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Elevetha

A Sea of Stars

 Teenaged. Clinomaniac. Caffeine Addicted. Fangirl. Bibliomaniac. Introverted. 

 

Challenge Participant

Light

Light - Rob Cham

*An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

 

While it was somewhat cute, mostly entirely due to the characters' expressions, it didn't really satisfy. The story panels did a decent job at telling the story, and I liked that it was wordless, but I really would have liked some more idea of what was taking place through panels that flowed into one another. Some of the panels seemed to jump from one to the next without much idea of what was taking place or what happened in between. The idea was nice, and what we got was okay, but I wanted more.

The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

This sounds like it would be just my thing, but for some reason, it wasn't.

It's got good writing, concerning both the prose and the plot, but the world-building, while interesting, felt very discombobulated. It tried to explain itself: the Language, the Library, and the fey, creatures of chaos, and dragons, creatures of order, but it wasn't working too well for me.

Also, the writing mostly evokes a Victorian feel to it (though less than the cover would indicate), but the combination of modern technology here and there and modern phrases scattered throughout, while it made sense far as the story was concerned, didn't actually mesh very well in the story. (Congrats if you understood that. Have a cookie.)

As far as Irene and Kai go, I really have very little opinion of them. Kai felt rather one-dimensional and I didn't really...care about Irene? But Vale was pretty cool, and I'd love to see more of him in future books.

As far as the plot goes, I liked the clever bits dealing with Alberich, but I don't quite understand his motivation (they kinda explained it) but even less so how it would work. Kicking myself I didn't write down the page number for this.

To be totally honest, I think I would have liked this best if it had been a completed standalone, rather than at least a six book deal. But I liked this passably well, and am just interested enough to give the next book a go.

This is a bit of the stuff I garnered about the things I wanted more info on:

The Library does what it does for the love of books. Simply to collect books, all the books in all the alternate worlds, and store them and protect them, so that if that book should ever be lost to time or disaster, there will still be a copy to make more from.

The Library exists out of time, so the Librarians are essentially ageless, except when out on book missions, when time passes for them normally.

The Language the fully initiated Librarians use is apparently heard by those who don't understand it in their own language, but with a certain unplaceable accent. The Language is sort-of magic, but it works best when directing something to do what it naturally should be doing, or that it naturally is designed to do (unlocking a door and such). The Language is ever evolving, adding grammar and vocabulary, as most books brought back to the Library are studied and the words or phrases or cool descriptions of the color black are added to the Language. (Or the Language itself evolves from the newly gathered literature???)

Chaos can infect a world, and after the world has been infected and corrupted, then the Fey can manifest to wreck more havoc. But thenDragons are like super chill and creatures of order and often show up to help restore order to the Chaos-corrupted world. Dragons can also take humanoid form.

After Alice

After Alice: A Novel - Gregory Maguire

I wanted to love this, I mean, I even tried to love it, but it wasn't working for me. To be honest, though it has been years since I read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, I'm pretty sure everyone would just be better off reading the original. Oh, sure, there are occasionally very clever bits and the writing, while often overly pretentious, is pleasant enough and even sometimes quite lovely. Alas, beyond that, there is very little of which to speak well. The narrative, while omniscient, skips back and forth between Ada, who tumbles into Wonderland and basically has a small collection of adventures Alice has already had, and Lydia, Alice's oft frustratingly dull older sister, and also Siam, a rescued slave-boy who wanders behind the Looking-Glass.

There are innuendos aplenty, and even an F-bomb, which I'm fairly certain is not quite in the vein of the original. (And yes, I realize this is "adult" fiction, blah.)

Really the only good bits are Ada in Wonderland, which I feel is basically what one could garner from reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass. Also, there wasn't all that much of Ada in Wonderland for this being nearly 300 pages.

Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon

Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon - Torben Kuhlmann

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Full review to come closer to publication.

Very cute story, and a bit longer than your average picture book. And the ART is amazing. Definitely picking this up once published for myself the nephew.

