Strange Grace ARC Review

Strange Grace.jpg

Number of pages: 400

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 1

Release Date: September 18th, 2018

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

I’ve had my eye on Strange Grace for months, so when I saw it was available to request on Netgalley, I had to request it. Well… at least I don’t have to preorder it anymore.

The weird thing about this book is that despite not liking a single thing about it, I still want to give it 2 stars at the very least. And I skim read the last 35% of it to the point where skim reading is a very loose description of what I did.

This is also the first instance where the formatting of the e-ARC was so frustrating that I’m mentioning it in my review. The kindle version was so hard to read that I had to switch to reading it on the Bluefire reader app. This would have been fine (albeit frustrating for updating Goodreads on my progress), but there are no chapters in this book, so you just have to scroll endlessly to find where you left off. There were also random incomplete sentences in red in the kindle version. The whole thing was a mess.

I found the writing made me feel very detached from the story and the characters. The writing style is trying to be atmospheric, but it ended up causing me to stop reading to try and figure out if the metaphors used even remotely made sense. The two that stood out to me focused on sunsets. I won’t share the exact quotes because I read an uncorrected proof, but one of them was along the lines of ‘the air changed from pink to orange’, and it took me several reads of the sentence and about 20 extra minutes of confusion to figure out it was describing the setting of the sun. Feel free to let me know in the comments if I’m just dumb for not being able to figure this out in a normal amount of time.

We also don’t really get a chance to get to know the characters. There is a lot of telling us about them doing stuff like walking and picking up grass, and having characters interpret the actions of other characters, but I know next to nothing about their personalities. The only things I know about the characters’ personalities is what other characters said when describing them. Sometimes that information conflicted, sometimes it didn’t, but either way I would have liked some proof that character X was actually as brave as people kept say they were.

Strange Grace doesn’t really have a plot, and it’s not exactly character driven, so I’m not really sure what to call it. The ‘story’ was so dragged out that I lost interest about 25% of the way through. At 39% stuff was actually starting to happen, but I was already done with this book by that point. At 40% I was wondering why there was so much book left (turns out there really didn’t need to be). There was a point where while all of the exciting stuff was happening in the creepy forest, instead of us seeing it all happen in real time, we got to see nothing happen from the perspective of a character who added nothing to the story. This was so we could see all the action spread out in broken flashbacks throughout the rest of the book. This book would have made a great short story, but instead it’s a full-length novel.

I already mentioned this, but there are no chapters. Instead, there are breaks with a picture of a tree, and then a bunch of short chunks from various different perspectives. Even in this book where almost nothing happens, there are perspectives included here that are entirely unnecessary to move forward with the nothing. Again, this book was very dragged-out.

One thing I found strange was there was a lot of kissing seemingly for no reason. Rhun is smiling, so he kisses Aruthur. Mairwen is standing there, so Arthur kisses her. The devil is attacking, so Mairwen kisses him (multiple times). Rhun loves Mairwen, but not in that way, but also in that way, so he kisses her. Mairwen did the thing they were all going to do, and they’re all mad at her for it, so they kiss her. Is there a romance in this book? I couldn’t tell you. The characters throw the word love around a lot, along with the random kissing. Maybe I just missed something, but the random kissing was so frequent that I don’t think I did.

I also had issues with Arthur in particular. The characters would be talking calmly, and he’d say something like ‘let’s set some people on fire’ (not an actual quote) out of nowhere, and the other characters would pretend it never happened. Like I get that the other characters have all said Arthur burns too hotly for Three Graces, but it still feels oddly out of character (despite me knowing next to nothing about him). Is he supposed to be edgy?

Overall, I was very clearly not a fan of Strange Grace, earning it 1 star out of 5.

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Aru Shah and the End of Time Book Review

Aru Shah and the End of Time.jpg

Number of pages: 355

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 5

I wasn’t originally going to review this book. I figured I would read it, hopefully love it, and move on. I haven’t read a middle grade book since the fifth or sixth grade, and I’m about to be in my second year of university. I have no standard to base a review of a middle grade book off of anymore. But while I was reading this all I could think about was how much 11 year old me (who was just starting to fall in love with mythology at the time) would have absolutely loved this book, and that’s the angle I’m going to review this from.

