Where The Wolves Read

A blog where I review mostly books. I also review, if my appetite allows, movies, music, and video games. Enjoy the feast!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

SynopsisEnne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

Review: Ace of Shades is a book I've been highly anticipating for awhile. I haven't read Foody's debut novel, but I was excited about this one nonetheless. I had a hard time with Enne as a character. She's supposed to be this prissy girl from finishing school, but she falls into the wiles of the city fairly quickly. Yes, it would have been annoying to have pages and pages of internal debate about whether she was doing something that was wrong, but I feel like it would have been more believable. Levi was a fun character. I enjoyed exploring New Reynes from his perspective because he knew where he was going and what he was doing.

The story was okay. The synopsis makes it seem like this massive card game is the most important part of the story, but it's at the very end of the book. On the note of card games, I don't see why Levi didn't show Enne what it was like to gamble. I also don't really think this book dissected some of the modern conventions that are considered "wrong," like gambling and prostitution. I feel like this book could have actually been a little thicker with some more development of the world. I love the concept so much. I was so excited to dive into a fantasy version of Las Vegas. Ace of Shades just didn't quite hit the mark for me. I'll read the future books to see if aspects of the world get explained better.

Interesting characters and world concept, but it feel a bit flat for me.

3 howls

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Trigger warnings: Talk of death/ghosts, depictions of death

SynopsisCassidy Blake's parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn't sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn't belong in her world. Cassidy's powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

Review: City of Ghosts was such a fun read. Cassidy was an interesting character and I enjoyed getting to see how she adapted to her world changing. Everything, from moving to Scotland to finding out she isn't the only one with her powers, felt natural. Jacob was the star of this book. His ability to stay sassy, but loyal, is impressive. Cassidy's parents seemed a bit weird. I loved the setting of Scotland. You can tell Schwab put a lot of time into helping the readers feel like they are there. That being said, the location was beautiful, but the characters were nothing special. There are a couple side characters who helped the story along but, for the most part, they didn't seem very important.

I enjoyed the story of this quite a lot. We get to spend a good amount of time seeing Cassidy navigate Scotland and the Veil. Both places felt completely unique. If anyone is sensitive to death or seeing people die, this might be a book to stay away from. The Veil replays how a ghost dies, so we get to see every moment of that. While it is dark, nothing made me think it was too much for children to enjoy. When the story first started, I really wanted this book to be about Cassidy learning that she doesn't have to make the tragedies of others into her own. I like where this story went, but I still think that would have been a good message, especially since the story starts with Cassidy going into the Veil to see how a ghost died and she appears to be nothing more than a spectator. Again, Schwab does do interesting things with this story.

Fun, quick read that offered beautiful settings and a good amount of sass.

4 howls

Monday, June 25, 2018

Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

Trigger warnings: Death, gun usage,

SynopsisOn a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

Review: Lifel1k3 (pronounced "Lifelike") is a fascinating, fast-paced book. The biggest downside I had was the number of characters. Some of them felt important, but not all of them. When you have an entire crew of people, they all need to feel like they are necessary. I didn't get that sensation. Specifically when it came to Cricket and Kaiser. The banter between Cricket and the other characters was definitely funny, but I wanted him to be more than the sassy sidekick. I also found Lemon's story to be predictable. Maybe this is an issue that only I had. It's a pity, but I felt like the entire story could have been told just as well with only Evie and Zeke.

Everything else about this book was excellent. I loved this world. I loved that machine characters, like Cricket, can have attitudes along with being servants. I also really enjoyed the dialog. Slang in sci-fi/fantasy books can be hit or miss, but Jay does this so well. Even words that would be considered slurs felt natural. Maybe it's because the word itself, fug, is very close to an actual slur, but it is something I can absolutely imagine people saying in this sort of world. The plot was engaging. There were some aspects I saw coming, but I still appreciated the ending. Seeing how things played out at the end made me pumped to read the next book. Sadly, I don't have it. :3

Great premise with some lackluster characters. Hoping we get a better feel for them and their purpose in later books.

4 howls

I haven't done this in a while, but if you play video games and you enjoy this concept of machines having their own thought processes, then I would suggest you check out a game called Nier: Automata. There isn't too much similar other than how machines are treated, but it's an interesting game and it might be up your alley.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Siren by Sophia Elaine Hanson

SynopsisTwo weeks have passed since the revolution fell. Two weeks since Ronja and Roark fled to the island nation of Tovaire before Maxwell could use her voice as a weapon. Their friends are imprisoned, their comrades radio silent. All the while the new Conductor prepares his unwitting army for a conquest that will ravage the world. 

With little left but her rage and her voice, Ronja craves vengeance on the puppeteer that enslaved her city and murdered her friend. Her only hope of returning to Revinia lies in the Kev Fairla, the rogue Tovairin army currently engaged in a battle with northern aggressors. The impossible task weighs heavy on her shoulders, and an unexpected blood connection begins to unravel everything she thought she knew. 

The final installment in the bestselling Vinyl Trilogy, Siren is a story of revenge, rebirth, love, and the limitless power of music.

Review: This review is probably going to be quite short because I don't have too much to say at this point. My opinion of the characters didn't really change by the end of the series. I still enjoyed them quite a lot, and I was impressed with how they ended up fitting in each others lives. I will say, the whole thing with music being Ronja's power was still cheesy. I think what impressed me the most with this series was how the multiple perspectives worked out. A lot of times, a book will have multiple perspectives and they don't serve much of a purpose. That wasn't the case with Sophia Elaine Hanson's series. She does a good job of making each character and each perspective important. It was nice to see how everything came together in the end.

