Recent Reads: April 2017

Recent Reads: April 2017

My Favorites From this Month

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab
Source: Library Ebook

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

My Rating: 5/5
My Thoughts: God I loved this series. I’m so sad it’s over. If you haven’t started this one yet, please, please pick it up. It’s so beautifully written, full of intriguing characters, features a complex plot and just grabs hold of you the way all books should.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Source: Library Ebook

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. 

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. 

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

My Rating: 5/5
My Thoughts: LOVED. Read my full review here.

Breath of Fire (King Maker Chronicles #2) by Amanda Bouchet
SHE’S DESTINED TO DESTROY THE WORLD… 
“Cat” Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat’s tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what’s a girl to do when she knows it’s her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT
Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom…or not at all.

My Rating: 4/5
My Thoughts:  a great adventure / fantasy romance. I love all of the characters and I really love the story.

 

Good Reads…

Magic Wild (Dragon’s Gift: Seeker #4) by Linsey Hall
Source: Kindle Unlimited

With the Shadows from her past hot on her tail, Del Bellator is committed to growing her magic. That means hunting demons and stealing their powers, a job that’s as risky as dancing with the devil. But she’ll need all the power she can get if she wants to defeat the Shadows, so she’s willing to take the risk. While out on a demon hunt, she spots her boyfriend Roarke’s long-lost brother. He’s the only person who could tell her what the Shadows are up to. But only if only she can catch him.

As she and Roarke set off to track his brother, things get darker and deeper than they’d ever expected. The Shadows have hatched a world-ending plot with Del at the center. Worse, they’re smarter and stronger than she and her whole team combined. It’ll take everything they have—and more—to find a way out of the Shadow’s web, particularly when Del learns that she’s been prophesied to fail.

My Rating: 3.5/5
My Thoughts: I’m not sure what else to say about this series at this point. The books are all enjoyable and they are quick reads. They are packed with action and keep me entertained. There is one more in this set (the one following Del) that is going to be released soon. Then I’m assuming there will be another 5 books following the last main character, Nix. If you’ve got kindle unlimited, I highly recommend reading them all. It’s one of the best independent series I’ve found available on there.

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night & Fog #1) by Anne Blankman
Source: Library Ebook 

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

My Rating: 4/5
My Thoughts: I put this one on my reading list so along ago, that I didn’t really remember what it was about. I was looking for something to read and noticed it was available on overdrive, so I picked it up. I’m so glad that I did. I won’t lie, from the cover and title, I just assumed it was a fantasy book. Well, it’s not and it was amazing. I love historical fiction and I thought this author had a really unique story to tell.  She weaves historical figures that we all know (Hitler, Ava, Geli, etc.) in with fictional ones to create a book that appeals to a wide audience. It’s primarily a young adult romance story, but set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany, featuring a character directly involved with Hitler. How you could not find that interesting?

Scoundrel (Blades of Rose #2) by Zoe Archer
Source: Library Ebook 

London Harcourt jumps at the chance to join her father on a voyage to the Greek isles, where she meets Bennett Day. Day is a ladies’ man, when he’s not dodging lethal attacks to protect the powers of the ancients from men like London’s father, who wants to subjugate the world’s magic to British rule.

My Rating: 3.75/5
My Thoughts: This is the second book in series, the first one is Warrior. These books are a fun mix of historical romance, fantasy and adventure. If you are looking for a lighthearted adventure romance, then I highly recommend this series. I read the first one about a year ago, but I don’t remember it being quite as light. If I remember correctly, the characters in Warrior do a lot more brooding, while the characters in Scoundrel are a bit more lighthearted. Either way, I enjoyed them both.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Source: Library Ebook 

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

My Rating: 3.5/5
My Thoughts: This was an extremely quick read – I read it within a few hours and it was entertaining enough. I don’t think it will really stick with me and I hated the main characters dad, but it a good enough read. Something easy to devour in an afternoon.

Books that Disappointed Me

American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Source: Library Ebook 

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

My Rating: 2.5/5
My Thoughts:  I loved the idea of this book, but the execution fell flat for me. I think the author tried to tackle too many different topics / issues and therefore was unable to flesh anything. You skim a lot of different topics (immigration, illegal immigrants, Haitian culture, assimilation, the drug community, family relationships, etc.) but never really dive into anything. The characters also unfortunately fell flat for me.

