Photo Review – The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen

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The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3)

by Erika Johansen

Summary: In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies – chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable – naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – will be revealed…

With The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen draws her unforgettable story full of magic and adventure to a thrilling close.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Review:

The Queen of the Tearling trilogy has to be one of the most unique and strange, but somehow compelling fantasy (or is it fantasy?) stories I’ve read. I loved the weirdness, the jumps through the past and future, and the characters.

The Fate of the Tearling was a strong conclusion and the ending was mind blowing. Saying much else would just be giving too much away. I did enjoy getting to see a glimpse of the beginnings of the Tearling, with William Tear still alive and the next generation beginning, when we start to see the problems bubble up.

I highly recommend the series.

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Star 4

Photo Review – Educated by Tara Westover

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Educated

by Tara Westover

SummaryTara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.

EDUCATED is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has, from her singular experience, crafted a universal coming-of-age story, one that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers – the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy and read it for a local book club.

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Review:

I enjoyed Educated and found it to be quite shocking and thought provoking. It’s been weeks since I finished the book and I’m still thinking about it.

I think some of the options or even controversy can stem from the fact that this is a memoir and with any memoir, especially after James Frey, comes a bit of skepticism. Is this really true?

At the same time, a good memoir should read like a novel and be gripping, which often means being creative with the organization, narration, flow, and how the facts are presented. The truth is often different things to different people and I feel that the author did her best to be clear and truthful. I think some of the help she received in order to succeed in college was glossed over. I feel that the most unrealistic portion of the book is not the family life she had, but the ease of which she was able to get a PhD (as well as the siblings who also did the same) without any money or experience with standardized tests and other entry processes.

Still, Educated was terrifying. It actually scares me that there are people like Tara’s family and community in the world. It concerns me that people can get away with being so crazy and violent with no repercussions.

The most aggravating part of the memoir was watching Tara go back to her family, suffer emotional abuse and even physical abuse at the hands of her family members and not realize it was abnormal. Sometime I wanted to shake her, frustrated that someone could be so naive. It was maddening to watch her pride get the in the way of asking for help. I’m amazed she made it out and not at all shocked that her family would try to claim her words are fake.

I definitely recommend the book.

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Star 4

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – A book I think should be a movie

 

Photo Review – The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

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The Book Jumper

by Mechthild Glaser

Summary: Amy Lennox doesn’t know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother’s childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay.

Amy’s grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House—but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy’s new power is, it also brings danger: someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts—at whatever cost.

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Source: I purchased a hardcover

Review:

The Book Jumper was a fun middle grade fantasy about literature. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and was the sole reason I purchased the book.

I enjoyed the premise, but I felt that it wasn’t as great as I’d hoped. A lot of the lessons to be learned are done by the Inkheart trilogy and I feel that the Inkheart trilogy was able to convey the same type of message with a much better story that gripped me regardless of my age. I think the biggest think lacking in this book was the character development. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and I found even the mom to be kind of ridiculous and unbelievable.

This is a good story, so for kids who have perhaps exhausted the middle grade category and love books (and have already read Inkheart), perhaps this book is a great suggestion!

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Star 3

Fox and Wit Challenge – Book I bought because of the cover

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – Book I meant to read in 2018

Photo Review – The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika Johansen

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The Invasion of the Tearling

(The Queen of the Tearling #2)

by Erika Johansen

Summary: Kelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. Despite her youth, she has quickly asserted herself as a fair, just and powerful ruler.

However, power is a double-edged sword, and small actions can have grave consequences. In trying to do what is right – stopping a vile trade in humankind – Kelsea has crossed the Red Queen, a ruthless monarch whose rule is bound with dark magic and the spilling of blood. The Red Queen’s armies are poised to invade the Tearling, and it seems nothing can stop them.

Yet there was a time before the Crossing, and there Kelsea finds a strange and possibly dangerous ally, someone who might hold the key to the fate of the Tearling, and indeed to Kelsea’s own soul. But time is running out…

Erika Johansen’s fierce and unforgettable young heroine returns in this dazzling new novel of magic and adventure, set in the beguiling world of the Tearling.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy

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Review:

One of the interesting aspects of the first book was that, while it was a fantasy as I expected, it actually took place in the future. The Invasion of the Tearling felt more futuristic since Kelsea was able to see visions of the past, which resemble a futuristic world to us where things fell apart, technology was used to control people, and a man named William Tear had a better vision of the world.

I loved the twists and turns in the sequel and how it sort of opened up the big picture so we weren’t just concerned about the fate of Tearling or Mortesme, but how the past has shaped it and how the Queen can use those visions to better her present world.

I cannot figure this trilogy out and I love not really knowing what will happen since I’m not even certain what genre it fits into. I highly recommend it!

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Star 4

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – book told in multiple POVs

Photo Review – The Hunger by Alma Katsu

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The Hunger

by Alma Katsu

Summary: Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere.

Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck–the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history.

