Our Dark Duet

Six months have passed since the events of This Savage Song. Kate, now a resident of Prosperity, hasn’t given up her monster hunting. Although Verity is filled with monsters born of the evil of people, Prosperity isn’t empty of its evils – they are just different evils. Kate has had to attempt to hunt these evils, but has been forced to rely on the help of others.

32075662

Meanwhile, August has changed. Having taken over the FTF command after the death of his brother Leo, August has had to adjust. Ever so slowly, August has become more like the monster everyone secretly thinks he is. Though not a human, he is slowly losing the parts of himself that made him closer to humanity. At the same time, the FTF is struggling as they attempt to decide what to do about North City and the influx of refugees.

When a particularly nasty monster escapes Kate and Prosperity, one that turns humans against each other, Kate is forced to return to Verity in an attempt to stop it. She must come together with August and the FTF to save a city that some think isn’t worth saving. Kate is startled by the changes in August and tries to draw him back to the boy she knew. But there are bigger problems to worry about and together they must find a way to destroy a monster they can’t even see.

If you thought This Savage Song was amazing, you will love Our Dark Duet. It’s darker and full of monsters, but it’s also a novel about how things and circumstances can change you – not necessarily for the better – and how one must hold on to themselves. I really loved this book and also how Kate became August’s beacon of humanity. I really love the complexity of this story and how people are not so easily separated into innocent and sinners.

As this is a duology, Our Dark Duet is the end of this tale. Victoria Schwab has completed two series in 2017, but I’m eager to find out what other stories she has in store for us.

My rating: 5/5

Advertisements

Motor Crush vol. 1

Domino Swift leads a dual life. By day, she is a top ranking motorcyclist who is just about to debut on the world stage. By night, she bikes in unsanctioned races for a chance to win the top prize: vials of crush. Used to illegally enhance the performance of cycles, crush is lethal if ingested by humans.


But not to Domino. She literally inhales crush as it is the only substance that keeps her alive. And the only way to get enough of it is to race and battle gangs.When Domino’s store of crush is stolen, she needs to win as much of it back as possible. To do so, she needs a faster bike. To get a faster bike, she needs Lola. But Lola has sworn not to return to the life she led before with Domino. To complicate things even more, Lola owes money to some dangerous people. To save Lola, Domino makes a deal – but can she keep her end of the bargain?

Motor Crush is brought to you by Team Batgirl – Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart, and Brenden Fletcher. Together they wrote an amazing original story. It’s full of emotion, thrills, girl power, and Babs’ signature art combined with Brenden and Cameron’s writing. If you loved their run of Batgirl, you will love Motor Crush.

The only downside? It ends on a cliffhanger, and we won’t get resolution to the story until after September (as told by Brenden during this year’s Heroes Con).

My rating: 5/5

Strange the Dreamer

Lazlo Strange is a nobody. Raised in a monastery as an orphan, he dreamed of visiting the Unseen City as told through the stories of a senile monk. At 13, he was given the opportunity to become a librarian at the great library of Zosma. There, Lazlo continues to read and research the Unseen City, a place of magnificence that suddenly closed its doors to the outside world 200 years ago – and whose name has been erased from all minds and records for an unknown reason.


Sarai is the Muse of Nightmares. She lives in the citadel and has the ability to create moths that, when they touch another, allow Sarai to enter and control another’s dreams without anyone the wiser. As a young child, she was full of hate and vengence for the people that stole her life. But as time has passed and she’s walked through people’s dreams, her hate has turned to understanding, even forgiveness. But her family doesn’t share her forgiveness for those that did them wrong.One day, Lazlo is given the opportunity to visit the Unseen City. While there, he meets Sarai – but he doesn’t know who she really is. As Lazlo and Sarai work to understand their situations and come to a peaceful solution, those they are with have other ideas. Will the conflict that has been building for 200 years be resolved as peacefully as Lazlo and Sarai hope?

