Monday, September 18, 2017

ARC Review: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

Title: Hunting Prince Dracula
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #2
Written by: Kerri Maniscalco
Published: September 19, 2017 by Jimmy Patterson Books (Little Brown Books)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life? 

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend. 

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher  in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

This book was so fantastic! You probably know that I was hotly anticipating this book and was incredibly excited to receive a copy in the mail from the publisher. T I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper and I was excited to read the second book in the series for more Audrey Rose and Thomas, more mystery, and more historical settings. And that is exactly what I got. I got an amazing historical mystery.

The thing, I think, that most impressed me about this book was the mystery. I really enjoyed the mystery in Stalking Jack the Ripper but I did find it a little predictable. That was not the case with this book. This mystery definitely came as a surprise for me. There were some aspects that I was able to predict but the big reveal was definitely shocking and I loved that. I do wish there were a little more clues along the way but I'm not too mad at it. It's sometimes hard to catch me off guard and I appreciate a book that is able to do that. Plus I went into this book hoping for an interesting and engaging mystery which is what I found in this book.

I think I may have been more excited about this book than the last one because of the fact that the main mystery and plot revolved around Dracula. I love all books that involve Dracula, be it the fictional vampire or the actual historical figure Vlad Tepes. And I was not disappointed by this one. Kerri definitely did her research into the figure and his history and incorporated them in interesting ways. She also incorporated a lot more of the Romanian and Eastern European folklore as well. It gave the book a great atmosphere and slightly dark quality to it. These books are not scary but the have the perfect kind of fall and Halloween atmosphere for me. I mean we're dealing with serial killers so of course there is plenty of blood and murder. It added a great dimension to the book and because we're talking about Dracula it gave the impression of supernatural quality while still being rooted in truth.
v That's a pretty apt assessment of the book, rooted in truth but still full of atmosphere. I'm a big fan of historical fiction and I like when it takes actual historical figures and/or events and explores them in a more creative way. This book definitely had that creative part down but it also had the historical. I love the Victorian setting because of the tendencies for females to break out of gender norms and that is definitely something that Kerri explores here. But it also such a lush setting. The historical setting here was just that. From the Orient Express to the Transylvanian castle it was amazing to explore these historical settings and what they were like at the time. It was also really interesting to explore what forensics was like back them. This aspect was particularly interesting because of the school that the characters attended. In general I really loved the historical fiction setting of this book.

However, my favorite thing about this book was the characters. In the two books I have become completely attached to Audrey Rose and Thomas. Audrey Rose is a fantastic protagonist. She's tough, resourceful, intelligent, and up for any adventure. I love the fact that she is trying to be genuinely herself even if it's not what is expected of her but also worries about what society thinks of her. She's trying to be a forensic investigator but still maintain her femininity and those are my favorite kinds of strong characters. And then there is Thomas. This is very much a Thomas book as we learn more about him and his past. I absolutely adore Thomas. He's everything also tough, intelligent, and resourceful. And in this book he was even more flirty. He has a great roguish quality to him. Plus, oh the banter. The banter between these two was so good!

This book also had some really good secondary characters. The school allowed us to meet a whole host of new and different characters. Most of them didn't get a ton of screen time which made them not all that memorable but I did like Professor Radu who had this great Remus Lupin quality to him, and Anastasia who was a fun companion for Audrey Rose. But I think my favorite new character was Thomas's sister Daciana. She was really fun and another example of a female who is breaking away from gender norms. Plus her interactions with Thomas were great. But I will say, I did miss some of the characters that were introduced in the first book like Liza and Audrey Rose's Uncle so I hope they come back in the last book. Something makes me think they will.

On the whole, Hunting Prince Dracula was an amazing read. I was hotly anticipating it and I was not disappointed. It had an amazing plot full of mystery and the perfect amount of atmosphere, a great lush historical setting, and amazing characters you will fall in love with.

I give Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you liked the first book you have to read this one. And if you haven't read it and you like historical mysteries or are looking for a fall read that is dark but not scary then check this one out.

Have you read Hunting Prince Dracula? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Speak Easy, Speak Love Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

Hi Everyone,
I'm so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Speak Easy, Speak Love. I've wanted to read this book ever since I first learned about it. Not only is it historical fiction set in the 1920's but it involves bootleggers, speak easies, and all kinds of fun stuff from the era. But on top of that it's a Much Ado About Nothing retelling which involves a hate to love relationship and plenty of laughs. I love Shakespeare retellings and I'm excited for this one. 

So... because of my enjoyment of Shakespear retellings, I had to ask the author about Shakespeare. So scroll down for McKelle George's response when I asked about Shakespeare's comedies but first a little bit about the book.

