Book Tour: Guild of Tokens-Jon Auerbach


Rating: 4 out of 5.

  • Author: Jon Auerbach
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Page Count: 410
  • Date Started: June 11th
  • Date Finished: June 15th

A Brief Description

SHE WANTS TO LEVEL UP HER HUMDRUM EXISTENCE. BUT HER NEXT QUEST COULD SPELL LIFE OR DEATH.
Jen Jacobs’s nights are spent traversing a strange city finding hidden objects, slaying dragons, and tangling with a host of fellow adventurers. And her days are spent counting down the seconds until she can return to the grind and continue racking up tokens and leveling up.

Except Jen isn’t playing a video game.

It’s all real and happening right in New York City.

After a particularly harrowing quest pairs her up with Beatrice Taylor, a no nonsense and ambitious mentor, Jen hopes she’s on the path to becoming a big time player. But as she dives deeper into the game’s hidden agenda, she realizes Beatrice has her sights set on the Guild, the centuries-old organization that runs the Questing game. And the quests Jen loves are about to put both of them in grave danger.

Will Jen survive the game before powerful forces cut her real life short?

Guild of Tokens is a thrilling new twist on conventional urban fantasy. If you like determined heroines, gritty cityscapes, and vampire-free adventures, then you’ll love Jon Auerbach’s roller coaster tale.

Book Links
Goodreads || Amazon ||Barnes and Noble|| IndieBound|| Book Depository ||

Audibooks
Audible||Apple Books || Google Play || Nook || Kobo


Note: I received this book from the author through Storytellers on Tour. I wanted to thank them for this opportunity! If you click the link below, you can see the full schedule.

Storytellers on Tour: Tour Schedule


MY REVIEW

This book had me interested from the start. The premise is interesting and something that I have never seen before. The idea is that Jen Jacobs gets an email to start doing quests in real life. She completes the quest and in return gets tokens. The quests range from easy and mundane, such as getting blueberries and popsicles and leaving them at a certain location, to difficult and seemingly impossible, such as stealing a certain kind of pocket watch. Think your average RPG game, but in real-life. Jen embarks on a journey into the unknown, a world of magic, Councils and Guilds that have been hiding in plain sight the whole time.

The world built in Guild of Tokens felt real and well built. It was a solid and realistic world with a believable magic system built in. The magic had stakes. There aren’t overpowered villains or heros here. Each use of the magic takes a toll on the user, which is something that I greatly appreciate when we are talking about a magic system.

The RPG elements were interesting to someone who loves to play video games. The fact that it features a female coder is cool too. As a woman in the tech field, I felt some of the issues that Jen faced in her workplace.

The characters felt very varied and so did their relationships. They were flawed as well as morally gray at times. All of the characters who are introduced here play a vital role in the plot and move the story forward in a cohesive and important way. Their interactions are organic and there aren’t any “cop-out” moments where a character is just used as a device to forward the plot, as each character is important in their own way. They are all fleshed out and are easy to connect with. Sometimes I felt bad for Jen as I felt like nothing was really working in her favor.

That being said, the middle felt like it could have used a little bit of tightening up, as the plot felt like it jumped around a little too much and I couldn’t catch the direction of it until later in the book. There were also some small typos and grammatical errors that the aforementioned tightening up could fix, but none of those detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

The end was very fast paced and interesting and I had to read the last 100 pages very quickly, as I needed to know exactly what happened in the end. I still have some questions about things that were not answered in this book, but I plan on reading the second book when it comes out later in 2020!

Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who loves Urban Fantasy or loves MMORPG games.

Again, my many thanks to the author, Jon Auerbach and Storytellers on Tour for providing me with a copy of Guild of Tokens in exchange for an honest review!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Auerbach’s love of fantasy began at the tender age of six, when his parents bought him the classic 1977 animated version of The Hobbit (the less said about the recent trilogy, the better). His passion for sci-fi developed from nights watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and from his dad’s old paperback copies of Foundation and I, Robot. Jon writes in both genres and hopes to pass on his stories to the next generation, including his kids, who have their own copy of The Hobbit that they lovingly call “the Bilbo book.”