Strange the Dreamer is every bit a Laini Taylor story. It starts full of mystery and mysticism, which become more and more clear the deeper you delve. The world is rich in fantasy but you can detect the semblence to actual history. The characters are well developed and unique from each other. 

As you finish the novel, you’ll still have questions left unanswered. And, as you would expect, it ends on a major cliffhanger. If you love Laini Taylor but dislike cliffhangers, I recommend you wait until the next volume releases. But I do recommend this read as it is wonderful and amazing.

My rating: 5/5

Godsgrave

Now a full-fledged Blade of the Red Church, Mia Corvere has taken on the mantle of assassin. She efficiently disposes of her offerings in Galante as instructed, but she is frustrated that her work brings her no closer to the revenge she seeks. But then an offering comes in from a mysterious patron that sends her back to Godsgrave. But what Mia finds there changes her view on the Church and on how she sees her life as a Blade. She has been expressly ordered not to target Scaeva…but why?


In an effort to get closer to Duomo and Scaeva to complete her revenge, Mia defies the Church and becomes a gladiatii, fighting in bloody matches that are a spectacle sport around Itreya. Her goal is simple: become the champion of a collegium so that she came become eligible to battle in the ultimate match held in Godsgrave. The winner is crowned by Scaeva himself with Duomo in close attendance, the closest Mia will ever physically come to either man. The only problem is she must prove herself worthy enough in both her collegium and on the matches leaded up to the last. But the matches are bloody and no one ever knows what form they take.

Mia will need every ounce of her Blade training, skills in poisoncraft, and her sarcasm and wit if she is to survive. A little help wouldn’t hurt, but can she really trust her ally?

If you loved Nevernight, then you will thoroughly enjoy Godsgrave. It is it’s predecessor in all ways but is so much better. The stakes are higher, and you just never know what kinds of trouble Mia will get herself into. Jay Kristoff writes each scene and match as unique instances, none of them ever the same, none of them predictable. I thoroughly enjoy his descriptions and also the way he writes the narrator of the story; the special, historical footnotes continue in Godsgrave, and they still remain my favorite part about this series.

No spoilers, but as one can imagine Godsgrave ends on a cliffhanger – and I am just banging my head to know what happens next. How long until the conclusion??

My rating: 5/5

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina has lived her entire 12 years of existence in hiding in the basement of the esteemed Biltmore Estate, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt. Why? Well, for one thing she and her pa are not supposed to be living in the basement. And also, because Serafina isn’t like all the other girls. She’s wild, fierce, and one of the best rodent catchers Biltmore has ever had – and doesn’t know about.


One night while out hunting rats, Serafina stumbles upon the kidnapping – or is it murder? It’s very difficult to tell – of the young Clara Brahms by a mysterious man wearing a black cloak. She tells her pa, but he doesn’t believe her and forbids her to tell anyone else. But Serafina can’t keep it to herself and is determined to find Clara. She confides in Mr. Vanderbilt’s nephew, Braeden Vanderbilt, who almost immediately begins to aid Serafina in her search. As they look for Clara, more children go missing, Braeden becomes a target, and Serafina’s mysterious past begins to confuse her.

What does the Man in the Black Cloak want with all the children? Why is there an entire missing village just outside Biltmore’s grounds? And just who is Serafina?

Serafina and the Black Cloak is written by Robert Beatty, a resident of Asheville, NC (my home state) which is where the famed Biltmore Estate resides. A middle grade novel set in the early start of the 20th century, Beatty utilizes both the interior and grounds of Biltmore. If you have ever visited Biltmore before (and I have, many, many times), you’ll find Beatty’s descriptions accurate and yet not so since he is describing life in a time period few of us have actually lived. He makes Biltmore come alive. And he perfectly blends fantasy with reality in this novel.

As an adult reading a middle grade novel, I felt the same as I have before: I don’t really click with the story and characters since I am not the target age reader. However, as a future youth services librarian, I find it a richly detailed story I would recommend to young readers.