Speak Easy, Speak Love

by McKelle George
Publisher: Greenwillow Books/ HarperCollins
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Retellings, Historical
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg


Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer.

Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother, John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.


I asked McKelle to tell us a little bit about the Shakespearean comedies because we tend to just learn about the tragedies and some of my favorite Shakespeare is the comedies. Here's what she said:

Okay, I’m going to try and keep this short and not turn this into a massive academic essay, but I actually have a lot to say about this. In high school, I hated Shakespeare: mostly because I couldn’t understand it. We studied Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello (all tragedies). It wasn’t until a, I was introduced to comedies, and b, I saw Shakespeare performed the way it’s meant to be, that I started to truly it.

Students tend to study the tragedies more because, as scholars and critics judge, the Bard’s most complex and beautiful writing appears in the tragedies. Likewise, people tend to adapt the tragedies more and retell them because there seems, at first glance, to be more substance: more emotional depth and realism to play around with.

But hear me out:

The tragedies are beautiful and complex and great, sure, but I believe some of Shakespeare’s most political writing is found in his comedies. In fact, several of the so-called comedies are billed as problem plays because while initially billed as such, there’s a lot of dark, psychological drama sprinkled into the laugh-out-loud funny.

Consider The Merchant of Venice and Taming of the Shrew. The first has an antisemitic premise (casting the Jewish Shylock as the villain), and the second is sexist (setting up Kate to be ultimately “tamed”),and yet, it is to Shylock that Shakespeare gives the humanizing and beautiful speech that contains the famous line, “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” At the end of Shrew, when a beaten Kate addresses the women of the audience and says, “Come, come, you froward and unable worms,” it is chilling.

Both of these monologues are chilling and uncomfortable. It’s hard to know what Shakespeare intended because he famously gave very few stage direction, but it’s also hard not to think carefully and critically about what’s being said between the lines.

Shakespeare was no dummy. He was popular as his plays were being performed—often in front of nobility and the Queen—and anything too radical might have gotten him executed. Likewise, preaching didn’t do much good either. I like to think Shakespeare was entertaining people into change, weaving empathy and forward thought into the plays with jokes and marriage—not death and gore.

Much Ado About Nothing gets one of Shakespeare’s finest feminist characters in Beatrice. Beatrice is independent and smart, and even though she doesn’t want a husband,it’s for the sake of her own independence, not because she hates men (of whom she is gently teasing in the beginning of the play). Unlike Kate, Beatrice isn’t made to change who she is to be with Benedick, and unlike characters like Rosalind, she also doesn’t ditch her female friendships once a man comes along.

This is one of my favorite Beatrice’s moments:

With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I love thee.
Why then, God forgive me!
What offence, sweet Beatrice?
You have stayed me in a happy hour. I was about to protest I loved you.
And do it with all thy heart. BEATRICE I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.
Come, bid me do anything for thee.
BEATRICE Kill Claudio. (4.1.293-303)

She’s like, I love you! Kill your best friend. Like, yeah fine I admit it, but that doesn’t change the situation, pal.

To me, the 1920s was a uniquely feminist decade and that was why I set Speak Easy, Speak Love in that setting . . . and then tried to make people laugh. Hopefully I succeeded.

McKelle George is a reader, writer of clumsy rebels, perpetual doodler, and associate librarian at the best library in the world. She mentors with Salt Lake Teen Writes and plays judge for the Poetry Out Loud teen competitions (but has no poetic talent herself). Her debut young adult novel Speak Easy, Speak Love comes out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2017, and she currently lives in Salt Lake City with an enormous white german shepherd and way, way too many books.


• 1 ARC of SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE by McKelle George
• Pre-order swag including:
• 1 signed SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE bookplate
• 1 signed SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE postcard
• The full set of SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE character cards •

Thanks everyone for stopping by

Thursday, September 14, 2017

ARC and Audiobook Review: Godgsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Title: Godsgrave
Series: Nevernight Chronicle #2
Written by: Jay Kristoff
Published: September 5, 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff. 

 Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself. 

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world. 

Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

Sometimes when I really liked a book and it left me reeling I need to wait to review it to get my feelings together. But even twelve hours later I am still not over Godsgrave, which while annoying is actually a really good thing. Because this book, this book was so good.

Let's not beat around the bush because Jay doesn't. This book is dark. It's full of so much sex and violence that even some executives at HBO would take notice. What I'm saying is that this book is not for the faint of heart. If you don't want a super adult book that kills people left and right without a second thought or has explicit sex scenes then do not read this book. But if you are looking for a book that goes there then this is the book for you. Because Jay definitely goes there in this book. But none of it is gratuitous. It perfectly captures what it would be like for an assassin, a gladiator, a girl out for revenge. It all worked to make a dark and brutal story that I totally enjoyed.

