Tag Archives: politics

ARC Review – Daughters of Ruin by K.D. Castner

25785728Title:  Daughters of Ruin

Author: K.D. Castner

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren have lived together since they were children. They are called sisters. They are not. They are called equals. They are not. They are princesses…and they are enemies. Not long ago, a brutal war ravaged their kingdoms, and Rhea’s father was the victor. As a gesture of peace, King Declan brought the daughters of his rivals to live under his protection—and his ever-watchful eye. For ten years the girls have trained together as diplomats and warriors, raised to accept their thrones and unite their kingdoms in peace.

But there is rarely peace among sisters. Sheltered Rhea was raised to rule everyone—including her “sisters”—but she’s cracking under pressure. The charismatic Cadis is desperately trying to redeem her people from their actions during the war. Suki guards deep family secrets that isolate her, and quiet Iren’s meekness is not what it seems.

Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for this ARC!


Sam’s Review:

I must confess, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy Daughters of Ruin. It has a beautiful cover,that misrepresents the novel in a lot of ways. The blurb sounded interesting, but felt a little misleading. I was worried I was going to get a fantasy novel with a ton of romance in it just based on the cover alone, but what I got was quite the surprise.

Daughters of Ruin spans four POVs of view regarding four women who are forced to live together, though taken from rival kingdoms. There’s a lot of strong political intrigue, fantastic action sequences, and the heroines (minus one for me) were very well developed given that this novel isn’t very long. My favourite POVs to read were definitely Cadis and Iren’s, though I may or may not have been shipping them as a couple throughout the whole book. I loved their relationship and how they knew when they could sass-mouth each other and when it was time to get to down to business. I loved the politics in Rhea’s chapters and she grew on me as the novel went on.

But I hated Suki. I found her chapters very painful to read given the unique style they were in. I think there are better ways to share an internal monologue through text, but this wasn’t one of them. I found her chapters hard to read from a format perspective, and she was just a really whiny and annoying character to follow about.

The other thing about this book is that while the story does a great job of building itself, the ending is a tad weak. In fact, it feels like it should be sequel-bait because it’s simply ends. The resolve doesn’t feel as strong as it could, so I am wondering if there is going to be a series or not. And yeah, there’s romance in this book, but it’s more from a political standpoint, and this is really more about understanding the politics behind each heroines motives. That, I liked a lot.

Daughter of Ruin was an unexpected surprise for me, and I think those who love darker, more politically fueled fantasy would definitely get a kick out of this novel. I really just wish it had been a little longer, because I feel like there’s so much more that could have been explored. But each of the heroines really does have something to offer the reader, and I think given the craziness of this world and the fast-paced action, that this one will be an easier winner for fantasy fans.

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Late to the Party ARC Review – All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter

22571275Title:  All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)

Author: Ally Carter

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis:  Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

Huge thank you to Scholastic Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

When I was at OLA back in January, I remember being handed an ARC for All Fall Down by a Scholastic Canada representative. I have never read an Ally Carter book, but many of my bookish and blogger friends all say she’s a fun read, and great for getting out of reading flunks. Considering this was my first book by her, I can say it likely won’t be my last because this book was a ton of fun.

Sometimes you just want a read a book that sweeps you through the story in a fast-paced way. It’s crazy, ridiculous, stuff is constantly happening, and this book is exactly that. The plot is constantly moving, you don’t get a breather, but you don’t mind because the story is just that engaging. In a lot of ways, readingAll Fall Down reminded me a lot of the television showsRevenge and Homeland. It’s the story of a young girl desperate to find the person who murdered her mother, but it still has all the elements of being a political charged story. Carter keeps the narrative moving at lightning speeds, and it helps considering how the events within the novel are laid out. Everything felt very well-plotted, carefully laid out, but with a ton of action and intrigue. I’m aware that Carter has written a lot of spy novels, and she definitely has a knack for it.

The one thing that drove me a bit crazy with this story was Grace, our heroine. At times she felt a little too one-note, because she basically spends a lot of the novel obsessing over a man she is convinced killed her mother. Grace is completely fixated, focused and obsessed, but she comes across lacking in other personality traits, which is odd given the rest of the characters in the story. I adored Rosie, Megan and Noah, and felt like in terms of characters, they contributed so much more than Grace did. Also Alexei was quite interesting, given his political position against Grace, even he had more personality than Grace did.

It was also weird to read a YA novel that didn’t have a romance. I mean, you get a sense that Grace is likely going to hook up with either Noah or Alexei at some point in the series, but I appreciate how much of this novel felt like “strictly business” and I was happy to see that no romance had been shoehorned in, because after completing it, it just would have came too out of left-field in my opinion. Sometimes it’s just nice to not have a romance in a story, especially when there’s nothing developing towards it.

I loved what a quick read this book was, and I do have Heist Society in my collection that I think I may now need to bump up in the ranks. Ally Carter is just such a fun writer and I totally understand why my friends like to read her books when they are in a funk — they are just crazy, and ridiculous, but you don’t mind because the ride is just so engaging. I’ll definitely be checking out book two when it releases next January.

ARC Review – The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

25332000Title:  The Nameless City

Author: Faith Erin Hicks

Rating:  ★★★★★

Release Date: April 5th 2016 by First Second

Huge thank you to First Second and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Real Talk: You want this book.

No seriously, you want this book. I recognize that it doesn’t realize until April 2016, but you need to start putting this book on your TBR wishlists and Goodreads shelves. I feel like this is Faith Erin Hicks’ greatest work to date, and The Nameless City is going to be one of those graphic novels that will capture the hearts and attention of many.

