Review: The Female of the Species

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

I think to start there needs to be a sort of notice. While this is technically labeled as a YA, it certainly isn’t. There is murder, metal illness, rape, and molestation. As well as terrible language, drug use, and a lot of questionable behavior by minors.

I really don’t understand how the age of the character is what determines the genre for YA and NA books.

All that being said. This book was so compelling and well written and I couldn’t put it down.

McGinnis has written about some really dark things, but always focuses on survival. And while I wasn’t too big of a fan of her historic novel, she jumps her game up exponentially with this book. She uses some of the darkest aspects of human nature as a setting, but somehow brings humor and life to it.
I really enjoyed the variety of characters, their personal struggles with their own identities and how they are expected to be perceived by society. Beyond the more troubling aspects that I mentioned in the disclaimer, this novel takes on daily struggles like social status, slut shaming, and the social reactions to behavior by males and females.
As I said before, I could not put this down. These three messed up, genuine, and various degrees of truly good people are so captivating and well developed. It’s about a girl whose irreparably damaged by the murder of her sister; a boy having trouble separating who he is based on what society expects and what he expects of himself; and a girl who’s let people walk over her most of her life and is now finding her voice.
McGinnis does so well at pointing out social inequalities in the way behavior is perceived between boys and girls in such a real and unarguable way. It would be so easy for people to write this off as a feminist rant, but it is so much more and is done is such a relateable way that I don’t see how people can’t see the truth in her examples.
All of the characters go through so much growth. Finding ways to be the people they want to be, while understanding that certain aspects can never truly change. The fact that Alex feels guilt and regret shows so much of how she’s changed. And how Jack and Peekay react to her actions show so much of how they have grown outside of their small town bubbles. They seek change in personal growth, becoming better versions of themselves with the help of their friends, who see the best in them. I loved this book, I loved it’s truth, and I loved the dark humor that made it all a little bit easier to swallow.

Review: Hunted

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

The dedication and acknowledgements in this book were so amazing, usually I always notice them, but hardly to they actually make an impact on me.
This is a bit slow to start, but I really love Yeva and her quest to fit in with her family, even though she knows she’s different. And they know, but they all love each other all the more for their differences. It’s so nice to see such a healthy and supportive family depicted, usually we get the jealous sisters, indifferent brothers, uninterested/absent/abusive parents.
The retelling is so original, but still stays true to the core of the traditional story. I really enjoyed how the dynamic between the beast and Yeva develops. And the snippets from Beasts POV. We can see his humanity slowly breaking through the surface as Yeva challenges him and spends time with him. Similarly, she is burdened with the pressure to assimilate to common culture but in her time with him becomes free to discover herself. Once the two separate is when it becomes clear how much of a relationship they’ve actually developed.
I can’t say enough how well don’t the familial relationships are executed. There is a lot of potential for drama on Yeva’s return, but the sisters love for each other overcomes any of that. And the sense of self Yeva developed with the Beast translates into a confidence around her sisters to speak her mind and find a harmony with them and all their new situations. Similarly the Gaston character is nothing like the arrogant bully of the Disney renditions, he’s kind and truly cares for Yeva, and the two are able to establish a solid friendship that both take comfort in.
The ending did fell a little rushed in the development/silidification of the romantic relationship between Beast and Yeva, but one of the things I liked so much about this story was that it wasn’t all about love. I think it made sense the epiphany of Yeva’s feelings, though I did feel I missed out on seeing the two interact more as a couple.
Overall, this was fantastic.

