The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman. . . .

Ireland, 1912 . . .

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982 . . .

Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about the Titanic that she’s harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago. – Goodreads

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the Titanic and the Oregon Trail. No clue why. This was on sale, so I snagged it.

Did you read those Dear America books as a kid? I did. I loved them and it was my first venture into historical fiction. Of course, I only liked the historical events I was interested in, but still. This book kind of made me nostalgic for those.

Let me get my least favorite parts out of the way – way too many damn points of view. I could not care less about Grace Butler, who seemed to only serve as a glimpse into Maggie’s future. And the random other characters on the ship (I honestly can’t remember their names) who fell flat for me. It felt like random fluff with no actual substance.

Other than the fluffy additional points-of-view, I enjoyed the book. It was a dramatic view into what the events aboard the Titanic may have looked and felt like for a young woman. There was a little bit of a love story woven in (though nothing crazy) and the story moved at a good pace.

Other than that, I don’t have too much to say about this book — I didn’t *not* like it, but I wasn’t in love with it, either. 3/5 on Goodreads.

Advertisements

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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 the villains who have the power to end them both. – Goodreads

Let me start by saying … I loved The Lunar Chronicles and do enjoy Marissa Meyer’s writing. I was very excited for Renegades (even more excited that it was only $2.99 in the Kindle Store HOLLAHHH). I didn’t even read what Renegades was about, once I saw who authored the book.

I will now continue by saying…I did not enjoy Renegades very much. Perhaps I’m burnt out on the whole superheroes movement, but I simply did not get a sense of originality from the book. In fact, it just kind of reminded me of X-Men…except less exciting. Some concepts were new, but for the most part, it felt as if I’d seen it all before.

Prodegies are humans born with superhuman powers. Elemental manipulation, telekinesis, the ability to turn into a bunch of butterflies, the ability to control bees/wasps, the ability to make bombs with a though, etc. Nova can put people to sleep with a single touch and doesn’t need to sleep.

Nova is part of the Anarchists, a group of prodegies looking to wipe out the Renegades, who basically resemble law enforcement and are trying to govern the remains of a crumbled world. The Anarchists (back in the day) helped prodegies come out of hiding and give them rights. The Renegades took over. In the story, it reads as one big misunderstanding of who is good and who is evil, if there is such a thing as black and white good and evil.

Long story short, Nova becomes a Renegade to try and take down the Council.

There is little story arc or climax. It’s a constant stream of Nova and her patrol team conducting surveillance and Nova trying to find out secret intel on the Renegades. It’s very predictable, save for LITERALLY THE LAST PAGE. I’m trying to avoid giving out some details, because I’m not trying to summarize the book.

There’s a little bit of love, a little bit of fighty action. That’s about it. There’s a lot of weird emotions between Nova and how she feels about the Renegades — her family was murdered when she was young and the Renegades didn’t stop it in time — and I don’t know. It was messy and just…kind of boring.

Did not love, but will continue to read Meyer’s work.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war. – Goodreads

If you’re expecting the book to be like the movie, let me spoil it for you: it’s nothing like the movie.

I was pretty excited to read this because I enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s work and was curious as to how a comic book series would translate into a narrative.

I’ll be honest, this book took me forever to finish. Yes, I’m in a slump; but also…this book was incredibly boring. How can you have a superpowered beautiful (because we were constantly reminded while reading) Amazon princess who kicks ass and takes names but be boring? I’m not sure. Much of the book was a drag, with a few exciting parts thrown in.

The plot was also insanely easy to predict. The twist could be seen from the beginning of the story.

On the pros side, I liked having two strong female leads and a strong female supporting character who was also a lesbian. The book was not focused on romance, but instead at the mission at hand: take the Warbringer to the magical spring.

Overall, I enjoyed the new spin on an old classic. I still liked the book more than I liked the movie, however, I won’t be rushing to recommend either to anyone. I rated the book a 2/5 on Goodreads.

 

Blood Oath by Raye Wagner & Kelly St. Clare

More than anything, I crave adventure. But in the disease ridden land of Verald, life is mapped out much like the well-established rings of our kingdom.

At the very heart reigns our vicious king and Lord Irrik, an invincible dragon shifter, at his side. Their power poisons the land and the people, leading to a steadily mounting number of enemies.

But change is coming.

When the rebellion surges, the king strikes back. Captured by Lord Irrik, I’m suddenly embroiled in a deadly game. One where I’m desperate to understand the rules.

