15 Sept 2021

#Review: NEVER NEVER by Brianna R. Shrum

15 September 1 Comments


Author: Brianna R. Shrum
Series: N/A
Source: Audio from Audible Plus
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child - at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children's dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man.

But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up. But grow up he does. And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn't about Peter Pan; it's about the boy whose life he stole. It's about a man in a world that hates men. It's about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan. Except one.

Amazon | Chapters | TBD
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a pretty solid read overall. I thought the characters were done fairly well (with a few exceptions, that we will get to). But it just didn't quite read as YA to me. Sure, Hook started out at 12 but by like three chapters in, he was 20 lol. So like I wish this had actually been written as an adult book that explored the themes of death and anger more than it got into with this.

I liked Hook and seeing how Peter became his nemesis. I liked seeing the dark themes in Peter Pan and the "lost boys." I thought it was really cool to see the "behind the scenes" to how those different interactions occurred. And I liked that it brought us to where we typically see in Peter Pan stories with the Darlings. So this was a quasi-prequel because in the end we did get to that point.

But the whole idea of the forced love between Tiger Lily and Peter - and the amount of times that she was showcased, alongside her father, as an "Indian" - just didn't sit right for me. I know that there was a reason behind it but it just felt off. I think this is probably a sign of how things evolve and change over time.

The conflict though. The conflict!!! I believe this was Brianna R. Shrum's first novel. I've read another one of their books before and I can see the growth, the clear path into YA, but oh my gosh. I loved this book way more. I would love to see an Adult novel, especially fantasy, that focuses on these darker themes. Please do that!!!

I did think the pacing was a little off sometimes. The book dragged a little bit and it felt like it was being stretched for it to be a full novel. But I got through it quick enough without DNFing or feeling too much like I should be DNFing.

TLDR: This was really good! I liked the prequel aspect and the tie in to the story we know. I liked the characterization of Hook. But like it wasn't YA. But still a fun, short read! 

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick up this or any of Brianna R. Shrum's other novels?

13 Sept 2021

Audio #Review: ROAR by Cora Carmack

13 September 0 Comments


Author: Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1
Source: Downloaded from Audible Plus
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: February 4, 2017
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
I bought this book upon release in 2017 and then it collected dust on my Kobo shelf. In fact, I forgot I had even purchased it, but I got this through Audible Plus - Audible's new "download these for free" option. This and the sequel were "included" with my membership so I thought I would give it a go.

And I am so glad I did. The worldbuilding was amazing. I loved learning about how the magic worked, how the hunters went searching for storms, and everything about the way that all the magic worked together. I thought it was so well done, given to us at a good pace, and then expanded upon in a way that made sense to us as a reader while moving the plot along as well. That craft of world building is something that not a lot of people can accomplish, let alone do it well.

And I did like the characters as characters. I liked going between the different perspectives to see what was happening within each of the storylines, but I would have liked this to be a 5 person audiobook rather than just one. It made it difficult to always know whose perspective we were in because only one person was speaking.

I thought Aurora (Roar, Roara) was a really interesting main character and I do wish we spent more time in her perspective (it was probably about 60-75%). She is a princess who has to find her own way in the world because she's so afraid of being left behind or used in a way that she doesn't want. I wouldn't say she is naive, but she is sheltered and seeing her grow throughout the novel to be more of her own person was really great.

I do wish we had seen more of the storm hunters crew both before they left and during the hunts. We only really saw one "fight" with the storm and I would have liked more of that. That would have pushed this to be even more than what it was. But learning about witches, the old gods, and the way that everyone worked together to be able to tackle the storms was really interesting.

I hated all the romantic options and thought there was a lot of problematic aspects of the romance that was provided. There are a lot of reviews out there that go into detail about it but it is definitely toxic - a lot of non-consenusal kissing, touching, etc. And both men see Aurora as something to be captured and/or conquered. But truthfully, the romance actually didn't feel like a big part to me. Maybe that's the pro of the audio format or maybe I was just too excited about the worldbuilding.

TLDR: I am glad I already have access to the next book but I do wish that the third one was already published (or at least had a release date). I got about 60% of the way through and tried to order book #3 but can't find it available. That's how I feel about this one.

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick up this or the sequel?

12 Sept 2021

Stacking the Shelves (41): September 12, 2021

12 September 1 Comments


Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Reading Reality and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!
I had such a long week but I'm glad it's the weekend! I got through a lot of books this week and since July, when I started reading again, until now, I've read 27 books! I am pretty happy with that and am only looking forward to the next books I'll be able to read.

While I set my Goodreads challenge to 1 for the year, I'm actually hoping to read 100. I've never not read 100 books in a year so I'll keep my fingers crossed! Audiobooks have been a huge saviour for that, honestly.

How's everyone holding up?
    • Audio #Review: ROAR by Cora Carmack
    • #Review: NEVER NEVER by Brianna R. Shrum
    • Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: Event Recap of Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey
    • Stacking the Shelves (42): September 18, 2021

    10 Sept 2021

    Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers

    10 September 0 Comments
    Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


    Author: Becky Chambers
    Series: Monk & Robot #1
    Source: Purchased from Audible
    Publisher: Tor.com
    Publication Date: July 13, 2021

    Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers's delightful new series gives us hope for the future.

    It's been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools.

    Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again.

    Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

    One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of "what do people need?" is answered.