Website || Twitter || Facebook || Instagram || Goodreads

Win A Copy of Guild of Tokens!

This has been my stop on the Guild of Tokens Book Tour! Check out the schedule posted at the beginning of this post to check out more posts by other content creators on this tour!

~Cam

Book Review:The Deep


Rating: 3 out of 5.

  • Author: Alma Katsu
  • Genre: Historical Fiction/ Horror
  • Page Count: 320
  • Date Started: 5/4/2020
  • Date Finished: 5/9/2020
  • Spoilers?: No

A Brief Description

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . . 

Goodreads || Amazon


My Review

This book had my interest at the start. I was really interested in seeing where the author would take these characters. I mean, a story set on the Titanic with a haunting taking place? Yes, please!

Sadly, I was…. let down? I mean, don’t get me wrong, the story was nice and it was atmospheric, but, there weren’t a lot of descriptions of the environment. The way it was atmospheric was that I could look up photos of what the rooms in the Titanic looked like to get an idea of the environment. If I hadn’t done that, I don’t think that I would have really had a good picture of how the setting looked.

There were some famous names as well, Benjamin Guggenheim, Madeleine and John Jacob Astor to start. These were people who were on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Madeleine was one of the survivors, and it was certainly interesting to see real life people make an appearance, and these characters were also fleshed out. The others… eh? I didn’t really get a description of one of the main characters until far into the novel, so I didn’t even know what she looked like. I couldn’t even have a good picture in my mind, so when I learned that she was auburn/blonde, it didn’t really fit with how I pictured her.

Next is the plot. So, overall, I thought the plot was interesting. This revolved around the passengers on the Titanic trying to find out what exactly was causing some pretty weird events on the ship. There were some twists and turns, some very unexpected and some that just left me asking why?

All of this being said, the book was still enjoyable. I’m still not sure how I feel about the end. I was left a little disappointed and was definitely expecting something different. That said, I still recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction novels with a twist, or are interested in the era of the 1910s, or the voyage of the Titanic.

Have you read this? What did you think?

~Cam

Book Review: Uprooted


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

* Author: Naomi Novik
* Genre: Fantasy/Fairytale
* Page Count: 435
* Date Started: April 27th
* Date Finished: May 4th


A Brief Description

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Goodreads || Amazon


“There’s no kindness in offering false hope.”

Naomi Novik

My thoughts

This book is a fairy tale that is worth reading. It tells the tale of Angieszka and a mysterious wizard called the Dragon. The Dragon takes a girl from Angieszka’s valley every 10 years, and when the girl comes back, she is nothing like she was when she left. Her ties to the valley cease to exist, and she moves away never to return.

The writing was atmospheric and the characters real and believable. I liked most of them and the stakes felt real. The world felt magical and real, almost like I could reach out and touch it. The stakes felt real, and the powers that were against them were powerful, and almost felt insurmountable. There were a lot of twists and turns in the story and it was action packed, particularly the last 100 pages or so.

There was some romance, but it was not the main focus of the story, in fact it was second to the rest of the story, and it progressed naturally! No insta-love here! The romance also made sense for the way that the tale progressed.

The one thing I’ll say is that the magic system was very loose. It was definitely a soft magic system and didn’t have hard and fast rules. I typically prefer my magic systems to be well defined and to have limits, but overall, I think this was done really well. There were some limitations and consequences, but the actual act of doing magic felt too easy? Overall, I’d say that this is a very minor pet peeve for me, and did not detract from my enjoyment of the book at all!

I would highly recommend reading this! It was a very wonderful world built around East European folklore and the characters were enjoyable.

Have you read this, or anything else by Naomi Novik? What did you think? Share your thoughts below!

~Cam

Book Review: Do You Dream of Terra-Two?


