The Song Rising

The Bone Season, Book 3
Written by Samantha Shannon

I have to say, I’m a massive fan of the Bone Season series. I’ve had this book preordered since last August and just waiting ages and ages for it to release and ship. Downsides of living in France is just how much waiting there is for good books. And with the fantastic twist ending of The Mime Order, well, the wait was unbearable! Spoilers ahead for the first two books if you haven’t already read them.

Summary31451267

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

One of the most amazing things about this series is how every book is a different genre. The Bone Season was paranormal fantasy; The Mime Order was murder Mystery; and now, the Song Rising is definite dystopia. Paige is now the Underqueen, and has to lead her people, the voyants of London, as they stand up against the Scion Empire. And it’s not an easy task: there’s betrayal, deceit, new enemies and a whole lot of unhappy voyants.

We finally get to explore more of the world that Shannon has created. Paige’s mission takes her north of London, to Scion Manchester and Scion Edinburgh. We get to see just how much Scion has destroyed the lives of non-voyants as well, and learn more about the dark pasts that haunt our favorite characters. We learn about Scion Sweden, and Nick’s story, which is painful in every way.

Another strength of Shannon is how every book has its own villain, and gives Paige a very distinct goal to strive for. In The Song Rising, we finally get to meet the woman behind the fall of Ireland, Paige’s true home. Vance is a cruel commander who will stop at nothing to destroy everything Paige is trying to create. I would have liked to see more from her, but she was a great enemy to pursue.

The character growth is exceptional, especially for Paige and her relationship with Warden (which doesn’t go where you’d expect). However, I think the author might have spread herself thin by having so many supporting characters also evolving. There were so many to juggle, and I think they might have lost some of their depth on the cutting board.

I have to say the first half of the book was a little slow. it was hard to get into the story, as it was mostly Paige having to deal with annoying people, and hand out pep talks and long speeches to assert her dominance. A bit of a pain. but the last half was gripping to the extreme, and the last fifty pages were insane. So intense! Now I just can’t wait for the next book.

What I’m excited for: Scion France, and TBS à la international spy thriller. Heck. Yes. Sign me up now!

The Space Between the Stars

by Anne Corlett

This novel was nothing what I expected, and yet it is now stuck in my mind like an idea that just won’t go away. It’s one of those books that’s so breathtaking, so gorgeous, it becomes unforgettable. Fair warning, scifi fans: this is not hard scifi, this is not a space opera: it is something different, something more.

Summary30981910

All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit…

Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive.

Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be…

Musings

The virus hits, and humanity as we know it is gone. Less than a dozen or so survivors per planet. The virus has consumed so entirely that the dead are nothing but dust in sunbeams. Jamie is one of the survivors, seemingly alone on a frontier planet, so she finds hope by clinging to one idea: she needs to find her ex-husband on Earth, as they promised they would do so long ago. She’s not alone: soon, she finds a religious man with a troubled past; a woman slowly losing her mind; a pilot with a cold exterior, and his engineer; a young prostitute, and a mentally challenged boy. Strays. Stragglers. Survivors. Together, they decide to head to Earth.

The surprising thing about this novel is just how… calm it is. Not so say that the plot isn’t gripping, it’s just that you can almost feel the voices snuffed out. The author juxtaposes small, personal loses (or quite large ones) with the wide scale loss of your entire species. Jamie’s loss of her siamese twin, then unborn child, then the crumbling of her relationship with Daniel are poignant pains that are still valid in front of the collapse of mankind.

It’s really a book about philosophies, and personal beliefs around hope and religion. Some turn towards a god in this apocalypse; others turn away. And some try to take god’s place.  Although some might try to take control, believing they know best, the truth is, all in all, there is no right answer to dealing with loss and grief. There’s no one sobbing in the street and mourning the dead – since this is a massive, collective loss, the hundred or so left might remain in shock forever.

I found that the plot was predictable, BUT, it was the philosophies that kept me hooked. Yes, the ‘twist’ at the end (or big reveal) is evident from about half way through, but I didn’t mind that since the rest of the book was so beautiful. It was very odd that out of the survivors (A little over a hundred out of the billions the human race used to be made up of) the protagonist knew or was related to two of them. The coincidences did feel heavy handed.

The novel really did manage to speak about today, about how our fear of ‘others’ can destroy us all. We hear bits and pieces about the forced emigration when Earth became over crowded; about the protest ships; about the echelons that make up our future society, where our fingers are branded with our class. I would have loved to know more about that, even if that world is now gone.

For fans of Station Eleven and Firefly, this seems to be the perfect combination of ‘ragtag space team’ and the burden of loss and survival. It’s an exploration of grief and hope, and, above all, belief. It’s an exploration of our humanity, what it means to be human when humankind is lost.

And it’s gorgeous.

Expected publication: June 1st 2017 by Pan Macmillan

Taking a short break!

Heya bookworms!

Sarah here. Things are hectic, per usual, seeing a how the semester is drawing to a close and I must prepare for the inevitable exams. So… no review from me this week. I’m a little too overwhelmed to write anything constructive about books! Kenzie is going to post instead!

