The Mask Falling

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon is the fourth book in The Bone Season series.

Paige and Warden are on the run from Scion London and the Rephaim. Seeking shelter in Paris, Paige agrees to work for an underground organization, working as a spy to bring down Scion. But she did not escape London unscathed and the road to being healed will take all her mental and physical strength.

With Warden, Arcturus, at her side, Paige must heal her body and soul, traverse the catacombs of Paris and risk herself again and again for revolution. But how often can one face death and come out alive… and whole?

Man, I really do love these books, but Samantha Shannon, you are killing me! There is just sooo much time in between each book in the series. Book three came out in 2017. And although, I remember most things, I am sure I am missing those little intricacies that would make the story even better. NOW, don’t get me wrong, I know why these books are taking so long. Just looking at all the research and language injected into this book, I am sure Shannon spends a ton of time on each one. But that still doesn’t make it any easier to be left hanging so very badly for so very long. Sigh.

I sort of loved that this book revolved around Paige and Warden. Their relationship has be up and down and it is great to see them working side-by-side again. I also really like the Parisian underworld. The tunnels, the masks and the new characters all really contribute to the story. But man, that twist. I thought I saw what was coming and it turned out to be very different than what I thought.

I’m in for the long haul with this series but let’s hope this next one is out in under four years!

This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Exiles

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline is a historical fiction novel that follows the life of three women in the nineteenth century.

Evangeline, is a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London. When she is seduced by her employers son and then accused of theft and attempted murder, she is fired and sent to Newgate Prison. After discovering she is with child and months of cramped quarters and fetid conditions, she is sentenced to transportation to the continent of Australia for 14 years.

During the journey, Evangeline befriends a young girl named, Hazel, who has a way with herbs and folk medicine. The two strike an unlikely friendship and face trying circumstance while on board the Medea.

Meanwhile, on Van Diemen’s Land, the colonists look down upon the Aboriginal people as savages. When the orphan daughter of one tribes chief, Mathinna, is taken by one of the colonists to be “re-educated,” she is both distraught and fascinated.

As these three tales intertwine, the story of Australia’s colonization is revealed in a new and interesting light.

I swear, about a third of the way through this book I decided which narrators chapters I liked best and literally in the next chapter she dies. Sigh. There were parts of this novel I really liked. Evangeline and Hazel’s paths taken to being thrown on the transportation ship and their subsequent bond. I like Evangeline’s naivety and quick adaptation to the life thrust upon her. I even liked Olive’s brusque but ultimately loyal manner.

Mathinna’s chapters, on the other hand, started out strong and then felt like they were overshadowed by the rest. When she does eventually make an appearance after a while, I’d almost forgotten where we’d left off. And the conclusion of her story, felt a little bit of a throw away, at the least unresolved.

I do feel like I may be short changing this one a little bit. I did learn a lot and it was fascinating to read about the process of transportation and how Van Diemen’s Land eventually becomes a land of “reformed” “criminals.”

This is a book my personal book club picked, so I will be interested to get their take on it. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Dark Archive

The Dark Archive by Genevieve Cogman is the 7th book in The Invisible Library series.

Irene is back and in more trouble than ever. After several assassination attempts threaten, not only her life, but her position within the Library, she is determined to find the source of these attempts.

Meanwhile, Irene’s new Fae assistant is proving to be more difficult than she anticipated. When yet another assassination attempt threatens, Irene is forced into bringing her assistant directly into the fray.

In order to stop these attempts, Irene, Val and Kai must search for the truth and uncover the real threat waiting in the shadows. But when an old foe returns from the dead, will our band of protagonists overcome the shock or will they buckle in the face of a seemingly unbeatable force?

The Invisible Library is just a fun series. Each book could passably stand on its own, but it is even better when read in sequential order, following our protagonists through each adventure. Even though each book is its own mystery/run in for Irene, Kai and Val, you can see that there are pieces coming together for a eventual end game. When that end game is coming, who knows but I am enjoying the ride.

I have to say, I have been waiting for “the bomb to drop” and we finally get it in this book. Religious followers of the series, know what I am talking about. I can’t wait to see how Irene reacts to this in future books, especially in light of the epilogue.

I also enjoyed the additional of Irene’s Fae assistant. It seems apropos for Irene to have a rebellious teenage as an assistant, and a Fae one at that. I was not as big of a fan of Kai’s brother and hope he isn’t going to be a big regular to the series.

The only thing that could have made this one better is more Library time. We didn’t get much of the Library and I missed Irene’s interactions with her peers and supervisors.

This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

When You Trap A Tiger

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller is a juvenile fiction book and just so happens to be the 2021 Newberry Winner.

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, she begins seeing a magical talking tiger. This tiger has starred in many of her halmoni’s Korean folktales, but why is the tiger here and why can only Lily see it?

Unravelling her families history, Lily learns that long ago her Halmoni stole something from the tiger and now she wants it back. If Lily will return what was stolen and listen to three “bad” stories, the Tiger will help “heal her Halmoni.”

But stories are tricky and Tiger’s are even trickier. With the help of her sister and new friend, Ricky, Lily will learn to step forward, be brave and most importantly accept her truth and face the tiger.

When You Trap a Tiger won the 2021 Newberry Award and I can see why. It is a powerful read about accepting ones culture, ones family and oneself. It is about finding your voice and telling your own story. And it is about watching a loved one fall ill, die and dealing with the emotional fallout.

Whether you’re Korean or not, whether you’re a kid or not, whether you have experienced the pain of losing someone or not… this book is for everyone. There is something for everyone to relate to. That being said, I loved the blending of story and reality that Keller is able to inject into the book. And it is worth reading the note at the end to see just how Keller went about writing and researching these stories.

There were a few too many tiger references for me but other than that it was a really good read. It’s a Newberry, it was powerful and it was a solid read, so I gotta give it five stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Ninth House

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in what I believe is going to be a young adult duology.

Galaxy “Alex” Stern, is not your usual Yale student. She is covered in tattoos, has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, is poor and just generally from the “wrong” side of town. After a horrific incident lands her in the hospital, she is offered a second chance, to attend Yale with a full ride scholarship. What’s the catch?

For the duration of her time at Yale, Alex must work with “golden boy,” Darlington, to monitor the activities of Yale’s secret societies. But these societies lean toward the occult and Alex’s history with “grays” is both a blessing and a curse.

When one of these societies steps out of line, will Alex have what it takes to keep everything under control while maintaining control over herself?

This is actually the second time I’ve started this book. The first time, I couldn’t get into it. It was just too slow to start. But this time, I enjoyed it. I think a lot of this is due to the audio book, I’m not quite sure the paperback would have captured me quite as much.

This book is dark and kind of gritty. Honestly, I don’t know how many times a character can believably get her ass kicked and still prevail, no matter how many magical interventions there are. A lot of shady things happen in this book and a lot of shady things are brushed under the rug. That’s one thing Alex has going for her, she big on not letting people get away with things.

That being said, I really wanted to like Alex as a character. I like I good rough edged, tough, female character but there’s something about her that just gets on my nerves. And there is absolutely no way her roommates or fellow Yale students would believe half of the lies she says.

I did thoroughly enjoy the twists at the end and only saw one of them coming.

Overall, this one gets 3.5 stars from me–the audio might even bump it up to 4.

That’s all for now!

-M-