King of Scars

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in a Grisha-verse duology.

Nikolai Lantsov survived the civil war, though not unscathed, and has been working endlessly to bring Ravka back from the brink of destruction. But Ravka is weak, it’s boarders need shoring up and financially, it is in trouble.

As Nikolai and his allies work to strengthen Ravka and it’s decimated Grisha army, a darkness within begins to take hold, neighboring countries spout niceties while planning invasion, and legend threatens to become reality.

Can Nikolai continue to rule if the darkness takes over? Will there even be a Ravka left when all is said and done?

I kept meaning to pick this one up but kept putting it aside. I actually read Six of Crows before reading any of Bardugo’s other books and still nothing can compare. That being said, it was nice to see some familiar faces in this book and to get more of Nikolai’s and the others stories.

Did anyone else notice just how often Nina brings up her former band of misfits from Six of Crows? The whole time I was listening to the audio book, I just kept wanting them to show up. Sigh.

Ultimately, there wasn’t anything really negative to say about the book. Nikolai and Zoya are both lovingly snarky and the banter was spot on. And the Grisha’s and Ravka were the same as always. I guess the issue I have is that the book was a little slow for me. Not a lot happens until the last 100+ pages. And what does happen in the first half of the book, feels too familiar for me–sort of like we’ve been there before in the other Grisha books.

I do expect a lot more action and going-ons in the second book. This one gets a solid 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

American Dirt

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings is an adult fiction novel about a Mexican mother and son forced to flee to American.

Lydia Pérez lives a quiet life in the Mexican city of Acapulco with her husband and eight-year-old son Luca. And while the cartels are always a problem, Lydia and her family have never felt outright threatened.

When Lydia forges a friendship with the overdressed and suave Javier, she had no idea she was talking poetry with the head of Acapulco’s newest cartel. What’s worse, her journalist husband is publishing a “tell-all” profile about the man and the repercussions will change Lydia and Luca’s lives forever.

Transformed into migrants overnight, will Lydia and Luca make it to America with their souls intact?

My book club picked this one as our next read. It is not one I would normally pick up on my own, so for that I am grateful to read outside the box. But, and I may be the majority here, I did not overly enjoy the book. I felt like the author walked the middle of the road instead of pushing the boundaries one way or the other. Either go too cautious or too graphic; for a title like this, about this topic, trying to play both sides, just doesn’t work.

But the real thing that bugged me about this book, was that the final confrontation between Lydia and Javier was both unbelievable and lacking. The entire book was about Lydia’s relationship with Javier and escaping his wraith. The reader waits the whole book for a final confrontation and what we get… well it didn’t do anything for me.

I also needed a more satisfying ending. Again, it felt lukewarm–probably due to the missing confrontation I just mentioned. But seriously, they are on this whole journey and it just never felt like it ended. The ending didn’t feel like an ending but more of a place to stop.

This wasn’t a bad book and it was neat to read a book I’ve seen getting tossed back and forth in the news, but it was only OK in my opinion.

This one gets 2.5-3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix is a standalone adult fiction book.

Patricia Campbell gave up being a nurse to become a homemaker and mother in a respectable community–white picket fences and all. She cooks, cleans and looks after the children. The only thing she really has to look forward to is her monthly book club, a group of southern mothers like herself, who share a mutual interest in true-crime and mystery novels.

When a single bachelor, with some strange habits, moves into the neighborhood, Patricia ropes her book club into a different sort of mystery. And when children in the poorer neighborhoods begin to go missing, Patricia begins her own investigation. But what she uncovers is even more horrible than she could ever have imagined. Will Patricia and the girls be able to fight this monster and still get dinner on the table by five?

Sorry, I had to add that last line. God this was weird. I went through several different emotions while reading this one. First, I was stoked because I didn’t actually read the blurb about the book and was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was actually going to be a vampire that the girls had to fight. Then, I got a little bored. Finally, things got waaaay too graphic and I was pretty much grossed out and happy to get it all over with.

There’s some real twisted moments in this book and the way they are described is just… icky. I normally don’t have a problem with dark books, even those that deal with some pretty horrendous stuff. But I sort of felt like I was being fooled a little bit here. The author goes to so much trouble to make the reader feel like the book is going to be a peachy, easy going book with a vampire or two thrown in. And then BAM out of know where, it gets dark, gritty and graphic.

Some people are going to love this book but it was not for me. I’m not even sure why I am giving it three stars, I disliked it so much, but I am.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Poisoned

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly is a fairy-tale re-imagining of Snow White for a Young Adult audience.

To rule, once must be strong and powerful; there is no place for kindness and the gentle hearted. Or at least, this is what Sophie has been told her entire life. According to her step mother, Queen Regent, and the rest of the court, weak, foolish, silly Sophie doesn’t have what it takes to be the ruler her country needs. So when the huntsman pulls out his knife and plunges it into her heart, Sophie shouldn’t have been surprised.

And even though Sophie believed everything they said about her, it was still a surprise. But, what was more surprising, was waking up.

Given a second chance at life, will Sophie muster the bravery to fight for her kingdom and the will to rule it as she seems fit?

I really enjoyed Donnelly’s Stepsister, so I was excited to pick this one up. And, although it was an entertaining read, I wasn’t wowed by it. I enjoyed it but I could have used a little bit more toward the end. Like Stepsister, the villains, weren’t ordinary villains–they were abstract entities personified. <<And that’s about as much as I can say without giving anything away. And this was interesting, a little preachy at times but it’s meant to be written as a “lesson.”

Now that I think about it, what I liked best about the book, were the side characters. I just loved the hound master’s son, the dwarfs, Will and Arlo, even our villains. But Sophie, fell a little flat for me. We see her journey throughout, both physical and emotional, but she still felt a little two dimensional to me.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me. I’ll be interested to see which fairy-tale Donnelly picks up next.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Sky Beyond the Storm

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir is the fourth and final book in the An Ember in the Ashes series.

Picking up not long after A Reaper at the Gates, war has come and no one will be spared. The Jinn, lead by the vengeful Nightbringer, are on the attack and their battles are bloody and devastating. At the Nightbringer’s side is the self declared Empress, Commandant Keris Veturia, who is determined to strike down anyone in her way.

Laia of Serra and the Blood Shrike ally together to battle the darkness. Laia is determined to bring down the Nightbringer and the Blood Shrike is equally set on killing Keris.

And alone with the ghosts, amidst the Waiting Place, is the Soul Catcher who wants only to pass the spirits on without the memories of his past weighing him down. But ignoring the world, the love, he left behind could very well lead to the destruction of all.

All in all, I really enjoyed this series and I thought that this was a fitting end to the series. This last book really felt like the culmination of what came before. All of the characters, the story-lines, they merge in this final installment and there is one last, epic battle to win or lose it all. It was nice to feel like everything was coming to an end and satisfyingly so.

The relationships built in this book have also evolved through the series, in both good and bad ways. Elias’ struggles to turn off and on his emotions could maybe have been done a little differently. I felt more like he was trying to turn it off, rather than Maud(sp?) pulling him away.

Not giving anything away, but I really felt for one of the characters, who always seemed to get the short end of the stick. His/Her revelation at the end is nice but man Tahir, couldn’t you give him/her a little something more at the end.

Overall, this was a neat world to be sucked into for four books. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-