Glass Sword (Victoria Aveyard, 2016)

glass sword

Why did you choose this book?

Because the rest of the series has been amazing!!!!

What’s it about?

Please see my previous post to learn about the amazing magic system in this book.  In short, Silvers (the ruling class) have magical powers.  Reds do not.  Until Mare Barrow appears, no Red had ever been known to have powers.  At the end of Red Queen (SPOILER ALERT), the kingdom has fallen into the hands of the evil second son, Maven Calore.  His older brother, Cal, and Mare are on the run.  They have joined forces with the Scarlet Guard and are on a mission to find other Reds like Mare with never-before-seen abilities, and to create an army to take down Maven and his evil mother, Elara.

Categories

Teen, fantasy

Other recommended reads?

The new series by Sabaa Tahir is another fantasic teen fantasy read.

Review

Oh my goodness so good!  That’s not to say that the book was perfect.  I think I should have reread Red Queen first.  But you find yourself rooting for Mare and Cal throughout the book, as well as constantly curious to find out about the new abilities popping up throughout the kingdom.  There were a couple of betrayals that shocked me, and it ended on a cliffhanger that left me uber frustrated and flipping pages to be sure there wasn’t more on the endpapers.  So good!

Up next?

This is a two-part answer.  If I decide to finish it, Ronald Feinman’s Assassinations, Threats and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama.  If I don’t, Court of Fives by Kate Elliott.

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Cruel Crown (Victoria Aveyard, 2016)

cruel crown

I’m officially terming this my official week of awesome cover art!  Seriously!

Why did you choose this book?

I read the first in the series, Red Queen, last year and absolutely loved it.  In preparation for the release of the second book in the series, I thought it was time to read the prequel novellas, especially since they were released in print and in a combined volume in January.

What’s it about? 

Note on world-building: in this world there are two blood types: red and silver.  Reds are just like you and I, but silvers have magical powers.  There are, for example, silks (superspeed), whispers (mind control), magnetrons (control of metal), etc.  The silvers are the ruling class, while the reds have been the peasantry.  But the protagonist of the main series, Mare Barrow, is a red with a new power: she can control lightning and electricity.

The first novella focuses on Queen Coriane, the mother of the heir to the kingdom, Cal.  Coriane was a singer, meaning she could use her voice to control others (though unlike a whisper, she needed eye contact to do so).  This novella describes her life up to her premature death.

The second novella focuses on Captain Farley, one of the leaders of the Scarlet Guard.  The Scarlet Guard is composed primarily of reds, and aims to overthrow the silver ruling class.  The novella describes Farley’s missions prior to meeting Mare.

Categories

Teen, fantasy

Other recommended reads?

This series was one of my favorites last year.  Another amazing fantasy series for teens?  An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. The second novel in that series will come out this summer.

Review

I probably should have reread Red Queen before diving into this volume (I couldn’t remember who Capt. Farley was), but it was still good.  Not as good as the main books in the series, but good.

Up next?

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Salt to the Sea (Ruta Sepetys, 2016)

salt to the sea

Why did you choose this book?

It was on my TBR list to begin with, but my officemate read it and RAVED about it.  He said he couldn’t put it down, he cried five times, and it was amazing in so many ways.  With a recommendation like that, and an ARC in my hand, how could I not read it?

What’s it about?

This story is told in 4 points of view.  Joana is a nurse fleeing Germany, Florian is on the run from Nazi officials, Emilia is a young pregnant Pole, and Alfred is a Nazi sailor.  All four end up evacuating Germany on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a cruise ship loaded with 10,000 refugees and soldiers.  The ship was torpedoed and sunk, with around 9,400 passengers perishing.  It remains the largest maritime loss of life in history.

Categories

Teen, disaster reads, mulitple POVs

Other recommended reads?

It depends why you’re reading this book.  If you like World War II fiction, try Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.  If you like reading about maritime disasters like Titanic, try Erik Larson’s Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.  Both were among the best books I read last year, with Dead Wake being the absolute best nonfiction I picked up.

Review

I wanted to love everything about this book like my officemate did.  I thought Joana and Florian were too perfectly heroic and Emilia and Alfred were too flawed and annoying.  I loved learning more about the disaster but I wanted more information.  My coworkers bemoaned the loss of a good premise on a teen book.  I don’t agree with that – I think teen books can be just as amazing as their adult counterparts, but I do wish the author had treated it with more detail, respect, and research.  It is a great premise that just needed a bit more oomph, for lack of a better word.  I wanted to cry but couldn’t summon a single tear.  It fits into the category of good reads, but not great.  But can we talk about that cover art???? Gorgeous!

Up next?

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

The Secret History (Donna Tartt, 1992)

secret history

Why did you choose this book?

This is the pick for our next library book discussion.  It’s been on my reading list for years, yet never seemed to float to the top.

What’s it about?

Don’t trust any synopsis you read.  I haven’t found one yet that accurately captures this book.  On the first page we find out that the narrator (Richard) and his group of friends murdered one of their number (Bunny).  The novel traces how Richard became involved with that group, what led them to kill Bunny, and what impact the murder had on their lives afterward.

Categories

Literary fiction

Other recommendations?

The themes from this book tickle some memory, but I can’t place it.  The prose is unique to my experience.  I can’t think of anything else I’ve read that compares to it.

Review

I began this novel thinking I wasn’t going to like it, since literary fiction isn’t really my jam.  Tartt’s prose is beautiful, though at times she waxes a bit too heavily into ancient Greek, losing the average reader in a tide of too-much-information.  I found it hard to care about any of the characters, even the narrator, which is saying something, given that it’s told in first person.  I wasn’t bored by it, and didn’t find myself needing to take frequent breaks like I thought I would, but at the same time, I had a distinctly unpleasant feeling when I finished it.  I think it has to do with the Dead Poets Society vibe I picked up.  A group of students coalescing around an instructor, lots of scenes in darkness and with obscure symbolism, death and dying.

The director of our library said this was one of the first novels to incorporate a homosexual character not as a trope but just as another character.  I can appreciate that.  And, actually, he was one of the few I liked.

Up next?

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys