Monday, November 7, 2016

October Reads // Netgalley Queue, Be Gone!

In September, I read a TON of books... October wasn't too shabby either considering all of the plans that we had made! :)

Desolate by Amy Miles*

3.5 - 4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for something that's not your typical vampire story, and you can handle some really dark, torture-y scenes. It's not overly graphic, and it's still YA, but that doesn't make it easy to read. Don't be fooled, it's not 50 shades meets Twilight, it's not code for anything kinky, it's actual torture. 

This book follows Roseline, a young woman who on her wedding day is killed, tuned immortal, witnesses the death of everyone at her wedding, her town burning, and is then taken to live with her cruel new husband... who did all the destroying. Much of this book focuses on her absolute downfall into her husband's debaucherous society and whims. (It reminded me of GOT a bit, it's just really harsh and cruel, and no one seems to think twice about it.) For about 2/3 the book, you read as Roseline loses all hope of escaping or actually living a life. It's a bit tough to read... The last 1/3 of the book, Roseline finds some purpose, and the book gets significantly more interesting from there.

Overall, this book was kind of a wild ride. I got this from Netgalley and didn't realize that this was actually about vampires before I started it. It's not a typical YA vampire plot. She's repulsed by them, she doesn't want to be one of them, she is a prisoner - but it's not a Stockholm Syndrome type situation. It's obviously very dark and gruesome.... on the one hand, if the "desolation" part had lasted much longer than it did... I don't think I could have kept reading. On the other hand, Miles REALLY hits home, just how bad her situation is, and sets up a LOT of motivation for Roseline's future actions, personality, etc. I read this all in one day... so it was obviously pretty gripping. I would definitely be interested in reading future books in this series (it will be a trilogy)... because I really want to see where she goes after all of that insane pain she was put through. I think it probably makes more and more sense, the more of her story you read. The main reason the rating is not higher, is just that it's tough to read something quite so dark. - last note: this book is part of a prequel trilogy, so you can read about Roseline in the present in Miles' other series, AROTAS.

Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle*

3 Stars - I would recommend if you like quirky characters and slow building narratives about real life struggles.

This book follows Joanna and Abe, a 20+ year middle-aged couple living in Seattle. They have their flow, their own life together, and work together to help Joanna's daughter Lily navigate her 20-somethings. However, when they meet Lioness, a mysterious woman who needs a place to live, everything is slowly turned upside down. 

I have not read The Last Unicorn, and I didn't know what to expect with this book. I really enjoyed Beagle's writing, and Abe and Joanna's characters were very complex and interesting. I liked all of the every day detail Beagle gives the story. However, I felt like Lily was kind of a confusing character, I didn't feel like I understood her. Lioness is barely a part of the detail in the story, but somehow the main part at the same time. I found this book to be a little confusing in general... because almost nothing happens throughout the bulk of the story, and then everything is kind of falls apart for the characters. This book is listed as having a fantasy element, which it does, but it's sort of subtle and in the background. It could almost do without it all together. I don't know, just not my type of book I think.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia*

4 - 4.5 Stars - I would highly recommend if you enjoy multi-perspective narratives, action scenes, and urban settings. This is not your typical YA fantasy read, it's much more grounded in the "real" world. Think urban society (just a little dystopian) with a lot of cops, gang/drug wars, and poverty. 

When Atl's family is killed by a rival vampire/drug clan she escapes to Mexico City, a vampire free territory. After leading a privileged life, she must hide herself, and find a way to escape to South America. That's when she meets Domingo, a homeless teen who works as a trash collector. Atl needs blood, and Domingo needs money. Meanwhile, Nick and Rodrigo are scouring Mexico City looking for Atl. Rodrigo wants her dead, Nick has a much worse fate in mind. Ana, a middle-aged cop who moved to Mexico City to get away from the vampires finds herself torn between the police who don't respect her and a powerful city gang who want her to help them eliminate Atl and Nick both. 

This book was really interesting! Over the last few years, I have read quite a few vampire and fantasy books, and this one is not at all like any of the ones I had read before. Moreno-Garcia creates a really intricate urban/dystopian/fantasy setting for these groups to navigate through, complete with "recent" history that sets the stage for her narrative. She also creates a really interesting (and detailed!) world of lore surrounding the vampires. There are ten different clans, and they are all significantly different in how they look, live, act, etc. Because the plot is so absorbed in this modified version of Mexico City, and these various gangs, the vampire part fits nicely, but isn't overly present. I felt like I was reading about warring drug clans more-so than vampires for most of the book. I also liked that I couldn't completely understand the motivation of the various characters. It made me question what would happen, who would "win", or live. etc. Because this setting was so great, and the writing was awesome, I would definitely read more of Moreno-Garcia's books in the future! It was also fun to read something set somewhere I haven't read a lot of books about. 