Speaking of that story, oh boy is this a thrilling and action packed read. I remember Nevernight being a super slow book. It took me awhile to get into it but it was worth the wait. There was no waiting in Godsgrave. From the word go this book took off running with crazy action scenes, mystery, and adventure. And it didn't let up until the very end. There was so much going on in this book. When it first started there was a little weirdness because we had some before and after plot points that I wasn't sure how they were connected but they absolutely were and in a completely interesting way. I think the basis for this book is a story about revenge which I loved but this book really delved deeper than that and took it to a more political level which I kind of enjoyed even more.

The other thing this book took us deeper into was the world. Jay has absolutely created a fascinating world with this series. First off we have the setting of Itreya. it's a brutal Romanesque world that I thoroughly enjoyed and here we got to explore more of it including a much deeper dive into the city of Godsgrave. As I said there is more politics in this book so of course that was an aspect of the world that we explored and I enjoyed as well. But what I really loved about this world is the magical system, and by that I mean the Darkin. We learned a lot more about Darkin in this book but it still just brought up more questions. I am so fascinated by them and I cannot wait for the next book to hopefully get some answers because I have some theories! Seriously, the world of this book is just so cool and so creative. I love it.

Finally, we have the characters. I'm definitely a fan of the characters in this series. For one thing I feel like Jay just has a way with the snark. His characters are so sassy and sarcastic and I love it. No one is more snarky than Mia Corvere. In the course of two books I have become so in love with Mia. She's not usually the kind of strong female character I connect with. I'm not a big fan of the kickass female who only cares about revenge. But the great thing about Mia is while she is totally ruled by her desire to get back at the people who killed her father she isn't a mindless killing machine. Jay has done a great job in making her more complex and humanized her in a way that I totally appreciate. I'm absolutely Team Mia Corvere.

But Mia isn't the only complex character. The secondary characters here are thoroughly engaging and complex. Every single character here is odious in the best possible way. I seriously don't trust anyone. They're all devious and out for themselves in a way that makes them really interesting to me. Many characters from the first book are back, including the villains of Duomo and Scaeva as well as allies like Mercurio and members of the Red Church. Even Ashlinn and Jessamyn come back in this book and I kind of loved being able to see them again. But seriously I didn't trust any character in this book because they are all assassins and liars and selfish assholes. But that is a serious compliment from me.

I also want to take a second to talk about the romance in this book. I had previously mentioned that this book is full of sex and violence and it totally is. One of the first scenes is a sex scenes because Jay does not waste any time in letting you know what this book is all about. I thought I would hate the romance in this book because I loved it in the first book and reasons but I didn't. I loved it. I wanted to smoosh the characters faces together at one point because they obviously liked each other and they just needed to kiss already. But the wait was worth it. And in case you didn't know this book has a f/f romance and it is seriously excellent. I ship it so hard.

Okay, I think I have said enough about this book. Just know that it's absolutely amazing. It's a thrilling read full of action and bloodshed, has a fascinating world I want to learn more about, complex and odious characters, and a great romance. Basically it has everything.

I give Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! Adult fantasy fans need to read this series. It is seriously so good. If you don't mind sex and blood in your books you will love Godsgrave. If you liked Nevernight stop waiting and read this book!

Have you read Godsgrave? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Renegades
Series: Renegades #1
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Published: November 7, 2017 by Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan)

Synopsis: From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal. 

Secret Identities. 
Extraordinary Powers. 
She wants vengeance. 
He wants justice.  

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Why I'm Waiting:

This book is literally checking all the boxes for me. 1.) It's a book about super powered people. 2.) It's about heroes and villains and I'm sure explores what it means to be a good guy and a bad guy. 3.) One of the main character wants revenge and the other wants justice. Which are two themes I love being explored in a book. Seriously this is such a me book.

But on top of all that it's written by Marissa Meyer who is one of my all time favorite authors. I have enjoyed every single Marissa Meyer book I have read. I loved The Lunar Chronicles and liked Heartless but I am so excited for a new series from her. More fantastic characters and thrilling plots, more cool worlds and interesting settings. More Marissa Meyer.

I was hoping to get a copy of this at ALA but they didn't have any to hand out. But that's totally fine because I have already preordered a copy. I cannot wait for it to show up on my door step so I can devour it and see how Marissa handles superheroes and super villains!