While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions–searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand–evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves “What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased…and very hungry?”

Source: I borrowed a kindle copy from my library

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Review:

The Hunger was excellent. It was about the Donner Party and their trek west, but with a supernatural flair. The book straddles the line between horror and historical fiction. Some of the negative reviews are from people who wanted more of one and not the other, but I found the book to be well balanced and intriguing. I flew through it and found it delightfully creepy, but I was also invested in the characters, too.

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Star 4

Fox and Wit Reading Challenge – A historical Retelling

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – novel based on a true story

Photo Review – The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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The Queen of the Tearling

by Erika Johansen

Summary: An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I really enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling.

It had a slow start and wasn’t quite as action packed or romantic as I’ve come to expect from YA fantasy, but then I realized that I wasn’t reading YA fantasy at all. It was an adult fantasy, but since the author is a woman and the protagonist is 19, I think there’s a lot of confusion on where to place it. There wasn’t a ton of violence or sex, so it’s not inappropriate for YA, it just lacks the familiar formula of a YA fantasy, fortunately.

I absolutely loved how the book was written. Each chapter had quotes from works set in the world, presumably in the future, that talked about the Glynn Queen, the True Queen, and even the Red Queen. We knew in the present that she was traveling to the capital in order to claim her throne and we knew that it would likely upset the Mort Queen in the neighboring country due to the last war and the treaty that prevented it. I had no idea what would happen and I liked not being able to predict anything. Occasionally, the author would shift to different perspective, like that of the Mort/Red Queen and the traitorous Gate Guard.

I realized quickly that I wasn’t reading just another formulaic fantasy with a would be queen who would likely be super naive and change things and then fall for a handsome guy. Kelsea was smart, angry, and not used to being pampered, so when she made changes and rash decisions, they were often things that needed to be done. And while it could be argued that she did indeed fall for a guy, it was not at all romantic or even a major plot point whatsoever, nor did she make decisions based on her love interest. The more Kelsea began to understand her kingdom, the more the reader began to understand the world and I loved how it all unfolded.

As an interesting twist, the book was a fantasy, with horses and armor and long journeys, but yet was set in a future where the modern world somehow collapsed and many technologies were lost during an event called the Crossing, so it’s like civilization starting fresh. I can’t wait to know more.

I highly recommend the book and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books.

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Star 4

Fox and Wit Reading Challenge – A book with foil on the cover

2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge – A Debut novel

Photo Review – Artemis by Andy Weir

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Artemis

by Andy Weir

Summary: Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

The Martian was one of the most unexpectedly awesome books I’d ever come across. I fully expected the book to be a drama, something like the movie Gravity, since it released when it seemed space dramas were all the rage. It shocked me, made me laugh, and had such a memorable protagonist. Because of its success, I knew that the author had quite the hill ahead of him and I was concerned that perhaps he’d be a one hit wonder in the book industry.

But the description of Artemis seemed pretty interesting. Artemis was set on a city on the moon in the future. The science behind the way the colony worked and even the economic of the whole thing seemed believable, as well as the underbelly and shifts in power. Despite my reservations, I went into Artemis fully expecting to at least enjoy it.

I did enjoy the book, but one thing was painfully obvious: Weir shouldn’t have written the main character as a female. He was really, really bad at the POV. I’m seriously not a super picky always-looking-for-offense kind of woman reader at all, but this was pretty bad and the whole thing could’ve been avoided by turning Jazz into a guy or consulting a couple of women before finalizing the book.

Jazz was supposed to be a woman in her mid 20s and I would’ve appreciated her being smart and funny and even sarcastic, but he wrote her like she was a 15 year old boy with the personality of Mark Watney from The Martian. I’m not actually convinced the author can write another kind of character, since the majority of The Martian was just Mark Watney. Artemis is filled with the same kind of characters, so much so that I’m not sure if Jazz was just selfish and doesn’t get to know anyone enough for the reader to actually get to know them, or if Weir just can’t write any different kinds of people in depth.

I knew what I had to do—I just didn’t like it. I’d have to blow the remaining two at the same time.
Please don’t quote that last sentence out of context.

“You may be used to taking shots in the face, but I’m not,” he said.
Okay, that was a good one.

“You’re totally going to bang that guy.”
“Oh, shut up!”

I turned my head inside the helmet, bit a nipple (try not to get excited), and sucked some water out.

“What’s in there, anyway?”
“Porn, mostly. Starring your mom.”

As annoying as the character building was, I enjoyed the overall plot. I appreciate the fact that Weir can write a book and fill it up with science and engineering and it’s not utterly boring or out of the grasp of the general public. I found myself eager to know more about how the place existed, how it was built, and how it functioned on a normal basis and Jazz was a fun narrator in that respect.

For that reason, I am giving this 3 stars. I’m confident that Weir can tell a good story with decent science, but I’m not at all confident that he can write anything else, especially characters.

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Star 3

2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge – A book set in space

Fox and Wit Reading Challenge – A book set in the future