That isn’t to say that current me didn’t love Aru Shah and the End of Time, because I absolutely adored it, but I can picture that 11 year old girl staying up past midnight to read this like she read Allie Finkle books (does anyone remember those?). I can picture that same girl so engrossed in it at lunch that the anxiety she feels about being in the same room as her cruel classmates fades away. This book would have given that girl hope she desperately needed, and she would have known she’s not the only one struggling to fit in. (As a quick aside, I am in fact in tears writing this review). And now I’m so glad this book exists for kids like me.

Aru Shah and the End of Time features Roshani Chokshi’s signature rich and beautiful writing style, though I felt like it was slightly more watered-down here than it is in her YA books. This isn’t a criticism; this book is aimed at a younger audience. Still, this book never treats its audience as though it won’t be able to comprehend some more complex language. Nothing is “dumbed-down”.

I loved all of the characters. They’re so complex and well done. Younger me would have would have wanted to be best friends with Aru and Mini (and let’s be real, I would have probably tried to talk to all of the birds I could find, hoping one of them would be my own disgraced guardian). Current me just wants to give them all a hug and protect them at all costs, especially the palace.

This book had me laughing almost every chapter, so I know younger me would have found it just as amusing (though she would have had to hide it better as to not alert her parents to the fact that she was still reading way past her bedtime).

I read the Percy Jackson books a very long time ago, so take this next paragraph with a grain of salt, but I really do think that if you enjoyed the Percy Jackson books that you will enjoy Aru Shah and the End of Time. From what I remember of the Percy Jackson books, you can definitely draw some parallels between this book and The Lightning Thief.

This shouldn’t affect your decision to read this book, but I had to mention it here because I am a huge nerd. There is a joke in this book about matrices (plural of matrix, the thing in linear algebra that helps you deal with vectors (I’m trying to keep the explanation simple)), and it made me so happy I had to mention it. Actually, this showcases that there is something in Aru Shah for people of all ages.

Overall, I loved Aru Shah and the End of Time, and I can’t wait to continue with the rest of the series as it comes out. It has therefore earned 5 out of 5 stars.

Daughter of the Burning City Book Review

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Number of pages: 384

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 4

I buddy-read this with Lynn from From Oceans Away back in January, and I never got around to reviewing it. Luckily I have all of my thoughts written out by chapter, so I’m still able to review it.

I have a very weird gripe with chapter 3 specifically. I had to reread it multiple times, and I still didn’t really understand what happened in the end. It was so strange to me, because I was starting to get into the story with the first 2 chapters, but then there was this really choppy and information filled chapter that took me out of the story. And it threw me off for a couple of chapters.

Other than chapter 3, I really didn’t have any major issues with the writing. It did keep sucking me in and then throwing me back out, which was a bit frustrating, but I think it found its groove eventually.

I really hated the love interest for the majority of the book. He was the biggest jerk to Sorina for no reason. However, as I became more suspicious of him, the more he grew on me. I like that he became a more complex and interesting character along the way. Also, according to my messages to Lynn, chapter 17 really sold me on him, but I have no memory of what happened and I didn’t ever explain why.

I thought Sorina was a bit insufferable at points. She’s a person who has lived with this sketchy traveling carnival for most of her life, but she just immediately trusts people. She shares sensitive information with people she barely knows who are already acting suspiciously, and from what I remember she isn’t too concerned about interacting with people that multiple people close to her have warned her about. I also think the fact that she has no eyes, but can see perfectly was kind of lazy. And the only explanation for why this might be is essentially ‘I dunno. Magic.’

Venera was my favourite character by far, and she was a really minor part of the story. Not only was it nice to see her and Sorina’s friendship, but it’s also mentioned that she really likes working with numbers. Can we please just have more math-loving heroines in YA? I’m so sick of seeing every contemporary character groan about Calculus and worship their English teachers. And characters in other genres all just wonder how numbers work.

