“All my life,” she said, “I have been told ‘go’ and ‘come.’ I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me.”
Okay, it’s official. Medieval-Russian-fairy-tale-based stories are forever my new favorite genre. Katherine Arden KILLED this book.
The narration of this book starts by introducing you to a family in a harsh Russian winter, and then you are there as the main character, Vasilisa (or Vasya), is born. This story is told in a beautifully written third person narration, surrounding Vasya, her family, the people of her town, the creatures in the forest, and the young priest who stumbles into their village. Vasya is wild, and possesses the same magical gifts as her mother and grandmother. It portraits fear and courage and skepticism and superstition vividly. There is so much meaning and emotion beneath the beautiful surface of this story.
Each character is complex and deep. No one character is truly or completely good or evil. They have layers, backstories, and you can connect with any of them. They’re so realistic in their emotions, while at the same time being these mystical, medieval, fantasy characters. Each of their characters developed and changed over the story, in different ways. You can see the paranoia creeping into the lives of an entire village of people, watching as they become their own undoing and having Vasya fight to protect each and every one of them.
This is also totally a kick ass feminist novel with Vasya defying the life that has been forced upon her, becoming someone that no one expected, doing things no one at the time thought women could do, and taking control of herself- it was so AMAZING and honestly totally pumped me up.
The sequel, The Girl in the Tower was equally stunning. I highly, highly recommend this entire series (the third one comes out in January 2019 and I’m actually SO excited to read it). I highly, highly, (HIGHLY) recommend that you move this to the top of your TBR pile!
Title - The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilolgy #1)
Author - Katherine Arden
Publisher - Random House
Book Birthday - June 27, 2017
Pages - 368
Social Media - www.katherinearden.com/
Twitter - @arden_katherine
Grace C., EO Blogger
***Trigger Warning*** Pedophilia, Sexual Abuse, Drug Abuse
"I’m going to kill a man. I’m going to steal the light from his eyes. I want to watch it go out."
Sadie is an exceptional book. The main character is Sadie, a teenage girl, who lives in a trailer park with her sister, Mattie, who she loves more than anyone else in the world. Their mother abandoned them and Sadie has been raising Mattie alone. But Mattie is tragically found dead and Sadie is left with nothing but a want to bring justice to her sister’s killer. This book follows Sadie on her journey toward vengeance through an intriguing, suspenseful, and dark mystery.
The format of this book is written so that part is told from a radio show hosted by West McCray, who is telling Sadie’s story, and the other part is told by Sadie herself. The differing point of views are so well done in this novel. West McCray offered a more detached position on the story, that when mixed with the intensity and passion written in Sadie’s words, work so well together.
Sadie is both the hardened tough woman on a mission and the traumatized and mistreated young girl. She’s desolate and lonely and so broken. No one was taking care of her. She was alone with the guilt of not saving her sister and the trauma and nightmares of her past dragging her down. She continues on this mission, slowly getting more reckless and desperate, and it chills you to the bone. I just wanted to reach into the book and help this poor girl. I swear at one point I was yelling out loud, “HELP HER SOMEBODY! SAVE HER!”. It’s so easy to feel so deeply about Sadie and her journey.
“I can’t take another dead girl.”
This novel isn’t comforting or warm, it’s cold, raw, and heartbreaking - and powerful - just as the author intended. Sadie is an edgy, well written, emotional thriller, that is totally worth the read.
Grace C., EO Blogger
Title - Sadie
Author - Courtney Summers
Publisher - Wednesday Books - St. Martin's Press - Macmillan
Pages - 308
Social Media - courtneysummers.ca/
Twitter - @courtney_s
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.
As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection...because one wrong move could lead to her death (from Goodreads).
Fans of sci-fi blended with fantasy, this is definitely a novel you are going to want to pick up. Slow to start, Amani's kidnapping starts a succession of events that will keep you reading - and guessing - about how this tale will end! Amani was a fabulous main character. One thing I really enjoyed about her was her strength - her people, her family, and she herself were prisoners of their own planet - tortured and killed and left to basically survive on their own. Once a thriving nation, they are now second-class citizens and are no longer allowed to speak their language, celebrate their customs, or just be themselves. Throughout it all, Amani remained strong, firm in her beliefs, and holding out that there is hope for her people and that she will see her family again.
