Friday, June 30, 2017

June Wrap-Up

This summer has been insanely busy. I'm actually busier than I was during the regular semester, so rip reading. I've been pretty quiet online because of that, and haven't had much time for reading. I am also taking a small blog hiatus through July and August. You can keep up with me elsewhere on the Internet and Goodreads, and I'll see you back here in September!

Five Star Reads: When Dimple Met Rishi
Other Notable Favs: The Radium Girls, Wonder Woman: Origins vol 1, Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet vol 3
Nonfiction: Girling Up, Here We Are, The Radium Girls, Swipe Right

Movies: Finally saw Wonder Woman on Friday, and OMG OBSESSED. It wasn't perfect, sure, but it was so good and I am so in love with it.
TV: Other than being ridiculously upset that Powerless was cancelled, I haven't actually watched hardly any tv at all.

Hope you guys have a wonderful summer, and I'll see you back here in September (with some reviews I am very excited about!).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Space Between the Stars {by Anne Corlett}

Title: The Space Between the Stars
Author: Anne Corlett
Genre: Science Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: First to Read

All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit...
Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive. 
Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be... 

I loved this one. I will say, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was so excited for this one, and I think I hyped it up too much. But it didn't disappoint. I still ended up loving it, even though it was different than I thought. If you're not into super "sci-fi"-type books, I think you would still like this one. It reads more as literary fiction...just set in space.

Characters: Jamie is a mess. She was before, and you can imagine how she was after. And that's not a bad thing. I can't imagine being in this position and I think it was portrayed very well. How you would feel, how you would act, how scary it would be. I also liked all the other characters. This sort of "ragtag" group of people thrown together is one of my favorites to read about when well done, and this one was. We got so many different personalities -- the cold, gruff captain; a special needs teenager; a former priest; an older woman who may be losing her mind, etc. Not everyone gets along with everyone else, and I liked that aspect too. Everyone is going to have different thoughts on the world ending, and I just loved reading about all of them.

Setting: I think the world could have been more fleshed out, but it was also fleshed out perfectly enough for the story (if that even makes sense). There wasn't an info-dump, but things were explained as they needed to be, which worked for the story.

Plot: While there was a plot (this group trying to get to earth), I also feel that this was more character based. I also feel like this was heavier on the "deep questions" side of the world ending. From social class, to religion, to who deserves to live in this new world. It wasn't so very fast-paced, but it wasn't slow either.

So if you couldn't tell, I loved this one. The characters, the world, the overall feel and mood of this story. (If you loved Station Eleven, I think you would also love this one.)

Anne Corlett:

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bread of Angels {by Tessa Afshar}

Title: Bread of Angels
Author: Tessa Afshar
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: publisher

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.
But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant's daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.
With only her father's secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances--along with her father's precious dye--help her become one of the city's preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can't outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

I really enjoyed this one. One thing I love about Tessa Afshar is that she chooses characters to write about that aren't really talked about or written about. I don't think much thought is given to Lydia, a seller of purple briefly mentioned in the Bible as one of Paul's friends, so I really enjoyed this story and getting to envision her life.

Lydia helps her father, a renowned seller of purple. When they are betrayed, Lydia has no choice but to flee to Philippi, the only place in the empire where a woman can run her own business. I liked Lydia. Her being "fearful" is I think what we would today think of as anxiety, so it was nice to see that represented in an era where it really isn't talked about. She was just trying to do the best she could in a world that didn't afford her many opportunities. She worked hard, and I think she was a great character.

This book spans over 20 years, which I thought was refreshing. It wasn't just a story about a young girl, it shows her life, shows her as a middle-aged woman. It also wasn't a romance, although there is a slight bit there at the end, which was nice.

This was probably my favorite Tessa Afshar book to date. I loved the world she has crafted, the characters, and this story. It was a beautiful book that captivated me from the start.

More books by this author:

Tessa Afshar:

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wings of the Wind {by Connilyn Cossette}

Title: Wings of the Wing
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Series: Out from Egypt #3
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: publisher

Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.
Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.
Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage—for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?

I loved this one. I'm not sure if it replaced the second book as my favorite of the series, but it sure came close. This one takes place quite a bit after the first two (I thought I saw 40 years later somewhere but I could be making that up).