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab
Source: Physical Library Book 

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

My Rating: 2.5 – 3/5
My Thoughts: This breaks my heart. I don’t know what to say about this one. I had such high hopes for it – I love this author, but this one fell flat for me. Maybe it’s because I just finished the EPIC Shades of Magic trilogy that she wrote. The character were a bit one dimensional, it was a bit predictable and I just couldn’t get into it. Loved the idea though!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple 
Source: Physical Library Book 
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

My Rating: 2.5/5
My Thoughts: I don’t really know what to say about this one. The majority of the story is told through emails between all of the characters and I found it to be kind of a clunky format. There were certainly charming and funny moments peppered throughout, but I had a really hard time finishing it.

 

Life According to Steph

  • I’m on Book 2 of the Shades of Magic series and quite enjoying it so far. I also just started Born a Crime last week and it is awesome on audio!! Loving it!!

  • I have heard so many good things about the Shades of Magic series, I will have to check it out at some point. Trevor Noah’s book is on my request list at the library – I’m glad you loved it!

  • I need to get on the Shades of Magic train. I waited to start when I saw the final book was coming out this year because I assumed that I would want to binge the books. :D Adding Trevor Noah’s book to my TBR.

    • that’s probably the best approach. I should have waited until the entire series came out, then I wouldn’t have to wait so long :)

  • I liked Bernadette. I thought it was quirky.

    I’m trying to decide of the Trevor Noah book is worth the foray into nonfiction, where I typically don’t go.

    • I NEVER read non-fiction and I loved it! It’s not like a typical non-fiction book, it’s more like a collection of short stories. It was REALLY good ;)

  • I recently read A Darker Shade of Magic and I need the next two! I also really want to read Born a Crime, so I’m glad you loved both of those.

    -Lauren

  • I loved Bernadette once I figured out how to read it. Her newest book, though? Didn’t like it at all.

    I need to get on that Trevor Noah book at some point.

  • American Street has been on my tbr for a while, and I think you’re the first person I’ve seen mention it, so I’m bummed you didn’t like it. I’m not usually a fan of authors trying to dive into too many serious issues when it’s not necessary.

    • it just jumped around too much for me. I feel like it could have been SO GOOD, but it just scratched the surface on so many different issues and plot points, that it didn’t do any of them real justice. It bummed me out that I didn’t love it.

  • ahhh i just love the shades of magic series. so sad it’s over. the King Maker Chronicles sounds intriguing! bummer about The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, it’s on my bookshelf (i think?) at home. it sounded super cute. might be an airport read that i leave at the airport lol. such a bummer about this savage song! not gonna lie, i’m not touching another one of her books for at least a year. the comparison trap is all too easy and nothing could compare to shades of magic.
    i liked bernadette, but despised the other book by that author. so trust me, don’t read that one lol

  • You read so many books! I’m impressed. I read Where’d You Go Bernadette on a vacation last summer and I think because I read it in basically two sittings, I liked it. But I could see how reading a little at a time would make it seem super choppy. Thanks for the ideas to add to my list!! :)

  • I really need to read the Shades of Magic series! It sounds so good.

  • Should I be embarrassed that I loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette? It doesn’t get the best reviews. LOL. I was so entertained. I felt like I was watching an episode of Modern Family. I do hear her other books aren’t worthwhile, so I steer clear. You’ve read so many fun books this month! Stopping by from SUYB.

  • I really need to start The Shades of Magic series! And I want to read Noah’s book too.

  • I definitely need to read the Shades of Magic series! I’ve heard so many good things about it, but I just haven’t had the chance to pick it up yet!

  • Like you, I wasn’t a fan of Where’d You Go Bernadette. I’m going to have to check out the Shades of Magic series after your rave reviews!

  • Pam

    I though Bernadette was o.k. I am adding Born a Crime to my audiobook list. Pam :)

  • Oh! I’m in need of a new book to read. I love the sounds of Prisoner of night & fog. Will have to download that one tonight. :)

  • I really liked Trevor Noah’s book too. I’ll have to check out your review – btw, I love your logo with Michigan inside the heart

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