Simply Calligraphy: A Beginner's Guide to Elegant Lettering by Judy Detrick*

3 Stars - I recommend if you are looking to learn calligraphy, and want to start with a clean, easy to follow lesson. 

This little calligraphy book is short and sweet, including information on calligraphy basics as well as project ideas. Detrick creates a clean, simple, and straight-forward approach to calligraphy in it's most basic styles; perfect for beginners. I like that she gives tips and step by step advice for working through her samples on your own, and there is not so much text that the hints get lost in the pages. She additionally adds further resources and fun project ideas to further practice and show off your new calligraphy skills. I have read quite a few calligraphy books, and I really liked the simplicity of this one. However, I personally find more modern types of calligraphy a little more personally appealing. All the same, this book is worth a read for someone who wants to learn calligraphy basics, a perfect starting place.

Serpent's Kiss (Witches of East End #2) by Melissa de la Cruz

4 Stars - I recommend if you like urban fantasy, and are looking for a quick fantasy/romance read. Read the first book first, but don't judge it too harshly if you've seen the show, I enjoyed this one MUCH more than the first. :)

Read my review of the first book, here.

Read the synopsis of the 2nd book by highlighting the blank space below. I don't want to give accidental spoilers!

Freya knows that her brother is alive and in Midgard, which would thrill her family.... but she's not allowed to tell anyone. On top of that he's blaming Killian for being put in limbo. Freya must prove Killian innocent and figure out a way to let her family know that her brother is back. Ingrid deals with her first real relationship.... and Joanna is being reached out to by a powerful spirit in the glom. Is it a good spirit? A bad one? And why is it reaching out to her? On top of that Joanna's husband is back in her life... but a new suitor is on the horizon as well. 

Overall, I liked this book a lot better than the first one. I felt like the first one was really close to the show, but random things were different which made it kind of slow and a little irritating to read. (this is why I don't watch first guys...) The second book diverts even further from the plot of the show, which made it less predictable, and overall more interesting to read. It also did not include the weird mandragora guy from S2 of the show... if you know what I mean... #awkward ... This book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger which is fun!

Winds of Salem (Witches of East End #3) by Melissa de la Cruz

3.5 - 4 Stars - I recommend if you have enjoyed the rest of the series.

Read the synopsis of the 2nd book by highlighting the blank space below. I don't want to give accidental spoilers!

This book beings with Freya, who has been sent back to 1692... and she has no memory of her past life. Joanna and Ingrid have tapped out their magic, and have no way of getting Freya back. They search for answers and hope that she is not hanged in the meantime for witchcraft. Ingrid is busy trying to figure out how to get to Freya, and her relationship with Matt is even more on the outs than it was before. When an old flame, Thor (of course), shows up in East End, she questions her relationship with a mortal even more. Joanna and Norman are together, and travel across the country looking for alternate ways to get to Freya. Freddy is struggling with his new marriage, no magic, and those annoying pixies.

Hmmm... this book was pretty different than the others. The parts that take place in Salem during the 1600s were pretty interesting, but definitely made the book flow differently. I think the first half of the book was really solid, on par with the second book... but the last part of this one was kind of strange with characters in Limbo, etc. I'ts just such a weird vibe. Overall, I was kind of disappointed in the ending. Though I doubt that MdlC thought this would be the last book in this series at the time. 

The Witches of East End Storyline.... 

You (may) know, that the show got cancelled after a cliff hanger after just two short seasons... and I can now confirm that the two endings are wildly different from one another. Really, most of the plot pieces are different at this point. Since MdlC didn't have the rights to the story anymore she wrote a spin off YA book called Triple Moon: Summer on East End to sort of clear up some of the question marks, but also introduce a new plot featuring Ingrid's twin "nieces". I just got this from the library, and I can't wait to see where she takes the plot. She also includes a short story ending to tie up the story line from the TV show. It looks like she has a second book in this series "Summer on East End" coming out in a few days! So, I'm glad that she's still writing about the witches. :) 


The Secret Healer by Ellin Carsta**

I didn't rate this one since I did not finish it...

Madlen is the apprentice to the midwife in her town, she has a calming effect on their patients. When the midwife is accused of murder and killed, Madlen reluctantly helps a noblewoman's wife. When the woman's baby dies, Madlen is accused of witchcraft and murder. She manages to escape, but the cycle soon sets in in her new city. When her husband is commissioned to find the "secret healer" and bring her to justice, Madlen must be very cautious. What's more important your life, or the one you love?

This book is a hard one to rate. On the one hand, it was really interesting, the plot was great, and I overall liked reading it and wanted to find out what would happen next. However, either the writing style of the translation made it to where the sentences were really flat. It was pretty hard to read much further than a chapter at a time without getting a little bit bored. It had so much potential, but sadly did not remain interesting as I continued to read. Also, I think the synopsis is misleading... In the end I made it about 65% and had to stop. I couldn't keep reading it.

Currently Reading:

A Fork in the RoadBe Your Own Fairytale, and Triple Moon: Summer on East End. I finally removed Possession and War and Peace... because I just don't feel like reading them right now, and I was getting stressed out seeing them on goodreads all the time!

On Deck:

Coming up next: Lola and the Boy Next Door, Sweetly, and The Girl on the Train.

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 

Life According to Steph

What have you guys been reading? 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!

** Double asterisks denote titles won in a goodreads giveaway.

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