While this series has some flaws, it was quite entertaining. Definitely worth checking out.

4 howls

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Radio by Sophia Elaine Hanson

Trigger Warnings: Assault

SynopsisAfter the traumatic events at the dreaded prison Red Bay, Ronja is hanging by a thread. Whispers trail her through the Belly, carrying rumors of her borderline supernatural voice. Plagued by nightmares and haunted by the memories of those she could not save, she clings to the promise that her gift will soon become the weapon of the Anthem.

When doubt and arrogance cloud the eyes of their once trusted commander, Ronja and her friends are forced to take matters into their own hands. Armed with little more than an idea, they strike out on their own to silence The Music and The Conductor once and for all. But time is running out, and a new threat is stirring within the walls of the city...

Review: Radio was an engaging second book and a fairly good follow-up to Vinyl. Ronja has escaped Red Bay, but she lost people in the process. I love that we get to know more characters and we get to experience a different setting. This definitely adds more depth to the world and we get to walk with the characters as they encounter an entirely new environment. That being said, I didn't really care for Darius, and I thought his part of the story was rather predictable.

Radio really drew some elements of fantasy into this world. I feel like some aspects worked well, and others didn't. Darius was one that I was not terribly fond of. I'm honestly still on the fence about whether or not I like the "powers" Ronja has. In some ways, I feel like it takes away from an actual disorder people have, and it felt a bit cheesy. In other ways, the beauty of music is used so well that I could ignore the problems I had with it. I also found the ending to be predictable, so that was a little disappointing. That being said, Sophia can clearly write a compelling story with tension that doesn't rely on a love triangle. That is impressive.

Good story, but the fantasy elements were hit-or-miss for me.

3 howls

Monday, June 18, 2018

Vinyl by Sophia Elaine Hanson

SynopsisAll citizens within the soaring black walls of Revinia have metal Singers grafted into their skulls at birth. The parasitic machines issue a form of auditory hypnosis called The Music, which keeps their minds malleable and emotions flat. All artistic expression—especially real music—is strictly prohibited.

On the edge of the city, nineteen year old Ronja struggles to support her cousins and disabled mother. A chance meeting leads to her kidnapping by an underground resistance striving to preserve the human spirit. Violently severed from her Singer by the brash young agent Roark, Ronja revels in her newfound freedom until the consequences of her disappearance begin to unfold.

Trigger warnings: Use of the word "mutt" to refer to disabled people; references to substance-abuse
Review: First off, props to Sophia for giving me characters I enjoyed to read about. I rarely find a book where I like every character presented, but Vinyl was definitely one of them. Ronja had moments where her actions confused me. She seemed to hold a lot of resentment towards her mother, but then she rushed out to save her. I guess she loved her mom deep, deep down? Her attitude throughout the rest of the book made me think otherwise. The other characters were compelling and I can't wait to spend more time with them in the next couple of books. I will say, the treatment of "disabled" people in this world left much to be desired. The only disabled people Vinyl were created by the ruling government as a form of punishment. They have physical disfigurements, and they are treated horribly. That's something to keep in mind for anyone reading this book.

The story was compelling. I thought the idea of music being a kind of hypnosis was interesting and I was excited to see how it played out. What I appreciated the most was how this book took common dystopian tropes and turned them on their head. It felt unique in a world of similar dystopians. When reading this book, I naturally assumed there would be a love triangle between Roark, Ronja, and Henry, but something happened at the end to make me question that. I'm still wary because I know how tricky authors can be. I'm hoping the future books can shed a better light on the disabled characters in this world. I expect that to be explained a bit more, and in a more positive way.

Vinyl is a page-turner. The world is small, but well crafted. I have high expectations for the rest of the series.

4 howls

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

SynopsisLeah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Review: Leah on the Offbeat has had a bit of a time, lately. I think a lot of people were expecting this to be more like Simon Vs. because it's a sequel. In actuality, this story comes from a different place because, as a character, Leah is very different to Simon. I enjoyed Leah's character for the most part. I liked how straight-forward she was with her friends. I also related to her in those moments where she wouldn't buy food when going out with friends. Even though our situations are different, I think a lot of people understand that feeling. Especially, coming from a fat person, the struggle that comes when friends notice our lack of eating and start to question. It can be a tough time. It was nice getting to see familiar characters again, Simon, Abby, Bram, Nick, etc. I understand that characters can change, but it seemed like such a weird shift sometimes. Specifically, every interaction with Simon and Martin. I think it would have helped if we had more interactions with Simon and Martin so we could see Simon forgiving him. I guess that's a very personal thing because I was treated like crap in high school and I might never forgive those people. It's been 10 years since I graduated and I still feel that way. I just have a hard time understanding how Simon can forgive Martin in such a short amount of time.

In the way of the story, it was cute. I get why people enjoy it as much as they did. I won't say who Leah ends up with, but it definitely struck a couple nerves with me. First off, as many have seen, there was a very unpleasant conversation had between Leah and the love interest about being "a little" bisexual. I guess this mostly bothered me because Leah never came out either. You don't have to come out to have an opinion on your own identity. Just, her insistence on what makes someone bisexual bothered me. I also had a hard time with people dating around in close friend groups. I don't want to expand too much on this because spoilers, but I grew up with a close group of friends who all dated each other. It was always weird and it can suck. A lot. Plus, I felt like some aspects of this never got a proper resolution and that made me upset. There could have been deeper conversations about long-distance relationships that we just never got and that was disappointing.

Overall, Leah was cute, but not what I had hoped it would be. There were good openings for conversations, but the conversations never actually happened and that bummed me out.

3 howls