Review: ‘Ramona Blue’

Hello – It’s super hot here in CT and it was refreshing to stay inside today and read this awesome book! I had seen it floating around on Twitter and I have been actively searching for more LGBT-centric books to read in honor of June being Pride month, so I picked up this one (as well as Not Like It’s a Secret — review for that is up on Wednesday!).

 

Title: Ramona Blue

Author: Julie Murphy

Series: Standalone

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Summary

I didn’t really know what to expect from this book. I hadn’t heard what it was about online, other than the fact that it contained LGBT themes. After reading the blurb inside the cover, I figured I would still read it to see how I could compare it to other books I have read focusing on the LGBT community. I have to say that this was a very heartwarming read. I felt a connection to both Ramona, and her sister, and their relationship throughout the book.  It made me want to be there with the two of them and I felt like I was soaking up their love through the pages. The setup of the book also goes by each month in Ramona’s life, so I liked that timeline setup for this particular novel.

Likes

I truly loved Ramona as a character. I thought she was written in a way that was very relatable and I felt like I knew her. She was genuine and the struggle she encounters in the book is something I have heard from many people who are in the Community. She struggles with her sexuality–whether she is gay, straight, bisexual, or many other labels–but this shows what it is actually like for the person going through it. I’ve seen reviews saying that the author made it seem like her connection with Freddie ‘turned her straight’, but I didn’t get that vibe. I got the vibe of a teenager questioning their sexuality and how they fit in to a specific label. The book also touches on a race issue and how that plays into culture in the South, so I immediately picked up on that, where I think it is important to mention today in our current political climate.

(Dis)likes

One thing I didn’t like was Grace. I’m not saying that she wasn’t written in a way that wasn’t believable–she was!–I just didn’t like the character herself. Once you read the book, it will be obvious as to why, but I felt like this happens more often than not when someone is questioning their identity. I think she sort of redeemed herself at the end of the book which I was thankful for, but how she acted in the beginning towards Ramona bothered me: for good reason. Though, Grace’s own struggles happen in reality as well, so it was good to have that represented too.

Recommendation

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to fans of YA novels such as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I thought it represented the struggle of a teen discovering their identity well and made me empathize with the characters.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

 

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Review: ‘Days of Blood and Starlight’

Hi! So I decided to return to this series after reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone (DOSAB) back in 2013. I was surprised that it had been four years ago, but thanks Goodreads, for having my back on that 😉

WARNING: There are spoilers if you haven’t read the first book in this series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

 
Title: Days of Blood and Starlight

Author: Laini Taylor

Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary

I picked this book up on a whim because I read Strange the Dreamer earlier this year (highly recommend!) and I wondered why I hadn’t finished this series. I was quickly reminded as I read, but let me get to the positives first. I like the setting and premise of this story. It actually made me want to visit Prague (where I still haven’t gotten–but will on my next trip to Europe!) and Karou’s life is such a mystery and a mystical one at that. This book picks up after Karou leaves Akiva and begins a life on her own, basically on the run. This is all after she has found out she was a chimeara, who had a life before which she didn’t remember, where she was executed. Hey, it’s a lot for a girl to deal with, so who can blame her for wanting to get away?

Likes

Anyway, I found the story to be very enchanting and it was just as enchanting in the sequel. Karou’s newfound power has her recruited by Thiago and throughout the book, there is a war between angels and the chimeara that is brewing. I love Karou’s relationship with her friends, Zuz and Mik, and how much she cares about them is truly felt through the pages.

Dislikes

What I was reminded that I didn’t like in this book were that there are a lot of characters to remember and constantly switching storylines. I don’t mind alternate point of views, but this was switching between Karou, Akiva, Zuz and Mik, and other POVs. I felt that it was a lot of jumping around and it confused me a bit. The storylines were obviously all connected but I felt that having two main storylines would’ve been easier to follow than 3+. I also found the book to have a lot of ‘filler’ in it and it didn’t progress that much over the course of 500+ pages. Yes, there were plot points revealed that made a difference and will make a difference for the final in the trilogy, but it was slow at times, at least in my opinion! I would also note that I enjoyed DOSAB more than this sequel (that had 4.5 stars for me).

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to those who are fans of a series like Penryn and the End of Days. This really gave me that vibe because of the brewing war, but I liked that series a lot so I didn’t mind it. I would also like to warn that readers should be advised that there is an attempted sexual assault a little more than halfway through the book, but I won’t say between who to avoid spoilers.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘The Crown’s Fate’

Phew! This is my second review I am writing today to get ahead of my busy week. This read was so ~easy~ and I loved the first book in this series. I randomly picked it up at the library one day while perusing through shelves and I am so happy I did!

WARNING: There are spoilers if you haven’t read the first book in this series, The Crown’s Game.

