Review – Scythe (Arc of Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

 

Scythe (Arc of Scythe #1)

By Neal Shusterman

SummaryThou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own. 

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Source: I purchased a hardcover

Review

I bought Scythe because the premise seemed a bit intriguing and it was a signed copy. Mostly, I wanted to know if it would be decent. I wasn’t a fan of the Unwind Dystology after the first book because things just got to be too crazy and out there to be remotely plausible. I know that not all dystopian books will be plausible, but I feel like there should be some degree of “what if?” in order to be scarier and more thought provoking. But I loved Challenger Deep by the author, so I know that he’s 100% capable of some really amazing storytelling.

I enjoyed Scythe. It was thought provoking and a tad more believable than the Unwind Dystology, enough to where I felt more invested in the story and the society it took place in. It was still a bit far fetched and I wished that it was a little more grounded in reality.

The Scythe Commandments left WAY too much room for error and there are a handful of ways to ensure completely fair methods of population control while not leaving so much room open for the wrong sort of people to take advantage and still technically follow the rules. I hate when I see glaringly obvious ways to turn the dystopia back into a utopia, but I enjoyed the scythe way of life so I just ignored the obvious solution and kept reading. It didn’t bother me nearly as much as the whole premise of Unwind (like what parents would or could actually unwind their kids? It’s so far fetched that it made it impossible to be as thought provoking as the premise would initially sound.) But the bit plot hole was a tad bit frustrating.

I feel like the series has a lot of potential, but it could just as easily turn into a completely insane, too far from reality, type of story. Still, I flew through the pages and cared about the characters, so I had to give it four stars.

Star 4

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Bookish Teas

 

I know I’m not the only bookworm who loves to pair books with tea.

I was approached by Adagio Teas to try out some of their fandom blends of tea, so I snagged a few sample tins and got to brewing some bookish tea.

 

 

The blends that I got:

 

 

 And Adagio teas sent me some Virgo tea since I ordered during my birth month.

 

 

Thoughts:

I have loved every bit of the tea that I’ve gotten and tried. I love the tins so much, too, and that there were a ton of teas on the website. There is something for just about every fandom, even those that aren’t book related. 

I would definitely order more teas! I highly recommend the site, as it was easy to find book nerd tea and find affordable blends.

 

 

 

What do you drink while you read?

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Food

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Top Ten Tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

 

October 17: 

Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books

 

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1. Butterbeer. Having tried it at Universal Studios, it’s delicious! 

(HARRY POTTER)

2. Green eggs and ham. I had it in school one day, which is just ham and eggs with food coloring. 

(GREEN EGGS & HAM)

3. Turkish delights. I had no idea what these were for a long time, but I figured they must be delicious if they could sway a brother away from his family. 

(CHRONICLES OF NARNIA)

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4. Lemon cakes. I love lemon desserts, so I think that’s the one thing I can relate to Sansa about. 

(A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE)

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5. Breakfast. Second breakfast. Any breakfast. I could be down with the hobbits. 

(THE HOBBIT) 

6. Fried green tomatoes. Ok, so I’ve never read the book, but I love fried green tomatoes. 

(FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE)

7. Clam chowder. Like any sea-faring person, I love some seafood! 

(MOBY DICK)

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8. Bread. Ok, this one is boring, but I do love bread so much, even if I don’t bake it like Peeta! 

(THE HUNGER GAMES)

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9. Pecan Pie. I wouldn’t want a reading, but I’d get some of the pecan pie from the Sargent sisters. 

(THE RAVEN CYCLE)

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10. Chocolate Frogs. HP just seems to have so much food in it that I want to eat, so I had to choose another dish from the books. 

(HARRY POTTER)

Review – Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1) by Jodi Meadows

 

Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1)

By Jodi Meadows

SummaryBefore

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

Source: I received a hardcover in an Owlcrate

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Review:

I couldn’t wait to read Before She Ignites because I love YA fantasy and I feel like we don’t get enough dragons in YA fantasy, so the promise of dragons hooked me. 

