Risuko by David Kudler: Book Review

Goodreads Synopsis: Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.

Risuko.

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

YOUNG ADULT HISTORICAL ADVENTURE

Commentary: This book is available as Read Now on NetGalley.

When I saw this book on NetGalley, I just knew I had to pick it up! The synopsis is what won me over and I love the cover.

This book was an excellent introduction to the series, it was very entertaining. Risuko is sold from her family, not out of spite, but for Risuko’s own good. Along the way, Risuko learns about the politics in her country, and there are hints of the war to come.

Risuko focuses on the journey of the protagonist. If you are expecting a romance, this is not the book for you. This book is about Risuko’s personal growth and accepting her faith as a kunochi. A kunochi is a female ninja. What I loved about this book was that the author researched his topic. I really liked that there was a glossary at the end of the book, served as a good reference guide. Another aspect that I loved was the school at Mochizuki. I loved how the women from the school had to undergo miko training before becoming a kunochi.

Risuko is a great character! I loved her misadventures and I love the way that her character stayed consistent throughtout the book. I was hoping that she and Lieutenant Masugu were going to develop feelings for each other. I can still hope that happens in the second book. Now as for the villain, I’ve seen my good share of anime, and when that character revealed, I was right.

I really thought Risuko was going to be young adult, but it is more of a middle grade book. Not that I have a problem with it, but the protagonist is much younger than I’d imagine her to be. Secondly, I thought that the war was going to play a major role in this book, but that’s not the case. I’ll keep my hopes up for the sequel. Also the length was too short! I would have liked it much more if there were more chapters!

I love learning about Japanese history, and this book was welldone. By the time I finished the book, I was sad. Why is that? Well, I want to read the second book already! This book gets published all the way in June, and I’m buying my physical copy when it comes out. I am hoping that the sequel gives backstories on certain characters. This book was fast pace and I really liked the author’s writing style.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Release Date: June 15th 2016

Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliot: Book Review

“I beg your pardon, I am a mountain tiger.”

Goodreads Synopsis: Young, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra de’ Benci longs to take part in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence. But as the daughter of a wealthy family in a society dictated by men, she is trapped in an arranged marriage, expected to limit her creativity to domestic duties. Her poetry reveals her deepest feelings, and she aches to share her work, to meet painters and sculptors mentored by the famed Lorenzo de Medici, and to find love.

When the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, arrives in Florence, he introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers—a world of thought and conversation she has yearned for. She is instantly attracted to the handsome newcomer, who admires her mind as well as her beauty. Yet Ginevra remains conflicted about his attentions. Choosing her as his Platonic muse, Bembo commissions a portrait by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them—one Ginevra can only begin to understand. In a rich and enthralling world of exquisite art, elaborate feasts, and exhilarating jousts, she faces many temptations to discover her voice, artistic companionship, and a love that defies categorization. In the end, she and Leonardo are caught up in a dangerous and deadly battle between powerful families.

Commentary: Da Vinci’s Tiger was Owlcrate’s December book of last year. I was beyond excited to read it and the synopsis sounded very promising! When I finally got around to reading the book, it was not what I expected at all.

What I appreciate about this book is that the author took her time to research her history! It was obvious that the author wanted to make her novel as accurate as possible. I really liked what I learned about that time! It was a bit tough reading some parts in this book especially how men treated women. I didn’t like the protagonist’s uncle, her husband, nor her love interests. I like Ginevra since she is intelligent and feisty at times, but I didn’t completely love her. The book was too short for me to grow attached to her. Ginevra and the other secondary female characters were far more likable than the men, for the exception of Ginevra’s brother.

Initially, I thought this was going to be a passionate, romance novel. Oh I was wrong. This was not what I expected. There is hardly any romance. The two love interests are not swoon worthy at all. One is an ambitious ambassador, while the other one is eccentric. I was not a big fan of this love triangle, and it wasn’t done well. I thought Leonardo was going to have a bigger role in Ginevra’s life, but he is just a painter. I was expecting more conversations between Ginevra and him, but that did not happen either. Even though it’s too early to rank the worst book of 2016, this one is already a contender. The book just seemed to drag on and on. Also, there was not much romance in this book. I did love the world building, but it felt as if the author forgot about the characters. By the time I finished the book, I thought about the plot itself and let me tell you this: there is no plot.

