Songs from the Deep ARC Review

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Number of pages:  304

Rating (out of five stars): 1

Release Date: November 5, 2019

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

Mild spoilers ahead; proceed with caution

Have you ever read a book because the protagonist shares your weird name? Well now I have, and I can say with certainty that it was not worth it. I mean there were other reasons why I chose to request this book (ex the sirens), but it was mostly because of the name thing. I am also very late to reviewing this because school, but what else is new at this point.

Let’s just dive right in because this is a 1 star review and I read this book almost 2 months ago (so I remember nothing). As I mentioned above, I was interested in the siren element of this book. Sirens aren’t a huge thing in YA, but growing up as a huge mythology nerd they were always sort of interesting to me. Too bad the sirens in this book don’t really do anything. I mean, they stare angrily a few times and attack the love interest once, but other than that the exist solely for villain motivation, I guess?

Related is my gripe about this book being anti-climatic. Moira keeps referencing this secret she’s keeping from Jude that will make him hate her, but when we finally find out what this secret is it has little to do with her, and all to do with two adult males making a decision. I’m not saying what happened isn’t tragic, but I am saying it was blown way out of proportions. The whole time I was reading I figured Moira was half-siren or something (which would have been cool, made the sirens more useful, and created a sense of urgency and a real conflict between her and our love interest), but it turns out the big twist was way less interesting.

Also anti-climatic was the villain reveal, where the obvious villain throughout the entire book is revealed to be the murderer when Moira overhears him speaking openly with his accomplice about committing the murder. I’m pretty sure this was supposed to be a murder mystery, but sure, just hand our heroes the answer. They sure couldn’t figure it out themselves. I mean, they got their first lead 43% into the book, and they didn’t even follow it.

Speaking of things this book pretended to be but wasn’t, it was weirdly historical at some points but then not historical for the most part. When I started reading Songs from the Deep, I had no idea it was supposed to be vaguely historical until I reached a sentence that was structured in a way modern sentences aren’t. It would have been fine (but a little odd) if the book had kept it up for the rest of the book, but it was almost like it would forget it was supposed to be a historical fantasy and then remember again in short bursts. It made for an odd reading experience.

I said in one of my Goodreads updates I would keep track of the amount of times I rolled my eyes in the last half of the book, and I rolled my eyes a total of 11 times. This book was just so profoundly not for me, and I would have DNFed it had it not been an ARC. Overall, Songs from the Deep gets a 1 star out of 5 from me.

The Gilded Wolves ARC Review

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Number of pages: 464

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

Rating (out of five stars): 5

Release Date: January 15th, 2019

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

It didn’t manage to make me cry, but it did manage to slowly break my heart, so that’s something. I’m not really sure if I’m okay, and I probably shouldn’t be writing this right after finishing it, but I’m doing it anyway because I make good choices.

Speaking of not making good choices, prepare to meet the main cast who are all just trying their best. And their best barely keeps them alive throughout most of this. Still, I love them all so much. I just want to give them all a hug and protect them forever. If anything happens to Enrique or Hypnos in particular I’m going to riot, but they’re all still such complex (and very broken) characters.

If I were to compare The Gilded Wolves to another book it would definitely be Six of Crows. There is a heist, a diverse crew of 6, plus a bunch of other similarities that are **super spoilery**. The only thing I will say is that The Gilded Wolves is sort of like Six of Crows’ more glamourous and less broody cousin in that it isn’t quite as gritty. I still definitely recommend it if you’re in need of something to fill the Six of Crows shaped hole in your heart, but keep in mind they’re not the same book; they’re just similar.

Speaking of Six of Crows, The Gilded Wolves had a similar kind of unconscious effect on me. Less in a I cannot stop thinking about this book (though that happens to be case at the moment because I’m theorizing) way, more in a I was reading it and completely got lost in it to the point where when my dad set down diner I looked up in confusion.

The Gilded Wolves also fed my love of history and math (don’t worry, everything to do with numbers is well explained if you aren’t a huge fan of math). My love ancient history and mythology knows no bounds, so the many references to it made me very happy. I will say that if you aren’t a big history/mythology person that some of the references might not make complete sense. I could see things mentioned and pass over them because I had prior knowledge of those things, so it didn’t affect me personally.  However, the part I see there being a potential issue with is that while these things are explained to an extent, you might feel like you don’t fully understand what’s going on without any prior knowledge.

I did not expect that twist at the end, and now my mind is reeling. What does this mean for so many things? I picked up on some stuff and figured out the meaning of the honeybee, the bone clock thing, and something else that even when spoken about vaguely is spoilery well before the text made the reveal, but that’s probably because I watch way too much Murdoch Mysteries. All this is to say I need book 2 right now, followed closely by book 3.

Overall, The Gilded Wolves spoke to the nerd in me and I love it for it, earning it 5 out of 5 stars.

