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Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé

Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda BérubéHere There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé
Genre: Magical Realism
Release Date: 6th August 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-star

The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye's window in the middle of the night, claiming she's the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

I am so incredibly disappointed by Here There Are Monsters. I was expecting an atmospheric, creepy story about sisterhood, but the book fell short.

I think my main issue was the inability to connect to the writing style. It just wasn’t for me. I’m not sure what exactly it was that didn’t click with me, but I think that perhaps the writing was too basic. It was very much “This character did this and then they did this, and then they yelled this at another character”. There wasn’t much to connect me with the characters because there was little emotion.

Additionally, the characters were freakin’ annoying. I wanted a nice story about two sisters, one trying to find the other, but really Skye was just complaining about not wanting to watch Dierdre all the time, and Dierdre was complaining about Skye no longer being interested in her fantasy world. It was dull, annoying, and there was no sisterly love there, which is something that I desperately wanted by the end.

I don’t have much more to say about Here There Are Monsters. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to be bored to tears from watching people bicker for 300 pages.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London ShahThe Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
Series:
Genre: Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: 29th October 2019
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean's surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father's been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he's innocent, and all she's interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she's picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she'll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.

I am soooo disappointed with The Light at the Bottom of the World! I adore apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction, and with the current Climate Crisis, this book should have been exciting and topical and basically just something I would love. Unfortunately, my only take away from this book is that it is SUCH a boring book.

The setting of underwater London had so much potential, and I was very excited to dive in (lol) to this world and see how the country had changed. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough description, and the characters just flitted from one place to another without really talking about it. I didn’t get a feel for the setting at all, and to be honest I got a bit confused about exactly where everyone was.

The characters also had ideas that came out of nowhere, with no build up or suspense, and it was as though I, as the reader, was supposed to be following along the whole time. Except I was unable to follow along because the writing was so chaotic and disjointed.

In addition to all of that, nothing really happened, and for some reason the story has been dragged into a duology. I feel like this could have been a strong standalone if the writing had been tightened up, but The Light at the Bottom of the World ended up being a whole lot of missed potential.

Blog Tour: The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Sky Weaver! I’m really excited to work with Orion Publishing for this tour, because The Sky Weaver is a book that I’ve been anticipating for ages. See below for my honest review of the book (provided for free by the publisher), and make sure you check out the other stops on the tour!

Blog Tour: The Sky Weaver by Kristen CiccarelliThe Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli
Series: Iskari #3
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 14th November 2019
Publisher: Orion
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars
Lavish, romantic and magical, The Sky Weaver is a new standalone story set in the world of The Last Namsara - one that fans of Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black and Laini Taylor will flock to. . .

At the end of one world, there always lies another.

Safire, a soldier, knows her role in this world is to serve the King of Firgaard-helping to maintain the peace in her oft-troubled nation.

Eris, a deadly pirate, has no such conviction. Known as The Death Dancer for her ability to evade even the most determined of pursuers, she possesses a superhuman ability to move between worlds.

When one can roam from dimension to dimension, can one ever be home? Can love and loyalty truly exist?

Then Safire and Eris-sworn enemies-find themselves on a common mission: to find Asha, the last Namsara.

From the port city of Darmoor to the fabled faraway Sky Isles, their search and their stories become threaded ever more tightly together as they discover the uncertain fate they're hurtling towards may just be a shared one. In this world, and the next.

The Sky Weaver was an utterly addictive read that I spent just three hours on because I was enjoying it that much. As soon as I opened the first page I was swept back into Ciccarelli’s Iskari world, and I couldn’t put the book down. I’m now really sad that the book – and the trilogy – is over, because now that I’m back in this world I want more!

Full disclosure, I only read The Last Namsara prior to reading The Sky Weaver. I haven’t read The Caged Queen yet, partly because I heard bad things, and partly because it kind of flew over my radar. Thankfully, I don’t think I missed out on anything, since Ciccarelli did a good job of recapping everything for me. It seems to me that most of the things that are relevant happened in The Last Namsara anyway!

While this book is being marketed as being full of pirate-y goodness, I wouldn’t say it’s the focus of it. There are lots of pirate-y moments and scenes, but the main draws of the book are Safire, the dragon king’s commander, and Eris, someone who can shadow-walk.

I absolutely loved both of these characters, and I adored spending time with both of them. Their enemies-to-lovers romance made me smile a lot, and I’m so happy that I read their story. I have to say that I felt a bit detached from Eris to begin with, since she has no connection to Asha’s family and she kind of came out of nowhere. That said, she really grew on me, and by the end I was truly invested in her story.