The book is difficult to review because I did enjoy it, but I didn’t like it at times. It’s hard to really decide how I feel about it overall. I think this is one of those times when the second book in a series will ultimately decide how the trilogy itself will be for me in the end. As a first book, Before She Ignites was flawed, but a thrilling second book will redeem every bit of it because the end was decent and there was a ton of potential with the basic foundation laid out in the book. The beginning was good, but the middle faltered a bit and I almost put it down because I was bored and getting irritated by how much it felt like a YA dystopian novel just set in a fantasy world. Part Three of the book picked up the pace and I felt like I was finally getting into it, caring about the characters, and feeling that maybe it wouldn’t be so predictable in the end. 

Right now, the trilogy as a whole could go either way and be super awesome or extremely forgettable. It has a ton of potential and I just need to see how it unfolds in order to make a final decision about whether I really enjoyed this book or not.

One disappointment is that the book talked about dragons and even had a handful of scenes with dragons, but was not really a dragon fantasy and I think my expectations were too high in that regard. 

On a good note, though, there didn’t seem to be any real insta-love, love triangles, or any of that other awful YA trope stuff. 

For people who suffer from anxiety, Mira is probably a character they can relate to and see a bit of themselves in and I do like that a fantasy decided to feature that in a way that worked well for the reader. Still, it was difficult to like Mira for quite some time as she fell from privileged rich girl to prison scum and her naivety was a bit much in the beginning. Like YA dystopian novels, it went through the painful phase in which the main character started to realize perhaps her people were lying to her and maybe everyone else and work through the motives and consequences of that. 

For now, I think 3 stars is fair until the sequel comes out and I can decide if it makes this one worth reading.

Star 3

Review- Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

 

Mask of Shadows

By Linsey Miller

Summary: “I love every aspect of this amazing book—a gender fluid hero, a deadly contest, and vicious courtly intrigue. Get! Read! Now!” —Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home. 

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge. 

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Source: I received a digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: 

Mask of Shadows started very strong and I fully expected to enjoy it. Sal was a confident, if somewhat arrogant, main character who intrigued me with the carriage robbery in which Sal was both sneaky and polite, flirting with the victim of the robbery in a witty banter. I was so excited to get a Celaena-like character in another fantasy who wasn’t afraid to be sassy/bold.

I kind of suck at reading book blurbs and remembering what the book was about, so I completely forgot about/ignored/never noticed that the main character was supposed to be gender fluid so I wasn’t really sure what Sal was when I first began and it took a few pages before Sal mentioned anything at all about gender fluidity, but aside from Sal’s few mentions about it, it wasn’t really talked about. 

Side note: I don’t know much about gender fluidity at all, but the book did not help me to become any more knowledgable about it, which is a little disappointing because I usually expect books and fiction to educate the reader about issues if they are big enough issues to discuss. I often read to put myself in the shoes of others and a lot of readers do the same, so I had hoped to walk away from the book feeling a little less confused about it. Instead, Sal dressed sometimes like a girl and sometimes like a boy and preferred the pronoun that fit the dress and that was about the only thing mentioned about it. In fantasy novels, women often dress like men in order to fight/move around/be an assassin and also to be taken seriously. (And since pants weren’t really an option for women in the first place, any woman wearing pants would essentially be wearing men’s clothes.) I don’t really think it worked well to have that be the main and only mention of Sal’s gender fluidity because women who dress like men in fantasy books typically still wished to be addressed as women (and usually just want to wear pants!), so I didn’t really understand why Sal would get irritated when people addressed Sal as a girl when in men’s clothing, nor did I really get to know the other characters and understood what they were wearing in relation during each interaction to help me better understand it all. I get that in today’s society, perhaps those who are gender fluid can and do use their manner of dress in this way, but it doesn’t work as well for me given the setting. I think the whole gender fluid aspect only served to make people who already understand it happy that there was a main character who was and is a great aspect, but didn’t do much to really put anyone else in Sal’s shoes and enlighten them. (I am perfectly happy to look everything I have questions about up myself and did not expect to walk away from the book as an expert on the matter, I just hoped I’d have one or two less questions about it all)..

Truthfully, how Sal dressed or was or felt was a non issue and had no impact on my review or feelings about the novel in a negative way. The reason this review isn’t a stellar one is solely based on the rest of the book. In fact, Sal’s gender fluidity was the best and most unique aspect of the entire book. 