Circe ARC Review

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Number of pages: 400

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

Rating (out of five stars): 4

Release Date: April 10th, 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 sitting in my dorm room on April 23rd after having finished writing 2 exam, and I got an email from Netgalley saying I had been approved for Circe by the publisher. I was in shock. I mainly wasn’t sure if someone had made a mistake or not, but I was certainly going to take advantage of it. Most of what I request on Netgalley is stuff I’m convinced I will never be accepted for, and Circe was no exception. I knew the author was super popular, and I had heard about Circe until pretty late in the game. Sometimes miracles do happen.

I haven’t read The Song of Achilles. I have no interest in reading The Song of Achilles. Achilles was never someone who interested me. Circe, however, was 100% someone who interested me. You had this powerful witch that transforms men into pigs, who we really don’t get to learn enough about in the Odyssey. The sad thing is that I never went out and learned more about her. I had no idea her father was Helios, and I certainly knew nothing of her siblings. She was just the witch Odysseus “outwits” in the Odyssey.

Circe is a very character-driven book, so if you are a person who likes more plot-driven books, this book is not for you. You really have to care about Circe to continue reading. I also think that you need to go in with an interest in Circe, or at least Greek mythology. Otherwise, I just don’t think reading Circe will be enjoyable

Speaking of Circe herself, her story was really heartbreaking. She’s constantly put down by those around her, and every time she found someone she cared about, they were taken from her for one reason or another. It was so heartwarming watching her discover her power and master it. Also, I will issue a content warning for rape. It’s told in first person, so if this will be harmful for you to read, I recommend holding off.

I think Circe is perfect for fans of Greek mythology and those who know nothing about it. Actually, I think it might be a good introduction to Greek mythology. You get to see a lot of famous Greek myths get played out and be explained. Circe also does a great job at show how a lot of the Greek myths are interconnected.

Something I found really interesting in Circe is that you get to see the Olympians in a more negative light. The Olympians are never really portrayed as saints anywhere, but you get to see how much hatred the Titans have for them. I tend to prefer the Olympians over the Titans, so it was really jarring and intriguing for me to see what I think might be the most negative portrayal of the Olympians I’ve read.

Overall, I found Circe fascinating, earning it 4 out of 5 stars.

House of Ash ARC Review

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Number of pages: 320

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

Rating (out of five stars): 4

Release Date: September 26th 2017

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher (Amulet/ABRAMS Kids) for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

I really enjoyed House of Ash. I had a few problems with it, but I will probably end up purchasing it when it comes out, which I would not do if I didn’t like it.

House of Ash sounded perfect for me. It’s a YA paranormal fantasy with historical elements, and it shows a character dealing with a mental illness (more on this later). It was surprisingly gripping after the first few chapters. I would read ARCs on the bus on the way to school, and I-almost-missed-my-bus-stop-reading levels of gripping were experienced. I even had tears well up on occasion, which is pretty rare for me.

I really wish the side characters had been more developed. I want to know more about Sage and Avi and their relationship with Curtis. I also want to know more about what Curtis’ dad was like before he became seriously ill. Mila and Curtis are great, but I want more of the other characters.

On the subject of Curtis and Mila, the romance felt a little under-developed, but I can still see where it came from. They are both broken people who found each other and are determined to save the people they care for, including each other, despite living in different centuries. I get it, and I get that it’s hard to develop a romance across centuries, so it makes perfect sense the way it is, but having personally read a lot of YA books I want a little more development.

House of Ash is set in the fictional town of Willowhaven, Ontario. Living in southwestern Ontario, I always find it interesting when authors chose to set things here. I’m not sure if there are any towns like it in Ontario, so I’m curious as to what inspired the author, but I can kind of picture a run down, but once beautiful town here.

Let’s talk about Curtis’ mental illness. Before we get into this, I am not an expert on mental illness. I do struggle with depression and undiagnosed social anxiety, but I do not struggle with what Curtis and his father do.

The longer I’ve taken to write this review, the more I have accepted Curtis’ dad’s mental illness. At first I was worried someone would read House of Ash and think all mentally ill people were violent (Curtis has violent tendencies as well), but then I remembered there are people out there like Curtis’ father. However, I’m still iffy on Curtis’ mental illness. For starters, I’m confused as to if he is actually mentally ill. Because of events too spoilery to share, Curtis appears to not be mentally ill at the end of the book. The whole thing could be some sort of metaphor, but it seems unlikely given that the fantastical elements of the book seem to actually take place, rather than being hallucinations.

On the other hand the fear and defeat Curtis feels towards his mental illness is so raw, real, and accurate it brought tears to my eyes. The powerlessness I feel because of my mental illness(es)  is so similar to what Curtis felt, that I can’t help feeling conflicted on whether or not to call this a mental health novel.

Overall, I enjoyed and appreciated House of Ash, but am a bit conflicted on some aspects of it, earning it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender Book Review

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Number of pages: 301

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

Rating (out of five stars): 3

I’m not sure what I expected from a book about a girl with wings, but it certainly wasn’t what I got. I’m not disappointed; I think there is something with magical realism that simply doesn’t click with me. I’m also not one for deep messages and hidden meanings behind everything in books. I am not going to pay attention to minute details just to figure out the ending (this is not a direct criticism of the book in question).

