ARC REVIEW: The Kingdom of Back – Marie Lu

34213299Title: The Kingdom of Back
Author: Marie Lu
Rating: ★★★½

ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.

“And then one night you realize that you have given him so much of yourself that you are nothing but the curtsy and the smile and the quiet. That you are nothing.”

What is this book about? The synopsis is definitely a bit misleading (at least to me). I was expecting a fantasy story with musical aspects something along the veins of Wintersong. However, The Kingdom of Back is a historical fiction focused on the bond between siblings with some fantasy elements mixed in. The book follows the Nannerl Mozart and her relationship with her brother as they discover and cultivate their prodigious musical talents together.

What did I like? I’m a big enough person to admit that prior to this book, I was unaware of Wolfgang Mozart’s equally talented sister, Nannerl. Once I had read up about her on Wikipedia, I was able to better appreciate Marie Lu’s story. She gave such an important voice to Nannerl and I loved how true to history the book’s events were. Even the mention of the Kingdom of Back was really well done and did a great job giving insight to the possible thoughts and emotions Nannerl might have had about her success and place in the world compared to her brother’s.

What didn’t I like? The Kingdom of Back was a lot slower paced and longer than I had anticipated. Because it was lacking in action and focused more on Nannerl’s inner monologue, I struggled to push through parts of the book.

Overall thoughts: The Kingdom of Back was a totally different type of story than I had been expecting: the book is more historical fiction than fantasy. Marie Lu’s lyrical writing focuses on music and sibling love, however the book’s slower pace and lack of action failed to keep my attention.

Monthly Wrap-Up: December 2019

Hello! It’s the last monthly wrap-up of the year, can you believe it?! I’ve been off from school and work for the past two weeks and it has been so wonderful to have a break and some time for myself. Since I didn’t have any new releases from this year left to read, I got to catch up on a lot of ARCs that had been piling up.


43979540STARSIGHT: After finishing Skyward at the end of last year, I knew the sequel was going to be one of my most anticipated releases for this year. And while I really enjoyed Starsight and thought it was a fantastic sequel – plenty of action, great new characters, lots of continued world-building – I really missed the characters from the first book that I had loved so much and I spent a lot of the book wishing they would reappear.  ★★★★

41721210DIAMOND CITY: This is a case where the book started out really strong but slowly lost steam as the story went on. One thing I thought was great was the world-building–a world caught between industrialization and religion. The struggles between the two sides felt very believable and added depth to the story. I also really loved the main character, Aina, and the intriguing relationship she had with the Blood King.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  [review]  ★★★½

46378697A MURDEROUS RELATIONS: This series is usually so much fun to read. For what I assumed was the last book in the series it was extremely underwhelming. There was hardly any action or plot and I was very bored the entire time. And the thing that irritated me the most was that after all the angst and sexual tension built up between Veronica and Stoker, the moment when they finally got together was bland and completely unsatisfying.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. ★★★

42248816SCAVENGE THE STARS:  This story is a gender-bent retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, which is not something I had every read before. A quick google search of the synopsis helped me appreciate the cleverness of this book much better. I really enjoyed reading this book and I’m really looking forward to the sequel and seeing what happens next for Amaya and Cayo.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  ★★★½

42595554FOUL IS FAIR: The book is a loose retelling of Macbeth that revolves around a group of teenage girls enacting revenge on a group of prep boys after one of the girls was assaulted at a party. The first major issue I had with the book was the writing. To put it plainly: I couldn’t stand it. The scenes were very abrupt and the way the dialogue was written felt so stilted and unnatural. My other problem with the book was that a lot of the things that happened felt very far-fetched and unbelievable.  ARC provided by the publisher.  ★★

book coverBEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH: This is a companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea rather than a sequel. The story is about Eda, who makes a small appearance in the first book as the antagonist. Honestly, the thing I enjoyed the most about this book was Eda. She’s not written to be a very likeable character–she manipulated, lied, and murdered her way to be Empress. This is a redemption story for her and I really enjoyed reading about her growth as a character.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★