Fever At Dawn

Fever at Dawn - Gárdos Péter, Elizabeth Szász

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

This being based off a incredible true story, I feel pretty bad criticizing it. But it has to be done. And then there are bits of the story that personally disappointed me; things which, for the most part, have nothing to do with the writing. So all the super-subjective thoughts are at the end of the review, but first...

This is a translated book, which is awesome. Media from other countries made readily available and understood for us English speaking peoples. However, I feel like maybe a lot was lost in translation. This is a hopeful story, yes, but hope amid disease and death and darkness. This is a love story, but love amid hatred and war. And even when these horrifying elements are at the forefront, I did not see them as such. The idea and the words are there, but there was a gravity missing to it all. Similarly, though this is a love story, I did not get a good sense of love between Lili and Miklos, and it was not as hopeful and inspiring as it should have been, giving the true story. I felt nothing.

Additionally, though there are quotes from Lili and Miklos' letters strewn throughout, most of the story is prose. While it worked for some parts of the book, I think maybe just their letters or, at the very least, more of them would have been better, due to that we are told Lili and Miklos wrote often to each other, and grew to love one another through their letters, but we don't actually get to see much of that.

Also, the book is written from the POV of Lili and Miklos' son, who is, of course, the author of the book. While it could have been a nice touch, it didn't come across as very personal and usually came across as jarring, as you would be in Miklos' head and then Miklos would be referred to as "my father", and it always made me do a double-take.

Now for the subjective thoughts...

One of Miklos' friends, while a good friend, was pretty constantly chock of innuendos. Miklos was a die-hard socialist, which was just hard to hear promoted so valiantly and zealously. Though probably not aware of how serious it was, Lili received the Eucharist as a non-Catholic, but still intended to convert. Miklos claims to be very serious about conversion to the Catholic Church, but really seems to be just serious about Lili. He proposes a less binding oath to the Church, in which they would be bound to the Church, but the Church not to them?? I've never personally heard of such a thing, but that doesn't mean anything. More research needed on that bit. I guess regarding the religious stuff, there was enough mentioned about their religious beliefs and desires to make it a pretty big deal, but not a lot of follow-through. I wanted to know if Lili and Miklos ever converted and became practicing Catholics. Did Miklos ever really wish to be Catholic at any point in his life, or was it all for Lili?

Baker's Magic

Baker's Magic - Diane Zahler

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

Don't bake angry!

Whatever mood Bee is in when she bakes is the same mood whoever eats her baked goods will be in. This magic can be useful, but sometimes pretty rough, especially when Bee bakes in a bad mood, and before they figure out that's the cause of the unusually ill-tempered customers. But Bee also is a pretty rad baker, and soon the royal palace wants Bee's baked good delivered to the palace, where she discovers a rather nasty arranged marriage in the making and dastardly plots ruinous to the country. She befriends the Princess Anika and helps her to escape so they can go inform the Mage Council of the unsavory goings-on in Zeewal. Along the way, they encounter a friendly gang of roving tulip pirates, father figures, and tree spirits. Oh, and Anika has a pet hedgehog, so that's cool.

I was so very pleased that Wil had a sort-of romance with Anika and NOT with Bee. #blessed

Overall, it was okay and there were some elements that I very much enjoyed, but it didn't bridge the gap for older readers as well as some MG books manage to, so that I would probably only recommend it for the intended audience.

I also got my hands on a hard-copy, so props to Capstone for their quality of publishing - the pages were thick and the binding was strong and tight.

Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants - Sylvain Neuvel

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

Oh, and I also won an ARC copy of this through Goodreads Firstreads!! So pretty.

2.5 stars.

I less liked this book than I was intrigued. And even at the end (whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?), I'm only really going to be reading Book 2 because I kinda NEED to know what's going on.


The Writing

So the book is told through a series of interviews and takes place over a number of years. Books from this POV can be really rough, but it worked in this case. Probably even more so because most of the characters know as little as the reader does. So at least you aren't alone.