This novel has a great mix of romance, action, and suspense - and it will definitely leave you waiting in suspense for the next installment! Pick up a copy of Mirage today!
TITLE - Mirage
AUTHOR - Somaiya Daud
PUBLISHER - Flatiron Books/Macmillan
PAGES - 308
SOCIAL MEDIA - http://www.somaiyabooks.com/
Mrs. Larkin, EO Smith School Librarian
It’s been a really long time since I’ve read a fantastic book. I mean, since high school has started, my free-reading as a whole has dramatically decreased, but even the books I have read haven’t lived up to my expectations. This year, I’ve been reading more for myself. It was actually the trailer for Love, Simon that caught my eye. I immediately wanted to see the movie, but I have a rule. Any movie that’s based on a book has to be read before watched. I’ve stuck to that rule for as long as I can remember, and I wasn’t about to break it.
I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in about a week. The book itself was so compelling to me, even if I didn’t have a comparison, and it was one of the first books in a while that I picked over Netflix. I felt that Albertalli did an extremely good job writing the book with her detail and character choices. All of the characters were compelling, and I couldn’t wait to find out who Simon’s pen pal was. I became invested in Simon’s journey and wanted the best him. Admittedly, I cried multiple times reading the book. Granted, I’m a crier, but it was emotional.
The book set the bar extremely high for the movie. I saw it just a day or two after I finished the book, so the details were fresh in my mind. My thoughts on Love, Simon? Fantastic movie. I criticized it at first because it doesn’t line up exactly with the plot of the book, but aside from a few aspects, it pretty closely follows what Simon goes through. The book, of course, has more detail, but I still felt drawn into the characters and the story. It was also really fun to see the different locations to make the viewer feel more in it. I would absolutely recommend the movie to a friend even if they haven’t read, and vice versa. It was the best book I’ve read and the best movie I’ve watched in a long time. My overall take? The book is always better than the movie, but the movie was pretty great too.
Katie F., EO Blogger
Fantasy is a hard genre to write. A lot of different fantasy series end up being the same storyline with different names and predictable endings. But not with The Traitor's Game. While the plot is a little cliche, Jennifer A. Nielsen has done a wonderful job on this book. I have to admit I’m kind of biased because the Ascendance Trilogy was amazing and I’ve been idolizing this woman since 2012, but I swear I’m being impartial here.
The characters in this book were great. The first person point of view switched between the character Kestra, a highborn girl being threatened into betraying the family she barely knows and the cruel ruler they support, and the character Simon, a former servant and orphan turned rebel. The first person point of view definitely deepened the characters and I think did great things for the story. Switching between narrators can always be risky though, it’s a hard thing to get right. Sometimes the switching point of views can get confusing or cause the reader to get bored of one character's point of view, making parts of the story drag on. But in this case, though I did slightly prefer the parts told by Kestra, I think it was very well done. I also really appreciated that Nielsen finally gave us a kick-ass female main character.
Any good fantasy novel has to be able to touch in on inner conflicts other than just the exterior wars and magical battles, and Nielsen does it so well. The characters were struggling with moral obligations and their changing beliefs just as much as they were dealing with assassination attempts and spying in castles. I love Kestra’s passion to do the right thing and her intelligence. I love Simon’s dedication and bravery.
This book is full of twists and turns, lots of drama and suspense - and a little romance. All of which is so important in fantasy novels. This is something this author has always been really good at, and I think it really comes across in this novel. It ended on a great note, too. Not such a cliffhanger that drives you crazy for the years it take for all the sequels to be released, but it left you intrigued and wanting to read more. The execution of this story was completely dynamic. I’m personally so excited for the sequels to come out and to read the rest of this series.
Genre - Fantasy
Pages - 400
Publisher - Scholastic
Author links - http://jennielsen.com/
Grace C., EO Blogger
Trigger Warning: this books contains sexual assault
I just finished The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis and I’m honestly gonna admit it’s now one of my favorites. The writing was absolutely awe-inspiring and often left me closing the book for a few minutes to ponder a thought presented by the main protagonist, Alex.
