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 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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Trigger Warnings: Attempted rape, deadnaming

SynopsisCamellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Review: The Belles was a wild ride. The synopsis and the cover might make it seem like a fluffy book about beauty, but that's far from the truth. To start, Camellia is a fantastic character. She's easy to relate to, but obviously very flawed. She has this issue with following the rules in ways that might not get her into immediate trouble, but it impacts her later. Camellia's ability to see a person's natural beauty was touching. Remy (sorry, I know I'm missing the accent mark) and Auguste were both fun to read. I enjoyed every interaction they had with Camellia. The relationship Camellia had with her sisters was great. There was a bit of jealousy in there, but they love each other so much and, when one of them is hurting, they all hurt. It's a connectivity you don't see in many other books.

The story itself was amazing. I enjoyed every second if it. From the time the Belles displayed their power to the queen, to the very last page, I didn't want to put this book down. The world was interesting to explore and I liked learning about the Belles and their powers. I usually have a general distrust of all characters when I read a book, but I wanted almost everyone in The Belles to be good and to make it out. There was so much court intrigue in The Belles. That's normally a hit or miss for me, but I never got bored reading about court life and seeing Camellia in her day-to-day activities. Dhonielle even put a bit of a mystery in this novel as well which I found very impressive. This book is the complete package when it comes to a starting fantasy.

Beautiful book with amazing characters. It will have you on the edge of your seat.

5 howls

Monday, February 26, 2018

Wonder by RJ Palacio

Trigger Warnings: Bullying, suicidal jokes

SynopsisI won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. 

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. 

Review: This is one of those books that I've had for awhile, but I've been putting it off. I knew it was going to be a tough one for me to get through. First off, I really enjoyed Auggie. I appreciated how self-aware he was. He knew that people were making fun of him or staring at him, and he was honest with himself. I thought this was great and I related to it a lot. I'm not pretty. I don't have facial defects like Auggie, but I'm not what society sees as attractive. That's fine. I've known that my entire life. Similar to Auggie, I've had people try to sugarcoat growing up. "You're not ugly" or "It's what's inside that counts" were very common phrases. Auggie puts up with this too. Maybe it's because of our similar pasts, but I found him surprisingly easy to relate to. He also made me think a lot of a kid I grew up with who had his legs smashed when he was young, so he always had to walk with leg braces. He ended up being one of the most kind, smart kids I ever had the pleasure of knowing.

The story was cute. I don't know why, but I was expecting it to be a sad book.I'm a bit torn on how I feel about the shifting of perspectives. It gives us a more rounded view of Auggie's life, and it showed us how loved this kid is. At the same time, none of the perspectives felt really unique except for Auggie's. Maybe it's because some of the sections were really short so we didn't get to spend a whole lot of time in some of the characters' heads. It was still interesting though. I'm glad the story wasn't sad. There was a fair amount of bullying, but none of it felt overwhelming. As someone who was bullied a lot growing up, my heart went out to Auggie. He was a strong character and it was a joy to read. There were some sad bits in the story, but overall the book was heartwarming.

Cute, touching book with some great messages.

4 howls

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

SynopsisNemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator's daughter, Sidonia. There's no one Nemesis wouldn't kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy's most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she's been told she doesn't have - humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire...

Review: First off, this book is definitely more politic heavy and character driven than plot driven. So, if that isn't your speed, then this might be a book to skip. As a whole, the characters were interesting. I didn't really trust anyone while reading this book. One thing I enjoyed was how it opened up the discussion of humanity, and how Nemesis showed more emotion and care than some of the other characters. I found that interesting. In the world we live in now, humans can be pretty despicable. I like seeing how other people depict human nature in books. The story itself hinges on Nemesis going to the galactic court in place of Sidonia. I gotta say, this whole "character A acts like character B" trope is a peeve of mine. In large part because I never felt like we got to know Sidonia as a character on her own. It was always Nemesis' view of Sidonia which is naturally going to lean more favorably towards Sidonia.

As far as the story goes, it's a pretty light sci-fi book. I could see this being a good way of easing someone into the sci-fi genre. There isn't much in the way of world-building and, like I said, it focuses much more on the politics of the world and the relationships. There is heavy talk of religion versus science which I know some people are not a fan of. One really nice thing is that this book reads as a stand alone. There is another book after this one, but The Diabolic tells a complete story on its own. 

Quick intro to sci-fi with possibilities for interesting discussion about humanity and religion.

3.5 howls