I said this with book 1, but one thing I enjoyed about this series is seeing the events from the perspective of other nations. I think we focus so much on the Israelites, and forget that they slaughtered whole nations. What did that feel like? So I did appreciate seeing the story from the perspective of a Cannanite. Alanah wants revenge on the Hebrews, so she disguises herself and goes to fight. Tobiah finds her among the wounded, and brings her back to camp, with unintended consequences.

Dislike-to-love tropes are one of my favorites (I freely admit) so it is probably no surprise that I loved this one. I loved Alanah and Tobiah. She was sassy and strong, but Tobiah wasn't intimidated by her. I loved their banter, as it was fun.

I won't say much about the plot, because #spoilers. I wasn't expecting the Bible story that the author brought in, but I liked it. It was an interesting perspective and a creative way to tie it all together. I enjoyed the story, flying through the book just to find out what happens to these characters I very much enjoyed. Definitely a series I would recommend to those who love Biblical/historical fiction.

Connilyn Cossette:

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Wrap-Up

Not as much as past months, with finals and then a trip I took at the end of the month (even though I took way too many books, didn't really get time to read). I did read quite a bit of nonfiction this month though, which I'm proud of.

Music: John Reuben came out with a new album after years and I am so excited *praise hands*. Much nostalgia.

Hope everyone is having a lovely summer!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Branded {by Eric Smith}

Title: Branded
Author: Eric Smith
Series: Inked #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

Eric Smith returns to the world of Inked in this adventurous new sequel. No longer a sheltered farmboy, Caenum is caught in the crossfire of the rebellion he ignited. As the final battle with the Citadel approaches, he must choose his own destiny one last time…or let the Citadel choose it for him.

I loved Inked, so when I heard there was a sequel I was very excited to continue this story. Unfortunately, this story fell way flat for me. Although it kept me interested enough at the time to continue reading it, even now trying to write this review I find that I'm having a hard time even remembering what happened.

The story starts a few months after the ending of the first. Caenum is leading the rebellion, and they are going from town to town, spreading the rebellion and freeing the conduits. Unfortunately, nothing really happened? Inked set up for some great worldbuilding, but that wasn't really expanded on in this one, which was some really wasted potential.

The other thing was that I was kind of confused on the rebels and what was going on with them. I kind of felt like no one was really...doing anything? Also the prejudice against Inked/unInked/whatever was really confusing. They hated you if you had Ink, but they also hated you if you didn't?? Huh?? Whatever the difference may have been, it wasn't explained well.

While this was a quick read, it ultimately felt like a let down. Although I will continue to read more of Eric's work, as I think he has potential and a great writing style, this one was a no from me.

Other books in this series:

Eric Smith:

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Names They Gave Us {by Emery Lord}

Title: The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Genre: YA Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

Oh man, I loved this one. Now I haven't read all of her other books (only 1 1/2 others) so this may be premature, but it is probably my favorite of hers. I flew through it, that's how invested in it I was.

I loved Lucy. Emery Lord does such an amazing job of crafting such complex, deep characters. They are flawed, but real. Lord isn't concerned with making them "likable" per se, but allowed to be deeply human and complicated. Lucy was strong, even when she didn't think she was or could be, and I think she is a character so many girls can relate to.

Also, we definitely need more YA that talks about religion. Teens are religious too and it was SO great seeing that on page. Lucy is figuring out what she believes in vs. what she has always been told to believe in and I think that is such a huge part of life for a lot of teens. Lord shows it in a nonjudgmental way; what and how you choose to believe is up to you and there's nothing wrong with that. I loved how she showcased that throughout the story. Not a religious book, but a book about a girl, who is also religious. Definitely something that we need more of.

As with any Emery Lord book, it will also give you all the feels. It is very much a character-driven book, so the plot does fall a little flat. I also felt that there were maybe too many secondary characters in that they didn't really get fleshed out the way that they deserved, just existing to move along Lucy's story. But I did still enjoy them and what they brought to the story.

Of course there is a romance, although that is not the main focus. I felt it was there in the right amount, not taking away from the focus of Lucy and her story. Lord also writes grief really well; although Lucy's mother has cancer, it isn't a "cancer book", but does bring in those themes of Lucy having to learn to deal with her mother's diagnosis.

I feel like there was a lot that happened at the end too quickly, and it does end a bit open-ended if that's not your thing, but I did really enjoy this one.

Other books by this author:

Emery Lord:

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