17-year-old Alex (my fave) suffers from a lot of mental issues after the murder and subsequent finding of her horribly mutilated and, as she discovers, sexually assaulted older sister. Her thoughts and feelings discussed throughout the book are incredibly insightful and full of a kind of child-like innocence, but coupled with the outlook of someone who knows and has seen first hand the horrors of the world most people never get to know about in their whole lives. McGinnis portrays this beautifully, so much so that I slowly fell in love with a character you learn in the first page of the book has killed someone and felt no remorse for it. Yes, it’s worse than it sounds.
The book deals HEAVILY with themes of sexual assault and rape culture, so if you’re not cool with reading 300-400 pages of that sorta thing, then I’d say this book is a no-go, but if you want to see heroic female characters fighting rape culture and objectification from their male counterparts, as well as an adorable romance and a main character whose lesbianism isn’t mentioned more than three or so times throughout the book (because she’s there for plot development not queerbaiting), I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who would like to read it!
To find out more about the author, visit her website:
Julia T., EO Blogger
There’s a pause on the other end. Suddenly, I realize that I’m mouthing off to one of the world’s most powerful people -- to my idol, someone I’ve watched and read about and obsessed over for years, someone who had changed my life. Across from me, Keira watches the phone intently as if she could see what Hideo’s expression looks like. I swallow in the silence, afraid for a moment.
“I have a job offer for you,” Hideo replies. “Would you like to hear more?”
When hacker/bounty hunter Emika Chen is offered a job as a professional player in Warcross, the virtual reality video game played by almost everyone in the world, she has no idea what she is in for. The game’s creator, Hideo Tanaka, confesses he wants her to be a player so that he can use her skills to weed out another hacker, one that has been causing some problems in the game. She’s overwhelmed by the Tokyo scene, fame, money, the adrenaline rush of the game - and a little romance, too.
However, as the game progresses, she realizes she’s in deeper than she thought. More information is uncovered, leaving her wondering who the bad guys really are and what is actually going on in Warcross. Navigating power structures, sleazy deep web encounters, and her own emotions, Emika comes to a startling discovery and makes an even more surprising decision.
NY Times bestselling author Marie Lu’s Warcross is an intense, fast-paced read that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, but also asks some important questions. In a world where technology is becoming more advanced and all-encompassing, what are inventors’ ethical obligations? Are ethics objective or subjective? When faced with a decision between someone you care about and a moral you hold, what should you choose? What would you choose? Readers will find themselves mulling over these dilemmas and more long after they finish the book.
Damien D., E.O. Smith Blogger
“it’s dark now, & not just because my visor is misted; when u turn at 17,500 miles an hour the night comes on u like a switch, & now i’m in a total absence of light that feels metaphorical in a much more horrible way.”
Moon 2 is a space station that orbits approximately 250 miles above Earth. It travels 17,500 miles an hour, making one full orbit every ninety minutes. It’s also the only home that fifteen-year-old Leo and two other teens have ever known.
Born and raised on Moon 2, Leo and the twins, Orion and Libra, are finally old enough and strong enough to endure the dangerous trip to Earth. They’ve been “parented” by teams of astronauts since birth and have run countless drills to ready themselves for every conceivable difficulty they might face on the flight.
But has anything really prepared them for life on terra firma? Because while the planet may be home to billions of people, living there is more treacherous than Leo and his friends could ever have imagined, and their very survival will mean defying impossible odds.
Satellite is a real masterpiece. Nick Lake’s use of text speech instead of proper grammar in writing the entire novel is a distinctive literary choice, shows the reader how the main character thinks and feels. Not with proper punctuation but how we naturally talk. In doing so Lake takes a completely unrelatable situation in which Leo is presented as an experiment, and uses his writing to make it feel relatable.
Not only through the text speech style does Lake convery that extreme reliability however. Leo’s quest into breaking out of the box he had been put into, that experiment forced upon him at birth, it makes his character seem real, it makes him seem like everyone else just trying to be himself in his own special circumstances. In making Leo seem like all of the rest of us despite his unusual circumstances, Nick Lake successfully makes the reader feel connected to a completely obscure character.