I couldn’t relate to the characters and it overall felt bland. It did take me a while to finish this book because it was so boring. There was not much action going on at all. Even though this book is less than 300 pages, I kept falling asleep every single time I tried reading this book. I wouldn’t recommend this book at all. It was bland all together and not memorable whatsoever.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley: Book Review

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ Goodreads Synopsis: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink & Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families.

Commentary: I received this book on NetGalley to review!! This is my honest opinion on this book!

Overall, this book was very fun to read. I liked how the siblings created their worlds that they could alter by being in the story. Seriously, they would jump inside their stories! How cool is that! From the beginning, Charlotte and Branwell are very competitive when it comes to writing. Charlotte pays careful attention to the plot of her story and alters any mistakes immediately while Branwell goes with the flow and has very little control on the story’s plot. In Verdopolis, Charlotte often disguises herself as Zamorna’s younger brother while Branwell has an alter ego and lives out his life as freely as he wants too. Anne and Emily are allowed to read the stories, but are not permitted to enter Verdopolis. Emily resents her older siblings, but she does not understand the price her siblings paid for their abilities.

Now, what I really like about the book is that each sibling has a unique personality trait. Charlotte is the perfectionist, Branwell is arrogant, Emily is romantic, and Anne is the quiet genius. If I had to choose my favorite sibling, it would be Emily because she is the most unpredictable and emotional. Emily is the hopeless romantic with a wild imagination, and I really enjoyed her chapters. I also liked how close she was with Anne. Anne is my second favorite character! Anne is really clever and loves her siblings dearly. Even though Charlotte is the oldest sibling, Anne is the wisest and the most responsible. Leave it to Anne to save the day! ٩(๑❛ワ❛๑)و

I did find the book to be a bit creepy at times especially when the siblings were being haunted by some of the characters they created. Charlotte and Branwell experienced the worst of it. They couldn’t abandon their writings otherwise Old Tom would torment them. Charlotte was being haunted by a twisted version of her older sister Maria while Branwell was haunted by his least favorite sibling Elizabeth. I did find it sad how Branwell only wanted to see Maria instead of Elizabeth. ( ˃̶͈ ̯ ̜ ˂̶͈ˊ ) ︠³

There is romance in this book and no love triangles! There is only one couple though there is supposed to be two couples. Emily and Rogue get together while the other couple does not. I liked how their relationship was built up. At first, I thought Emily was attracted to the Duke, as I kept reading, it was revealed that she has always been in love with the bad boy. Emily was a bit foolish with her actions, but she saw something in Rogue that the others did not see. I love how Rogue started slowly falling for her as well! At first, Rogue felt indifference towards her and almost killed her and by the end of the book, he wanted to protect her.

As for the villain, I was not surprised when the big revelation came. There were tiny hints that the villain was not created like the rest of the characters in Verdopolis. From the moment he was introduced, I knew he was going to play a major role in story and I was right. The villain was more of trickster than someone malevolent and evil. Now, the book could have been better if there were epic fighting scenes against the villain, but that was not the case. The ending was really bittersweet. ᵟຶᴖ ᵟຶ

What I did dislike was the writing style, but I did enjoy the story! I wished it could have been a bit longer. Also, I wished there was more action scenes because this book hardly had none. Lastly, I wish Charlotte and Zamorna had more scenes together since Emily and Rogue’s relationship did overshadow theirs. Other than that, this was a very fast read and I enjoyed it! o(*≧□≦)o

Available January 5th, 2016

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

 

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: Book Review

“You don’t, Kestrel, even though the god of lies loves you.”

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ Goodreads Synopsis: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love… 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Commentary: Oh my gosh! This book was so good! There is so much I want to discuss! First of all, this book is very political and complex. The book starts off several years after the Herran War. The Valorians were the winners of the war and forced the Herrani into slavery.

