Photo Review – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote

Summary: On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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I read this to complete the True Crime prompt in the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge and because it has always seemed like an interesting book.

I had no knowledge of the crime and I liked that it was written in a way that set the scene and tone. It felt like reading a fiction novel, which is always how I prefer my nonfiction to be.

It was shocking and interesting without the normal sensationalized sort of true crime style. I definitely recommend it!


Photo Review – Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Never Never

By Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Summary: #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hopeless joins forces with the New York Times bestselling author of Mud Vein. Together, they have created a gripping, romantic tale unlike any other. “How odd to be made of flesh, balanced on bone, and filled with a soul you’ve never met.”

Charlize Wynwood and Silas Nash have been best friends since they could walk. They’ve been in love since the age of fourteen. But as of this morning…they are complete strangers. Their first kiss, their first fight, the moment they fell in love…every memory has vanished. “I don’t care what our real first kiss was,” he says. “That’s the one I want to remember.”

Charlize and Silas must work together to uncover the truth about what happened to them and why. But the more they learn about the couple they used to be…the more they question why they were ever together to begin with.

“I want to remember what it feels like to love someone like that. And not just anyone. I want to know what it feels like to love Charlie.”

Source: I purchased a kindle copy of the complete series.

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I really enjoyed the book, but I highly recommend buying the complete series, even if you already own part 1 because it’s more cost effective and if you don’t have the rest, the cliffhanger for each part is super terrible. Just have all of the parts and save yourself the angst! I feel terrible for anyone who began this back when the whole series hadn’t been completed.

The epilogue was the only part of the series I hated, but if I pretend it isn’t there, the series was amazing! It was angsty like a Hoover book and screwed up like a Fisher book and their powers combined worked well.

Photo Review – The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood

By Melissa Albert

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Source: I received a hardcover in an Owlcrate box.

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The pacing was definitely off on this one.

I had no real expectations, knew that it was disappointing to some people, and that most of the plot took place in the “real world” and so it wasn’t the dark fairy tale the synopsis sort of had you believe. I thought I went into the book with the right frame of mind since I knew what not to expect.

Still, it was slow and oddly paced, with most of the action coming near the very end out of nowhere.

I like the actual plot, I just wished we got someone else’s point of view or something to help speed it up and add intrigue. The main character was almost determined to be as uninteresting and uninterested as possible.

The book ended up being really good with a strong ending, but the pacing and POV dragged it down overall.

Photo Review – Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Furyborn (Empirium #1)

By Claire Legrand

Summary: Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

Source: I received a digital copy from Netgalley

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Furyborn had an interesting plot, but it was hard to get into and it took some time before all of the pieces came together. Rielle and Eliana were both unlikable characters, too, making it more difficult to truly connect until the book picked up in pace and the story came together. The last half of the book was better and action packed, but it was tough to get to that point.

If you can make it to the 50% mark, it pays off.

Photo Review – Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands #3) by Alwyn Hamilton

Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands #3)

By Alwyn Hamilton

Summary: When gunslinging Amani Al’Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she’d join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn’t have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn’t exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy

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Photo Review – Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) by Alwyn Hamilton

Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)

By Alwyn Hamilton

Summary: Rebel by chance. Traitor by choice.

Gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

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I really enjoyed this one, but it was a little less stellar than book 1.

ReRead and Review – Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)

By Alwyn Hamilton

SummaryShe’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Source: I purchased a hardcover. And a kindle copy on accident because I forgot I owned it already.

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I purchased Rebel of the Sands after seeing it win the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 category for the Best Books of 2016 on Goodreads. I’d seen the book around beforehand, but never picked it up. I read a lot of books each year and 99% of them I buy myself. I’ve been burned by new releases so many times, so I’ve been relying on reviews, overall star ratings, and things like “Best Book of the Year” awards to help me decide what to pick up instead of buying random books at the bookstore.

Rebel of the Sands was a blend of cultures. I expected Arabian/Eastern type of desert mythology, but I got a bit of American West at the same time. Amani’s life resembled that of the American West, a desert town full of guns and liquor and people who didn’t trust one another. At the same time, the creatures in the desert and the political setup resembled the East, a bit of Arabian Nights, with Sultans and harems. I don’t know that I’ve read a book that took place in the desert and combined Eastern and Western settings. I feel a little conflicted because I thought the combination was unique, but I wish there was an explanation for it. The author isn’t American, otherwise my first thought would be that she wanted to stick with her own comfort zone and she did that by including the American West, but that’s not the case. It’s just a little weird as I’m not sure those two things really go together.

Regardless, the book was compelling and I read it quickly. I liked Amani. I felt like she was a tough heroine who wasn’t afraid to try dangerous things. She wanted out of her life in a town where her gender determined whether she was listened to. Her uncle was going to force her to be one of his wives, but she needed to leave with money if she was ever going to get out of her town. There was a war going on and a ton of conflict, but Amani didn’t need to get involved until it showed up on her doorstep. Her path crossed with a mysterious foreigner and she was off on an adventure she wasn’t quite sure about.

A lot of reviewers have mentioned Amani’s lack of direction throughout the book and how she had no real purpose once she fled Dustwalk. What was she doing out there? Why was she so content to follow Jin? I understand the frustration when we are so used to heroines having something to focus on, even if it’s just revenge, but I liked that Amani didn’t really know what she was doing because I think sometimes that’s how life is. I get frustrated when heroines discover their strengths and somehow know exactly what to do to tear down some awful regime. I like that Amani knew what she was good at and every step she took lead her to discover the world she dreamed of wasn’t anything like she expected. Maybe she could escape to that city her mother came from, but then what? Why not just follow Jin and see what tricks are up his sleeve? At least by his side she could use her guns. She wasn’t trying to rage against the government or anything crazy. She just wanted out of her life and had no real other plan.

I do love that eventually Amani figured out what Jin’s whole deal was and found a bigger purpose. I liked that she didn’t just immediately jump on that bandwagon and that she stayed conflicted at first because it fit with her whole lack of direction. I don’t want to give too much away, but I liked how it all ended and how she ended up finding her place in everything.

I can see why Rebel of the Sands won the category for Debut in 2016 on Goodreads. It was an interesting book and it was certainly unique. I also like that, while it is part of a series, it didn’t end with some crazy cliffhanger that makes me regret reading it so soon before the sequel’s release. It was satisfying, but there’s still so much more that can and probably will happen. I definitely recommend the book.

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