The other characters also make a great addition to the plot. Each character has their own level of reliability and with that their own level of importance to the story, but one thing is for sure, every character has a purpose, they are not just unnecessary plot devices but real characters with real feelings and a real importance in Leo’s overarching story.
It is true that the unusual writing style and the initial slow pace does make the novel hard to read at first, but the well-woven plot and the amazing characters really makes Satellite a book worth reading.
“There is no divine plan, no destiny, no life after death, and no compensation for what you lose. There is only here and now. There is only what you’ve done and what you are going to do. And if you can own up to every moment and take responsibility for your life and shape it into something beautiful and kind and generous - if you can do that, you’ve discovered what it means to be strong.”
The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out. Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don't know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she'll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight. As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She'll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.
This is Lianne Oelke’s first novel and I really liked it. It was very different and original. I thought it was cute and exciting and it also touched in on some deep and important topics which can be hard to successfully fit into one novel.
The main character Jane has left her high school and now has to complete her senior year at her local community college and decides to move out of her parents' place. Jane has been raised in a devout Christian household, and recently Jane has been having doubts about God and struggling. She signs up for an advertised small campus reality show that’s being produced by a student for a project. I really liked that it was set in a college setting instead of a high school setting. I thought it made the story already different compared to a lot of other YA novels and brought more diversity of ages and people to the story.
The Reality Show aspect, I admit, I had expected to be kind of cheesy. But it actually ended being exciting and interesting and bringing a lot to the story. It was called House of Orange, it had a bunch of different little challenges and had some really cute and funny moments that lightened up the story. I wish there had been a few more challenges, though.
This story touched on some very sensitive topics along with having many light-hearted scenes as well. As I mentioned before it talks a lot about how Jane lost faith in God, but it also discussed a lot of other mental health subjects like suicide, depression, etc. So I think that’s something to be aware of going into reading the book.
The character Jane was witty and completely hilarious. The story was full of dry humor. I quickly and easily connected with her as a character. I thought she was very well portrayed and that she was an interesting character. Her love for psychology was a super interesting part of the book. I wish there had been more of it! The characters other than Jane were hard for me to connect at first, but after a little bit they developed more. I wish the beginning had been a little less slow and that I could of got into it a little more quickly, but that doesn’t last too long and was far from unbearable.
By far my favorite part of this book was its format. It was written as Jane’s journal and though it can be a tough way to write, it was executed very well. I think that it made many characters, especially Jane, a lot more accessible.
Even though this book started a little slow and had a few chunks of text with little development or excitement, they were mild and overall didn’t effect the story too much. I think this book was excellent and a great read. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a YA novel that deals with more mature topics or a novel that feels a bit more polished and structured than other contemporaries out there.
Grace C., EO Blogger
“Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you go on even though you’re scared.”
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
From the moment I first picked up The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and skimmed the description on the back, I knew it wouldn’t be like any of the other books I’ve read recently. From the first page, Thomas skips unnecessary introductions and plunges the reader into the life of Starr Carter, an African American teen struggling to survive in her rough neighborhood, while also trying to fit in at her suburban prep-school. At first, I had trouble connecting with Starr; after all, my life as a privileged, middle-class, caucasian girl is nothing like hers. But, it didn’t take long for the tough persona she puts on around her neighbors to slip away, allowing me to see her for who she really is: an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances. The more relatable Starr became to me, the more I fell in love with the book. Because of the privilege I’ve been surrounded by all my life, I had never really thought much about the stories in the news about shootings in inner-city neighborhoods. I never questioned what could be happening behind the scenes of the stories about police brutality. Angie Thomas tells the side of these stories that usually goes untold, while keeping it relatable and realistic. I could imagine that I was with Starr when she was riding home from a party with her friend Khalil, that I too watched as he was shot and killed by a police officer after being pulled over for speeding. I felt like I was with her as she struggled to handle her grief and anger, and I was cheering her on when she decided to fight for justice. Every time Starr made an effort to be brave despite her fear, I also felt empowered. My favorite part about The Hate U Give is how it portrays such a weighty issue so honestly and beautifully, while still leaving a smile of my face. For a book with such a somber beginning, it avoids slipping into a “dark” territory by including a constant message of hope, loyalty, and love.
Abby S., EO Blogger