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

  • Author: Temi Oh
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Page Count: 532
  • Date Started: February 9th
  • Date Finished: February 15th
  • Spoilers? Yes.
  • Content Warnings: Depression, Suicide, Mental Illness, Panic/Anxiety Attacks, Moments of casual racism (but they are called out)

A Brief Description

A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.

It will take the team 23 years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.

Goodreads || Amazon


There is no easy way from Earth to the stars.

Temi Oh Pg 186

My Review

Spoilers ahead!

Plot

Do You Dream of Terra Two? is a novel that follows 6 members of the crew Damocles who are headed to Terra-Two, an Earth-like planet that is a 23-year voyage from Earth. The United Kingdom Space Agency recruits teenagers at the age of 12/13 to train for six years before they begin the long voyage to “New Earth”

I had a few thoughts on this book. Overall, I thought it was okay. I felt like the book could have been significantly shorter, at just over 500 pages, it dragged at some points.

I also found it to be a little unbelievable? You’re telling me that a space agency is going to send 6 teenagers into space with such little adult supervision? I just found it a little bit unlikely all things considered. Also, they were sent into space directly after one of their crew members, someone that they lived with and that they were expecting to spend 23 years with, (spoiler ahead) committed suicide and they just moved on? They went ahead with the launch anyway, with just some minor psychological testing. I found this unlikely, especially if they were being sent on a voyage that would last 23 years.

In addition, some of the astronauts were sick, some with mental illnesses and another with cancer (!!) I just find it odd that any space agency would let someone who is dying go on a voyage of this sort, and it was explained away and shrugged off. Now mental illnesses are a different story because many can be managed with medication and therapy, but there was nothing of the sort taking place in this book until much later. Not only that, but due to the nature of the voyage I figured that some of these illnesses would have been caught in the rigorous psychological testing that would take place before the voyage. Another seems to be suffering depression that had an onset during the voyage, but it was not really addressed in a healthy manner. I go into this a little more in the character section.

Writing

There were also some misspellings and grammar issues? For example, there was a missing question marks and things that should have been caught by an editor. This is a really small thing to be nit-picky about, and it’s not a huge deal.

Otherwise, I found the writing very beautiful. It was easy to read and follow.

Characters

One of the characters, Harry, oh… Harry. Harry is the Pilot and Commander in Training for the Damocles ship. At the very beginning of the book I really, really disliked his character. He is the type of person who walks the Earth expecting the world to hand him everything. He has his hand outstretched, expecting to be handed something from everyone he meets. He’s an asshole, pure and simple. I felt nothing for him but disgust and hatred. He’s literally everything I hate in a person. That being said, his character was well written, and very easy to hate.

Poppy, is the Head of Communications and the In-Flight Correspondent. She is also a hyper-polyglot who speaks a multitude of languages. I liked her point of view. She grew up in a very tenuous and unsteady home life. She was raised in a small town where she didn’t feel like she had any aspirations. Here is the thing though, (another spoiler here) after spending a few months on the ship, it appears that she is suffering from a very serious mental health condition and I find it hard to believe that something like this was not caught before, or better, that the doctor on board didn’t catch this after Poppy had spent the first week straight in bed and didn’t try to do anything to help her. I felt for her character. As someone who has dealt with depression and has dealt with periods of time where the only thing I feel like doing is laying in bed, I truly felt for her and related to this.

Astrid, is the astrobiologist on board. She is the twin sister of Juno (see below). I liked Astrid’s character. I felt like she was rather hopeful about getting to Terra-Two. She was a dreamer, and had many dreams about landing on this far-flung world. She became entranced by the “New Creationists” who are a cult that sprang up after Tessa Dalton, the woman who first discovered Terra-Two, was martyred.

Juno, who is Astrid’s twin sister, is the trainee medical officer on board. She doesn’t really understand Poppy’s struggles and doesn’t really do anything that is productive or healthy to help her. She just assumes that Poppy is doing this out of her own desire, and uses some pretty harmful logic to try to get Poppy out of the “rut” she is in. This is also incredibly dangerous logic for the Medical Officer in training to have, as mental illness is just as real and valid as physical illness.