 

 

Title: The Crown’s Fate

Author: Evelyn Skye

Series: The Crown’s Game

Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary

This book is part of a duology that focuses on an alternate Imperial Russian empire, where the tsar has an Imperial Enchanter that is bound to serving them in any way that protects the empire. It picks up after the Crown’s Game is finished, where Vika has become Imperial Enchantress and Pasha has become the tsar. Both are struggling with the loss of Nikolai and Vika has been trying ever since the end of the game to try and find out where his soul actually is.

Likes

I have a soft spot for historical fiction and this book (and series) really captures that essence of history that is weaved with the story. It made me more interested in the actual history of Imperial Russia and the Author’s Note at the end helped identify how she altered it to fit her story. There is also a little bit of French in this book and anyone who knows me knows that I also have a soft spot for France, so the short phrases used made me squeal! I felt that the entire premise of the book is generally very interesting and I enjoy any sort of magic weaved into an otherwise typical story.

(Dis)likes

One thing I didn’t like was that I did not feel a connection to the characters. I found it hard to route for either Nikolai or Pasha in the battle for the throne and I didn’t care who would prevail in the end. I also found the love story between Nikolai and Vika to be a sort of side plot — which isn’t always a bad thing — but it just didn’t fit with the rest of the story. It wasn’t something on the level of a classic romance that I would expect to see in a YA book, considering a majority of them have a love story as a main focus. I felt more connected to Katniss and Peeta’s ‘love story’ than I did Nikolai and Vika’s. The book could have done without it, in my opinion.

Since this is a duology, I thought it was ended well. There weren’t any huge cliffhangers that left me wanting answers and I was happy with the ending. It seemed to all fit together but I would definitely like to see what happens after the end, such as how Pasha’s official reign endures the tests he combated throughout the two books. I think the ending shows a sort of unified front which I felt closed the story well.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book/series to anyone who is a fan of historical fiction. That was the most compelling part of this series for me and why I would pick up more books like it. Fans of books that center around magic, to the likes of Harry Potter, might also enjoy this book.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

 

 

 

Review: ‘A Court of Wings and Ruin’

Hey everyone! I just finished A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas and let me tell you… I really loved it. I read the first book in the series about a year ago (I know… but I got distracted by other books!) and decided to come back to this series after her appearance at Bookcon. Without further ado… let’s go to the review!

WARNING: There are spoilers if you haven’t read the first two books in this series: A Court of Thorns and Roses & A Court of Mist and Fury.

 

 

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary

This book is the third in the ACOTAR series and picks up right where A Court of Mist and Fury left off. I found that the seamless transition was appealing and I am really glad that I was able to get this book at the library right after I finished the second book. During the course of this book, Feyre, Rhysand and the rest of the Faerie courts engage in a war with    the king of Hybern.

Likes

I have to admit that I am not normally a fan of faeries. I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t my favorite subject matter. I love high fantasy, though, and I think this book captured a lot of those elements. My favorite character has to be Feyre: I know it is cheesy saying that the main female character is my favorite, but she is just so badass and she stands up for herself, which is hard in a court of faeries where females are supposed to be seen but not heard. I think Rhysand is the perfect mate for her and matches her fiery personality in all the right ways. Which brings me to my favorite male character: Rhysand! I am low key in love with him. He is so sexy and brave and funny all at the same time. He supports Feyre in everything that she does, and has even made her High Lady, much to the surprise of other High Lords.

Finally, I have to mention this: WE HAVE LGBT representation! Mor reveals to Feyre towards the end of the book that she is attracted to both females and males, but prefers females. Some plot lines in this book are explained in regards to that confession, but I really like that Ms. Maas included this ever-so-important representation in her book.

(Dis)likes

One thing that I didn’t like was the competition between Tamlin and Rhysand. I get that it is a major plot point but I had enough of it during ACOMAF. I typically hate ‘love triangles’ and this was no exception. At the end of ACOMAF, Feyre willingly goes back to the Spring Court, but her miserable life there is shown clearly in this book. I just couldn’t stand the fact that Tamlin wouldn’t let go of her, especially when it is so clear that she is in love with Rhysand, and is mated with Rhysand. I found his behavior to be particularly questionable throughout the entire book but I have to say that his character kept me on my toes and guessing about what side he was really on. I won’t spoil the moment that redeems Tamlin for me but let’s just say he isn’t all bad.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book/series to anyone who is a fan of Ms. Maas’ other novels but also those who enjoy fantasy and made-up worlds. This book kept me engaged the entire time, which is surprising because it is 699 pages. There weren’t a lot of unnecessary “fillers” like in other lengthier books I have read. Even though I don’t particularly enjoy books that have wars in them–I find fighting, etc. kind of boring–I enjoyed this wholly. There are more plot points than just the war but I thought the war scenes were written very well which surprised me. There are more books to come in this series and I can’t wait to read them.

Happy reading! ~Taylor