Waiting on Wednesday #19

Welcome back to Waiting on Wednesday – a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Here is my most anticipated release for the week:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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Description (from Goodreads):

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Release Date: June 20, 2017

Why I’m Waiting: oh, this sounds like a lot of fun! Road trip hijinks, best friends who fall in love and all the other things that happen along the way. Bring it on!

What about you, book lovers – what new release are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Waiting on Wednesday #18

Welcome back to Waiting on Wednesday – a weekly meme hosted on Breaking the Spine. This week, I’m anticipating the release of:

Internet Famous by Danika Stone

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Description (from Goodreads):

High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her commitments.

Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included.

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Why I’m Waiting: I thoroughly enjoyed Danika Stone’s last foray into the world of fandom with last year’s All the Feels so when I heard she was coming out with a new book, it had to go on the list. Hopefully this one is as good as All the Feels.

What do you think, book lovers – what are you looking forward to reading this week?

Upcoming Releases: May 2017

May is shaping up to be a very busy month for new book releases! What are you looking forward to? Leave me a comment and we can chat! Here’s what’s on my radar for May:

May 2:

Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh

Noteworthy – Riley Redgate

Textrovert – Lindsey Summers

Seeking Mansfield – Kate Watson

May 4:

The Seafarer’s Kiss – Julia Ember

May 9:

It’s Not Like It’s A Secret – Misa Sugiura

May 16:

The Best Kind of Magic – Crystal Cestari

May 30:

Romancing the Throne – Nadine Jolie Courtney

Dark Breaks the Dawn – Sara B. Larson

One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

Eliza and her Monsters – Francesca Zappia

 

Comics roundup: Moon Girl and Papergirls

Paper Girls, Vol. 1 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF

I’ve been having some mixed results with the last few comic books I’ve picked up. Paper Girls is one of those raved-about very popular comics that everyone seems to love while I hadn’t heard much about Moon Girl before I picked it up at the library. But as fate would have it, I ended up enjoying Lunella Lafayette’s adventures very much. Paper Girls on the other hand I did not connect with on the same level. Sometimes that’s just the way it happens. Even though it’s got a lot of qualities I like (awesome female friendships! Time travel! Conspiracy stuff!) I just wasn’t into it. I feel like I’m missing something because I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

But Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur was absolutely delightful. Lunella is a child genius with the inhuman gene, fighting against the inevitable: at some point, her inhuman powers are going to be activated and she’ll turn into something else. But Lunella is determined to forge her own path in the world – and her trusty dinosaur buddy comes along for the ride!

I’m always on the lookout for more comics to read, but I think I’m going to focus on actual books for a while until something really spectacular comes along.

Over to you, my fellow booklovers: have you read either of these comics? What did you think?

Waiting on Wednesday #17

Welcome back to another edition of Waiting on Wednesday! WoW is a weekly meme that started with Breaking the Spine. Here’s what I’m waiting on this week:

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

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Description (from Goodreads):

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Testing trilogy comes a sweeping new fantasy series, perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sarah J. Maas.

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Why I’m Waiting: I’m such a sucker for rivals struggling over the throne and this one should be especially exciting since the rivals are brother and sister. This promises lots of secrets and betrayal and courtly intrigue – sign me up!

Back to you, book lovers: what book are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Review: The End of Oz

The End of Oz (Dorothy Must Die, #4)

Synopsis (from Goodreads): In this high-octane fourth book in the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to save Kansas and make Oz a free land once more.

At the end of Yellow Brick War, Amy had finally defeated Dorothy. Just when she and the rest of the surviving members of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, they realized they’ve been betrayed—by one of their own. And Dorothy might not have been so easily defeated after all.

In the fourth installment of the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, the magical Road of Yellow Brick has come to the rescue, and whisked Amy away—but to where? Does the Road itself know where she needs to go to find the help that she needs?

Welcome to the other side of the rainbow. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magic shoes won’t be able to save you.

 

I’ve had an up and down relationship with the Dorothy Must Die series, but I’m pleased to say that I have mostly positive thoughts about the final installment.

Here’s the thing you should know about me: I judge all Oz retellings against the Wicked musical (just like how I judge all dystopias against The Handmaid’s Tale) and… let’s just say, Wicked is a hard act to follow. The movie Oz the Great and Powerful? Um… the visuals were nice, I guess. The wicked witch character on Once Upon a Time? Literally the worst. NBC’s Emerald City? Well, I was kinda sorta liking it until they killed off the one character I liked. I enjoyed the Tin Man miniseries for its campiness, but the dialogue was a little clunky. Oz retellings and I just don’t seem to get along unless it’s Wicked and you’ve got Elphaba singing about defying gravity.

But what’s admirable about Dorothy Must Die is that it not only turns the traditional wicked witch versus goody two-shoes Dorothy plot on its head, it also dives headfirst into a lot of the lesser known Oz mythology (this is something that Emerald City, for all its faults, also got right.) I have to give Danielle Paige credit for doing her research into the other books about Oz and pulling some lesser known characters into the mix.

When I finished Yellow Brick War, the third book in the series, I was a bit annoyed. I thought DMD was going to be a trilogy and to found out that there was suddenly this magical fourth book… when you were expecting things to be over and got another cliff-hanger instead, you might not go into the final installment with the best thoughts. But I don’t like leaving things unfinished unless I’m really mad (maybe at some point I’ll write a discussion post on DNFing because I have many thoughts) so when The End of Oz came out, I picked it up.

The usual fast-paced storytelling is still present in this final volume, I’m happy to report. There’s no time wasted on reflection. I thought it was an interesting choice at this point in the story to introduce dual narration. I wonder if things would have felt different if we’d had more of Dorothy’s POV all the way through? It did make for a bit of a jarring reading experience: Dorothy’s voice is definitely an acquired taste. So I’ll be honest: I wasn’t as invested going into this final book as I wanted to be. But I was won over in the end because I honestly didn’t see it coming. (I don’t want to spoil it here, but if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean.) It was a bold narrative choice and while it might not be popular with some readers, I have to give Danielle Paige credit for going there. If I had to rank all the books in this series, it would look something like this:

  1. The Wicked Will Rise (book 2)
  2. a tie between The End of Oz (book 4) and Dorothy Must Die (book 1)
  3. Yellow Brick War (book 3)

Report Card:

  1. Coverart/Book design: 8.5/10 A-
  2. Plot/Concept: 9/10 A
  3. Main character: 7.5/10 B. I like Amy but as I said… Dorothy is an acquired taste
  4. Secondary characters: 8/10 B+
  5. Setting/Worldbuilding: 9.5/10 A+. Major credit where credit is due for the research.
  6. Writing: 7.5/10 B
  7. Pacing: 7.5/10 B
  8. Romance: 8/10 B+
  9. Ending: 9/10 A.
  10. Overall: 74/90. 3.5 stars for a B+ rating overall and a satisfactory ending to the series.

 

Review: Heartstone

HeartstoneSynopsis (from Goodreads): They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

As someone who loves all things Austen, when Elle Katharine White’s Heartstone crossed my path I knew I had to get my hands on it. It combines two of my favourite things: Pride and Prejudice… and dragons! And it does it rather well.

I appreciated that Heartstone managed to incorporate the riders, dragons and other creatures within the world of Pride and Prejudice without deviating too much from the structure of the original novel, even if it did make for some uneven pacing. The story spans many months and the major points of action are spread apart. While the novel doesn’t dwell on the time between, it does have to do some side-stepping in order to get to the interesting parts. But even with the small lulls in action, I found it to be a quick read.

What I find most interesting about retellings is how the original characters get recast and how their relationships unfold. We all know the epic Lizzie/Darcy relationship from the original P&P, so seeing it played out by Aliza and Daired feels like watching favourite OTP fall in love again (unless you haven’t read or watched Pride and Prejudice, in which case, what have you been doing with your life?) Aliza’s relationship with her sister Anjey (Jane in the original) is also one of the highlights.

But I was most interested in how some of the villainous characters from the original novel were recast here. While the Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins characters come off better here, Heartstone really doubles down on Wickham as a villain, which I think was a sound narrative choice. There were also some new characters introduced: the dragons! I love these talking dragons, you guys. And I love this book. It’s a lot of fun and it doesn’t take itself as seriously as some Austen retellings. It’s respectful of the original text as well, which is very important.

Report Card:

  1. Coverart/Book design: 9/10 A. It’s got a dragon on the cover!
  2. Plot/Concept: 9.5/10 A+. Pride and Prejudice with dragons, you guys.
  3. Main character: 9/10 A. I loved Aliza!
  4. Secondary characters: 8.5/10 A-. A well-rounded cast, but a few could have used more development.
  5. Setting/Worldbuilding: 9/10 A. This was where the book really shone. It feels like England by another name but it also feels very original.
  6. Writing: 8.5/10 A-
  7. Pacing: 8.5/10 A-
  8. Romance: 9/10 A
  9. Ending: 9/10 A
  10. Overall: 80/90. A solid A rating and 4 stars from me! Everything is better with dragons.