Because I’m not only fighting for my life… but also a love that could be the very key to my freedom. – Goodreads

I’m 50/50 on this one.

It was quick, easy read that kept me entertained and engaged, but much of it fell short in the plot and character building department. It was also quite predictable.

Let’s hit the pros first: the plot moved quickly, which made it difficult to put the book down. There was never a good lull to power down my Kindle and go to bed. I appreciated the lack of instalove, and instead, a slow burning romance that kept my interest.

However, the main character, Ryn, was young and impulsive. If I didn’t know her age in the book, I’d have guessed she was 14 or 15. At times, she was so impulsive and stupid; literally, if any other character in the book had pulled the stunts she did, they’d have been killed. She also faced a lot of tragedy and hardship, but didn’t seem to grow from it.

Overall, the book was enjoyable and addicting to read. If you enjoy young adult fantasy, definitely give it a shot. I rated the book 3/5 on Goodreads.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever. – Goodreads

Apparently, I read the first book back in May 2015. I don’t remember reading it. I ordered a sample on Amazon and seriously, did not remember a damn thing. So I purchased the book, read it, and still didn’t remember anything. Usually when I’ve read a book already and reread it, I at least have a spark or a vague idea. Nope.

Anyway, I enjoyed it much more the second time around, if my current review vs. my old one is anything to go by. I enjoyed the character building, and really didn’t mind Feyre. The book is reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, with a few darker elements woven in.

Now, this is a review of the series. I also read Court of Mist and Fury (#2) and Court of Wings and Ruin (#3). Rather than write standalone reviews for them, I’m going to review the entire series here.

I devoured the first book. I sped through the second book. But the third book? I’m a little sick of it, and I’m drudging through it. The primary element that kept me reading was the romance. Maas is fantastic at it and the tension in book one and two kept me interested. Once the tension petered out, I lost interest in book three. According to Goodreads, there are three more books slated to be published — I’ll be honest, I probably won’t read them.

They were easy reads. I enjoyed them. I was hooked and had a hard time putting them down, most of the time. If you enjoyed the Throne of Glass series, give these a shot. Maas is a great writer and does a fantastic job at weaving a story, constructing a magical world and building her characters. However, I’m ready for a new Maas series — I’m burnt out on this one.

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her. – Goodreads

Ahhhh. This was one of those reads where everyone seems to love it, but I really didn’t care about it.

For one, the instalove was nauseating. Kalinda lives in seclusion from men for her life, and the first man she sees inevitably turns out to be her love interest within about five minutes. This occurred in the first chapter or two of the book, so I was already annoyed.

I was also annoyed because the first chapter details Kalinda as unattractive, a poor fighter, and generally unremarkable. However, in the first few chapters, she defeats a stronger fighter and is called beautiful by several other characters. What? I’m confused.

Basically the entire book was about girls fighting each other to win over the affections of a dude. I finished it, but I didn’t love it and probably won’t recommend it. 2/5 on Goodreads.

Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis

Sixteen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion—she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as the royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona—that of a vigilante—to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand.

Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their kingdom and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.

Jarvik is infuriating, bossy and unfortunately, the only person she can turn to when she unveils a heinous plot. Together, the unlikely pair will have to work together to stop an enemy that everyone thought was long gone, one with the power to destroy her family and the people of Emperion. Now the cage Allyssa so longed to break free from might just be the one thing she has to fight to keep intact. In order to save her kingdom, she will have to sacrifice her freedom, her heart, and maybe even her life. – Goodreads

I think I’m part of the minority, but I wasn’t head over heels for this book. I know, I know.

I like Allyssa — she was an alright MC. However, in true YA fantasy fashion, Allyssa is doomed to take part in an arranged marriage, which eats up most of the first half of the book. Though I can obviously understand not WANTING to be forced into an arranged marriage, Allyssa’s apprehensions come off as angsty and whiny, to a point where she deliberately puts her own safety (and that of her friend) at stake to go gallavanting into the night. She’s a badass, she can fight — I will give her that.

The “plot twist” is something you can spot from a mile away. It’s apparent from the moment it shows up and the first clue is given. I won’t delve into it anymore, but I was annoyed at how easy it was to figure out.

Also, side note, since I’m on a rant — I understand the name of the book is Cage of Deceit, but holy shit. If I had a dollar for everytime I read the words ‘gilded cage’ or literally just ‘cage’ in a metaphorical context,  I would have enough money to buy many books.

This was a miss for me, but don’t let my pessimism discourage you — Jennifer is a good writer and I will read other work from her in the future. I rated this a 2/5.