The Characters

I didn't connect with any of them, so weirdly plot is the only reason I'm keeping with this series. I can't tell you if I didn't connect due only to the characters themselves or if the interview style of writing contributed in any way.

I liked Rose the best of the bunch, but she died too quickly to really make it devastating for me. Ryan was pretty annoying, but he was actually chill in the last half. I felt sorry for Vincent and I liked him well enough, but Kara also annoyed me. BUT the Interviewer, whoever he is, at once made me hate him and like him and I'm just so conflicted?? He's so clever and mysterious and SUCH AN A-HOLE. I just really want to know who he is, where he came from, what he knows, who he works for, etc. Oh, and Mr. Burns was legit, though I have so many questions about him as well.

I thought the romance aspect of this, though it was definitely put on the back-burner, was hecka frustrating and really just didn't need to be in here. I guess maybe it was supposed to put a little more of a personal side to the story, but really it didn't help anything and I just want to know about the alien robots, okay?

THE PLOT

Haha, I don't actually understand it at all, because every time I thought we'd figured something out, then we'd find something else contradictory to what I thought we knew. So I am just gonna admit I know nothing. I also will admit I want to know everything. Basically, there's giant alien robots and we found one with pieces of it buried all over the earth and maybe it's from a more technologically advanced alien race that wanted to communicate with us but when they visited we were too lame to know what the heck they wanted to say so they left it for us to find once we were cool and now we have it but we definitely don't want to use it as a weapon because then the alien race will wipe us out because they only want us to use it for defense? If the alien race wanted to communicate with us and they would know enough to know we used it as a weapon, why aren't they communicating with us now?? Also, is this giant alien robot one from the giant race mentioned in Genesis in the Bible??? Or it is a Titan???? Or could it be both? (Because you know, the myth of the Titans doesn't actually have to be gods, they just would have been seen as them, because....they were giant alien robots.)

The Ending

....

Huh. I didn't see that coming.

(show spoiler)



So yeah, I'm SO there for Book 2, but I do wish I liked the characters more, because that was pretty much my only only complaint. (Also, if this isn't optioned for film nigh immediately, I'll be surprised.)

Cogling

Cogling - Elizabeth Jordan

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

One of those in-between books. I liked it more than not, but due to my lack of interest in the beginning, procrastination, and the fact that most Netgalley books expire after a couple months, I realized I had two days to read this, which after company came and we played Pinochle all day long, that meant a few hours of staying up in order to finish this. So I was reading a little faster than normal so I could go to bed darnnit. (Daylight Savings is brutal).

At its core, this story is all about family. Edna's brother is stolen away by a hag and replaced with a cogling, and come hell or high water, she's gonna get him back. Enter Ike, who has his own agenda but is willing to help Edna get her brother back. They become a thing, but it was handled fairly well, and was mostly put on the back-burner and the rescue/quash hag takeover took precedence. Which I mightily appreciated.

Also, it must be noted that hags and ogres are not your typical hags and ogres of folklore. These guys are all magical folk who got magic by living on a swamp and then they came back to the city, and whoops, everyone hated them now (because ewwww and magic) and banished them, and then the hags and ogres rebelled and won, and then THEY were rebelled against and quashed, and now some of them are allowed to practice magic to heal the elite, but are mostly scorned, and shocker, some of them would very much like to try for a hostile takeover. The females are the hags and the males are the ogres, and much like the non-magical humans, they can be either good or bad, though of course, with derogatory names like "hag" and "ogre", quite a bit of ill-will has been cultivated against them as a whole.

I guess I liked the overall idea of this book, but it failed a bit in my estimation in the execution. I didn't get a good sense of atmosphere, which with this world and the magic, would have been very nice to have. The world building in general felt rather one-dimensional, and the religion concerning the "Seven Saints" (which were mentioned frequently by both the hags and Edna) was vague at best. Not a bad book by any means, but not great either.

 

I figured out Edna had magic nigh instantly, and was reminded of this fact every couple chapters because "the evil" running through her blood kept being mentioned. This got old pretty quick, and also makes me wonder if we were supposed to immediately know she had magic, or was it supposed to be a surprise?