I think a lot of the twists were generally done really well. There were a couple I completely didn’t see coming at all. There were a few reveals that felt really anti-climactic, such as the true role of the proprietor of Gamorrah, but I was genuinely surprised by most of them.

I did end up predicting the villain early on, but what I appreciate the most about Daughter of the Burning City is that it made me constantly doubt my prediction. I ended up being suspicious of so many characters, with so many theories for why they could have done it, that my earlier theory being correct surprised me.

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading Daughter of the Burning City, though it wasn’t perfect. It has therefore earned 4 out of 5 stars.

Isle of Blood and Stone Mini Review

Isle of Blood and Stone

Number of pages: 400

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 4

I’m not really sure what I expected from this book, but I was really pleasantly surprised by it. Isle of Blood and Stone was this really quite book that almost immediately made me smile in spite of myself.

I thought the world was really interesting. There aren’t many books that feature cartographers, and it was so interesting to hear about the different islands. I really think the author did a fantastic job with the world-building.

I also loved the writing. I had barely started trying to write my first book when I started reading this, and all I could think while reading was how I wanted my writing to look like the writing in this book.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the characters. Their characterization was well done, but I just didn’t connect to most of them (although I did really like Reyna). I actually think I was more connected to and interested in the world than the characters, which is maybe why I’ve been finding it difficult to really cohesively collect my thoughts on this book.

I did predict the big reveal, but I found learning about the reasoning behind it really interesting. It was also interesting to see how the characters dealt with the person being someone close to them.

Overall, I really recommend Isle of Blood and Stone, earning it 4 out of 5 stars.

Favourite Book of the Month: July 2018

I’ve always wanted to do a TBR and wrap-up, but between life and my strange method for picking what to read next, the format isn’t a good fit for me personally. Enter this new series where I’ll be saying the best book I read that month. I’m a fairly hard reviewer to impress, so hopefully I will rate a book high enough each month to continue making these. Plus, it’s nice to be positive on For the Lover of Books once and a while.

Look at me being sort of on time for once. I know I’m technically a week late, but I’m not doing this in mid-late August, so I’m still counting it as a win. July was a generally positive reading month, so I had a couple of options this month. However, most of them were 4 star reads, meaning my one 5 star read is the clear winner this month.

My pick for July will surprise no one who has been here for a while, as the author is basically my only auto-buy author. It’s also the third book in a trilogy for which the second book was actually my favourite of the month at some point last year. Without further ado, my favourite book for the month of July 2018 is Bright We Burn by Kiersten White. You can read my review here.

Bright We Burn

What was the best book you read in the month of July?

The Dark Beneath the Ice ARC Review

The Dark Beneath the Ice.jpg

Number of pages: 336

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 2

Release Date: August 7th, 2018

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

I was recommended this book on Twitter recently, so I figured I would see if it was on Netgalley. Low and behold, it was, so I figured I’d request it. The synopsis sounded interesting enough, and I really want to find a YA horror or thriller that scares me (and I’m huge scaredy cat, so it shouldn’t be this difficult). The Dark Beneath the Ice was also written by a Canadian and is set in Canada, so that’s always a plus.

I will give The Dark Beneath the Ice credit for being a really fast read. I read it so quickly I figured it must be like 250 pages, but it’s actually over 300, so props to the author for that.

The thing is that I just didn’t connect with this book. I think horror/ thrillers really need to suck you in so you feel that same prickle of fear the MC is feeling. When thrillers don’t suck me in I just feel very ‘meh’ while reading them, and that’s exactly how I felt for the majority of this book. I became so disinterested at one point that I started thinking about how Marianne’s school’s exam schedule seemed inefficient (which is a thing I thought I would never say considering my local school board wasn’t exactly the best at stuff like planning).

I didn’t really notice this while reading it, but looking back Marianne was written a bit strangely in my opinion. There were times where she was written to sound like she was on the older end of YA, and there were times where she was written very young. Her sounding very young can be excused to some extent considering she spent most of the book in fear, but it got to the point where I cannot tell you how old she is. I’m sure it’s mentioned, but I got so confused along the way that I completely forgot her age.