Eliot, is the communications specialist and the junior flight engineer on board. This is a character that we did not get a lot of information about and we very rarely saw his point of view. In addition, he was the significant other of the astronaut that committed suicide at the beginning of the book. They were basically “connected at the hip” and were incredibly close. Eliot was very shaken by Ara’s death and when he finally got into space he was hallucinating that he saw Ara’s ghost inside and on the outside of the ship. This is a valid reaction to grief, but I’m surprised that the space agency did not postpone the flight or prevent Eliot from going on the mission that was so important to the future of humanity.

Jesse, is the backup astronaut who took the place of Ara Shah, who was supposed to be the junior botanist on board. Since he was a last minute add on to the crew he feels incredibly out of place with the rest of the team. He feels left out and lonely at first, but as time passes he gets closer to some of the members. All of this being said, I liked his character. He feels like he doesn’t really belong and has some serious impostor’s syndrome, which I can certainly relate to.

Last thoughts

All of that being said, I enjoyed the book. I thought that it was interesting to see the reactions to things that happened to the crew and a lot of the things that went wrong are things that very well could likely go wrong in space. Space is hard, and getting there is half the work. I am interested to read anything else that this author writes.


Have you read this? Did you like it?

Have a wonderful day, and as always, keep reading!

~Cam

Book Review: His Majesty’s Dragon


Rating: 5 out of 5.

  • Author: Naomi Novik
  • Genre: Fantasy/ Historical
  • Page Count: 353
  • Date Started: December 23rd
  • Date Finished: December 27th
  • Spoilers? Yes-ish?

A Brief Description

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

Goodreads || Amazon


A Review

The synopsis of His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik captured me almost instantly. Historic setting! The Napoleonic War! DRAGONS! What is not to love?

A sea captain, William Laurence suddenly finds himself bonded to a dragon whose name is Temeraire. His fate has suddenly changed and he finds himself in His Majesty’s aerial corps, which is very different from the Navy. From there, he is thrust into training and tactics of aerial battles.

The two have a really sweet and engaging relationship. Temeraire is truly one of the cutest and most lovable characters I have read in the last year. I want to know him just so I can give him the biggest hug. You can tell that he loves Laurence, and vice versa.

There are some characters, some who are not even supposed to be antagonists of the story that I want to strangle *(ahem, Rankin)* and others who have gone through much hardship and struggle to get where they are.

The setting definitely did not disappoint. This is set in 1800s England, and it loosely covers the events of the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons. There isn’t really much else that you can ask for here.

To boot, this book has some major character growth, not only by our main main Laurence, but by many of the side characters. Laurence starts out the novel being categorically against the idea of being in the Aerial Corps, but as he gets to know Temeraire and the other men (and women!!) that make up the Aerial Corps, he really grows into his new post. I was really happy that the author included women who fought in the ranks as well. I find that most “history” novels seem to fit the narrative that women don’t have a place in such things, but this book strays from that. I will say that there were some scenes where our main character still holds those kinds of ideals, but I feel like this changes as the novel progresses and he sees just how powerful and kickass these girls are (Harcourt is one of my favorite characters as well.)

Furthermore, as he learns more about who and where Temeraire comes from, the plot really thickens. I’m very very intrigued to read the next one. I even went hunting for the sequel in a few of the bookstores in this very small town I am staying in for the sequel. Alas, I did not find it.

The novel is slow burn, up until the end when the pace really starts to pick up, but goodness did I love every second of it. I laughed, I cried, and then I cried some more. I would highly recommend that you read this if you like alt-history and dragons!

This book made me wish that dragons were in fact real so I could have one because goddammit, do I want a baby dragon.

Have you read this? What were your thoughts? What is your favorite book with a dragon in it?

~Cam

Book Review: The Grace Year


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

  • Author: Kim Liggett
  • Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
  • Page Count: 404
  • Date Started: December 4th
  • Date Finished:
  • Spoilers?: Yes. Sort of?

