Godsgrave

godsgrave

Godsgrave (Nevernight Chronicle #2)

By Jay Kristoff

Genre: Fantasy/New Adult

Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Bang Bang Review bang

Overview

Mia Corvere remains on her revenge mission to avenge the murders of her parents and brother but in the meantime she’s taking on small missions. (It’s difficult to say stuff because of spoilers so bear with me, folks).  After a particularly bloody yet sexy kill, Mia barely escapes as she is confronted by a strange shadow man who tells her to seek the crown of the moon.

She’s then summoned by the Red Church for a new mission to find a mysterious map where she runs into her nemesis and betrayer of the Red Church, Ashlinn. After learning more important info than some dumb old map, Mia pretends to be looking for the map while she plans to be sold to a fighting house to become a gladiatii.  Mia is sold to the wrong house so she has to work twice as hard to be able to compete in the final fight to get close enough to assassinate Scaeva and Duomo.  While she slaves at house of Leona, she meets a new set of men and women who challenge her career choice.

Mia makes new friends and finds old ones, she learns more about her parents, she discovers more things about her Darkin abilities, and she may or may not find love.

Although Godsgrave is DENSE AS HELL, it’s not as dense as book one since we know the world and Mia’s back story.  Mia grows steadily throughout the novel and her new acquaintances force her to look at the choices she’s made.  Godsgrave is intense and dark and this world makes Ketterdam (Six of Crows) look like Disneyland.  There’s a lot of dynamic and strong characters especially the women.  The last 80 pages will leave you shouting your head off and it’s never info dumped or out of left field.  Some people don’t like the footnotes but I actually like them. It’s just more background info on the world and you can skip them because they’re not essential to the plot but I recommend you read some because Kristoff’s humor shines through.

I did however need several questions answered that ultimately didn’t get answered and I was prepared to give Godsgrave a 4.5 but Kristoff is very self aware and the last page made me forgive him so I gave Godsgrave a big old 5 stars.

If you like YA fantasy but want more sex and blood and language, read Nevernight and then quickly follow it with Godsgrave and then wait a year for the final book.

Click here for the spoilers.

Hunting Prince Dracula

hunting prince dracula

Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

By: Kerri Maniscalco

Genre: Horror/Historical Fiction

Bang Bang Review: bombbombbomb

Review

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is still reeling from the Ripper case as she and Thomas Cresswell head to Romania to enroll in a school for medicine. Murders seem to happen all around Wadsworth much like Murder, She Wrote with the first being on the train to Romania.  When they arrive to the dark castle, our dynamic duo learn that only two students will be admitted to the program which of course leaves Wadsworth worried because she’s a woman.  Nerds to that! Wadsworth gathers her skirts (all the freaking time) and gets elbow deep in cadavers.

Being the inquisitive person that she is, Wads investigates every creak and twig break which causes some tension for when the creak is actually the murderer but I found it a bit too obvious and too repetitive. During her outings, Wads discovers weird books, drawings, caves, bats, and that Cress can be an undermining jerk.

Joining Wads and Cress is a not-so-interesting cast of characters with the exception of Professor Radu.  The other two women, Anastasia and Daciana, are quite driven which is too similar to Wads and the headmaster and the other male students are a bit tropey.  With that being said, Maniscalco does an adequate job of developing motives and red herrings.

I really wanted to like this book and although I gave Ripper a 3.5, I liked Maniscalco’s character development but this ended up being one of my issues with the book as stated above.  I think the enjoyment of Ripper came from Wads and Cress as characters which I liked a lot but since I know this duo, there’s nothing new here.  Maniscalco does write strong women which I like but it’s not enough to keep me engaged.

My other issue is Maniscalco’s writing.  She needs to trust the reader to infer and to not bash us over the head. Okay I get it, Wads constantly has to fist up her skirts to run. Okay I get it, the castle is old with lots of little noises and we all know that one of those noises is going to be the killer.   Maniscalco also doesn’t use her words strategically-in other words, this book was too damn long!  I think every word should count towards the plot, character development, or world building and I thought Dracula had too many words that could have been cut and the book would have been unaffected.  My biggest issue was the pacing.  I know it’s called “Hunting” so that’s what they are going to do but when I read a book about Dracula, I want to see Dracula DAMMIT and not 75% in!  This is my problem and not the book’s but since the pacing is not to my liking, I will not be reading book 3.  I started skipping half way and by page 300, I skipped to the end to see whodunit.

I’m bummed, I really like Kerri and she seems like a lovely person and I met her at ALA and she personalized my book with my favorite quote from book 1 but I just can’t. If you enjoyed Ripper, you will love Dracula.

