculous and make up silly rules based on words and numbers and how to speak and such. Both kingdoms are very nonsensical and Milo shows them why their world cannot function this way. Along this journey, Milo is learning the lesson mindfulness and of stopping to think. Back in his reality he had decided that he was tired of thinking and problem solving. It was just too much work! School was a bore! But here he gets see what the world would be like if everyone thought that way and he gets to be the stand in rhyme and reason until he saves the Princesses and returns them.

Once he returns them to the Kingdom of Wisdom, Milo must say good-bye to his new friends, but returns with a newfound appreciation for what he has and for the use of common sense instead of being lazy.

And not to sound like an old, cynical teacher, but I think this is a great book for 5th/6th graders to read these days with technology being so prevalent in everyday life now. I have two younger brothers in elementary school and I see how their life is driven by technology now. In some ways this is great and prepares them for the future, in other ways it’s gotten in the way of them learning proper social skills and often makes them dependent on their devices for everything. As a 7th grade Reading teacher, I have students coming into my classroom every year who still do not know how to use a Dictionary. They have no idea how it works, what alphabetize means, the difference between a Dictionary and a Thesaurus, etc.

And a big reason for this is that they can just look up everything they don’t know on the internet. They don’t have to have the skill of alphabetizing because they don’t need to know it in order to look up definitions on Dictionary.com. Which becomes a big problem when testing comes up and they still don’t fully understand how to utilize a Dictionary. It’s scary. I think this novel can help teach a lesson to these technological kids on why it’s still important to value knowledge and know how to problem solve in the real world.