Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

28145767-_uy200_Rating: 4.5 stars

Series: Strange the Dreamer #1

Absolutely beautiful! The writing is captivating. The story slowly builds. I admit it took me awhile to get into it, but I was hooked once I got a third of the way in. The world and more specifically the city of Weep is truly unique. It’s a living legend, a place so far off the beaten path that most people no longer believe it was ever real. Lazlo did. He always believed.

I fell in love with the characters! Lazlo and Sarai are the same yet not. They both possess an astonishing level of compassion for others. Neither of them see the world in black and white but in various shades of gray. Lazlo amazed me with his selflessness. He expected nothing from the world. He was happy with what he was given no matter how small. Nonetheless he was a dreamer with high hopes for fantastical things. He didn’t aspire to be great or do things to make a name for himself. Everything was done simply because it was the right thing to do.

Sarai broke my heart. For many reasons, she believed she was a monster, but at the same time, she knew monsters didn’t have to do monstrous things. Sarai knew from experience what it felt like to be an outcast, to be viewed as evil just for existing. Nothing she did mattered because of what she was.

“She saw only what humans would see. Not a girl or a woman or someone in between. They wouldn’t see her loneliness or fear or courage, let alone her humanity. They would see only obscenity. Calamity.”

Her power allowed her to get into the minds of anyone in the city giving her a diverse perspective no one else could possibly have. The more she learned about the people who hated her the more she empathized with them because they suffered just like she did. And that is the core of this story: hatred and how it changes people, even good people.

“Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just that when they do them, they call it justice.”

The story has many layers but not a lot of action. It’s about the characters and what caused them to be the people they are and how all of them developed their extreme positions. Many of the gods secrets remained hidden at the end, all of which I’m sure will be revealed in the next one. The end was devastating. It ripped out my heart and stomped on it. However it didn’t leave me without hope, but I was not expecting things to do down like that.

The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta

32cc464f6ff9393819fdfb30b0b65b13Rating: 3.5 stars

Most people believed magic was nothing but a fairy tale. Those who used it were killed. Curtis Vance wanted to forget about magic and those who control it. After meeting a sorceress with some special skills, he was forced to face his past. She convinced him to help her find something rare. He didn’t help her out of the goodness of his heart; he was a thief after all.

The world building was great! There was a constant stream of new things to learn about it. I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out more. It was action packed with one crazy thing happening after another. The characters were deceptive, so it hard to gauge who Vance could trust.

The reason I didn’t rate this book higher was because of the characters. Vance and the sorceress were the main ones. I liked Vance. He was intelligent and could manipulate others to save his own ass. It was kinda hard to believe the guy had lived so long because he couldn’t do shit to save himself when physical skills were required. The sorceress was fascinating because I never knew what her ultimate goal was. She did enough good things that I wanted to trust her, but she had too many secrets. My biggest issue with her was her lack of personality.

The plot was entertaining, and I liked the direction the story went in at the end. It’s unfortunate this is a standalone. The plot was wrapped up, but it’s a shame to develop such an interesting world and only get one story about it.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Rating: 4 stars

Series: Caraval #1

I was hesitant to read this because it’s YA and has tons of rave reviews. Usually that’s a recipe for disaster, but this was good, damn good. I read the whole thing in one sitting. The best thing about it is that it’s YA that doesn’t feel like YA. The characters were mature. I easily could have thought they were in their twenties. In fact Scarlett was cautious, almost too cautious for her own good. She was the antithesis of a TSTL heroine.

Caraval was a magical game only held once a year in a different location each time. Scarlett dreamed of going to the mysterious games for her whole life. The opportunity to go finally came, and it didn’t turn out like she expected. The rules of the game were vague. She didn’t know who to trust or what was real. It was far more dangerous than expected.

I loved the characters! Scarlett did what she thought was best even when it wasn’t what she wanted. That’s admirable in its own way. She always analyzed the best way to handle a situation. Doesn’t mean she always made the best decision though. The main side character was Julian. I didn’t know what to make of him until the very end. He went from scoundrel to kinda sweet, but what was real?

The ending was one hell of a surprise. Didn’t see it coming at all. There was a lot more going on than I would have guessed. I can’t wait for the next one because I’m dying to know more. The ending wasn’t really a cliffhanger. The main story was wrapped up, but some things were left open ended.

Harmony Black by Craig Schaefer

51fmlttbdcl-_sy346_Rating: 3 stars

Series: Harmony Black #1

I never thought I’d say this about a Craig Schaefer book, but it was so boring. The Daniel Faust books are dark, humorous, and entertaining. Although Harmony Black is a spin off of that series, they are not alike at all. Harmony is an FBI agent, so this felt more like a police procedural than UF. The mystery part of the story was okay but lacked suspense.