I did get a chance to listen to the audiobook of The Pale Dreamer, the prequel to the Bone Season series. It’s fantastic, and if you’re a fan it’s definitely worth the read.

Also great news: Dangerous Ways just came out yesterday. And this book, you need to read. I’ll make it easy for you: here’s a link so you can grab a copy!

Currently, I’m reading Angel Tormented, the third book of the Lousiangel series. It’s fantastic, I just wish i had more time to read it!

That’s all for now, bookworms. Have a fantastic holiday season!

Love, Sarah

Happy Birthday to us! + GIVEAWAY

Hello Bookworms! Sarah here, announcing some pretty big news. Our Reacommendations Booklr has just hit 3,000 followers! Huzzah!

We’re also coming up on the second birthday of our blog. On November 27th, we want to do something special for each and every one of you who supported us.

As promised, as a way to celebrate our second anniversary and all the new followers, We’re having a giveaway! Whoopee! I will be buying two lucky winners the books of their choice!

giveaway

Logistics and things:

  • You must be following me on tumblr. It is a giveaway to thank our followers, after all!
  • One winner will be picked via a random number generator. Likes and reblogs of this post count! Just be nice and don’t spam your followers.
  • The winners each get to pick any book under $15 on book depository.
  • You have within 48 hours to respond back to me with the book you want, your name and address. So you have to be alright with giving me your info – no worries, I’ll keep it 100% confidential. Make sure you ask box is open so I can let you know that you have won.
  • I will be sending the books for the book depository, so this giveaway is open to every country it ships to.
  • For extra entries (and all my love) come follow our little baby bookstagram and our twitter!
  • The giveaway will end November 27th, the second anniversary of this blog.
  • If you do not have a tumblr, no fear. Comment on this post for an entry, and we’ll add you to the drawing.

And if we hit 4,000 followers before the anniversary, we’re adding a winner to the mix. Three winners!

Alrighty Bookworms, good luck! And Happy Reading!

Hag-Seed

by Margaret Atwood
Reviewed by SA

I love Shakespeare. I love Margaret Atwood. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect for these two worlds to collide, but they have, and everything is right with the world. If I had to describe Hag-Seed in a word, it would be: Fun. Maybe delightful. In any case, it’s the Tempest you never knew you needed, so pick it up ASAP.

Summary28588073

When Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.

Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?
When Felix is betrayed by the devious Tony and kicked out of being Artistic director for a theatre festival, he exiles himself to a shack in the middle of nowhere and begins plotting his revenge. He is accompanied only by the illusion of his dead daughter, whom he sees still living and growing up at his side.

Years go by, and he is hired by a local correctional facility to teach a literature class to inmates. But he does much more than that: he puts on plays. Shakespeare plays, to be exact. And finally, his time for revenge is upon him, and everything is falling into place. Felix will stop at nothing to get his title back.

What’s fantastic about Hag-Seed is how it’s at the same time a retelling of a Shakespeare play, WHILE at the same time being a book about a shakespeare play. And they put on a play within a play as part of the revenge plot. Confused yet? Well, the book itself is clear as crystal, a fun read that might twist your mind with its layers – think Shakespeareception – while ultimately making you smile.

I had a fun time trying to match things from Hag-Seed with the Tempest. It’s great how Miranda, Felix’s daughter, isn’t the miranda from the Tempest, at least, not all the time. Sometimes the connections aren’t immediately evident. Just as Felix modernizes and interprets some of the elements in the Tempest, Atwood does as well, and they invite us to join along and make our own version of events.

I kept expecting something awful to happen, and yet, it didn’t. I loved how the convicts interpreted the characters of the Tempest. I loved the swearing with insults from the Tempest. I loved how they studied the play, and allowed us to be a part of it at the same time. (English teachers are going to have a fun time with this one!) it was just. so. fun.

So if you love Shakespeare – or just haven’t made up your mind about him yet – then pick up this amazing book.

Heroine Complex

by Sarah Kuhn
Reviewed by SA

If you like the superhero genre as much as I do, you probably love a kick ass heroine with something to prove. But have you ever worried about their sidekicks, the ones who have to run their social media page and make sure their image is as badass as they are? Have you been dying to get your hands on a book that not only has an amazing conflict, but also fantastic friendships and POCs? Then hold on tight – you need a seatbelt for Heroine Complex.

Summary27209443

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

Eight years ago, a portal opened in downtown San Francisco, bringing with it a demon army from another realm. They didn’t last long, but a handful of people gained extraordinary abilities as a result: one of them was Aveda Jupiter, who’s dead set on protecting her city from demonic activity. But protecting the city is only half of the challenge: people have to like her, too.

Cue Evie Tanaka, Aveda’s childhood bestie. She’s the one in charge of Aveda’s public image, and that means following her into action with a phone in hand, ready to capture badass videos of her beating the heck out of demonic cupcakes. But the job is a lot more than that, and Aveda needs her to take on a much, much bigger challenge.

