Spectacle

I received an advance copy of Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok from NetGalley and I loved it. This book is currently published and available on all platforms, so if you like this review, feel free to purchase a copy for yourself or pick it up at your local library!

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To start off, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

As a historical fiction buff – I loved this story! The slight fantasy of it also made it that much more entertaining for me, especially since it added a lot to the story. Even though I wished it had a more prominent role, the biggest part of the story I loved was the historical fiction aspect of it, especially since it was 1880’s Paris – post Napoleon era.

The characters in this book, since most are women, seemed restrained, which makes sense for the times. While there were times I wished I saw more of a “screw the patriarchy” type of attitude from the characters, I can’t blame them for their reservations and their fears. It does show itself at times, but I had hoped for more moments of it.

Honestly, I loved this story so much, I couldn’t put it down at times. Since NetGalley gives out e-ARCs, I had to read this story on my kindle, which is something I don’t do often, so the fact that I couldn’t put the book down is saying something. As a person who has trouble reading on a kindle at times, the fact that I was obsessively reading this book means it’s good!

One of the problems I had with this book was the ending. It felt like it came out of nowhere and I was not prepared for the reveal when it happened. Usually with murder mysteries, there are some clues given to the reader so that they can start to guess who the killer is, but with this book I felt blindsided. I wish there had been a little more of a hint as to who it was and why they were doing it before the sudden reveal. On the other hand, it was also nice to be completely surprised at the fact that I didn’t guess the killer immediately. So if you like knowing who did it, this book is not for you! Get ready to be surprised.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this book and thought it was not only a suspenseful, enticing read but historically accurate, which is always lovely to read. As a historical fiction/fantasy buff – this book itched all my scratches and left me wanting more. I’m so excited to see what Zdrok comes out with next!

To wrap this up, I loved this story and I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction as Zdrok does an amazing job incorporating history and fiction seamlessly.

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If you like historical fiction murder mysteries, I would recommend Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco or Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers!

This Book Is Not Yet Rated

I received an advance copy of This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni from a giveaway on Goodreads. The book is available on April 9, 2019 so only two more months!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A smart and funny contemporary YA novel about 17-year-old Ethan who works at the crumbling Green Street Cinema and has to learn, along with his eccentric, dysfunctional work family, that fighting for the thing you love doesn’t always turn out like in the movies.

The Green Street Cinema has always been a sanctuary for Ethan. Maybe it’s because movies help him make sense of real life, or maybe it’s because the cinema is the one place he can go to still feel close to his dad, a film professor who died three years ago. Either way, it’s a place worth fighting for, especially when developers threaten to tear it down to build a luxury condos.

They say it’s structurally unsound and riddled with health code violations. They clearly don’t understand that the crumbling columns and even Brando, the giant rat with a taste for sour patch kids, are a part of the fabric of this place that holds together the misfits and the dreamers of the changing neighborhood the cinema house has served for so many years.

Now it’s up to the employees of the Green Street Cinema–Sweet Lou the organist with a penchant for not-so-sweet language; Anjo the projectionist, nicknamed the Oracle for her opaque-but-always-true proclamations; Griffin and Lucas who work the concessions, if they work at all; and Ethan, known as “Wendy,” the leader of these Lost Boys–to save the place they love.

It’s going to take a movie miracle if the Green Street is going to have a happy ending. And when Raina, Ethan’s oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes back home from Hollywood where she’s been starring in B-movies about time-traveling cats, Ethan thinks that miracle just may have been delivered. But life and love aren’t always like the movies. And when the employees of the Green Street ask what happens in the end to the Lost Boys, Ethan has to share three words he’s not been ready to say: “they grow up.”

This Book Is Not Yet Rated is the story of growing up and letting go and learning that love can come in many different forms and from many different sources like the places that shape us, the people who raise us, the lovers who leave us, and even the heroic rodents who were once our mortal enemies. 

Going into this story, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let me say that I was blown away by how deep this story was. The author discusses serious topics such as death, identity, self worth, and finding our place in this world – something I didn’t expect to be hit with. It was a pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

The beginning was a bit boring for me and I had a bit of trouble getting into it, but once I was invested, it was an engaging story. I did have an issue connecting with the main character though, although I’m not sure what about him made him distant for me. His personality seemed odd, but it makes sense as the story progresses why it might come across that way, so I’ll excuse it.

The biggest issue I had with the story in general was the relationship between Ethan and Raina. It was a weird love story between them that I’m not sure was resolved, which was irritating because I felt so much of the book was Ethan avoiding his feelings for Raina and once he accepted them, the tension dissipated and I’m left with nothing. I wanted more out of this love story between them and I felt a bit disappointed in it. Besides that, the interaction between Ethan and Raina were a mix of sad and emotional to fun and light hearted – it was a good, realistic mix.

