Bright We Burn (And I Darken, #3)

Image result for bright we burnFirst Lines: Lada Dracul had cut through blood and bones to get the castle.  That did not mean she wanted to spend time in it.  It was a relief to escape the capital.

Hey guys!  So I took a little time off there after #HogwartsOctober to get back to reading all the books I’d neglected through October.  Now I just have to catch up on my blogging!  This was a book that I picked out very soon after I read And I Rise, the second book in this series.  That book had been pretty awesome and, while I didn’t exactly care for the first book in this series, I thought this final one would be worth it.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Radu cannot escape the ghosts of Constantinople.  Torn between his duty to Mehmed and his newfound love of the city and its people, Radu ripped himself in half watching the city fall.  And now Mehmed is asking him to return to that haunted city, to stand at Mehmed’s side and help him rebuild.  Mehmed is more powerful than ever…but Radu also realizes Mehmed is completely alone.  Which begs the question, does Radu even want to spend more time with Mehmed?  Lada has taken control of Wallachia, her life dream.  But Lada can’t rest until she knows that her borders are protected and that no one–including Mehmed–will cross her.  Determined to send that message, Lada sends Mehmed an envoy of bodies…a message Mehmed and Radu can’t ignore.  They must go to war.  Mehmed knows he loves Lada, but that love can be blinding in the worst ways.  And Radu fears that he is the only one who is not underestimating his sister…

For the most part, this book continued my appreciation of this series. I fell in love with Radu in the previous book. His sensitive soul and his desire to do the right thing was very compelling, especially when faced against Lada’s unrestrained violence and drive to rule Wallachia.

In this book, both of them played their parts beautifully. Radu is as lovable as ever, perhaps even more so. He realizes by now that he’s probably the only person who sees Lada’s potential; everyone else underestimates her for being a woman.

Lada’s brutality in this book is staggering. Even taking into consideration the brutality of that time period, considering the same brutality Mehmed inflicted on Constantinople in the last book, Lada is violent. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where a character was this clearly an anti-hero. The amazing thing about White’s writing, though, is that you’re still rooting for her. Even when you’re disgusted by the level she sinks to, you still understand her thought process and that she’s ultimately fighting for a better life for her people. She’s just going about it the wrong way. She does not forgive and she never forgets.  It’s beautiful in its brutality.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that’s this violent before.  It’s so cavalier about its body count…and for whatever reason, a couple of weeks after finishing it, this is what I remember liking best about it.  Probably just because it was shocking.

Because of the fact that this book flips between Radu’s narration and Lada’s, it’s very easy to draw comparisons between the two. I actually really liked that. Their lives diverged so long ago, but here they are on the same Road of Destiny with two very different outlooks on life. It’s a fascinating study in how the way you view the world shapes everything.

The writing is clever and the twists are fun. Sometimes they aren’t as surprising as you expect them to be, but there is still a certain amount of joy to be had from catching them before they are revealed. This was fun to read and the nearer I got to the end, the harder it was to put down.

While Lada isn’t exactly a role model, I have to admit that sometimes we all need to channel her dragon ferocity.

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Welcome to My House

#HogwartsOctober (2)

Today, this first day of #HogwartsOctober, we pay homage to our Houses.

Mine’s Gryffindor!

Are you surprised that I’m a Gryffindor?

To be honest, so am I.

When I started planning out this whole Hogwarts adventure, I was curious to try to find out my house again.  (If you haven’t done it, by far the most reliable quiz is on Pottermore.)  I mean, it’s not like I’ve never done the quizzes.  I did those super obvious ones in the early 2000s that were had answers like, “I would just hug everyone!” or “I would roll my eyes and go back to reading.”  Those were dumb.  Pottermore is much less obvious in how it’s going to sort you, though you can still sometimes sort of tell what trait it’s looking for.  Not always though.

Anyway, it’s not like I hadn’t done the quiz before.  (I just used different emails to retake the quiz.  Shh….)  I was just curious to see, now, what House I would be.

Let me say this: it’s not that I never wanted to be in Gryffindor.  Who wouldn’t want to be in the house that Harry was in?  The one with the Weasleys and Hermione and everyone else we came to love?  Who wouldn’t want to be in the house of the brave and courageous?

It’s just that I never, at heart, thought I belonged in Gryffindor.

When I took the Pottermore test in college once, I got Ravenclaw.  That seemed pretty typical for me, even though it meant being in a house that I really didn’t know that well.  Luna was cool, Cho was meh, but it was the House for those who were smart and clever.  As someone who rarely ever removed her nose from a book, this seemed fitting for me and I started to really think of myself as a Ravenclaw.