What I loved about this book was how it managed to not only be exciting, but really funny, too. Demonic cupcakes are only chapter number one: you also have to deal with the gossip bloggers and internet trolls, and maybe try to save the world with a karaoke battle when time calls for it. You also might have to put a fire extinguisher next to your bed when things are getting sexy. There’s never a dull moment.

The plot also had some really fantastic, unexpected twists in there. Which, of course, I will not spoil for you. I absolutely loved how some insignificant details could really come back and turn the story around. And the fact that everything was told from Evie’s perspective meant some really eye opening reveals from other characters. I love it when it gets exciting!

Evie is also such a fantastic protagonist. Her struggles, her growth, her logic: combined, they make for a character who’s not only relatable, but also lovable, and somewhat enviable. She’s a very strong female character, one who’s stubborn and not easily pushed around, and I liked how she could stand up for herself unapologetically. Her relationship with Nate is also one of the most modern and natural takes I’ve seen in recent books. And did I mention, sexy?

It’s also one of those novels that deals with issues we all care about: it’s sex positive, deals with consent, with toxic media, with our habit of pitting women against each other rather than raising them up. Very early on, you see the very relatable moment when the internet care more about Aveda’s appearance than her accomplishments, about a zit breakout than her demon ass-kicking (do they even have asses?). Not only does she have to defend her city, but she can’t eat the foods she loves because it would mean a drop in interest from the public. It’s awful, but completely true.

While as a character, Aveda swayed a bit for me, her friendship with Evie is a definite reason i love this book even more. They’re honest, caring people in a good relationship, able to talk things out rather than take it out on each other. They do love each other. So do Evie and Bea, though this sisterly love is another great example of good relationships in this book.

So if you need a great dose of superhero, strong women, great relationships, and cupcakes, Heroine Complex is the book for you!

Cure for the Common Universe

23656453by Christian McKay Heidicker
Review by KM

I’ll be completely honest; I was furious with this book when I read the back cover while checking it into my branch at the library for this first time. I was furious during the first twenty pages. But things started to get better. I’m left not absolutely loving this book, but definitely not feeling the rage I had when I read the description.

It’s no secret I’m a heavy gamer. I have over a thousand hours clocked on Guild Wars 2 alone, not to mention my hours spent playing BioShock or Portal. I have commissioned art work of my characters. I have the support of an amazing guild (shout out to the wonderful Skritt Kings). Even as I read this book and wrote this review, I was logged into TeamSpeak and listening to my guild play Overwatch.

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab…ten minutes after meeting a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.

Jaxon’s first date. Ever.

In rehab, Jaxon can’t blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can’t slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he’ll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.

If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother’s absence, and maybe admit that it’s more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.

From a bright new voice in young adult literature comes the story of a young man with a serious case of arrested development—and carpal tunnel syndrome—who is about to discover what real life is all about.

Musings

I have extremely mixed feelings about this book. I loved all of the gaming references. The metaphors were the best thing ever; I kept reading them aloud to my husband. There are some amazing insights made and there is some rocking character development. I guess I just don’t like the way gaming itself is depicted.

I can admit that gaming addiction is real. Back during our freshman year of college, when my husband and I were doing long distance, we’d spend hours playing Guild Wars together and prepping for the release of the second. When I wasn’t online, I was going to classes and getting on the Dean’s list. When he wasn’t online, he was playing Magic: The Gathering, skipping classes, and ended up on academic probation.

But the numbers in this don’t really make sense to me. “You’ve clocked more than two hundred and fifty hours in this past month alone,” Jaxon’s father had said. I can tell you that last Summer, while I was working forty five hours a week, I was clocking in 250 hours on Guild Wars 2 in a month. I do a lot less now, since I’m working on my MLIS and helping run our Summer Reading Program, but I still probably average in a hundred hours each month right now in gaming time (but a lot less in Guild Wars 2, unfortunately. Hope the next expansion actually offers what it advertises.).

While the book explains in some points that gaming itself isn’t the problem, it’s the prioritizing it over everything else that is the issue, I feel like that got lost in the shuffle often. It was buried under all these conversations about how the characters were using gaming to escape reality, to earn fake achievements to give them higher dopamine levels instead of facing the real world. I can say for my guild, despite the fact most of us have legendary weapons and clock a large number of hours each week, we don’t game for those reasons primarily. Most of us have degrees, work full time government positions, and have a giant group chat running through Kik for our lunch breaks. We game for our community. Our relationships aren’t false because they’re built online.

The most brilliant thing that redeems this entire book in my eyes is that, despite being the main character, Jaxon isn’t a hero. I certainly wasn’t rooting for him. He was the guy cursing you out in PvP, the one you ended up reporting for anger issues at the end of the match. When he finally realizes what a fedora-wearing dudebro he is, it is great. There is no immediate resolution over this. Life is a process of growth; you don’t hit a point and deem you’re done growing.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this. I loved the references, the lingo, and a lot of line had me cracking up. It was refreshing to have a book where the plot line didn’t end the way I expected it to.

To leave us off, the best quote I have to explain what kind of guy Jaxon is, is from the movie The Social Network:

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