A Brief Description

SURVIVE THE YEAR.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Goodreads || Amazon


My Review

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett is pitched as a pinch of The Handmaid’s Tale, a bit of Hunger Games and a feminist Lord of the Flies. While I see all of these elements, I feel like it falls a little bit short of being “feminist”, at least for me.

I’m conflicted, because I really wanted to love this story, but parts of it fell flat for me.

In Garner County, girls who turn 16 are thought to possess the magic to entice grown men and make older women jealous, so to combat this, they are sent to an isolated camp to release their magic into the wild for a year. Some will return, and when they do they are considered purified and ready for marriage.

The story follows Tierney James, a girl from Garner County during her grace year. Tierney is known as “Tierney the Terrible” in her group of grace girls. She has never really fit in, and in Garner County this can be incredibly dangerous. Women are only seen as possessions, property to their husbands. Right before being sent off for their grace years, many of the young girls are married off to other men in the community. Many times, these men are significantly older than the young girls they are marrying. The girls also have no say in -who- they marry. All is chosen by the men in the county and their fathers. Not only that, but being “veiled” is seen as the upmost priority. If you are not veiled you will return to the county and work in indentured servitude in other areas of the county, which is seen as ‘less-than’ when compared to being a wife.

So we have a very oppressive government, filled with men who seem to believe that they own the women around them. Women are not allowed to do anything without the permission of their husbands. Husbands are allowed to accuse their wives of indecencies, use of magic, of anything really, and condemn them to death if they see fit. All of this done in the name of religion. Women in the county must be pure and subservient above all else.

You get the picture.

Tierney, not really liked by the girls in the county has one male friend named Michael. On her “veiling day” she does not expect to get a veil, but does, from Michael, who of course has always loved her. She takes offense to this, as it is not what she wants. She even -told- Michael that she did not to be a wife and had resigned herself to never getting married. Tierney was a little bit bone-headed and didn’t really think of things before she did them. She would think “maybe I shouldn’t do this thing” and then she would do the thing, and wonder why it blew up in her face.

To add to this, it throws a gasoline on to the fire due to Michael having promised to marry one of the other girls who is a grace girl with Tierney. Her name is Kiersten, and she almost seemed like a caricature mean girl. I don’t understand why she hated Tierney, and all the other girls for that matter as much as she did. She was mean, petty and caused the death of multiple other girls, just for funsies. Kiersten was just a villain to be a villain. While Tierney was attempting to help the group of girls survive, Kiersten attempts to sabotage every single one of those attempts which just led to chaos. I just can’t fathom why this girl would destroy buckets that Tierney made for the purpose of collecting rain water. I just…

Whew.

Okay…. so the story itself, the world, nothing was really explained… at all. You were thrown in and were told nothing about what time period the story takes place in, why they think women have magic, why poachers chase the young girls -yep-, or why the poachers take women apart, piece by piece, to be used as “fountain of youths” by the others in the county. I think the author was trying to add an air of mystique or mystery, but it just ended up seeming like it wasn’t fleshed out enough or like the plot itself was hazy.

The plot makes it seem like you’ll have girls rising up against this oppressive county that has been keeping them down for so long, like you’ll have women finally rising up, and like -some- revolution should be taking place. That happens, at the very end of the story, and it happened in such a way that it was entirely unexpected, but in a good way. I tacked on that extra .5 stars because of the ending if I am being completely honest. The ending was executed in a way that it all came together just right. But…here’s the thing though, the rescues that took place in the book were all by men, one man in particular.

A poacher named Ryker, who Tierney ends up in an insta-love relationship with. Half of the time that Tierney and Ryker spend together are after Ryker rescues her and nurses her back to health on a promise that he made her father a year earlier. The moment she knows she wants to “be with him” are after he sees his face. Not to mention that Ryker is a man who was literally HUNTING her and the other girls with her. He refers to her as -prey- for 100 pages of a 400 page book. And it was insta-love and had absolutely no build-up at all. It just didn’t feel like the love was ratcheted up correctly. It felt rather hazy and almost like the romance was just tacked on after the rest of the book had been written.