My rating: 4/5

The Hate U Give

Starr Carter lives a double life. On one hand, she attends the prestigious Williamson school and is one of only a handful of black students at the almost exclusively white school. She is on the basketball team and – secretly – has a white boyfriend. On the other hand, Starr was born, raised, and still lives in Garden Heights, a mostly black neighborhood that has to deal with gangs and their violence.  She tries to keep her lives as separate as possible.


At a party during spring break, Starr is reunited with Khalil, a childhood friend and old crush. They get to talking but when gunshots break out at the party, they leave with haste. On the way home, their car is stopped by a police officer. Starr urges Khalil to cooperate, which he does grudgingly but events unfold quickly and soon Khalil is shot dead by the cop – and his gun is quickly turned to Starr.

As the sole witness to the events of Khalil’s shooting, Starr has to deal with some PTSD along with the emerging misconceptions and stereotypes her peers at Williamson respond to the shooting with. She will soon learn who her friends really are as she confronts issues she initially brushed aside.

The Hate U Give has been one of those books that everyone has talked about from day one. Some might think it to be overhyped, but the thing about THUG is it is REAL. The way Angie Thomas writes the story makes the reader realize that it can happen anywhere to anyone; it has happened and it can continue to happen. THUG is not just a story, it is real life and you feel that as you read.

No matter who you are, you empathize with Starr. I acknowledge that I grew up somewhat privileged, but I am not black (I am a person of color, however). I also have had to confront stereotypes and misconceptions, but I know it has never been as bad off as others. Even so, I felt for Starr; I cried with her, smiled with her, raged with her. This book gave me insight into a world I did not know, admittedly did not understand, and now I’ve come away a better person.

Angie Thomas did an amazing job in her debut novel. I’m not a huge fan of contemporary novels but I absolutely loved THUG and I cannot wait to read what she’s writing up next.

My rating: 5/5

A Crown of Wishes

Vikram is the prince of Ujijain. Problem is, he isn’t blood related to the king; adopted into the royal family, Vikram is royalty in all ways but name. The council have yet to approve of his claim to the throne even though Vikram has completed each task they set before him. But his chance comes in the form of an invitation to the Tournament of Wishes. However, Vikram cannot enter alone but must choose a partner. Who will he choose?


Gauri is the beloved princess of Bharata, but ever since she tried to raise a coup against her brother she has been cast out. Now a prisoner of Ujijain, she is to be executed publicly as a statement. She is saved in the form of Vikram’s invitation to join him in the Tournament of Wishes. But first they have to find their way into another, more mystical world, full of strange dangers and magic. But Gauri doesn’t believe in magic, not since magic stole her sister Maya from her.The pair must reconcile their differences and work together to win the Tournament of Wishes. But to do so they will need to overcome demon fruit, their own fears, desires, a serpent king, and sirens who want to steal their souls. If they win, Vikram can finally claim his right to the throne and Gauri can overthrow her brother. But there are prices to be paid…are they willing to pay them? And will they come out the same as they went into the tournament?

A Crown of Wishes is both a sequel and a separate story from Roshani Chokshi’s previous novel, The Star-Touched Queen. While there are references and mentions that relate to it’s predecessor, A Crown of Wishes is it’s own story, but still rich in the magic and details of Chokshi’s previous work. The prose remains as poetic as ever, but the story is different enough to make the reader believe it is altogether a different tale.

The only thing that truly bothered me about the novel was the switching of perspectives. I believe I’ve mentioned before my dislike of first person told stories. While each chapter switches perspective between characters, Gauri’s chapters are told in first person while Vikram’s are in third. I cannot reason why this is the case, but I personally found it detracts from the story; I would much rather it be all first or all third. Other than that, it is still a lovely story and I recommend it for those that loved The Star-Touched Queen.

My rating: 4/5