I think the thing that bothered me the most was how we didn’t meet the titular character until 100 pages into the book. I guess it was interesting to see two generations of background, but you would think the book would focus more on Ava Lavender herself. I didn’t really care for learning about her grandmother’s sister turning herself canary. It was strange details like that that forced me to have to read sentences 10 times. They are just brushed over as if it’s nothing.

Speaking of weird, it was a mix of too much weird with too little acknowledgement of how weird it really was. People spontaneously turning to blue ash; perfectly normal! Girls who don’t age; happens every day! It was so strange that a week later I still have no idea what happened at the end.

The book is set around the 1950s, but it felt a little too modern once Ava was born. Maybe the 1950s were really similar to now minus cell phones and laptops, but I’m not convinced.

On the plus side, this strange little book was incredibly well written with well-developed characters.  No characters were mentioned arbitrarily; everyone played a role in the story, no matter how small. It fit what I assume is the message, and the setting of a small town well.

Overall, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was well-written, but didn’t click with me, earning 3 out of 5 stars.

As a side note, thank you to everyone who help bring For the Lover of Books to just over 50 followers, it means the world to me.

A Thousand Nights Book Review

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Number of pages: 328

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

Rating (out of five stars): 3

Here is yet another book to add to the list of books that are perfect, that I just didn’t like. I always feel conflicted when rating these kinds of books. Do I go with five stars because everything in the story fits perfectly together and I don’t think I can find a single fault (especially not after finishing this book weeks ago), or should I rate it three stars based on my personal experience with it? Naturally, I’m going with my I-have-no-idea-what-to rate-this-so-this-doesn’t-necessarily-mean-I-liked-it rating of three stars.

Maybe what didn’t click was the fact that this book is supposed to have some deeper meaning/ hidden metaphor, and I’m just not that kind of reader. When reading The Great Gatsby for my English class last year, I had absolutely no idea that any of the supposed symbols (ex. the eyes on the billboard) had any significance/ deeper meaning. I simply thought the eyes on the billboard were just eyes on a billboard, not the eyes of God or whatever Spark notes says all those minute details supposedly mean. I didn’t get a deep, inspiring message from this book; all I got was a book I didn’t enjoy.

Like I said above, everything in this book fits the story perfectly. The slow pacing, the characters, and the writing all came together to create a legend-like tale that is a rare find in YA. Speaking of writing, I feel like E. K. Johnston is a very versatile writer. Granted, this is only the second book of hers that I have read, yet her writing style appears to change to fit the story, which I find really interesting (side note: I recommend you check out her other book Exit, Pursued by a Bear. It is one of the few contemporary books I have enjoyed). A Thousand Nights truly reads like a legend that has been passed down through the generations.

Also, do not compare this book to The Wrath and the Dawn, the other YA 1001 Nights retelling. They are nothing alike. In fact, I thought I would be comparing the two more, but I don’t think I did so more than once. A Thousand Nights reads more like a classic than a YA book.

Overall, A Thousand Nights was ambitious and well executed, but it just wasn’t for me. As a result, I give A Thousand Nights 3 stars out of 5.

Legacy of Kings Book Review

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Number of pages: 428

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

Rating (out of five stars): 3

I am fascinated by Ancient Greece. The minute I got home from the first day of learning about Ancient Greece in grade five, I started asking my family for books about it. The disappointing thing is that I haven’t found many YA books about it.

This year, I had been seeing Legacy of Kings everywhere, so I read the description, and I immediately put it down. Why should I care about this Alexander guy and a bunch of people in Macedonia and Persia? (I didn’t know much/ care about Alexander the Great at this point) Then came the end of the Ancient Greece unit in my Ancient Civilizations class, when we discussed Alexander the Great, and though I didn’t see Legacy of Kings until a month had passed, the next time I saw it I was infinitely more curious (the lesson here is to do research before dismissing a book entirely).

I didn’t hate Legacy of Kings, but I didn’t love it either. In fact, I was incredibly frustrated by it. There were so many “ugh” worthy moments. For example, two characters who barely knew each other, dreamed about each other multiple times, simultaneously producing every reader’s favorite thing, the love triangle (though the author tried to not make it as obvious as it was). The two characters dreaming about each other wasn’t even sweet and romantic. Instead, it was creepy, weird, and it made me want to throw up. Also, another character decided to walk 20 miles alone at night with a fair amount of gold. Seriously?

My main complaint is that this book is written as though it is a nonfiction book. The writing style doesn’t really suit a work of fiction and the story is written like an emotionless statement of facts. Too be fair, this book is probably incredibly historically accurate, and it probably took a fair amount of research to write, but the way it was written bothered me for the entire book.

The story is intriguing, though I wouldn’t call it compelling. Still, I see potential for excellent future books in the series.

Overall, Legacy of Kings shows potential, but it’s not quite there yet, earning it 3 stars out of 5.