Tarnished City

tarnished city

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts #2)

By: Vic James

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian

Publication Date: February 5, 2018

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb 1/4

Review

Tarnished City picks up after Luke is sent to prison and Abi and her family, sans Daisy, are sent to the work camp.  We’ve already seen the work camp in book one so there’s no way we’re going back there again which means Abi is probably going to escape and she does.  This wouldn’t be a dystopian novel if someone wasn’t trying to rescue their sibling from the bad people so you guessed it, Abi will stop at nothing to rescue Luke from prison.

Meanwhile at prison, Luke is expecting chains and dungeons and beatings and starvation but that’s not quite what awaits him.  I won’t get into because I want you to be surprised but I will say that the prison experience is the main theme of Tarnished City.

Meanwhile at Kyneston, Gavar still hates his family and loves his daughter; Bouda is hell bent on being Chancellor by ANY means necessary; Jenner is unhappy with his unskilled situation; and Silyen is still weird. But let’s talk about Silyen who is the best character in the book.  In book one, he started the idea of abolishing the slave days but he seems ambivalent to the whole idea and he released Dog knowing he was going to wreak havoc.  Does book 2 reveal Sil’s motives? Nope, it just adds more mystery to the character which is fantastic.  I have my theories about Sil and his behavior but I’ll keep that to myself and the spoiler edition.

Just like the real world, the powerful not only want to remain so but they want more power.  The powerful say that they are looking out for the rest of the majority of the nation but their actions scream that they could care less and it is up to us to make change.  Among others, power is a big running theme in the Dark Arts Series.  Dynamic characters such as Silyen, Bouda, and a new character named Faiers contribute to the enjoyment of this read.  If you are looking for a light hearted dystopian story, don’t bother-Tarnished City is DARK. But if you do decide to begin this series, which I think you should, you won’t regret it.

Invictus

invictus

Invictus

By Ryan Graudin

Genre: Science Fiction/Time Travel

Publication Date: September 26, 2017

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb

Review

It’s the year 2371 and we’ve discovered time travel and it’s so prevalent that it’s the best job on earth.  It’s not the fun kind of time travel though; travelers are only allowed to record history and not interact with anyone but Farway’s mom broke that rule and whoopsie-all hell has broken loose.

Farway McCarthy is the best cadet in the academy, obviously, and he’s on his way to be tops in his class and the pick of any time travel job but whoopsie, he failed his test and now he’s been kicked out of school. So far, we’ve all heard this story before.  He’s wallowing in his misery when his spunky and best character in the book, Imogen, cheers him up with gelato because Invictus is set in Italy.  While they’re eating their gelato, Far gets a mysterious letter from this mysterious guy with the chance to captain his own ship to travel time to steal valuable artifacts. Of course Far is reckless so of course he says yes and assembles his crew-Imogen, his best friend Gram, and his girlfriend Priya.  And yes this is a very diverse crew because Gram is Black and Priya, well you can figure it out.

The Invictus crew is minding their business trying to find a book before the Titanic sinks when some strange girl steals it first then happens to get on their ship.  She tells them that she’ll return the book to their boss if she can be a member of their crew.  They have no choice but to accept her or their boss with will kill them all.

I’m a Whovian so of course I’ve read my share of time travel books and this is by far the best I’ve read. Graudin’s writing is a breath of fresh air that doesn’t include sappy romances, predictable plots, or convoluted story lines. I’m sure people are going to find holes in her time travel rules but I don’t go into this genre looking for holes.  I just want a book that’s not confusing as hell and enjoyable to read.  My only issue, and it pains me to say this, is that it was too wordy.  I don’t like it when the majority of the words on the page aren’t driving the plot and I felt Invictus did this.  I ended skipping through the last 150 pages-YIKES.

Overall, if you are looking for a great adventure through some pretty interesting historic locations with some pretty good writing, check out Invictus.

Genuine Fraud

genuine graud

Genuine Fraud

By E. Lockhart

Genre: Thriller

Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Bang Bang Review: bombbombbombbomb 3/4

Overview

It will be VERY difficult to review this book because the entire novel is spoiler-ama but I’ll try.

Jule is an orphan and a spy and doesn’t take crap from men.  Imogen is an orphan and a heiress and doesn’t let anyone tell her how to live her life.  Jule and Imogen become fast friends at Imogen’s house on Martha’s Vineyard and they become so close people tell them they even look alike.  Genuine Fraud is a CHARACTER DRIVEN story about girls and friendships and self image.  Notice CHARACTER DRIVEN is in all caps; that’s because this short novel does have small bursts of action but it’s dominated by Jule, Imogen, and their relationships with each other and other friends.

This book is what librarians like to call a critical read.  It’s full of themes and metaphors and character studies.  It’s meant to start a discussion on identity, feminism, and survival and although there are elements of suspense and thrills; it’s not the focal point.  Unfortunately, it’s been described as a mystery full of suspense and twists and turns but if you are looking for a Girl on The Train or Gone Girl type of suspense, you aren’t going to find it in Genuine Fraud.