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Renegades along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read When I Was a Lazy Blogger

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Some of you may know that I actually started My Thoughts Literally 8 years ago. That's right, 8 years. I could have been an OG blogger like Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner formerly Broke and Bookish or Katie from Katie's Book Blog. But no, the first four years of my blogging journey was incredibly lackluster. I would post one review like every four months. Sometimes going close to a year without any updates. Then I would do a ton of catch up and nothing for a long time. So there are a ton of books I read during that time that I never gave full reviews to if I mentioned them at all. Some of these books I have since reviewed but others I haven't so here I have for you, the best books I read when I was a lazy blogger.

1.) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte  - Add to Goodreads
This is one of my all time favorite books. I read it shortly after starting my blog originally but during a period of time when I wasn't really doing regular posts. I wish I had because this would have been a great book to review.

2.) The Wicked Years Gregory Maguire - Add to Goodreads
I have reviewed the series relatively recently when I was trying to do Throwback Thursday reviews. But I really wish that I had reviewed each book individually. I really liked this series but they are each so different so individual reviews would be nice.

3.) The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - Add to Goodreads
Another one of my all time favorite books that I have never reviewed. I mean I talk about this book all the time but I have never reviewed it. I really should get around to that. I mean not only did I read it after I started the blog but I reread it when I restarted it. And yet...

4.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Add to Goodreads
I read The Hunger Games after I started my blog but I think I only ever talked about it when I did a catch up post before not really doing regular briefings like seven years ago. I really wish I had been more committed to blogging at that time. Could you imagine looking back on that review!

5.) The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen - Add to Goodreads
This is another series that I reviewed as a whole when I was doing Throwback Thursday posts. Again, I really wish I had done individual posts for these books. I seriously loved them and I would have liked to have talked about them with people.

6.) The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff - Add to Goodreads
This isn't really a book that I would often talk about here on the blog but it is one of my favorite books. It totally changed my like and I love it for it. when thinking of favorite books I read around this time this should totally make the list.

7.) The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich - Add to Goodreads
Before I blogged I read a ton of cozy mysteries but this series was definitely my favorite. It was so much fun and I loved it each book that I read. I stopped reading the book I think around number fourteen but it's still great.

8.) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - Add to Goodreads
This is another series I did a Throwback Thursday post for. But again one of my all time favorite series and one that has to make this list because I loved it so much. It's also the series that got me into audiobooks and look at me now.

9.) Life of Pi by Yann Martel - Add to Goodreads
I really liked this book but I think I added it to this list because it is a book I would have loved to talk about with other people. The ending super confused me and I wish I had been more serious about blogging when I read it so that I could have flailed with someone.

10.) Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter - Add to Goodreads
So I recently reviewed book four in this series and I had planned on reviewing the entire series together but I'm just being so slow with reading the series. I wish I had reviewed the first few books in the series so it wouldn't be so weird.

There you have it. Some of my favorite books I read when I was a lazy blogger. I wish I had reviewed these back in the day. I wish I could have talked about them with people. I wish I had done individual reviews of them of these. Mostly I wish I had started blogging like this years before I had. What books made your list. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, September 11, 2017

ARC Review: Odd and True by Cat WInters

Title: Odd and True
Written by: Cat Winters
Published: September 12, 2017 by Amulet Books (Abrams)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA and via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

I read my first Cat Winters book last year and loved it. Since the I have been wanting to read more of her books. So when I saw this one at ALA I of course picked up a copy. And I loved it. It was a great historical fiction with a supernatural and mystery flair to it.

I like my historical fiction to take real historical events and add fictional people to it. That's what this book does. The setting of the book was atmospheric and engaging. Cat Winter's does this era so well and absolutely allows the reader to immerse themselves in the historical setting. It takes us to the early 20th century and explored plenty of different themes of the time for young women. For the most part however I would say that these elements were subtle. I appreciated that it didn't try to hard to explain and explore what things were like for women who didn't fit into the social conventions. But it still did just that.

I think maybe this was because much of the focus of the book was actually focused on the Jersey Devil or Leeds Devil as it was know. It took on a great historical fantasy feel as it involved mythology and fantastical creatures. And even though this was the bulk of the plot it too wasn't too overwhelming either. It gave it all this realistic feel that the Devil and all the other monsters were in fact possible. I honestly didn't think they were going to be. I don't want to say too much but I loved the way they handled this. It made for a good balance between history and mythology which I really appreciated.

But that wasn't the only aspect to the plot of this book. There was also I really subtle mystery. It wasn't anything that you really try to solve, it was just one more thing about the book that kept me reading. It added a lot of atmosphere and interest to the book. This was one of those narratives where you get past and present to learn how the characters got to be where they were and how they are the way they are. It all unfolded in an interesting way but this was also my main criticism. We have multiple perspectives and multiple settings and time periods which made things a little hard to keep straight. I liked the way it unfolded but I wish there was more of a distinct feel between each section.

