Title: Traitor to the Throne
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Performer: Soneela Nankani
Length: 15 hr, 22 min
Series: Rebel of the Sands, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2017 by Recorded Books
Review: I loved this book, and just as I suspected, it is a five star rating for me. Everything about this book is well done. The pacing is excellent, the character development is fantastic, and the attention to detail is impressive. It is like looking at a stunning tapestry of interwoven story threads. Hamilton is truly a masterful storyteller and I cannot recommend this series enough. The first book was very enjoyable, but Hamilton takes her story telling to another level with this one. I am really looking forward to the third and final book in this trilogy.
As mentioned in my previous review of Rebel of the Sands, the performer for these audiobooks is very good and her voice really brings Amani’s story to life.
Title: Wild Crush
Author: Simone Elkeles
Page Count: 304
Series: Wild Cards, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: September 22, 2015 by NLA Digital LLC
Review: This book is far from Elkeles best. It was a quick read, and it had it’s entertaining moments, but it was not delicious (which is the quality I’m looking for in a teen romance). If you are looking for a guilty pleasure read, her Perfect Chemistry trilogy is far better. I also enjoyed her Leaving Paradise duology. I don’t recommend diving into the realm of Elkeles with this book, because it might taint your opinion of her books in general. I say give the other books a try first and then circle back to this one if you feel like it.
Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Author: Emily M. Danforth
Page Count: 485
Publishing Date/Publisher: February 7, 2012 by Balzer + Bray
Review: There has been a surge of LGBT books released in recent years as publishers try to find materials that represent diverse characters and authors, but before this became a publishing trend, there were authors like Emily M. Danforth paving the way for LGBT representation in Young Adult literature. Although published in 2012, this award winning book has been adapted into a film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Now that I have read the book, I hope that I get an opportunity to watch the film.
Not everyone will find this book interesting. At times it is a slow building story, but I personally am fascinated by the idea of conversion camps, mostly because I can hardly believe that they exist. The first book I read that opened my eyes to this sort of abuse was Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres (also highly recommended), so I was intrigued to read more about this topic. What makes it truly horrifying is that the people who send their kids to these camps, and the people who run them, actually believe that they are helping the kids. My heart goes out to anyone who has survived this type of trauma.
Title: Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens
Editor: Marieke Nijkamp
Page Count: 320
Publishing Date/Publisher: September 18, 2018 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
Review: It can be very difficult to rate short story anthologies because the content is so varied; however, I think that 3 stars would be my average rating. As expected, some stories I enjoyed more than others, but overall I was impressed by the diversity of characters represented. There were LGBT characters, gender fluid characters, persons of color, persons of different religions, and of course, all characters had some sort of disability, whether it be physical, intellectual, or emotional. Some of the genres covered were horror, science fiction, fantasy, and romance.
There were a couple stories where it was not clear what disability the character had. The descriptions were very ambiguous, and if you did not know that this was part of an anthology featuring youth with disabilities, you would probably miss the fact that a disability was even involved. It would have been nice if the authors had covered what inspired the characters they created in their short bios at the end of the anthology.
Another thing that really stood out to me is that the title of the anthology does not adhere to person first language (i.e. Stories Starring Disabled Teens vs. Stories Starring Teens with Disabilities). Admittedly, I am very aware of this distinction due to a training I received at work, so perhaps it does not stand out to others the way it does to me.
Title: The Fates Divide
Author: Veronica Roth
Performers: MacLeod Andrews, Erin Spencer, Emily Rankin, and Austin Butler
Length: 13 hr, 54 min, 13 sec
Series: Carve the Mark, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Harper Audio
Review: The writing and character development in the Carve the Mark duology is worlds better (pun intended) than Roth’s Divergent series. The twists and turns in this book were unexpected, and I really appreciate that the author does not shy away from tragedy. Like her Divergent series, no character is left unscathed and all experience some degree of suffering. This makes the story feel more real, because in real life, the good guys don’t always win.
The multiple perspectives in this book warranted several performers. I have no complaints about the voices that were cast in the various roles. The voices were different enough that I could easily follow multiple points of view without confusion, so that is an added bonus.
It is very unusual these days to find a YA Fiction duology. I actually would like to see more of that from other young adult authors. Some stories just get drawn out longer than they need to, so it is nice to read a series that can be complex without being too drawn out and wordy. Kudos to Miss Roth for proving that a great fantasy story can be told in just two installments!