But the last two times I’ve taken the test, I’ve gotten Gryffindor.  And when I took this test and got my results…I was hesitant.  I’m reluctant to say I was disappointed because it’s definitely not that (I look really good in red), but I very much didn’t see myself as a Gryffindor.

As the Sorting Hat says,

You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart.  Their daring nerve and chivalry set Gryffindors apart.

That…didn’t sound like me.  I have social anxiety, an introvert’s heart, a reluctance to take on any leadership role, and a real lack of an adventurous spirit.  So there was a time when I was a little depressed that the Sorting Hat had gotten it wrong.

Then I got thinking more about it.

While all those things are true, I started to realize there was more to being a Gryffindor than just simply a fighter’s spirit and heroic bravery.

Not all bravery looks like Harry’s.  Take Neville for example.  For years, few would have thought Neville a proper Gryffindor.  I’m pretty sure he also suffered from anxiety, either social or otherwise.  He definitely would not have been cut out for leadership roles, and his life had already been too adventurous by the time he started Hogwarts.

I started reflecting on the fact that I was more like Neville than Harry, and I was ok with that.  Like Neville, I don’t have a problem standing up to people who are mistreating others or who I think may be endangering themselves.  (Also like Neville, I’m probably better at standing up for other people than I am myself.)  Like Neville, I’m fiercely loyal to those who have earned it and I will Mess You Up if you threaten them.

Do big shows of bravery scare me?  Absolutely.  For example, as a teacher, I’m trained on what to do in a crisis, like a fire or an active shooter.  It basically comes down to the fact that I need to keep the kids as safe as possible, putting myself between them and the shooter/danger if necessary.  And that absolutely terrifies me.  And I have a constant fear that if it does happen, I’m going to freeze instead of doing whatever I’m supposed to.  But when push comes to shove, will I be able to do it?  More than likely.

I also think a part of being a Gryffindor is individualism.  We have to be brave to be ourselves in society anymore, what with shaming on social media and constant comments about things like, “Did you SEE what she was wearing?” or “Can you BELIEVE what she did?”

This is an aspect of bravery that I think I do maybe better than average at.  I have a more vintage fashion style, so I tend to dress a little differently than everyone around me.  Perhaps I don’t have purple hair or a sleeve of tattoos, but I do my own thing.  People can make fun of me for being a nerd or bringing knitting to a party, but I’m going to do what I want to do.  I can get flack for reading YA at 27 or jabs for being left-handed, but it all rolls off.

And you know what?  If that makes me brave enough for the Sorting Hat to put me in Gryffindor, then I’ll happily accept.  (But maybe at heart I’ll still feel like a Gryffinclaw.)

 

Looking for a House banner of your own?  Go ahead and take one of mine, whichever one matches your House to post on your blog!

#HogwartsOctober (5)#HogwartsOctober (4)#HogwartsOctober (3)

Top Ten Eye-Opening Books

Hey everyone!  So lately I’ve been trying to read books that somehow make me think differently about the world.  It started by accident but now I’m kind of on a roll.  And there have been a lot of books over the years that have made me realize things about the world that I didn’t know existed before.  So I thought I’d share some of those books.

Many of these do not exactly have happy endings.  I don’t think they’re meant to.  They’re meant to show the realities of the world in a sometimes very harsh light.  Some of these can be difficult to read.  But all the same, I think it’s important that we know they exist.

So here we go!

Top Ten Eye-Opening Books

1. Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher

This was immediately the first book I thought of when I came up with this list.  When Gemma is kidnapped, her life turns upside down.  Ty, her kidnapper, is hot and fit and only wants Gemma’s love.  (Which, you know, completely makes up for the fact that he’s kidnapped her and taken her to the Outback of Australia.  NOT.)  Gemma is put in a very uncomfortable situation and watching her process it…you can’t help but be moved by her struggle.

2. Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

It’s not very often I read books set in Africa–maybe because there aren’t as many as there are about other cultures?  I don’t know.  Sophie follows her mother to the Congo to help her work at a sanctuary for bonobos, but everything turns deadly the moment a violent coup tries to take over the government.  Suddenly Sophie and her beloved bonobos are in danger, running for their lives through the jungles of the Congo and hiding from men who would kill both of them.  It’s dangerous and real and definitely eye-opening about what has been happening in places like the Congo where the government is (was?) unsettled.

3. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

This is a very hard to story to read.  For as much as I loved it, I will probably never read it again.  Naila’s Pakistani family is very strict.  When she falls for a boy before she’s allowed to start dating, her parents freak.  They take her to Pakistan to reclaim her roots, but it’s there that Naila finds out her marriage has been arranged to a man she doesn’t know or care for.  It’s a nightmare situation, but it’s a nightmare that some girls in the world are still facing.  And it’s hard to know that this isn’t exactly fictional.  (The author acknowledges that she pieced the story together from experiences of people she knows.)

4. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

I love this book so much.  Lina is a Lithuanian girl living in the dangerous time of 1941.  Stolen from home with her family by Soviet soldiers, they are sent on a journey of thousands of miles to the Siberian tundra to work in gulags for a crime Lina doesn’t even know of.  It’s a flip on the typical Holocaust story because, let’s be real, the Holocaust was not the first or the only event of its kind in history.  And it’s important to acknowledge the others who also suffered similar fates.

5. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

I knew I wanted to put a Holocaust book on this list, and I thought this one was unconventional enough to fit the bill.  The heroine is a perfect German girl named Gretchen, whose “uncle” Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.  We’ve been taught forever that Hitler is a monster–but here’s a girl growing up within the Nazi Party and loves Hitler as family.  It’s hard for us to read that, because it’s true that for many, Hitler was not the Demon we see him as now.  He was fantastic with children, for example.  It’s uncomfortable for us to acknowledge that.  And Gretchen’s not blind–we do get to see what happens as Germany changes around her and not in good ways.  I’m in no way trying to diminish the atrocities of the Holocaust–but I think sometimes we also need to see why so many Germans bought into (or pretended to buy into) what Hitler was preaching.

6. The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf

This is nothing short of beautiful.  It’s a lyrical novel written from the perspective of various people–real and fictional–aboard the tragic Titanic.  Each poem has its own style, depending on the narrator.  It’s amazing how he pulls that off.  But since it covers various classes from first to crew, and it covers many races, you get to see what happened from all different sides.  Just when you thought you knew everything about the sinking…

7. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I put a graphic novel on the list!  Look at me go with all these different types of stories!  Ok, so this is autobiographical.  It’s Marjane’s story as she grew up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution.  It chronicles her youth there, her time in high school in Vienna growing up as something of a wild child, and her self-imposed exile from her homeland.  It can be funny to read at times, but it’s also very real about struggles she went through.  Revolutions aren’t exactly painless, no matter which side you’re on.

8. Sold by Patricia McCormick

Even though I didn’t exactly like this when I read it, I can’t deny that it’s important.  Lakshmi lives in Nepal with her incredibly poor family.  When rain washes out the crops that year, Lakshmi is sent away by her father, only to find out that she’s been sold into prostitution.  It’s a brutal and horrific story, but it’s also something that girls around the world are dealing with every day.  So as horrible as it is for us to read it, it’s even worse knowing that it’s not completely fiction.

9. Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

I chose this one because I think it’s an important look at social class and stereotypes.  When Ivy’s family loses everything, she’s forced to move to the poor side of town, even though she doesn’t want anyone at school to know that.  And she’s forced to confront what she’s always thought about “those people”.  It’s fascinating and you really do have to think as you read it: have I ever acted like Ivy?

10. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

This is such an important book because it shows you the consequences of your choices and how they impact everyone around you.  I remember reading this in the car on vacation and trying so hard not to cry.  It’s emotional and poignant and moving.  It’s such a valuable read.

The Valiant (The Valiant, #1)

Image result for the valiantFirst Lines: The steam rising off the backs of the cantering horses faded into the morning fog.  Our chariot raced toward the far end of the Forgotten Vale, and Maelgwyn Ironhand–my charioteer, constant companion, and frequent adversary–pulled back on the reins.

Back in high school, I was reading Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange series, about faeries and Shakespeare and a bunch of other cool stuff.  At the library one day, I saw this on the shelf and I thought it looked interesting.

When Fallon was a child, Julius Caesar invaded her homeland of Prydain and captured her father–a king of the Celts.  To get him back, Fallon’s older sister Sorcha fought Caesar’s legions–and died.  Fallon has been living in Sorcha’s shadow ever since and now, on Fallon’s 17th birthday, she can finally be a warrior like Sorcha.  But she never gets the chance.  Captured and sold to an elite Roman school training female gladiators, Fallon discovers she’s owned by her worst enemy: Caesar himself.  In a cruel twist of fate, Caesar may just be the only hope Fallon has of survival.  With enemies all around her, and not just in the arena, Fallon will always be fighting to protect herself.  And her most dangerous adversary may just be Cai, the young Roman soldier intent on stealing her heart.