48341787._SY475_TO HAVE AND TO HOAX:  I’m so thankful the publisher reached out to be about reviewing this book. This was the best of two genres: rom-com meets historical romance. After an argument led to a falling out between them and cold detachment between the couple for the past four years, James and Violet begin a series of hoaxes and manipulation in the attempt to up-stage one another while insisting there are no feelings left between them.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★★★

25614492SALT TO THE SEA: This is actually my third time picking this up. I had DNF’d this two times previously before getting even a quarter of the way through. Ruta Sepetys did an excellent job of grabbing my attention throughout the novel and telling some very compelling stories with the characters. I found myself loving Florian, Joana, and Emilia and was intrigued (although very disturbed) by Albert. The author once again has told a marvelous story about a period of history that is often unremarked upon.  [review]  ★★★★½

42867745._SY475_HUSBAND MATERIAL: Unfortunately, I had to call it quits shortly after the halfway mark. I skimmed quite a few parts from the remainder of the book, so I fairly good idea of what happens and I’m sorry to say that had I finished it, my final opinion would have been just as bad. The first issue I had was the overly descriptive writing. My second issue is that the “love interest” – if you could even call him that – was terrible.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [reviewDNF @ 58%

43822778TWICE IN A BLUE MOON: I usually love Christina Lauren books, but this one was not my favorite.  Half the book is told in the past, and half is told present day which didn’t really work here. Because of that, the present day part of the felt very rushed. I think that had the story been told totally in present day with flashback chapters between, it would have worked much better. That being said, the writing was as wonderful as always and the love story was very touching.  ★★★½

42281865ASHLORDS: The premise is unlike any other I’ve read. The story is about three characters from three very different backgrounds as they enter an annual competitive race featuring phoenix horses. The concept of phoenix horses and using alchemy to rebirth different breeds of the horses was so well-developed and extremely interesting. Once I got into the meat of the novel, it was hard to pull my attention from its pages.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★½


OTHER

WWW Wednesday #24 | Top Ten Tuesday: Books with a Wintry Setting | The ABC Book Challenge – T | Young Adult Fantasy Standalones of 2019

REVIEW: Salt to the Sea – Ruta Sepetys

25614492Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Rating: ★★★★½

This is actually my third time picking this book up. I had made two previous of attempts, which both ended with me DNF’ing before getting even a quarter of the way through. I am so extremely happy I gave Salt to the Sea another chance, because I really, truly loved it.

What is this book about? Salt to the Sea takes place during WWII and is essentially about a group of characters that eventually all find themselves aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff – a German cruise liner that was supposed to transport military personnel and refugees away from the Red Away. The story follows the point of views of four different characters, all of whom have very different backgrounds and reasons for wanting to board this ship. 

What did I like? I’m a big fan of WWII historical fiction and this was no exception. Ruta Sepetys did an excellent job of grabbing my attention throughout the novel and telling some very compelling stories with the characters. The first time I attempted this book, I hated all the characters and couldn’t connect with anyone. This time, I found myself loving Florian, Joana, and Emilia and was intrigued (although very disturbed) by Albert. 

What didn’t I like? My only issue was that there was really nothing distinguishable between the four voices of the characters. Many time I found myself flipping back to the beginning of the chapter to remember whose POV I was supposed to be reading through. 

Overall thoughts: Ruta Sepetys once again has told a marvelous story about a period of history that is often unremarked upon. Previous to this book, I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff which is very unfortunate considering the astronomical loss of life experienced. Salt to the Sea was a compelling story that kept me hooked from the beginning after easily falling in love with the characters. 