What made up for that however were the characters. The real heart of this book was in the relationship between the sisters. I loved the relationship for Od and Tru. They had so much respect and love for one another. They very easily could have had a protector and protected relationship but it goes deeper than that. Yes, Od takes care of Tru but in the end they realize that they need each other to be at their best and I loved that. It was just another great theme about the book.

But the characters in general were really likable and complex. Cat Winters does a great job in developing strong female characters. And you can look at this book and think that we are talking kickass female heroines chopping off heads and taking names but that is not what you will find in this book. Instead you will find intelligent and strong-willed women who don't allow their weaknesses to get the best of them. In this book we alternate perspectives between Od and Tru and I liked that. It gave the book and characters a lot of depth. And honestly I really liked both Od and Tru. I thought it would be for different reasons but in the end they both had kind of tragic backstories and were stronger for it. I liked them both so much that I can't say which one I liked more and that's not very common for me. But the author really did a great job with the writing complex and likable characters.

All in all Odd & True was a good historical fiction novel. It had an engaging historical setting, plenty of mystery and fantasy to create a great atmosphere, and complex and likable characters. I really enjoyed it.

I give Odd and True by Cat Winters 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I would definitely recommend this book. I thoroughly enjoyed and think it is a good fall read for people who aren't necessarily fans of horror. Although I think it's far from Cat's most complex work. If you are looking for a YA historical fantasy check this one out.

Have you read Odd and True? What did you think? leave me a comment with your thoughts.Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, September 8, 2017

ARC Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross
Series: Warcross #1
Written by: Marie Lu
Published: September 12, 2017 by G.P. Putnam and Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

I'm a big fan of Marie Lu. I've read and enjoyed all her books. So when I heard she was writing a new series with more of science fiction feel and involving a virtual reality I was incredibly excited. And while this was a pretty good book, I didn't love it as much as I thought I would.

One thing I did love about this book was the world. This was definitely a fantastic science fiction world. Virtual reality and video games always makes for a fun and interesting world and Warcross was just that. What I appreciated about it was that it wasn't too overwhelming. Marie showed us instead of telling us what the world was and how it was used. As for the actual game of Warcross I found it pretty interesting. It was like a combination of World of Warcraft and the Pro-Bending from Legend of Korra. We didn't get to see much of actual games but I found them totally cool. The world itself had a fun cyberpunk vibe to it as well. The hackers, the "Dark Word," the virtual reality. It wasn't super inventive but it was interesting. But I think this book only was the barest taste into the world of the series. I'm sure there is more to explore with future books.

And to be honest that is how I felt about the plot of this book, there is much more to explore. I think on the whole the plot of this book was on the more basic side. There was a mystery to the book which was engaging enough but it didn't blow me away. I ended up figuring it out pretty quickly and for most of the book I was just waiting for the why to be revealed not the whole. When it finally did come out I was total interested but that was so much later in the book. And while this was a really fast read, I think that was because it was paced very slowly. It definitely suffered from a bit of first book syndrome for me I think.

As far as the characters go, they were fine but they didn't jump off the page. I had high hopes for the characters because I loved the ones in Marie's last series, The Young Elites, so much. But they are so different. And I shouldn't really fault them for that. They just weren't the kind of characters that I like as much. The main character of Emika was fine. I could definitely sympathize with her in the beginning as she was trying to make money to survive and I liked relationship she had with her father and felt like those moments really humanized her but she just didn't feel as complex as I had hoped. I think this could have benefited from just a little bit more characterization and development.

Same goes for the secondary characters, they could have used more development. They were likable enough but there was a lot of them and I never really felt connected to any of them. Emi's team was nice enough but didn't make a lasting impression. The one exception to this I think was Hideo. A lot of focus was placed on Hideo and who he is as a person and why he is doing what he was doing. That deep dive into his motivation made him an interesting character for sure. But I think some of that may have been to the detriment to the other characters including Emika.

All in all Warcross was an okay read. It had a fantastic science fiction world and engaging plot albeit a bit slow. I wish there had been a little more character development but I think more of that is coming in future books. This one had a bit of first book syndrome but I think on the whole it's going to be a good series.

I give Warcross by Marie Lu 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you are a fan of science fiction stories with a cyberpunk vibe and/or are looking for a fast read that is the start of a new series then check this one out. But honestly I would probably say that you should wait until book two is out and then read them together.

Have you read Warcross? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks fo stopping by and HAPPY READING!