The Nameless City is a very layered graphic novel experience. Hicks’ looks at issues of diversity, poverty, politics, and racism in a way that is accessible to understand, but also heart-wrenching to read about. The city in this story is constantly being renamed every time a new ruler takes up the reigns, and yet the outcome of each new ruler is the same — citizens are poor to the point where they have to steal to survive, and the military continues to play oblivious for the sake of not getting involved between political conflict, be it dealing with the poor or other surrounding nations. It’s fascinating the way in which this aspect of how the story evolves.

I also LOVED the characters. I loved Rat’s tenacity, sass and courage, as much as I loved Kaidu’s kind and gentle spirit (a shame he works for the military!). Furthermore, I love the interactions between these two characters — it’s so genuinely written, and the book goes this amazing job of giving you so much understanding, but also taking that understanding away because of the political strife. It’s like being given bits and pieces, and that’s what you have to work with, but it’s okay because you know you are being promised more to the story. But seriously, I thought Rat and Kaidu were adorable and I wanted to cuddle them every few seconds.

But seriously, you need this book guys. It has stunning artwork, an amazing and detailed story, a great cast of lovable and sympathetic characters, and it just continues to offer so much to the reader. I can only hope that there is a second volume to this because the ending is very open, as if there needs to be more. Please, please, please let there be a sequel, because I don’t think I could live without knowing more about Kaidu and Rat’s adventures.

 

ARC Review – A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

24905359Title: A History of Glitter and Blood

Author: Hannah Moskowitz

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies. But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

Huge thank you to Raincoast Books for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am a big fan of Hannah Moskowitz’s books based on the handful I’ve read. I feel like her writing is the equivalent of a chameleon — every book stylistically feels so drastically different, and yet there’s always a small part in the writing that reminds you it’s a Hannah Moskowitz book. I was super excited for A History of Glitter and Blood, and I enjoyed it, but not as much as I was hoping.

First off, this book has a very weird style to it. One of the main things I’ve noticed is all the DNF reviews on Goodreads, and a lot of them complain about the unique style. I don’t blame people for giving up based on the style, it’s very difficult to read at times, often because the narrative jumps around, breaks the fourth wall, and sometimes feels like you’re being pushed away. However, when I gathered that this novel was being written a “history,” the observations and narrative did start to gel with me. Part of this issue is that it’s not entirely obvious right away who is telling the story — we know it’s about Beckan, but she isn’t the narrator.

The story itself, when you get past the style, it’s really interesting. It focuses on a war between fairy and gnomes, and you’re given this sense at first that it’s like “fairies good, gnomes bad” and Moskowitz does this amazing job of turning that mentality upside down and showing how both sides are fault. Moskowitz leads the reader through this violent and destructive war, and it’s described in such a raw and vivid way. If you don’t particularly like gore or graphic description, than this book might turn your stomach. The push and pull of both sides really resonated with me, and I liked that I couldn’t pick a side and point a finger to who was right and who was wrong. The book even ends in a somewhat ambiguous way, which I thought worked.

I think the hardest part of this story for me was while I liked the overall narrative, I struggled somewhat with the characters. I didn’t feel a strong connection to them, nor did I feel like they had enough personality to really differentiate from each other. You learn a lot from who is narrating the story, but it’s from that character’s perspective alone, which works because you get a sense of who this narrator likes and who they dislike. However, it means you’re only given a very limited perspective on the other characters, so you don’t really know if they are as bad or good as the narrator makes them out to be.

And that’s just it: while this book has amazing tension and a twisting narrative, it can be a touch confusing to know what is going on at times. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially because parts that feel confusing do get re-examined and there isn’t loose ends needing to be tied up by the end. I enjoyed my time with A History of Glitter and Blood, but I feel like the narrative style will definitely be something that might be off putting for some readers. Which is a same really, because while the lack of characterization bothered me, I have to admit to the fact that I was so swept up in the war and tension that this novel presents. I feel like those who love fantasy and politics will likely appreciate what A History of Glitter and Blood has to offer.

ARC Review – Riot by Sarah Mussi

20359867Title:  Riot

Author: Sarah Mussi

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: It is 2018. England has been struggling under a recession that has shown no sign of abating. Years of cuts has devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing. The authorities cannot cope. And the population has maxed out.

The police are snowed under. Something has to give. Drastic measures need taking.

Huge thank you to Hodder Children’s and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am a bit torn on Riot. On one hand is has an interesting and politically heated premise, on the other hand it’s very convoluted and confusing. A part of me feels like I should nail the book for the level of confusion and misdirection is gives the reader, but I almost want to oddly applauded the book for going in a variety of directions, and one that never feels like the right one.

This is the first novel I’ve ever read by Sarah Mussi, and although Riot is an odd duck, I don’t feel like it will be my last. Her writing is gorgeous and disturbing, and you never feel entirely comfortable or aware while reading this novel. Although out narrator is constantly throwing information at the reader, a lot of clarity goes out the window and I kind of liked that this book was in a lot of ways a puzzle to uncover. However, I also think it’s the book’s biggest downfall because the puzzle lacks a clear result, the ending is a bit stoic, and you feel like for the time you spent reading the book like more concrete elements should have occurred.

Mussi’s novel definitely talks about a scary future, and one that actually could happen, and one we should be concerned about.Cities that are becoming the haves and havenots are rarer, but are becoming less so and yet reading this book you feel like you’re drowning in voices — like you’re actually a part of these riots and revolts. The tech side was also handled well, but it wasn’t always engaging to read about. In fact, there’s chunks of this book where it’s doing a lot of preaching but no action, which for a book called Riot, I expected a bit more.

Riot is not a bad book, but if you’re expecting something to happen and be engaging from start to finish you will be disappointed. You also need to have some tolerance for preachiness, but I think her message is solid all around even if the execution wasn’t perfect. Riot has great description and political self-awareness, but it needed more action to make it a much more intense read.