(show spoiler)

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling - Tony Cliff

I love this series so much, and I couldn't be more pleased that we are getting a third installment at some point. (Okay, well, I could be happier if A. I knew when we were getting it or the ultimate B. if it came out tomorrow.)

This was over 100 gorgeous pages longer than the first one, and I honestly can't decide which one I like more, because they're both so wonderful. This one is a bit different from the first, insofar as it is more plot-driven, with some backstory and scene changes, as opposed to the much quieter (ha) more picturesque life Delilah and Selim were living in the Turkish Lieutenant, and I know some people didn't like it as much because of that, but for me it worked because it felt like a natural organic change to the storytelling. Also it is awesome.

Into The Dim

Into the Dim - Janet B. Taylor

*DNF 330 PAGES* (I had less than 100 pages left. That's right.)

 

Honestly, were it not for the ire I had for the maligning of a historical figure, I would have probably enjoyed this quite a bit. Not because it was that good, but the writing was engaging and it was pretty fun, with a kinda Timeline (movie) vibe going for it. However...

My biggest issue was what the author decided to do with Thomas a Beckett. She made him out to be the most vile slimy, greedy, Jew-hating, nun-slapping monster. That was really bad and made me quite upset, but the final straw that made me not only a little bit sick but wanting to throw the book out the window ala Pat in Silver Linings Playbook leading to a rage-quit is when he hands over a Jewish girl to some lecherous creep and condones him raping her.

 

What.

 

The.

 

*blaring horn covers loud swearing*

 

No. Like, what un-Godly version of history is this??? Maybe, maybe, if there was an author note saying "hey, I totally changed a bunch of historical figures and here's why I decided to go that direction in my alternate history" but THERE ISN'T THAT HERE.

 

 

To add insult to injury, Eleanor is practically worshiped as this bad-ass wonderful queen who went shirtless at a battle and wow, that's so amazing and she is the golden role model for girls and guys and everyone.

 

Ugh.

 

Beyond that, Hope is a super special snowflake, but while I didn't overly care for her, that actually didn't bother me a whole lot until she lost any likability once they went to back to the past and her inner Eleanor fan-girl came out. The two characters I actually liked the most were Phoebe and her techie boyfriend Doug. They were both cute as a couple and likable on their own. Didn't care much at all for "Crayola eyes" (I am not even kidding) Raisin Bran,

who I nearly immediately called as being not only A. from the rival time-traveling gang but also B. Celia's son. I mean, seriously, as soon as the rival gang was mentioned, I guessed it.

(show spoiler)

 

The time travel aspect was kinda fun to read about, and at least tried to be buy-able, what with ley lines and Tesla's inventions and whatnot. However, I had to disappointed with how our characters acted in the past. They try (though not really) to avoid using modern language, and while I understand why the author did not actually have their dialogue in Old English, what I found frustrating is how often they A. slipped up and B. (infinitely more frustrating) it was treated like it was still normal for the time period.

Exhibit A.

"No way," I whispered incredulously, forgetting my medieval speech for a moment."



Okay, fine. Except that she has been using contractions left, right, up, and down this WHOLE time.

Uggggggh. This could have been so much more, or the very least, a passably fun ride, but the issues were too big to ignore. Actually, it was decent until they went back to the past, and then everything pretty much went to heck.

A Stolen Kiss

A Stolen Kiss (The Stolen Royals) (Volume 1) - Kelsey Keating

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

 

What to say about this one...it's a tough one to talk about, in my opinion, because it's not bad per se, but not good either. (Ugh, these books are the worst to review.)

 

Mainly, I didn't care. I thought about giving up pretty much the whole way through, which is just never good. But some of the actual issues I had with this beyond lack of interest are that this is labeled YA but the writing, the dialogue, everything is juvenile, and not in a good way. Especially as the oldest MC is supposed to be 18, with the rest of them a few years younger, but they all pretty much have the same maturity level. Ellis was the best character, and there was a definite lack of the shapeshifter, alas.

