Robert Langdon is back. This time the symbologist (although most of this book really just needed a Art Historian and Italian Lit professor) wakes up in a hospital in Florence, Italy with no memory of how he got there or why a shadowy organization is after him. As Langdon dashes across Italy with a beautiful blonde Girl Friday doctor, Sienna Brooks, he starts to put the pieces of his memory together. Langdon and Sienna are racing against time to save the world against a plot inspired by Dante Alighieri himself. This installment features all the twist and turns you expect in a Dan Brown novel with the addition of what I think Dan Brown considers strong female characters. I didn’t see the ending coming and Brown mixes just the right amount of facts and fiction to create a page flipping novel. A great addition to the Langdon series, this coming from someone who has read every Brown novel. We’ll just pretend The Lost Symbol never happened. Jess – ★★★
Song of Achilles is the story of Achilles from The Illiad told through the perspective of his lover, the exiled prince Patroclus. Let me stop you right there. Yes. Yes, this book is basically The Illiad fanfiction, but it’s the good kind. Although I suspect if Patrolcus was a female character in a YA book he’d be called a Mary Sue and bad role model. His character begins and ends with how awesomesauce Achilles is.
Miller’s writing is so vivid and engrossing, it works perfectly with Frazer Douglas’s audiobook narration. This book works great on audio because some of these names can be tough. Douglas’ does read a little slow and it felt like the ending of this book was dragging. I think it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible about the actual story because it follows the Greek myth so closely.
I do want to point out that there is a fair amount rape and misogyny in this book, but Miller handles female characters well. The few speaking women in this book could have easily been lamps with wombs, but Douglas brings them to life. Kat – ★★★★
Also, Miller does the *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* thing to keep it kind of meta. Odysseus tells a central character (who you have probably never heard of) “Who knows, I could be more famous than you one day. Welp, back to Ithaca I go now.” (Okay, that may not be paraphrased.)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater ( Audiobook)
When Kat’s review mentioned that this book throws away all of pretense of being anything but fantasy, I braced myself going in because I like the contemporary aspects of this series. While I was at BEA I talked to a lot of people about my experience listening to this and my verdict was . . . this book got so weird.. . good weird but weird. All the characters you expect and some new ones that will have you changing everything you thought you knew. Patton’s performance was on par, but I can’t unhear some of his cringe worthy singing. Stiefvater is the queen of quirky characters, mysterious settings and bracing readers for the unknown. ★★★★
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
I’ve reviewed a few sequels this year and though I usually have a pretty good idea of what to expect but Maggie Stiefvater really surprised me with her approach to The Raven Boys sequel.
The Dream Thieves is the sequel that’s not trying to be a sequel (and I guess it’s not since it’s the second book in a four book series.) It wasn’t trying to set up for an overarching plot or wrap up loose ends from book one, it just told a story. The complicated and dark story of The Raven Boys resident bad boy Ronan Lynch.
New Adult or NA novels seem to be taking over! Every week it seems like more and more are being released and this week I take a peek at two NA novels.
The Space Between by Victoria H. Smith
This New Adult novel follows the relationship of a pair of 19-year-olds from two different sides of Chicago; Derek, the privileged adopted son of a Senator and Lacey, a struggling opera prodigy from the wrong side of the tracks with a mother dying of cancer. When these to meet in a blaze of passion, they have to overcome racism, class and their own family to be together. Seeing a romance that focuses on a biracial girl and Korean guy was definitely a first for me and I liked that Victoria wrote about this type of relationship. The plot relies a lot on insta-lust and I was kind of annoyed of how Lacey is constantly described as desert with chocolate eyes and caramel skin. Falling on the steamier side of NA, so there are quite a few scandalous scenes. This is the first in a series, so I’ll be interested to get the other ones if I stumble across them. Also how great is this cover !- ★★★
If You Stay by Courtney Cole
Pax Tate is a selfish, trust fund baby with an addictive personality and Mila Hill is an orphaned artist living a quiet life with her sister. Their first encounter is anything but romantic when Mila discovers Pax overdosing in his car. This gruesome meeting unravels into a NA story that is the rather standard good girl meets broken bad boy with a fair share of steamy moments. The story packs on the melodrama and angst with everyone having dark secrets. After about the third revelation it started to feel a bit… soap-operatic ? This book also has healthy a bit of slut-shaming, which I think I’m just getting used to in YA/NA fiction at this point. I don’t know if this is done to create foils for the main female characters, but if you are an openly sexually active female, chances are bad things will happen to you. If you want an angsty, steamy romance this may be your kind of book. I think this story had a lot of potential in the beginning, but if you’ve read any kind of NA before this story will seem generic. Also,a month after reading it, I barely remember anything about it. – ★★ + .5
Jim Dale, infamous for narrating the Harry Potter audiobooks, brings dynamic performance to The Night Circus. This is my second time encountering this story of a magical circus told through the eyes of a romance. Once you get away from the idea of “main characters”, this book has so much to offer. The Night Circus has a way of breaking down the usual
fantasy elements; magic, glamour, spells, and clairvoyance and lets them shine in a new light. While probably not historical accurate once you step into the settings and watch Morgenstern perform her storytelling, you might just be ready to run away with the circus. –★★★★
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
It’s sequel time! Honestly, I wasn’t sure Insurgent could hold up as a sequel, but Insurgent is an action-packed novel with plot twists and surprises around every corner. I read this book over the course of a few months and I was able to easily get back into the plot each time. I enjoyed how the relationship developed between Four and Tris. I found them to be the only characters in this book who I could really care about. There were so many side characters I couldn’t remember who was who. Either way the stakes are higher in this novel and I officially can not wait for Allegiant! – ★★★★
How To Ruin A Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles
Amy Nelson’s summer vacation has been ruined. Instead of attending tennis camp, she will be spending three months in Israel with her estranged father to meet her paternal family for the first time. Like most American teens all Amy expects to find nothing but deserts, guns and bombings but what she finds instead is love, family, and respect. Amy’s narrative is snarky, headstrong and carefree as she deals with the culture shock. This book has a few good moments that touch on the difference between American and Israeli teenage life, but overall the book keeps a light tone with little conflict. I found Amy’s voice a little less charming and in the middle of the book and at some point she came off as a bit ignorant. The romance was sweet but overtly predictable. ★★