Mask of Shadows did not do anything new in the YA fantasy genre aside from the diverse MC. It was the first book of Throne of Glass almost exactly in terms of plot. It was a competition among people to become the Queen’s Assassin with the tests involving training, expertise, and it was up to the contestants to wipe each other out and whoever was left standing would essentially be the winner. The main character also had issues with politics and those politics directly impacted the main character’s childhood and upbringing, so revenge was a big motivator. Sal was also like Celaena because of the romance with someone already at the court/palace and was not related to the game itself, but helped with aspects of training. Other than the gender fluidity of Sal, it felt like a book I’ve already read before.

Unlike Throne of Glass, the rest of the competition remained pretty much faceless strangers. I did not feel like I got to know anyone else at all. There was not a lot of character building or world building, as the competitors donned masks and avoided each other. I had hoped for some alliances to be made so that there was more at stake emotionally for Sal and/or the reader, but they were just faceless numbers falling off and helping Sal get closer to winning.

I kept reading the book hoping for a twist or turn that would make the book seem more exciting/dangerous, but Sal remained fairly unscathed for most of the book and I knew Sal would be chosen as the next Opal and that’s pretty much how the book would end. When the final test came about and Sal had to execute the name on the paper, I had hoped for it to conflict with Elise somehow so that there would at least be some romantic drama, but no.

Other reviews keep saying that Mask of Shadows had great world-building and was so action packed, but I just don’t agree and I kind of feel like I must have been reading a completely different book. The book did have a lot of potential to be amazing, but it fell short in just about every aspect. I needed more world and character building, more high stakes, and less Sal just being good at everything and eye-rolling insta-love. (As much as I loved how unconventional and diverse the whole relationship was, it’s still eye rolling insta-love and could’ve been much better developed). 

 

Star 2 

Review – Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and RIchard Chizmar

 

Gwendy’s Button Box

By Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

SummaryThe little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told… until now.

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground. From a bit farther away comes the chink of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball as the Senior League kids practice for the Labor Day charity game.

One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy: “Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me.”

On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…

Journey back to Castle Rock again in this chilling new novella by Stephen King, bestselling author of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and Richard Chizmar, award-winning author of A Long December. This book will be a Cemetery Dance Publications exclusive with no other editions currently planned anywhere in the world!

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

Gwendy’s Button Box was a short story about a girl and a box. Gwendy Peterson met a man in a hat one summer day who gave her a box that changed her life. The buttons could do the worst, but one of them just gave her a piece of chocolate that kept her from craving the sweets and extra portions that made her heavy. She was determined to shake off the Goodyear nickname when she began middle school. A lever gave her a silver coin worth hundreds of dollars as well. Mr. Farris, the man in the hat, said that she was the right fit for the box. She wondered what that meant. 

I loved the book for about 90% of it. Gwendy was faced with such a conundrum. She was improving her own life, losing weight, getting good grades, and excelling in sports. She improved the lives of her parents who, before the box, were spiraling into a unhappy cycle of alcoholism and hating each other. She could see the good it did. When she pressed the bad button in a moment of curiosity, she was sick for days and a horrible cult was poisoned. Was that her fault?

I loved the premise of the book/novella and I was eager to see how it would all unfold.

I really hate to spoil books, but it’s hard to properly review this one without mentioning how much I disliked the ending. And as a King fan, I’m used to some pretty unfinished endings. But this one really takes the cake. I almost want to throw the book across the room, but not because the ending was BAD. I hate to spoil it, but the book’s ending was good… Everything worked out well for Gwendy and I just feel little bewildered. I mean, this premise isn’t supposed to end well, right? 

I feel like I wasted my time, but I suppose the novella was short enough to not really matter in the grand scheme of things. But seriously. Who ends a story like that?

 

 Star 3

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Fall

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

 

Ten Books With Fall/Autumn Covers/Themes 

 

For me, Fall is about horror and strangeness, especially when it comes to ghosts, death, or simply circuses that pop up. 

 

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3

1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

2. Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

4. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

5. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

 

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6. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

7. World War Z by Max Brooks

8. In a dark, dark Wood by Ruth Ware

9. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

10. IT by Stephen King