 

Also, for being near 350 pages, it's actually quite surprising how basically nothing happens. For that reason, it also moves very slow.

 

 

Pretty sure this whole thing could have been solved so much quicker if Derric had just FRICKING kissed her as soon as he realized he was the one who had cursed her in the first place. Could have saved like 100 pages but whatever. 

(show spoiler)

 

 

Honestly, it's not terrible, but it didn't hold my interest, and is the exact opposite of what you might call memorable.

The Last Of The Firedrakes

— feeling beat brick
The Last of the Firedrakes (The Avalonia Chronicles, #1) - Farah Oomerbhoy

**An copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

How? HOW does this have such high ratings and favorable reviews? 'Cos this was so bad, you guys. Oh, I should have DNFed. There's an hour of my life I won't be getting back.

It started out, not promising perhaps, but not totally terrible, in a generic fantasy story marginally better written than if written by an average 12 year old sort-of way. And it continued in this vein for the next 350 pages or so, with the addition of about a bajillion hackneyed cliches, an honest to goodness Pixie Hollow (with accompanying names eg. Penelope Plumpleberry), and a terribad romance. Let's look at the story, noting some of the cliches, shall we??

(Okay, not all of this will be totally 100% chronological. I'm only human. And I was speed reading.)

Aurora, an orphan, lives with her horrid adoptive aunt and uncle and cousin. Her uncle sells her to some baddie, who takes Aurora to a magical land, where Aurora discovers she is not only royalty but has inherited both of her parent's powers; she is both a mage AND an immortal fey, the combination of which is practically unheard of. She is also literally the most powerful fey-mage since the bestest and most awesomeest fey-mage whose names escapes me but basically he was super important and powerful. Her aunt wants her dead so she can take over the throne with absolutely no competition from the true heir. (But the "true heir" was in an entirely different fricking WORLD before the aunt brought her to Avalonia.) She falls into Insta!love (she actually refers to him as the love of her life, and her soul mate *gag*) with the Black Wolf, a dashing tall dark and handsome dude who runs around the kingdom doing who knows what but he's got this big huge reputation and he is actually the crown prince in disguise (I didn't see that coming AT ALL) and a total smarmy ass-hat. Aurora can talk with Pegasi, and she has one named Snow, and every scene with those two was dripping in awful saccharine pretty princess Pegasus power hour writing. Aurora is sent to a magical boarding school to learn how to control her powers, and where she encounters an Avalonian version of Draco Malfoy named Damien Blackwater, if memory serves, who blathers on about his pure "bloodline", is a general twat, and whose family is secretly in cohoots with Morgana. (At which point, I was jabbing at the Ipad screen at the rate of probably 20 pages a minute, just scanning the pages, because I was pretty confident there was nothing worth reading past that.) Aurora moons over Rafe, and they make out a bit but it never seems like it comes from any place of actual affection and it's written TERRIBLY. (This, and what was going on plot wise, had started to induce groaning and facepalming.) And then I think we are learning more about this special book of Abraxis that Morgana wants so she can control Dragoth (who is a demon?? I forget) but there are four keys you need to open the book, and she only has one. And then Aurora is an idiot (see below) and opens a portal (to hell?????) and lets Lilith (...like....that Lilith???) into Avalonia, and I don't know, Lilith is gonna use Morgana as a host body, because her wraith form will dissipate or she's weak in wraith form, or something like that. And that's mostly the end.

Aurora is also incredibly stupid. She's on the run from people who want to kill her, but instead of trying to get to someone who can help her, she begs to stay in Pixie Hollow (or whatever it was called) to sightsee the fairy market. Which gets raided by the Shadow Guard and she gets captured. Aurora also decides NOT to tell on one of the girls at the boarding school who let the Shadow Guard in, and is basically a big fat traitor, because.....that would be...tattling??? Oh gosh, there were so many instances of her stupidity, but here's another goodie. Aurora is told that bringing Snow back to life would be "dark magic" aka VERY VERY HELLA BAD DON'T DO IT and she fricking does it, because she neeeeeds Snow back. Well, guess what, Aurora? I hope you're happy that you using dark magic opened a hell portal.