I did really like the romance. It was a really well done slow-burn. It wasn’t a huge part of the book, but it was there enough for me to get excited for Marianne when Ron mentioned she was interested in girls.

My normal ‘meh’ rating is 3 stars, so you may be wondering why I knocked it down a star. Well, I really didn’t like that it took until about 95% of the way through the book for the things to start to get resolved. I’m also not sure I even understand what happened. By the end of The Dark Beneath the Ice I was so confused as to if everything actually happened?! I don’t understand, and I’m pretty sure I read it carefully this time. It could have always been my fault, but Marianne’s “explanation” of what happened and how it was resolved just didn’t make sense to me. I still can’t wrap my brain around it.

Overall, The Dark Beneath the Ice left me feeling confused and disappointed, earning it 2 stars out of 5.

FIFA World Cup Book Tag

Before anyone says anything, I know I’m late doing this (but early if we’re taking about the 2019 Women’s World Cup). Things got crazy for a while, and then this suddenly became my only blog post idea. I’ve also been both mentally and physically ill this week, so that’s been fun (depression and a cold don’t mix well when you’re trying to be productive). Anyway, I’m a soccer fan (though I only actively watch it during the World Cup), and I used to play soccer when I was younger (I played house league, and I was the world’s most out of shape midfielder), so this tag feels perfect for me. Thank you to Mandy from Book Princess Reviews for tagging me. If you haven’t visited her blog before, I suggest you rectify that immediately and maybe give her a follow. You can read her answers here.

Rules!

  • Link back to this post so I can read all your wonderful answers!
  • Answer the questions the best that you can!
  • Tag a few friends at the end to keep this tag going!
  •  Have fun!

Let the Flags Fly

Wave them high and proudly!!! Look at all the fun colors!!!
A Book from your World Cup  Competing Country/ the Country that You Want to Win!

Born a Crime

Canada is awful at men’s soccer, so when I was 11 (during the 2010 World Cup) I picked 4 teams to cheer for. I know 4 teams is ridiculous, but I clearly didn’t understand that at 11, and I still go for them all in the World Cup (if they make it). My teams are Brazil, Germany, Greece, and South Africa, and while only Brazil and Germany were in it this year, I’m still saying a book from South Africa counts for this question.

It’s The Beautiful Game

Football! Soccer! Beautiful! Whatever you call it!
A book with a pretty cover / A book that features soccer.

Brave Enough

Just look at this cover and try to tell me you don’t want it on your shelves. I’m not a person who buys books because of the cover (I’m more intrigued by titles than covers), so luckily I’ve already read and enjoyed this one.

Ferocious Fans

Face paint! Big signs! Lots of noise!
Name a fandom you love being a part of!

I’m not really a person who is actively a part of any fandoms, but I always enjoy seeing Grishaverse stuff float around the internet.

Teamwork! Teamwork! Teamwork!

There is no way one person can win the game!
Name your Favorite Bookish Crew / A Book that has Co-Authors!

Beneath the Citadel

I’m going to pretend I’m not aloud to say Six of Crows for this, and I’m going to go with the group in Beneath the Citadel. They all worked so well together.

Ref Blows the Whistle

You either love him or you hate him.
Name a book/character that you mixed feelings towards!

Shadow and Bone

Genya (I hope I spelled that right) from Shadow and Bone. I haven’t read the rest of the series yet, but I liked her throughout most of the book, and then she did a bad thing at the end. I don’t know how to feel about her now.

GGGGOOOAAAALLLL!!!!

Everyone loses their heads and starts yelling at the top of their lungs!
Name your last 5 star read!

Bright We Burn

The Gold Cup

It’s what we play for.
The Most Coveted/Loved Book On Your Shelf

Ruling Passion

I’m going to take most loved to mean most destroyed and go with Ruling Passion. While it isn’t a favourite anymore, it was a favourite years ago. That means I’ve read the 3 books contained in this bind-up 6+ times, and the spine is completely destroyed.


I’m never sure who to tag, so if you’re reading this and interested in doing it, consider yourself tagged.