I like the subtlety of Lockhart’s writing and how she drops a sentence on you in the middle of the paragraph that leaves you yelling, “WHAT THE HELL?”  I enjoyed the pacing and I thought it was written against trope.  I mostly enjoyed the themes that I mentioned above and the in-depth discussion one could have with teens and adults.

Warcross

warcross

Warcross #1

by Marie Lu

Genre: Cyberpunk

Publication Date: September 2017

Bang Bang Rating:  bombbombbombbomb

Review

Set in the not so distant future, Emika is a bounty hunter of illegal gambling in the virtual world and must secure a $5000 bounty before she gets evicted.  Missing out on the bounty, Emika decides to steal a rare power up in the Warcross tournament and upon doing so she accidentally glitches herself in the game.  The inventor of the game, Hideo Tanaka, sees Emika’s glitch and hires her as a bounty hunter to catch a hacker.

In this world, everyone is obsessed with this VR game and plays constantly to advance levels and win power ups.  I say the not so distant future because it references Harry Potter and Fashion Week but the scooters are motorized, the workforce is dominated by robots, and everything is done virtually including storing memories.  In Tokyo, which is where most of novel is set, everyone’s levels are visible above their heads and people receive points for doing daily tasks.  Clearly this is a cautionary tale and a world I do not want to live in.

Our main character Emika Chen has been an orphan since eleven and is quite tech savvy and confident which makes her a pretty good protagonist.  She’s the voice of the reader by asking all the right questions and even though she’s one of the smartest people in the room, she’s incredibly dumb.  She knows how to hack, break firewalls, and any of all the other hacky verbiage yet she doesn’t take her own precautions like hackproof shields around her personal info or making sure no one is following her.  She talks to Hideo in her room but doesn’t check to see if someone bugged it first.  I’m not sure if this is a character flaw or a writing flaw but I’m leaning toward the latter.

Hideo is a 21 year old billionaire (a Mark Zuckerberg type character) and he’s mysterious and seemingly keeps to himself but he lets Emika in rather quickly.  It’s a sweet romance but a bit too quick especially since he doesn’t seem to date often.  I wouldn’t call it instalove but I thought it was going to be more of a Kaz/Inej type situation.

My only other problem is spoilerish so I won’t go into detail but I will say that the ending wasn’t as OMG as Lu’s other books. Click here to see my spoiler edition.

I’m not a fan of Cyberpunk, although I really liked Ready, Player One.  If you are not a fan, I would still recommend Warcross because it’s more about catching the hacker and less about the virtual world.

Overall, I liked Warcross for it’s themes and I think it’s a great discussion book for teens.  It had a diverse cast that I wish we got to know better and I thought the main characters, Emika and Hideo, were solid.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing

that inevitable victorian thing

That Inevitable Victorian Thing

By: EK Johnston

Genre: Science Fiction

Expected Publication: October 2017

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

Review

In this alternate world, the coming out season is soon underway.  Yes, the coming out season where girls and boys of age and class attend parties during a season.  Helene is a plain jane who comes from humble means, Elizabeth is a celebrity socialite, and Margret is the princess of England and they all end up at the same party. In this world, people are matched by a Computer.  You upload your DNA and it finds your perfect match.  Some people live by the Computer and marry their match while some believe in free will.  I can’t say much more because it’s full of spoilers but if you want to read the spoilers, click here.

I wanted to like this book because I liked Exit, Pursued by a Bear and this has a similar formula.  It begins as a simple story but it slowly reveals a serious subject.  Victorian Thing began quite well-it’s a new world and it was organized very strategically.  Midway through however, it began to fall apart for me.

This book is set in Canada, Johnston’s homeland, and although I live mere hours from Canada I know literally nothing about our neighbors to the north. Here’s what I know about Canada: their bacon is round ham; they make a lot of maple syrup; they dip potato chips in ketchup; it’s cold; and their prime minister is cool as hell.  I didn’t realize how little I knew about Canada until I read this book and I know this sounds bad and I apologize but I’m not interested in Canadian history.  I applaud Johnston for including Canadian historical fiction and I think teens will benefit but I didn’t know what was historical fiction and what was Johnston fiction and I usually research but I didn’t because I didn’t care.

Although all the characters were likable, none of the characters were memorable.

The world had potential because it’s the 21st century and everyone is still wearing corsets and the monarchy is head of state and everyone uses Match.com and the American Revolution didn’t happen.  I have, however, read several books where computers are a cautionary tale but Victorian Thing didn’t really do anything special with this overused plot device-bummer!

Overall, this is one of those books where at the midpoint it was pretty good but it slowly started to decline and the last 10 pages tanked it for me.