(show spoiler)



Anyways, up till the last 60 pages or so, it was pretty darn bad, but it would have probably gotten two stars, because it was basically just a poorly written generic fantasy amalgamation of tropes and tween dreams when you'd daydream in your backyard about secretly being magical royalty. It wasn't something I would ever recommend, but as a wee girl with very few standards I might have even enjoyed it. Until Aurora and Rafe's gag-o-matic tripe of a "romance" was two-sided, and the plot went completely haywire.

Also worth mentioning is that this reads VERY middle grade, from plot to characters to the writing style, but then some bits felt more like they belonged in a YA? I think maybe this is one of those weird little books that was meant and marketed as YA but comes off as extremely childish and MG.

Thank goodness it's finally over.

The Looking Glass Wars: CrossFire

The Looking Glass Wars: CrossFire - Frank Beddor, Curtis Clark

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

I've always loved The Looking Glass Wars, and pretty much anything having to do with Alice in Wonderland, but I wasn't a fan of Hatter M. Thankfully, this was a whole lot better. Not only was the art somewhat better (still not very good), but the story was so much more cohesive. It is a continuation of the LGW (after 7 years!!), with a big cast of characters that were really great to revisit.

I'll definitely be around for Vol 2!!

Pull

Pull - Anne Riley

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**


This book wasn't quite what I expected - from the lack of time-travel as seen in popular fiction to the villains. I struggled through the first 100 pages or so (my copy didn't have page numbers, so I'm ballparking here), and I was pretty much ready to give up. There was little time-travel elements at that point, it was mainly focusing on Rosie's brother's myriad of problems, and the family dealing with the loss of their grandfather. Which, frankly, while not particularly bad, was getting depressing and wasn't something for which I had signed up. But I checked to see if this was a series and seeing that it is a standalone prompted me to keep going. That, and it might not have the best writing, but it read pretty fast and kept you interested, after the action picked up a bit. And in the end, it was a pretty decent read.

So basically there's this group of super-special folks who can "Pull" time back to correct a recent event called Servatores, and they formed from a group of these meta-humanesque types back in Nero's day. Enter some Biblical referencing, in which the fallen angels most likely paired up with some humans to create half demon spawn, and eventually one of their descendants gave birth to...Nero. Yup.That Nero. Now Nero, being roughly 1/500(or whatever) demon, decides that messing with black magic is the way to go. And these humans that he infects with this black sorcery are these creepy zombie/human/beasties things called Mortiferi. The Servatores formed from the meta-humanesque group in order to combat these Mortiferi, and they've been going at it ever since. Why exactly the Servatores can rewind time is never really explained. And yeah, the above is a trip down crazy lane, but when you're reading it in the book, it doesn't come across as quite so crazy?

There are groups of Servatores in all the big cities, but there's very few Servatores worldwide. The Servatores that are around try their bestest to rewind and fix deaths/abductions and Mortiferi related actions, but there's only a few, so they what? Literally run around the whole of their city and pick something they deem important to rewind?? Because "Pulling" back time is so exhausting, they can only do it once every couple hours, and they can't rewind time more than a few minutes at a time. The furthest back any Servatore group was ever able to rewind - all working together - was three hours. It just seems like it would be awfully hard to actually make a difference, but these guys sure try.

Okay, so Rosie's Granddad was a Servatore, and a really famous one, and he passes his talent on to Rosie, who is pretty hecka confused about the whole situation and is dealing with her dumb-ass brother's decisions and also trying to deal emotionally with losing her grandpa (and her slimy boyfriend waaah) all in the same day. Thankfully she eventually gets the local London Servatores to believe her story and convince them she's the real deal and get them to let her into their closely knit group.