Besides that, the story is engaging, funny, and deep. The other characters, like Anjo, Sweet Lou, Griffin, and Lucas helped lighten up the story and make it more entertaining and less emotionally scarring, especially in regards to the fact that this theater is going to be torn down. I also think Ethan’s friendship between these characters helped make him seem less lonely and whiny, like he does with Raina at times, and makes him appear more like a normal teenager.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and it was a good, fast read. I’m excited to read the finished result in April! For my rating, I would rate this book a star.png star.png star.png/5 stars. It was a good contemporary read and I would definitely recommend it!

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If you like this book, I would recommend To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Truthwitch

I recently started reading the Witchland series by Susan Dennard in the month of February in anticipation of Bloodwitch, which releases today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

 

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In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

I have heard some mixed reviews about Truthwitch, but from the negative reviews I heard, it didn’t sound like a book that would interest me much. Until I read it. This series is a high fantasy, soul crushing, mystical journey filled with snarky characters, a few crushes, and awesome magic. If you have heard about this book, but haven’t given it a chance yet, I would rethink your decision. I loved this book so much!

After reading Truthwitch I immediately had to start Windwitch, which was just as good! The book features several points of view, including Safiya, Iseult, Aeduan, Merik, and a few others. These main characters all have different witch abilities, such as the power of wind, blood, or truth detection and Dennard incorporates each POV and power effortlessly.

One of the things I liked the most about this book wasn’t that the world was so complex, it was that Dennard made it seem natural. There are a lot of rulers, powers, cultures, and languages in this book that you have to keep track of, but Dennard makes it easy on the reader, giving us a vast and intricate world that I loved. I also loved the distinct personalities that each person has – just like real people, everyone is individual. There are no personality repeats.

There wasn’t much I disliked about the book personally; I found it captivating and exciting, which had me hooked for the entire read.

Although I will say the transition between Truthwitch and Windwitch seemed off – like I missed a chapter or two in between and some things were not adding up. That could be my misinterpretation of the text, but I noticed it enough to think, “Did I miss something here?”. Besides that, both books were fantastic and I am so excited to read Sightwitch and Bloodwitch!!

Overall, I really enjoyed this world and I gave Truthwitch a rating of star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars and Windwitch star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting to you or if you like fantasy, then we suggest A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab!

 

Four Dead Queens

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte is set to debut in February 26, 2019. Miraculously, we both managed to snag an ARC of it at BookCon 2018, even though we almost died trying to get it. Thankfully, the book was really good and made it worth the near death experience.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

Get in quick, get out quicker.

These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:

Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition
Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment
Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature
Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism and harmonious community

When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.

OKAY! This book was so good. We both adored this story and every twist and turn that threw us against the wall, even if it almost killed us. (This book did not want us to live!) One of our favorite things about this book was the realm that Keralie lives in. A nation divided into four distinct and different sectors is not only cool, but sounds exciting enough that we want to live there! We love the idea that each kingdom has it’s own specific job to do and they never overlap, which would honestly make anyone’s life easier if they knew that they could do this one thing and that’s it. Every sector has a purpose and a job, and that made it much easier to distinguish the personalities of the different characters, based on where they live.

Another thing we loved about this book are the characters because each has a distinct personality and voice throughout the novel and it was not only refreshing, but intriguing. We were left wondering what is happening and wanting to sneak back inside their head to find out more. The more we heard from each character, the more committed we were to each character, their story, and their wants/needs. It was so hard to leave the world because we simply wanted to live there and hang out with some of the characters. Maybe talk a little. Make some new friends. These characters were so realistic and fleshed out, it was hard to not become attached to them.

We also loved the detailed descriptions of Keralie’s surroundings and events going on. Astrid does not leave you confused and wondering what is going on in a scene- at least not in the details. This murder mystery sprinkles just enough clues for you to think you know what’s going on, but do you?

The only thing we had an issue with was one character specifically. This character, whom shall remain anonymous, seemed a bit flat. The flatness comes not from their backstory, which is full and colorful, but their actions and speech. While this character has motivations to be evil, they still come across as two dimensional in all of their decisions and speech. Which is completely unfortunate, because they could be a rounded, exciting, and manipulative character (our favorite!) that brings another level to this already fast paced murder mystery. Now this issue hopefully was fleshed out through edits, so we are interested to see what happens in the final copy, but that was one of the issues we noticed in the ARC.

Overall, we absolutely loved this book! It is an amazing debut novel and we are so thankful we were able to receive an advanced copy from BookCon to review. We can’t wait until February for the final draft! Which brings our rating to star.png star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png stars!

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If this book sounds good to you or if you like murder mysteries, then we suggest The Diviners by Libba Bray!