    But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
    They're going to need to ask it a lot.

    Becky Chambers' new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

    Wow, this was an excellent read. Coming off the tail end of a meh read, I am so glad I decided to read this afterwards. It's a very short read (160 pages, or about 4.5 hours on audio) and I loved every moment of it. I've really enjoyed the pieces of the Wayfarers series that I've read so far.

    The somewhat prologue was confusing for me and I almost dread reading the book until I started chapter 1 and liked Dex a lot! I was concerned it was going to be too much of a "let me learn how to do my job" instead of what it was - I excel at what I do to the point that I can do this for everyone. I loved following Dex's view and seeing them stumbled through their first day on the tea service. It didn't even dawn on me, until it was explicitly said in the story, that Dex was nonbinary because they went by Sibling Dex instead of Sister or Brother. 

    This story definitely reeled me in, as soon as I read the first person who came with a problem and how Dex handled the situation. I normally don't like swearing in my reading but Dex swore at all the right places and each time it sparked a smile from me like the tree blocking the road.

    I listened to the audiobook and also loved the narrator, Em Grosland, who is a trans* activist. It's always great!!! to have someone who identifies the same way as the main character provide the narration since it adds that extra bit of nuance to how they voice a character. Like always with Chambers' audiobooks, the quality is superb. Especially given that they are usually on the shorter side.

    On top of all that, the tea service was great. I want to be a tea monk and help people by giving them tea. I know how much a good cup of tea helps me. I did like seeing Dex fumble at the beginning, but become extremely confident in what they were doing by the end. And the symmetry with the beginning and ending? *Chef's Kiss*

    I can't wait for the next book to come out in the series - and I hope it continues for a long time! There is still so much to explore: how this all got started, what it means to be a tea monk, how people are helped, and what purpose we all have.

    TLDRWhat a great read. I'm always so impressed with Becky Chambers books, but this was superb. Chambers does this thing where she writes inclusively and you don't even notice. Dex is an amazing character, I loved the look at religion in a science fiction novel, and that this was an "aftermath" book without it being guts and gore. I highly recommend this one!

    Have you read this one? What was your favourite part?

    7 Sept 2021

    Top Ten Tuesday (21): Top Ten Books Guaranteed to Put a Smile On Your Face

    07 September 0 Comments


    Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. See all the posts every week by clicking on the link to read their blog!

    Today's Top Ten Tuesday theme is all about books that I think will put a smile on your face, which means they put a smile on mine! I tried to give you a mix of genres and even ones that put a smile on my face AFTER it crushed my soul, so enjoy those!

    What books always make you smile?

    6 Sept 2021

    Audio #Review: VORTEX VISIONS by Elise Kova

    06 September 0 Comments


    Author: Elise Kova
    Series: Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #1
    Source: Purchased from Audible
    Publisher: Silver Wing Press
    Publication Date: February 4, 2019
    Overall Rating:

    A desperate princess, a magical traveler, and a watch that binds them together with the fate of a dying world.

    Vi Solaris is the heir to an Empire she’s barely seen. Her parents sacrificed a life with her to quell a rebellion and secure peace with a political alliance. Now, three years past when her wardship should’ve ended, Vi will do anything to be reunited with her family.

    The Empire is faltering beneath the burden of political infighting and a deadly plague. Yet, Vi can’t help but wonder if her inability to control her magic is the true reason her parents haven’t brought her home. Suspicion becomes reality when she unleashes powers she’s not supposed to have.

    Powers that might well cost her the throne.

    As Vi fights to get her magic under control, a mysterious stranger appears from across the world. He holds the keys to unlocking her full potential, but the knowledge has an unspeakable price — some truths, once seen, cannot be ignored.

    All eyes are on her and Vi must make the hardest choice of her life: Play by the rules and claim her throne. Or, break them and save the world.
    Amazon | Chapters | TBD
    Warning! This book and review may contain spoilers for the AIR AWAKENS series! You can read my reviews for those:
    Reading Vortex Visions was like coming home. I didn't realize how much I missed the Air Awakens world until I started reading this. After taking a bit of a break from Kova's work after reading through the Loom Saga, I am coming back and reading through ALL of the stuff I missed. That means Vortex Chronicles, Married to Magic, A Trial of Sorcerers, and the Wish Quartet.

    Honestly, part of me put this off because I was like "what if the revisit to the world isn't that great" and I was concerned that reopening a "closed" story would cause me to not love the first series as much. But that's definitely not the case. So if you're scared about that like I was, don't fear!

    I thought it was a nice tie into the old and the new by having characters like Jax be present from the beginning, but it was definitely a bit of a slow start over all. The plot itself was really interesting and I liked seeing the new magic system, tying in some pieces from Air Awakens that went under discovered, and meeting new characters (like Jayme, but I mighttt be biased).

    I liked Vi and felt her internal struggle, but there were some times that I felt she was making bad choices - ones that didn't seem to really make sense except to move the plot forward.

    I would have liked a bit more time spent on the ending because some of the middle felt like "filler" but knowing how Elise writes, I'm sure this will all come back around.

    In terms of the audio, I really liked the narrator and thought it was well-read and well-paced. I liked hearing the names being read aloud because I know some of them would have tripped me up. It was also nice to hear the "accents" of people that I have read about before and learning how the different areas spoke.

    I can't wait to continue with this series!

    Have you read this series? Are you going to pick it up?