The reasoning behind the Mortiferi's deal with the very upset man from Rosie's Grandpa's past was a little ridiculous. I mean, I know grief can make people do some crazy things, but this one is up there on that list. But anyways, of course eventually the Mortiferi show up in a big way and really start to muck things up, causing Rosie to have to "Pull" her weight in the Servatores to save everyone else's butt. (PUN INTENDED)

As far as the romance went, it wasn't bad, or mushy, or a main focus, so that was nice. I would have liked to have seen the team aspect played up even more, but what we did get of the London Servatore group working together was good.

(show spoiler)



Nothing amazing or anything, but I did enjoy reading it.

Walk The Earth A Stranger

Walk on Earth a Stranger - Rae Carson

You know that game, The Oregon Trail? You would choose an occupation (I was usually a carpenter, so I could fix broken axles, wheels, etc), assign your skill points for foraging or keeping morale high, choose a city to start from(I always started from Independence or Jefferson City) and a city as your end destination(Honestly, I mostly shot for Salt Lake City, as it was the closest, and involved less desert), choose when to leave (I would leave in the middle of February, because spring would be coming soon, but if you made good time, you'd be able to cross the rivers when they were frozen and miss the spring floods), and then wander around town, buying food, guns and ammo for hunting, livestock, and assorted goods, being careful not to exceed the weight limit of whatever wagon you bought. (I always bought the biggest - I needed to be able to cart along those extra 100 pounds of celery, cheap and nutritious.) And then, finally, you would start off down the trail.

This book was the rest of the game.

You would travel and travel, finding wild fruits and veggies, riding out on hunting expeditions (a bison stampede, oh boy!)

 

 

fight outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, general illnesses,

 

 

and the death of members of the wagon train.

 

 

Somebody would get grumbly and you'd rest for a few days to bring up morale. Maybe you'd run out of water and frantically search for an trading post that might still have a barrel. If you were enterprising, you could trade with other wagon teams or Indians you met along the way. Sometimes the hills were so steep, you'd have to use chains on the wheels, or risk a tipped/broken wagon(Lee's wagon train should have considered chains...) And then of course, inevitably, no matter what you did, a wheel, axel, or yoke would break.

 

 

And while this book didn't have every minute element of the Oregon Trail and it certainly had some additions to the expedition, it was basically the same. (No surprise there.) Except I'd have been rather playing the game. Which is not to say that this was bad, but it was slow and it's basically just a long lead-up to the following books of this series. Very little happens that you couldn't start with Book Two and jump right into the story. Lee's gold finding abilities are utilized very little, and nothing much comes of it, except for it being the driving reason why she leaves town for California. And honestly, I see why she's going to California, because people are gonna be less suspicious of her tripping over gold every time they turn around, but it will also incite a lot of jealousy on their part, even if they don't discover her secret. So California also seems the absolute worst place someone of her abilities could go. Someone finds out about your ability, and you're up a creek without a paddle. In fact, she's already discovered that people are willing to murder to get to her and her abilities, and the murderer is following her to California. Like, come on, girl, GO TO TEXAS OR SOMETHING.

 

But actually, now that I'm considering this, this book is a cross between The Oregon Trail and the Yukon Trail, which was boring as heck as you traveled up to the Yukon and really only got exciting when you could stake a claim and start panning and mining for gold.

 

 

That being said, I will be checking the second book out, because maybe something exciting will happen now that Lee's in California? One can hope.

Tell The Wind and Fire

Tell the Wind and Fire - Sarah Rees Brennan

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

I wasn't terribly impressed with the first half of the book. I didn't dislike it, but it was a bit muddled and quite frankly, the world building of the Light and Dark magic was ill explained. More on that later. But about halfway through, I started to enjoy it a bit more, especially as the revolution amped up and the Tale of Two Cities parallels got into full swing. This was very different from Brennan's other books, and yet there were a lot of elements that were the same as in Lynburn and Lexicon. She knows what she likes to write:)

I will definitely be reading this again when it comes out in April, least ways to see if anything has changed from the ARC.

Full review to come nearer to publication. (Promise.)