My problem with this book is that I don’t like Harmony. In the Daniel Faust series, she was portrayed as uptight and compassionless. Being privy to her thoughts didn’t change that. She’s repressed to the point of being almost completely devoid of emotion. I understand why she is the way she is but it doesn’t increase her appeal. Just about the only thing to get her riled up is not following procedure. I hate how she applies human laws and logical to supernatural creatures. She’s a witch FFS! You’d think she’d be more open and understanding of the world around her but obviously not. She does care about people as in she doesn’t want innocents to be hurt, but it doesn’t seem like she really empathizes with other people.

The other characters weren’t impressive either. Jessie was weird and dull. I didn’t care about whatever was going on with her. Honestly I kept forgetting she was a woman since absolutely nothing about her was feminine. Not as much was known about the other various side characters but they were all boring police types. Unless this series ties back in with Daniel Faust, I probably won’t continue with it.

Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire

30688517Rating: 4.5 stars

Series: InCryptid #6

It’s official: Antimony is my favorite of the Price siblings! Consequently this is my favorite book in the series. Unfortunately Annie is paying for her sister’s mistakes and was sent to infiltrate the covenant. It made for an entertaining read because I was just waiting for something to go wrong. There was no way Annie would last long among a group of ruthless killers without giving something away. Let’s face it: the only way to join the bad guys is to truly become one.

Annie could kick ass much like Verity, but she is more down to earth. It’s funny that she holds so much animosity towards Verity since they are alike in many ways. She was loyal, smart, and quick witted. I loved it that Annie did everything on her own. It’s rare to find a heroine who doesn’t need a male sidekick to survive, but she was completely alone. Calling her family to help her out or even to bounce ideas off of never even crossed her mind. Considering the sticky situation she was in, it was impressive.

Most of the covenant people were despicable. Now Leo was somewhat likable, but I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. Then again the Price’s have a habit of making covenant men change their ways. I’m not saying they were dating or anything, just making a point. Sam wasn’t covenant, but Annie met him because of them. He was awesome! Sure he was a bit of a dick and swore, but what’s not to like about that?

I wasn’t sure how all of this was going to play out in the end. The covenant put Annie in a spot where her values were tested in more ways than one. There was a major surprise at the end involving the covenant. I don’t believe what they predicted will happen the way they want it to, but we definitely haven’t seen the last of them yet.

I felt so damn bad for Annie at the end. It was an honorable but incredibly hard choice to make. Why did her family do this to her? I don’t mean Verity although the ball got rolling because of her but her parents. Who does that to their kid? The risks were extremely high with minimal benefits at best. Now her life is fucked thanks to them. The things Annie mentioned at the end about why she is doing what she’s doing, well I was wondering at the beginning of the book why her family didn’t take any of that into consideration. How did they think this would end for her? Then again they may have something up their sleeves that she doesn’t know about. All I know is I am dying for the next one!

Thank you so so much to Netgalley and DAW for giving me this arc in exchange for an honest review!!!

Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

25670396Rating: 2 stars

Jacqueline Carey’s books are hit or miss with me, and this one was definitely a miss. In some ways this reminded me of the things I hated about Kushiel’s Dart except this wasn’t as bad. The plots were completely different, but both books had a drab tone and dull, lifeless characters. The pacing was agonizingly slow. It took forever for the story to advance, and the end was anti-climatic. Since I have not read The Tempest, I had no idea how this would end. Knowing this was a retelling of Shakespeare’s work, I had expected the ending to be tragic or slightly more dramatic. The ending wasn’t a happy one, but maybe I wasn’t more affected because I didn’t care enough about the characters to feel their pain.

The book is told in two parts. In the first part Miranda is six and Caliban is several years older. The weird thing about her POV was that her inner thoughts sounded more like a mature adult in her thirties than a young child. It was really hard to believe she was a kid. She and Caliban grew close as children. Flash forward seven or so years to the second part, and their friendship had blossomed into love. The time jump made it feel like I missed out on something essential in the development of their relationship. This was not a romance, but their relationship was central to the plot. It was essential to grasp what they were feeling for the ending to have an impact.

Caliban was my favorite character. He stood up for what he believed in. Miranda was so disgustingly pathetic. Knowing right from wrong rarely caused her to act on it. All her father had to do was chastise her and she quickly cowed. She was practically blind to her father’s cruel and selfish ways, always determined to see the best in him. She seemed quite content to be ignorant. Her father openly admitted to keeping many things from her, and it was rarely questioned. Her father was evil. Absolutely nothing about him was good. The only other character Ariel wasn’t interesting. Knowing something of his background might have helped to make him more appealing.

The world building in regards to the magic needed more attention. Obviously Prospero was capable of magic, but were there limits to his abilities? Where did his power come from? Some stuff didn’t make sense. How come Miranda and Caliban each had a parent capable of powerful magic but neither of them had any? The story made sense, but considering the amount of time spent on a painstakingly slow plot, some of that time could have been invested in character development and further exploration of magic.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.