This was a very interesting concept. I’ve read Lesley Livingston before and, as she admits in her own acknowledgements, this is the first time she’s written something that didn’t involve characters using magic. And I liked the result.

This covers an interesting moment in history that I don’t see many other books write about. It’s set during the reign of Julius Caesar in Rome, but it takes place not just in Rome but in Prydain or Britain as well, with the different bands of Celts that lived there. With my fast growing interest in the Celts and Anglo-Saxons who lived in England before the Norman Invasion, this was something I had to check out. And it did not disappoint.

The story focuses on the idea of having female gladiators known as gladiatrix. At the time of the story, it’s been a role that has been growing only for the last ten years or so, so there still aren’t many gladiatrix. It’s kind of interesting to see how it might have been different for a female warrior than a man, and the story makes sure to point some of that out.

The plot was fascinating and gripping once you knew what was going on. (It takes some time to set everything up, especially since we’re no longer familiar with the day-to-day of the Celtic or the Roman cultures.) When warriors of any kind are involved, there’s always danger and tempers on edge. I had a hard time predicting what might happen next because, like Fallon, I didn’t know what was normal in Rome and neither of us knew who was friend and who was foe.

I found myself really enjoying the characters in this. Fallon is strong and determined, but that determination also makes her blind to the politics of what’s happening around her. That’s where Cai comes in, as he wants to protect her as much as he can, even knowing she can fight her own battles. They have an interesting chemistry together because they push each other. I like that. It was even interesting to see people like Caesar himself and Cleopatra make appearances in this book. They were given personalities I have never really heard either of them having, but it makes sense. (Example: Caesar is nice and Cleopatra is clever but compassionate.)

I keep using the word over and over, but it really was interesting! There were so many little pieces of this story that I kept seeing that got my interest. While I’ve never been a fan of Romans (I much prefer the Greeks), I now kind of want to read up a little on their culture.

Compare This! Shakespeare Retellings

Hey everyone!  Sorry I missed this one last week, but I thought I’d make it up to you by looking at a few books that try their hands at Shakespeare.  Of course, there were MANY to choose from, so I wanted to focus on those that stuck more to the Shakespearean stories rather than taking those same plots and modernizing them (you know, like the modern Romeo and Juliet stories set in high schools).

So yeah.  I wanted to stick more to the originals.  And there were a couple that I thought of immediately as some that I’ve really enjoyed, so I thought those would be the best to focus on.

If you’re a Shakespeare nerd like I am, you’re going to enjoy this!

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub

VS.

Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein

Image result for still star crossed

Still Star-Crossed

Blurb: Verona is in shambles.  With the deaths of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, the city is supposed to be at peace.  But it’s not.  Instead, the violence is as strong as ever and the Prince is desperate for a new plan.  In their own ways, so are Benvolio Montague and Rosaline Capulet, who both have seen too much death in their families as of late.  But no matter how much anyone tries to come up with a plan, a force is at play to make sure that the Montagues and Capulets never make peace…

Pros:

  • I adored this take on Verona in the days following the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.  It’s the sequel I never knew I needed.
  • For real, though, it has just as complicated and intricate of a plot as any Shakespearean play.  Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something changes everything.
  • Characters are phenomenal.  I always liked Benvolio in the original play because of his level-headed approach to attempting to calm Romeo and Mercutio from their actions.  This only played into everything I already thought of him.  And we get to really meet Rosaline, who is only mentioned by name in the play.  (Rosaline, if you recall, was the girl Romeo was in love with at the beginning and the whole reason they crashed the Capulet party, at which he saw Juliet for the first time.)
  • This was thrilling, in that the city is virtually burning around them.  Everyone’s out for blood to avenge this person or that.  It’s not safe for anyone, especially the Montagues and Capulets.  Putting these two families on a collision course again when they’re still in mourning, is like throwing gasoline on the flame.  And, in its own way, it’s beautiful.  I could not stop reading this.

Cons:

  • At times, it can play into cliches.  It can get a little predictable at certain moments when you least want it to.
  • Shonda Rimes turned this into a TV series about a year ago that I was super excited about…but it was kind of meh.  I think that’s given some people the impression that this book is like that show, but they changed so many things in the few episodes that I saw that I would venture to say they’re very different.  But that first impression…it’s hard to overcome that.