I also have to mention that, as usual, I adored the stories that Kristen Ciccarelli was able to weave (ha!) in there. The interwoven stories were something that I loved the most about The Last Namsara, and I was so pleased to see that they were back in this book. They really help with the world building and the mythology, not to mention the overarching story! I feel like they do spoil things sometimes, but they’re meant to be a sort of low-key build up to the things that are happening in present day.

Not to mention that stories themselves play a massive part in this world, since it’s how humans connect with dragons! I just really love everything about them.

I honestly don’t have a bad word to say about this book. It was a highly enjoyable read, and while it’s not an all time favourite, I genuinely loved reading about the gods, the dragons, and the dragon riders!

Review: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Review: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta SepetysThe Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Historical
Release Date: 1st October 2019
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography--and fate--introduce him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War--as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel's photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history's darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence--inspired by the true post-war struggles of Spain.

I am a massive fan of Sepetys’ work, and I have been ever since I read Between Shades of Gray when it first came out. I find her writing to be very emotional, so it was a shame when The Fountains of Silence managed to drag on for me and didn’t evoke many emotions at all.

My main issue with The Fountains of Silence was that it was far too long. At 140 small chapters, the plot both dragged and jumped around from person to person, and I found myself extremely bored in the middle and completely disconnected. I was often just getting used to one point of view before the book switched to someone else’s, and so I had a hard time getting attached to any of the characters. I also found the romance to be really unbelievable, but I’ve also been told that I’m too cynical so who knows? Although I’d like to point out that it wasn’t the YA romance that I had a problem with.

I normally adore Sepety’s writing style, but unfortunately The Fountains of Silence was rather bland. I have found that I tend to connect to her WW2 fiction more than her other work.

Having said all of that, I have given The Fountains of Silence three stars because I did really enjoy learning more about post-WW2 Spain. This isn’t a topic that was covered in school here in the UK (at least in my area), and I honestly had no idea that Spain was under fascist rule for so long after the Second World War ended. It’s definitely opened my eyes and it’s now a topic that I’d like to look into more. I had the same experience with Don’t Date Rosa Santos and Cuba, as Cuba vs. the US is another topic that isn’t covered by the curriculum here. It’s always nice when there are gaps in my knowledge to fill (lol).

I would recommend checking this book out if you’re an avid fan of Sepetys, just so you don’t miss out on anything. As I said above, it’s also a good read if you want an introduction to post-war Spain and the issues there. If this is your first Sepetys book, please don’t be put off by it, as her other books are so. much. better.

Blog Tour: The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The How & the Why, a new contemporary book by Cynthia Hand. I absolutely loved this book, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on it! I also put together a (somewhat messy) playlist for the book, so scroll to the bottom for that. It’s not in any particular order, but the songs all relate to scenes in the book. You can view the full tour schedule here to check out posts from the other tour hosts! I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: The How & the Why by Cynthia HandThe How & the Why by Cynthia Hand
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th November 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

The How & the Why is the first Cynthia Hand book I’ve read in years. I started her paranormal series, Unearthly, when it first came out, and I remember absolutely loving it. In fact, I think only statement on Goodreads was gushing about the book and then promising that a review was to come (spoiler: a review didn’t come). After remembering all of this, I was very excited to read her newest contemporary, because I’m always happy when authors switch genres.

I was initially drawn to The How & the Why because after reading Far From the Tree, I’ve been really interested in adoption stories. I actually think this fascination started way earlier, but FFTT kicked things off again. You’ll probably see a lot of comparisons between the two books because they deal with a very similar subject matter, although FFTT deals more with sibling relationships than best friendships and the teen trying to find their birth mother.

I absolutely loved the main character, Cass, in The How & the Why. She was incredibly relatable in so many ways, and the relationship between her and her best friend, Nyla, was amazing. I loved the way it was written, and I loved that the focus on them didn’t sway when a potential love interest showed up.

The How & the Why is incredibly deep and heartwarming. The letters from S, Cass’s birth mother, were adorable, and such a good insight into how a teen mother-to-be could be feeling. I would have read a whole story about S, to be honest.

The ending was both satisfying… and not. It had really great build up, but I wanted more, and I think a lot of readers will feel the same way. I wasn’t disappointed in the ending at all, and I don’t think it detracts from the book, but I would definitely love it if Cynthia Hand were to write a sequel or a short story about what happened there at the end. Of course, it wouldn’t really align with the personal story that Cynthia Hand was telling, but I’m so attached to these characters now that I want to read more about them.

I’m so incredibly glad that I picked this book up on a whim because I would have missed out on so much heart warming goodness if I had skipped over it. Apparently I’m not sick of YA contemporary yet, I’m just sick of YA romances! Who’d have thought.