Kestrel Trajan, what a character. She isn’t your typical fighter, she’s a strategist. She is cunning, smart, manipulative, and caring. She is the General’s daughter and is constantly pressured into joining the military for her skills. Her father sees how much good she can bring to the empire if she joins. One of my favorite scenes, had to be when Kestrel won her duel against Irex when she blackmailed him, even though he was far more superior when it came to fighting. Kestrel doesn’t want to be in the military, she wants her own independence. She is far more compassionate towards the slaves compared to any other Valorians.

Arin, is a slave and spy. He is just as intelligent as Kestrel. He works under Cheat, the leader of the Herran Revolution. He and Kestrel have a complicated relationship. They think they know what is best for each other. It did feel that both of them kept playing a game to get the upper hand in their relationship. What I really appreciate about this story is that both protagonists don’t instantly fall in love with each other. Their love slowly grows and I love the theme of forbidden love so much. I loved how much he tried protecting Kestrel. He protected her from taking the poison, he protected her from Cheat’s advances, and he protected her from becoming a slave. Secondly, I loved the two alternating pov. (۶ꈨຶꎁꈨຶ )۶ʸᵉᵃʰᵎ

Praise the Lord! No love triangles! Sorry Ronan! Kestrel and Arin are perfect for each other. Ronan tries really hard to gain her affections, but she always ignores him and falls for Arin instead.  ੧| ‾́︶ ‾́ |੭

I did not like Cheat at all. He was corrupt and creepy. I, for one, am glad that he is dead.  Man, he was definitely my least like character next to Irex.

Kestrel and Arin have conflicting ideals, and they have to overcome their issues. Arin wants his people to become a nation, while Kestrel doesn’t want any more deaths for both sides. While reading, I felt sad for the people who suffered on both sides. I was rooting for the rebels to take back their lands. I was not that ending of the book! It was so good!!! I was shocked that the she was forced into a loveless marriage, just so the Arin and his people would have their independence, but at a price. I am really excited to see what’s in store for the second book cause I am hooked!! ╰(◉ᾥ◉)╯

Quotes: 

“Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not.”

“The truth can deceive as well as a lie.”

“My soul is yours”, he said. “You know that it is.”

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon: Book Review

Goodreads Synopsis: What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he’s a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

Commentary: I won Illusionarium at the Epic Reads tent. They were giving out ARCs of many books. I fell in love with the cover in contrast to the other book I won. I haven’t read an arc since last year, so I was beyond excited. This is my honest opinion, for anyone interested in this book. This book did not remind me of The Night Circus at all, I felt that this story was better than that. Jonathan Gouden, the protagonist, was one of my favorite characters. Though some of his actions were quite idiotic, he won my heart. I loved his comments (there are footnotes on certain pages). He was determined to get to find the cure, no matter the cost. The beginning was a bit confusing, but as I kept reading, the story made more sense. There wasn’t much romance as I thought there was going to be. I feel the cover is a bit misleading, I felt that romance was going to be a big part of the story, which it isn’t. As beautiful as the cover is, I hope it gets a new one. This story focused more on Jonathan and the journey he had to take to make things right. I did feel some parts were rushed in the book. One moment Jonathan couldn’t illusion and next moment, he becomes almost like a master when illusioning. Captain Lockwood was an amazing character. I really shipped him and Anna (parallel version of Jonathan’s sister: Hannah). When he was first introduced, I was a bit annoyed at his attitude, but I grew to love the daring warrior. I liked the villain from the story. I liked how it was revealed that she wasn’t who you thought she would be. I don’t want to spoil much, but I loved this book.The actions scenes did move a bit too quick, but I enjoyed reading it. I loved the bromance between Jonathan and Lockwood, their friendship was the best. The ending ended on a happy note. This book was such a quick read for me, and it was refreshing. I do feel this book is geared more toward a younger audience. It felt more middlegrade to me than young adult. I do recommend this book.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Release Date: 05/19/15

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit: Book Review

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

Goodreads Synopsis: Doomed to – or blessed with – eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