Title: In the Name of the Children
Author: Jeffrey Rinek and Marilee Strong
Page Count: Unavailable
Publishing Date/Publisher: 17 July 2018, BenBella Books
Review: While it deals with a very difficult subject matter, this book is extremely well written. Rinek and Strong are natural story tellers, making you feel like you’re sitting down with them and just talking and listening to Rinek’s tales of the FBI.
I would give this 5 stars, but the topic gives me pause. It doesn’t feel right, considering it’s about kidnapped children. However, it’s so, so well written. I can’t stress that enough. Rinek expertly describes the processes he went through and the people he dealt with. He shows a lot of respect for his fellow law enforcement officers, stating that many of them became friends over the years, which makes sense; not many people go through what they go through and that forms bonds.
This book is clearly not for everyone, however, if you think you can handle it, I highly recommend giving it a try.
Title: Blood Brothers
Author: Nick Pope
Page Count: Unavailable
Publishing Date/Publisher: November 2018, Thistle Publishing
Review: This is an excellent book and reads like a TV miniseries. The quick jumps, the suspense, the action- it could easily be turned into a BBC show. The quick jumps between scenes might be annoying to some, I understand that, but the big problem I have when reading is that they focus too long on one particular thing. I blame the ADHD but at this point, it could just be my personality. Anyway, I liked that; it kept the energy up and didn’t let the plot lag any.
The plot was engaging, the characters were relatable (on the good guy’s side, obviously). Being the only main female character, I latched onto Jenny fairly quickly. She’s a strong character who knows her limits and can hold her own in a group full of Alpha men. But I felt connected to the male characters anyway. I understood Quill’s methods and motives and found him to be an enjoyable character with a good arc in terms of his development over the course of the book.
I would recommend this book for anyone who wants a fast-paced, action packed read.
Title: Long May She Reign
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
Page Count: 422
Publishing Date/Publisher: February 1, 2017 by HarperTeen
Review: This book was not my favorite, but I must give it credit for originality. Our unlikely and antisocial heroine, Freya, inherits the throne after an unexpected tragedy. Much to her dismay, she is forced into the role of queen. Fearing that the event that led to her newfound power was the result of foul play, Freya decides to find the perpetrator of the horrific crime through…wait for it…SCIENCE. Of course in the meantime, Freya decides to make the best of her circumstances and becomes a reluctant, albeit conscientious, ruler.
There are parts of the book I liked, but it was by no means a page turner.
Title: The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Page Count: 722
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2008 by DAW Books, Inc.
Review: This book is the first installment of a long saga. Although I am not usually partial to such lengthy epics, I found this one to be rather enjoyable. The beginning was a bit slow, but I was assured by one of my colleagues (the one who made the initial recommendation) that it would soon pick up speed if I invested a little time. She was absolutely right, and I soon found myself drawn into a tale of loss, betrayal, love and resilience.
At times I found this story to be rather stressful. The storyteller, Kvothe, relays many near death experiences, and there are many moments when he is facing imminent danger. He always manages to come out on top due to his own cleverness and resourcefulness, but I still found myself experiencing secondhand anxiety. To me, this is the mark of a very talented writer, and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre (and has a lot of spare time and/or patience to get through a long book).
I was not as keen on the chapters that took place in the “present”, but these were added sparingly throughout the story, so I cannot gripe about them too much. I will probably get to the second book in this series eventually, but due to the lengthy nature of each book, I will probably wait until my next maternity leave to tackle it (hopefully a couple years from now). Considering that the author still has not released the third and final book of this series, I am in no rush to get through the second.
Title: Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation: Relax, Replenish, Rejuvenate
Author: Heather Dawn Godfrey
Page Count: 160
Publishing Date/Publisher: November 6, 2018 by Healing Arts Press
Review: This book was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a user-friendly guide to essential oils and how they can be incorporated into mindfulness and meditative practice. Instead it is a highly theoretical book that read very much like a college thesis. There was a lot of scholarly jargon, quotes from various studies, and charts discussing the purpose and application of various essential oils. Thrown in were also chapters giving an overview of mindfulness, meditation, healthy eating, and other self-care practices. It had some information I found helpful, but overall I did not find it very interesting and I admittedly skipped through a lot of it. This is not by any means a light read, and I would not recommend it to people who are unfamiliar with essential oils and their therapeutic properties.