This book had so much potential, but it just fell flat for me unfortunately.


Have you read this? Did you like it? What were your thoughts? Let’s discuss below!

~Cam

Book Review: Fountains of Silence


Rating: 4 out of 5.

  • Author: Ruta Sepetys
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Page Count: 475
  • Date Started: December 1st
  • Date Finished: December 4th

A Brief Description

A portrait of love, silence, and secrets under a Spanish dictatorship.

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Includes vintage media reports, oral history commentary, photos, and more.

Goodreads || Amazon


The Review

Okay. The atmosphere in this book was pretty great. You could feel the cold hand of Franco’s reign wrapping tighter around the characters as you read this.

The story of Ana, Puri, Daniel and Rafa really sticks with you.

Daniel Matheson, son of an American oil tycoon and a Spanish immigrant is an aspiring photographer who is visiting Spain with his parents. He comes with these ideas of what Spain is, mainly what the Francisco regime has told Americans and the world what Spain is, but finds a very different Spain exists for its inhabitants. One of the inhabitants of Spain is a young girl, a maid in the hotel he is staying in, named Ana.

Ana, a girl with secrets, works at the Castellana Hilton hotel, meets Daniel when she is assigned to his family.

Rafa, Ana’s older brother seemed almost… like a caricature? He has an interesting past, and has a friend who wants nothing more than to be a torero, a matador… but again, I feel like his character was very much a caricature.

Puri, Ana and Rafa’s cousin, is a nun who works at an orphanage, who begins to uncover some very unflattering things that are being done by the Franco regime involving children.

While all the characters were given colorful histories, I felt almost as if the surrounding areas were put on the back burner. The author captured Francoist Spain very well. The juxtaposition between the “American quarter”, or what I would describe as the “tourist area” of Spain and the area where tourists visited versus the areas where Spaniards actually lived very well. The tourist areas were described very richly, and had vibrancy, while the areas where natives lived were rundown and very crowded.

The author used snippets and clips of propoganda that was used in Francoist Spain to subjugate the people. For example, the Sección Femenina, which is the Women’s Section, told women that they were inferior to men and that they belonged in the home and in the role of being a mother. This is based mainly on extremist religious and Catholic beliefs, but this is what guided Franco. No other religions were allowed to be practiced in the open. This included weddings and funerals. Any Republican (those that were aligned against Franco and his government) were tortured, imprisoned, killed, or all three.

That being said, where was the flamenco? Where was the music? Where was the bright Spain that I grew up hearing about from my mom? (Who also grew up in Franco’s Spain).

In addition, this story was slow. It took a while for the characters to get to where they needed to go and the story almost seemed to end abruptly and it left me hanging with quite a few story strands.

All of this being said, I enjoyed this story and would recommend reading this if you have any interest in Francoist Spain, or even if you just enjoy historical fiction!


Have you read this? What did you think?

~Cam

Book Review: The Cruel Prince


Rating: 3 out of 5.

  • Author: Holly Black
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Page Count: 370
  • Date Started: August 24
  • Date Finished: August 29

A Brief Description

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. 

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The Review

This book has been so highly reviewed (I mean, it has a 4.16 star rating on Goodreads), but even with this I wasn’t in love with it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. The writing was beautiful and had an almost whimsical quality. It had a certain magic to it. The world building was there, but I didn’t get a good picture of how exactly the scenes appeared, save for a few. For example, no rooms that the characters entered were explained in detail, so I was left at a loss for how to imagine this in my head. There was a lot of descriptions about when the characters were outside walking through the forests of Elfhame etc, and those scenes were truly quite beautiful.