Commentary: I really enjoy reading children’s literature and picked Tuck Everlasting because I’ve always wanted to read the book. The book is a really quick read. The protagonist Winnie was very likable, I thought it was very cute how she came to love the Tuck family and I respected what she did for them. The man in the yellow suit, I knew that he seemed suspicious, I just had a feeling about him. I thought he made a great villain to the story. He planned on selling the water and using the Tuck family as his test subjects in order to make him rich. I wasn’t expecting him to die quickly! But, if he had lived, he would have exposed the secret to the world and make life impossible for the Tuck family. I did like how Winnie developed on crush on Jesse despite that huge age gap. I would have liked to have seen them get together, but alas, that did not happen. The ending was very bittersweet for me. Jesse gave Winnie a bottle containing water from the spring and he told her to drink it at seventeen. She didn’t, instead she gave it to a toad. Why would you give the water to the toad Winnie, why? In the epilogue, it was revealed that she had lived a long life and had her own family. I felt sorry for Jesse. I was rooting for them, oh well. Some people either love the ending or hate it, but I personally liked the ending. Yes, I know that Jesse and Winnie did not end up together, but think about it, living forever is not a blessing, it’s more of a curse. If a person were to be immortal, there would be endless possibilities of what that person can achieve, but I believe that at some point it will get tiring and meaningless. That’s just what I believe. It was saddening to know that the family did not use their immortality to the fullest. They could have achieved many things, but instead they chose to hid. I felt that the Tuck family did not properly manage their immortality well.  For example, Miles could have gone to search for his children or the boys could have gone back to school. Just saying. I will watch the movie adaptation of Tuck Everlasting as well. Did you know that Tuck Everlasting was adapted into a musical?! That really surprised me! Lastly, I kept seeing trailers for this upcoming romantic movie called “The Age of Adaline” staring Blake Lively, it kinda reminds me of this book since the movie will be dealing with an immortal protagonist.

Quotes: “Everything’s a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping. The frogs is part of it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thrush, too. And people. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the way it is.”

“You can’t have living without dying. So you can’t call it living, what we got. We just are, we just be, like rocks beside the road.

For some, time passes slowly. An hour can seem like an eternity. For others, there was never enough. For Jesse Tuck, it didn’t exist.”

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

The Diviners by Libba Bray: Book Review

Hello world. I recently read The Diviners by Libba Bray. I kept seeing this book on my tumblr dashboard and booktube. I had to know what the big fuss was about. I got my copy on thriftbooks and I had no idea it was an autographed copy! That’s legit.

Cover: It’s beautiful. I love how it’s beautifully designed to look like the sun.

Characters: At first, I thought Evie O’Neill was really annoying in the beginning. She was a party girl, but later matures a bit and realizes she has to change her ways. As I kept reading, I grew to love her character. She is feisty and flirtatious, but overall a caring and helpful person. I loved her character development and I can’t wait for the sequel. Then there’s Sam, the thief, I wanted a romance to bud between him and Evie. I felt that they had cute moments and that they were more compatible than Evie and Jericho…I have nothing against Jericho, I liked him, but I would have wanted him with someone else…My favorite characters had to be Theta and Memphis. I love them together, the forbidden love. I really hope that they have a bigger part in the next book and that we learn more about their powers. John Hobbes, the villain, was scary. I did get a bit scared when I was reading about his killings. It gave me goosebumps.

Plot: The book is set in the late 1920s before the Great Depression. It does take a while to get used to the lingo, but I love how the author described the overall setting of the story such as bootleggers and flappers. Evie moves to Manhattan after causing trouble in her hometown in Ohio. She is sent to live with her uncle Will who runs The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. There are weird murders happening in the city, and Evie teams up with Will and Jericho (her uncle’s assistant) in order to solve the brutal murders. I don’t want to spoil too much because it is a great book!

What I liked: The Cult of the Brethren! I liked the craziness of the radical religion. It was refreshing. I enjoyed John Hobbes and his sacrificial murders. I was on the edge of my seat when reading. I also enjoyed how each character was important even though they had short roles. I thought Evie, Memphis, and Theta were going to team up, but it’s okay that didn’t happen. The ending was a bit crazy. I had no idea that Sam was connected to Will! That second book should come out soon!