Image result for ophelia lisa klein

Ophelia

Blurb: Hamlet is Prince of Denmark, and Ophelia is no one.  Right?  Think again.  Growing up in Elsinore Castle, Ophelia has trained from a young age to be the queen’s lady-in-waiting.  She’s witty, smart, and beautiful.  When she catches the eye of Hamlet, they begin their romance in secret.  But as Hamlet’s world turns bloody and mad, Ophelia’s happiness is shattered.  Ultimately, Ophelia will have to choose between Hamlet and her life.  In desperation, she constructs a plan to escape Elsinore forever…with one very dangerous secret.

Pros:

  • I have always always always had a soft spot for Ophelia.  She is by far one of my favorite Shakespearean females.  Seeing this well-known story from her perspective was perfection.  I mean, she probably knew Hamlet better than anyone, so what would she think when he started changing?
  • I liked how Ophelia was portrayed, as a strong and independent woman surrounded by men who thought she was helpless.  She was able to allow them to see her as they wished while still being her own person.  There’s a certain amount of strength involved in that.
  • I enjoyed the portrayal of madness throughout this book.  Remember, in the play, both Hamlet and Ophelia are said to have gone mad, though scholars only really debate whether Hamlet was pretending.  Never Ophelia.  But perhaps she was?  Hmm.
  • In general, I really liked how the story was told.  I felt like I could hear Ophelia in my head.  Her voice seemed realistic and I totally got into it.  It’s always fun when you can get that into a story that you become the character.

Cons:

  • No matter how you slice it, sometimes it’s just hard to compare a remake to the original.  As much fun as it is to see it all from Ophelia’s point of view and as close as Klein attempts to stay to the original, there are differences.  It can’t exactly be helped.
  • It’s been like 8 years since I last read this (which means I haven’t reviewed it on here!  I must reread this soon and remedy that), but from what I remember, I do remember some parts being predictable and not because I read the play first.  There’s something that happens at the end that I’m pretty sure I called before it happened.

 

My Winner: Still Star-Crossed

Why?  I just can’t explain in words how much I enjoyed that book.  It was one of those where I just picked it up at the library with no prior knowledge about it, read the jacket and thought it interesting, and loved it.  Romeo and Juliet is probably by far the most well-known work of Shakespeare’s and this “sequel” of a sort stayed true to that world while showing us What Happens Next.  I already liked Benvolio so much and I fell for Rosaline not long after I started the book (especially as she tried to stand up to the men in her life who tried to bully her into following their wishes).  Both are headstrong and witty, but they’re also both in mourning over beloved cousins (Juliet and Tybalt for Rosaline; Romeo and Mercutio who is not actually a cousin but a friend for Benvolio) and this book walks both lines so well.  It’s phenomenal.

But I will say, I’ve gone back to reread Still Star-Crossed in the last year and it may have been a smidge less enjoyable the second time around, but not by much.

Now I need to go back and reread Ophelia.  She deserves some love too.

What are some of your favorite Shakespearean retellings?  Drop them in the comments because I’m ALWAYS looking for new ones!

Top Ten Series I’ll Get Back To…Eventually

Alright, so I took you guys up on the suggestion to try Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (that book is ENORMOUS!).  I checked it out from the library and I’ll read it in the next month or two, depending on my free time.

But that got me thinking.  Here I am about to start a new series, but what about all those other series I haven’t finished yet?  When will I get back to them?

Admittedly, there may be a few on this list I never quite get back to.  Some are just a lapse in my reading, like I forgot about that series for a hot second.  But I thought it would be fun to hear from you guys again about which ones I absolutely need to move up on my to-read list!

Let’s go!

Top Ten Series I’ll Get Back To…Eventually

1. the Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin  (Stopped after: 1)

Let’s not even lie about this one: I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to it.  I read the first book after it came out in like what, 2009?  I don’t even know.  But it’s been so long I literally don’t know how I can come back to it after all this time.  But I moved the second book to the top of my to-read list to remind me that this was sitting here.

2. The Maze Runner series by James Dashner  (Stopped after: 1)

This is another one I’m not sure about.  I have this thing about books that everyone’s reading–I don’t want to read them.  I read the Maze Runner a few years before the movie came out and it wasn’t my favorite thing in the world but I thought I might stick with it.  Then it got super popular and I kind of lost my motivation for it.