I just didn’t care about any of the characters beyond a mild interest, except for Jude, who I loved. Jude was a strong and ambitious woman. (Girl power!) She knows what she wants and she will not let anyone, or anything, stand in her way. She struggles with the internal turmoil of being a mortal in the land of the immortal and shackles that come with that. In addition, she loves her family and will do anything and everything to protect those she loves. The love interest, Cardan, is a jerk. I didn’t mind myself invested in the relationship that eventually ensued. I actually found it to be toxic, mostly due to the way that Cardan talks to and treats Jude. His interest also appeared to come out of nowhere and with no warning or build-up. I found him to be abusive and manipulative and he was probably my least favorite character out of the large cast of characters we did have.

The plot didn’t really capture me until I was almost 75% through the story, and that is when I was finally caught by the story enough to fly through it. Overall, I’d say that this was an interesting start to the story and I’d be interested to see where the story goes. While everyone thinks that a 3 star is a low rating, I think that it is something that I enjoyed, but didn’t love. I hope that I love ‘The Wicked King’ more than I did this one.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

I hope you have a wonderful day, and keep reading! 🙂

~ Cam

Book Review: Nevernight


★★★★★


  • Author: Jay Kristoff
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Page Count: 429
  • Date Started: August 1st
  • Date Ended: August 13

A Brief Description

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff tells the story of Mia Corvere, the daughter of an executed traitor. She gains admittance into a school of assassins called the Red Church. There she learns the art of death, blades, poisons and treachery. Along with a shadow not-cat, named Mr. Kindly she seeks a way to gain revenge against the Republic that destroyed her family and took everything from her.

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The books we love, they love us back.

Jay Kristoff
pg 243

Initial Thoughts

Some things I will say about this book is that it is not for the faint of heart. This is not something that I would classify as “young adult” and it is definitely for adults or mature teens. It is dark, gory, and gritty. It goes into explicit detail in certain scenes, so if you tend to shy away from violence or gore, I would highly recommend skipping this one. The writing in this is very lyrical and VERY metaphorical. It did take me some time to get into this. The writing being so metaphorical threw me off at first and it took me a while to get into it, but once I got into it, I was IN. I would stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning just devouring this book, which is something I have not done in a very long time. I highly recommend this to anyone who is into adult fantasy with fantastic world building and stories that are very character driven. The next sections may be spoiler-y, so please keep that in mind going forward.


Too many books…too few centuries.

Jay Kristoff
pg 359

Characters

Mia is morally gray and very unlikable at times, but you still root for her. You feel her pain and struggling and it is explained to you in graphic detail. Her struggles to come to terms with her loss and her pain is raw and not shied away from. One thing I appreciated about this book is that it shows that Mia is not good at everything to start out. Mia needs to work to become good. She is no Mary Sue. She undergoes quite a bit of character development as well.

At first I was really ambivalent about Tric. Tric is a Dweymeri acolyte (what the school calls students). I didn’t know how to feel about him and I could sort of tell from the beginning that he was going to be posed as the love interest. I was a little meh about him at first but as the novel went on, you could tell that he truly cared about Mia. It’s not insta-love which is a nice change of pace. I feel like the romance progressed naturally and the sexy scenes are… whew. <Spoiler ahead, skip to next paragraph> I was heartbroken with how his arc ended and I really need to know if he’s okay.

My favorite character out of the whole book has to be Mr. Kindly. Mr. Kindly is Mia shadow not-cat that lives in her shadow. I… LOVE… Mr. Kindly. He adds some very much needed comic relief to an otherwise dark story.

There are some characters that you come to love and others that you come to hate. Jay Kristoff does a good job of making you hate certain characters, but I would love to see some of these more fleshed out. I’m interested to see where the character arcs go in the rest of the series. Another thing to add is that Jay Kristoff does not shy away from killing off characters. If you have read this, there is a particular character death that really gets me.

Final Thoughts

I am very interested to see where this story goes. The story was high octane, and while it had moments of slow-ness it kept me engrossed and kept me hooked. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves grim, dark fantasy stories and who doesn’t mind some descriptive scenes. I gave this a 5 stars and am planning on jumping into the second book, Godsgrave right away. Give me your opinions in the comments below. Have you read this book? What did you think?