What I disliked: The love triangle…Evie was focus on trying to solve the case and using her powers, but out of nowhere she starts developing feelings for Jericho. My heart broke a little…I was really rooting for Sam. Evie’s relationship with Jericho did feel a little bit rushed. I also wanted the other characters to have a bigger role, but let’s be hopeful for the next book! Lastly, I wanted answers to the next threat. It kept building up suspense for the second book!

I had a lot of fun reading The Diviners. My final score is a 4 out of 5. 😀

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See: Book Review

“As she spoke, I wanted to cry, because sometimes it’s just so damn hard to be a mother. We have to wait and wait and wait for our children to open their hearts to us. And if that doesn’t work, we have to bide our time and look for the moment of weakness when we can sneak back into their lives and they will see us and remember us for the people who love them unconditionally.”

Lisa See is one of my favorite author’s and every time I see she has a new book published, I have to buy it. I know that Dreams of Joy came out a while ago, but I finally managed to read it. I read Shanghai Girls and I was left with wanting more because of the tragic ending. I am glad to have read the sequel and it did not disappoint. The novel is told in two perspectives Pearl (protagonist of Shanghai Girls) and Joy, her daughter. May I say, that I enjoyed this novel so much. Let’s get on with the review!

Characters: I found Joy to be very annoying in the beginning of the novel, she was a young adult who was ignorant of what was really happening in China during Mao’s rule. It felt as if she were brainwashed into believing that communism was for the greater good. She was very immature and stubborn with her mother and her biological father in the novel, but she redeems herself when she becomes a wife. Joy’s struggles as an outsider in a small village was so heartbreaking. She tried her best to fit in with the villagers, but she was more American than Chinese. She believed that she had friends in Green Dragon Village, but villagers couldn’t be trusted. I love how she realizes that communism was not as great as she imagined it to be. She suffered many cruelties from her husband and his family, but continues to be brave and face any danger in order to survive. I loved how much she changes in the novel. Pearl, I loved her in Shanghai Girls, and she changed as well. I was heartbroken that she lost Sam (he died in the previous book) and Joy in China. Pearl stays strong and never loses hope of bringing Joy back to America. I was glad that she and her sister May reconciled for the better at the end of the novel. The character that I hated had to be Tao. I liked Joy’s relationship with him at the beginning of the novel, but I have to agree that they were rushing their relationship. I thought Joy was going to be happy, but she ends up miserable. Tao is ambitious and does whatever it takes to make himself important. I don’t believe that he loved Joy, but was using her because of her connections with her father, Z.G. (he’s an important artist with many connections in the government). Lastly, I was glad to see that Z.G. had a bigger role in this novel than the first novel. I loved him more in Dreams of Joy than I did in Shanghai Girls. He does what he must to survive in communist China.

Plot: Joy suffers from an identity crisis after realizing that her relatives have been lying to her for nineteen years. Joy is shocked beyond belief after finding out that Pearl is not really her mother. Influenced by the social group she joined at her university, she views communism as the best form of government. Though she has high expectations of communism, she slowly discovers that communism is not what she expected the more she stays in China. Pearl, her adoptive mother, does whatever she must to retrieve her daughter. As I’ve mentioned the story is told in alternating perspectives.

Sad Moments: There are many sad moments in this novel. Vern dies and May finally realizes how her sister Pearl feels about being a widow. Reunion with Cook in Shanghai. I did cry when Joy was declined a divorce and her close friend Kumei betrays her. I don’t want to spoil it too much but seriously, this novel has many sad events.

Awww Moments: My favorite one has to be Joy naming her daughter Samantha after her father Sam. It really made me happy. The second one would have to be Pearl finding love in Shanghai and letting go of her feelings for Z.G.

This novel did inspire me to learn more about Mao’s regime in China. Lisa See wrote about the Great Leap Forward and how destructive that plan was for the nation. I can’t wait to start her newest novel China Dolls. Would I recommend this book? Heck yes! I feel that Lisa See takes her time to research what she wants to write about. This is a great book and so is Shanghai Girls. My rating is a 4 out of 5. 😀