3. The Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill (Stopped after: 5)

Hey, a series I actually made progress on!  In all honesty, I’ll get back to this one.  I know I will.  I adore it so much that I love going back and rereading the previous books.  So that’s what my goal is with this one: reread the first five books before moving on.  I got started on this one summer and then didn’t finish all five.  Darn.  I guess this means I have to reread them again…

4. The Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl  (Stopped after: 3)

This is another series that got super popular and I lost the thread of it.  I also doesn’t help that I literally don’t remember anything that happens beyond the first book (and that’s only because I saw the movie).  My mom bought me the 4th book as a present years and years ago (because she saw 1 & 2 on my shelves) and it’s just been sitting there, a haunting reminder that I haven’t gotten to it.  And I don’t have the heart to give it away or resell it without reading it first.

5. The Defiance series by C.J. Redwine (Stopped after: 1)

I really liked the first book in this series.  I think it was just an issue of waiting for the second book to come out and then when it did, my local library didn’t have it or something.  So time passed and I forgot a lot of what happened in the first book.  There are still a few things I remember but it’s not a lot.  And that’s my hold-up.

6. The 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey (Stopped after: 1)

I fully intend to read the next book in this series!  I even bought it!  One of my students is reading The 5th Wave right now and that may just give me the spark I need to read the second book.

7. Penryn and the End of Days series by Susan Ee  (Stopped after: 2)

Another one I fully intend to finish!  I have that one on my Kindle (which is half of the reason why I never remember I have it).  This is another series that I actually really enjoy rereading, so I may just do that before I read this last one.

8. The Blackcoat Rebellion series by Aimee Carter  (Stopped after: 2)

I do really enjoy Aimee Carter’s writing and I think this series is super interesting, but for whatever reason, I just keep bypassing the last book in the library.  I see it, I think about it, and I pass.  I think it has something to do with the fact that I’ve not been in to sci-fi lately.  All summer I’ve been reading fantasy and historical fiction and moving to sci-fi…it just doesn’t sound fun right now.

9. Ruined series by Amy Tintera  (Stopped after: 1)

The first book was SO GOOD (and I read it as an ARC) that I told my best friend about it and she texted me at like 2 in the morning when she finished it.  And then I didn’t even pick up the second book when it came out?  Yeah, I lost track of time on that one and now I’m afraid that I’ve forgotten too much.

10. This Savage Song series by Victoria Schwab (Stopped after: 1)

I do want to get back to this one too, but for whatever reason, I just feel conflicted about it.  Maybe it’s like my issue with the Blackcoat Rebellion series–I just don’t feel in the mood for this one at the present time.  Whatever it is, it means I just never grab this one either.  Not that it’s been at my library.  It hasn’t.

So what series are you sitting on, not finishing?  Let’s commiserate together!

The 48

Image result for the 48 donna hosieOk, y’all, this review is going to be formatted a little different than usual for one very good reason:

This is a DNF.  At 17%.

I got this book from Edelweiss as an ARC (it’s set to come out in October).  It looked interesting.  Time traveling assassins Charlie and Alex go back in time to King Henry VIII’s Tudor court to prevent Henry from marrying Jane Seymour.  It gets more complicated when their friend and fellow assassin Alice shows up unexpectedly.  Told in alternating perspectives between Charlie, Alex, and Queen Anne’s ladies’ maid Lady Margaret, we get to see both sides of history: the one who lived it and the two who want to change it.

Sounds exciting, right?

And at the beginning, it was fine. We start in Tudor England following Lady Margaret, Queen Anne Boleyn’s lady in waiting. And that was interesting, because Anne was about to start her fall from grace. It’s a very dramatic moment in history and it was lending itself well to that.  Everyone more or less knew Anne’s number would soon be up.

Then the time travel/The 48 stuff really started coming in and I lost it. I lost the momentum of the story, I lost why I should care about these characters, and I love the motivation to keep going. It’s this whole secret society thing and I couldn’t quite get behind a group that appears to want to change history willy-nilly for personal gain of some kind (I didn’t quite get far enough to piece all of that together).

It just…ok, I’m used to time travel stories where the time travel is more of an accident, like Outlander.  I don’t read a whole lot of time travel stories to begin with, but the whole systematic secret society aspect of it made it feel clinical and brutal.  I seriously felt like they had no real motivation to be doing what they were doing.  I didn’t understand why these characters would risk their lives to change history when it seemed like all they were trying to do was keep Catholicism from rising again in England.  (And that was just in Charlie and Alex’s case!  Who knows what the others were doing.)  I got weirded out.

I simply wasn’t enjoying it. It felt like a chore to pick it up and then my mind started wandering when I did. It wasn’t worth it to continue.