 

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King

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33643994.jpgGoodreads Synopsis:

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

I went into this book expecting a lot of fun and adventure. It didn’t necessarily lack either of those, but for the majority of this book I felt that there was something lacking. I think that something was the main character . . . but there is potential still for her and the author as they work towards the companion novel.
You can tell this is a debut. It’s comes off as if it’s trying a little too hard from the start and does a lot more telling as opposed to showing. The telling is what irked me for the majority of this novel. Our main character tells us everything – I mean everything. There is nothing left for us to deduce on our own through actions, mannerisms, or expressions. And while we are getting an ongoing narration of the events by Alosa, we are also getting her very arrogant opinions. While I understand that with a first person narration we are going to have bias from the narrator, I felt it was too much at times and had to set the book down because of how irritated I was getting. Furthermore, the action felt very slapstick, with such a ‘badass’ I hoped for more than literal bashing of heads together to get out of every scenario.
This all does begin to improve after the charading dies down and we get more information about the reason why Alosa is on the ship and more about her relationship with her father. The dynamic of Alosa and Riden also gets more entertaining as they play off each other’s more intimate traits. And I’m glad that whiles there’s on ongoing flirtation, we don’t fall into instalove. There really isn’t any romance at all, which I appreciated. We have the flirtation, the attraction between the two that they use to get what they want from the other, but there is no indication of deeper feeling until the end, and even then neither one is really sure enough about those feelings or their trust in the other person to admit them. While I had a lot of issues with the book in general, this was one of the redeeming qualities for me.
As we got into the bigger secret reveals and deeper into the characters minds we also start to loose some of the immaturity of the beginning of the book. The revelation of Alosa’s “secret” didn’t surprise me at all, but I can see how it adds complexity to the story. And now that we know, hopefully as we move forward she will be less cryptic. I did enjoy the few moments we had with Alosa without her tricks and masks to hide behind. If the next novel deals with that girl I would be very interested, but I will have to see what the reviews are before I commit to signing back on with Alosa.

 

Review: The Song Rising

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The hotly anticipated third book in the bestselling Bone Season series – a ground-breaking, dystopian fantasy of extraordinary imagination

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

I re-read the sequel to refresh my memory (and just because I love this series) before going into this third installment, especially after the delayed release. On top of the later release date the publishers ‘revamped’ the covers. I personally am not a fan of the new look, but fortunately all of the remaining books in the series will have a special collectors edition in the old style. I’m very pleased my bookshelf will remain in sync.

Shannon is improving with every novel. The slowness in the first two was obliterated in this installment. There is non stop action, movement, and progress. We are moving more into the meat of the rebellion and starting to see action against Scion. I liked how we also got to see more of the Scion capitals around Britain and the politics going on with their unnaturals.

Paige is under a lot of stress in this installment, and her anxiety with the Mine Order and Jaxon are exacerbating all the insecurities she has about everything else. It’s sad to see her question her trust in Warden, especially after all the progress they made in the second book. She also is struggling with her trust in herself, and in her determination to make progress for the fight against Scion she begins to make some questionable choices and fears she will turn into the people she hates and fears the most.
We get a handful of new characters who were introduced in the second book, but become major players in this chapter. Maria, Glym, Tom, and Eliza all play such a bigger role in this book and I really enjoyed getting to know them each better and watching Paige use them as allies and friends. We are also introduced to a new Rephaite, Lucida, who is perhaps the funniest of the group we have seen so far. I loved all of her cameos and hope to see more of her in the future.
Paige and Warden go through a lot in this installment. They are trying to maintain a tentative alliance while orchestrating a rebellion and struggling with their feelings for each other. It’s a lot, but even when they are struggling with growing their relationship and the needs of their revolution they always rely on each other for practical and emotional support. I look forward to the next book as they finally get some time together and are no longer the linchpins of the revolution in London. I am also very intrigued to see how the rest of Europe is faring.
This was such a solid installation in the series. We see so much more of the world, and it’s only going to grow. Our characters are growing  more as well, Paige is coming to terms with her role as a leader and becoming her own woman – finally out from under the two main structures that controlled her. Warden, while I can’t really say is growing, is continuing to reveal pieces of himself and we are getting to know him better. Nick is always such an anchor for Paige and he continues his role, on top of moving into more of a leadership role himself. I can’t wait to see how the next book moves all of them forwarded.