WWW Wednesday #24

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!🎄 WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words in which the three W’s stand for:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

25614492WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

 

 


48341787._SY475_WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters

 

 


42867745._SY475_WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Husband Material by Emily Belden

Monthly Wrap-Up: November 2019

Hello everyone! So I as I was writing this post, I realized I totally forgot to write my monthly wrap-up for October. Whoops! I haven’t been as active with writing posts or reviews the past few months because of school which is kind of a bummer. It’s hard watching your blog really grow and make huge strides for the first half of the year and then watching those numbers dwindle away simply because you don’t have enough time for reading and blogging 😔. I’m hoping to catch up on a lot of reading over winter break. I’ll have two weeks off from school and work and I plan to spend most of it relaxing!


42292077._SX318_THESE DIVIDED SHORES: I was one of the few people who enjoyed These Rebel Waves, so I was really looking forward to the sequel. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to thrill me as much as I had been hoping. The plot and characters continued to be well written, but there was just some compelling aspect missing that was present when I was reading These Rebel Waves. But overall it was still a great sequel and conclusion to the series.  ★★★

44046860THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB: I loved this book so much! When I first read the synopsis, I knew I had to read this book as soon as it was released. The entire concept of the plot was amazing: in order to fix his marriage, the protagonist enlists the help of his buddies and historical romance novels. Um, YES. From the steamy romance to the adorable twin girls, this was such a cute, heartwarming story and I can’t wait for more from this author.  ★★★★

42771754SUPERNOVA: There was no better finish to this amazing trilogy. A lot happened throughout the pages and the action never stopped! There were definitely a few clever twists placed and the book went in a few directions that I had not been expecting. Also, THAT EPILOGUE. Like, how is no one else talking about that HUGE reveal?! I really hope it means a spin-off or a novella is in the works! This was such a fun, exciting series and I loved reading every minute of it.  ★★★★

43220998._SY475_THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE: This is a beautiful story about a period of history that I was wholly unfamiliar with prior to reading this. This is my first book by Ruta Sepetys and I can see where all of her high praise comes from. Set in Spain 1957 following the end of the Spanish Civil War, this was not something I had learned about before and so it was very eye-opening. It blew me away with it’s gorgeous writing, compelling characters, and thought-provoking story.  [review]  ★★★★

26032912._SY475_QUEEN OF NOTHING: The wait for this book was agonizing, but it was totally worth it! It was so great to be back in Faerie with Jude and Cardan and all of the other characters I’ve enjoyed reading about. However, there were a couple of things that left me a tad disappointed. First of all, this book felt really short? Not just page-wise (which was much shorter in length) but also plot-wise it felt kind of rushed. I also missed the angst and tension between Jude and Cardan. Obviously, we needed to get to the love part of a hate-to-love relationship, but it just felt really quick and I would have appreciated a bit more build with the feelings.  ★★★★

40148425._SY475_WINTERWOOD: Shea Ernshaw really excels at writing deliciously atmospheric stories. She does a great job of tying in mystery with magic, and writing it with such beautiful words and descriptions. Because of how The Wicked Deep ended, I spent a majority of the book trying to solve the mystery surrounding Oliver, and I was pleased that I was correct! However, the little plot twist involving Nora and her nightshade took me totally by surprise and I thought it was very well done. The ending to this book was much more satisfying than The Wicked Deep, and therefore I enjoyed the story better!  ★★★

43263331THE BEAST OF BESWICK:  This was a fun story by a new-to-me author! I actually won this book from Bookish First and after I read the excerpt and became totally intrigued by the story! The plot is basically Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal meets The Taming of the Shrew. I found Astrid to be a remarkable heroine whose POV I enjoyed reading and I really loved the interactions between her and Thane! I was not disappointed in the slightest by the romance and I will be reading more from this author in the future!  ★★★★ 


OTHER

The ABC Book Challenge – S | WWW Wednesday #23 | Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Fanart, Part II | #ARCstravaganza: Diamond City | The ABC Book Challenge – R | WWW Wednesday #22 | #ARCstravangza: The Nameless Queen | The ABC Book Challenge – Q