A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir — A Review

33359446A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.

We pick up A Torch Against the Night where An Ember in the Ashes left off. Laia and Elias are running for their lives, the Commandant is up to her usual evil ways, and Laia’s brother is trapped inside Kauf prison.

Like all traditionally published YA novels, this was well-written and suspenseful, and it had me wanting to turn page after page even when I was exhausted. I really enjoyed the incorporation of the Tribes into the story, the relationship development between Elias and Laia, and the struggle that Helene, now Blood Shrike of the empire, goes through in trying to choose between her friend and her duty to the empire. Honestly, the development of Helene’s character in this book was in large part why this book rated so high with me.

However, there were a couple of story lines that did not feel complete to me, and I found that a bit surprising considering how many hands this went through prior to publication. I think this book may have tried to accomplish way too much in too few pages.

  • The love triangle from book one carries over, but it’s sketchy and thoughtlessly handled.
  • Not nearly enough time is spent explaining the world of the jinns and the Waiting Place, which I assume will play a large role in book three (or at least, I hope it does).
  • That twist at the end felt a little cheesy, but all right I’ll go with it.

Despite these issues, I still enjoyed it very much, and want to know what happens with Elias and Laia in book three.

I picked this book to fulfill the Read Harder Challenge #20, A Book with a Cover You Hate. I know why Tahir wanted to change the cover design, and I respect that reasoning. I just think the execution (specifically the single color and the Throne of Glass knock-off style) was poorly done.

 

Which one do you prefer?

 

 

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Hope by Grier Cooper — A Review

26170198Hope by Grier Cooper

RaeleighReads rating:Β cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

 

Dudes! Two romantic books back-to-back! What even is my life right now?

Okay, it’s not really a romance like Hate to Want You, but the main character’s feelings do get put through the wringer when a fellow dancer seems to be interested in her. She starts to like him back, and it seems like they may be starting a relationship, but then…maybe not? And this does-he or doesn’t-he nonsense is really the last thing she needs.

Hope is about the lives of teenage dancers, ballet (obvs), and pushing yourself to be your best you, while still being a decent human being to those around you. Indigo is the main character, a teenager who struggled very hard to gain her spot at the New York School of Ballet. This school is just a stepping stone on her way to becoming a professional dancer. Following are her thoughts at the beginning of Hope.

Here’s what I’ve realized in the one hundred and fifty-one days since I first arrived at the New York School of Ballet: Β Every second counts. It isn’t enough to work hard and sweat; there has to be something more. Each moment is a new chance to reach just a little further, move one step closer to perfection.

Indigo and her group of friends struggle to maintain the balance between dance classes, high school classes, friendships, and boys. Felipe is the foreign, and super sexy, boy who seems to like Indigo, and then maybe he doesn’t, and then he definitely does, and then he doesn’t again. C’mon boy! Make up your mind!!!! Pauvre Indigo. 😦 At least he’s a first-rate pas de deux partner!

Image result for ballet gif

Anyways, these professional teenagers are under a huge amount of pressure. Their ultimate goal: to get a job dancing for a good company. Remarkably, most of them make it to the final performance, the workshop they’ve all been busting their buns (pun intended) to be cast in, without completely falling apart.

I really enjoyed reading Hope. It is the second book in Grier Cooper’s Indigo Dreams series. I didn’t read the first book, Wish, but I felt okay going into book two without much background information. Currently, Cooper does not have a book three. I really, really hope that she plans to write one!!!! Hope ends well enough, but I want to know what’s next for Indigo. Does she get a job? Does she tank the workshop and have to find an alternate career? I NEED TO KNOW.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy YA fiction, stories about ballet (obvi), stories about friendship, and stories about going for your dreams. I will definitely be seeking out the rest of the series. I just cannot resist a well-told story about ballet and dancing. Who am I kidding, I can’t resist anything ballet! Pretty sure my patronus is toe-shoes. πŸ˜‰

Image result for ballet gif

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

In Lieu of a Review

Some of you guys have been reading for a while now, and some of you are brand new to my blog. Please just know, if you are reading this, I appreciate you.

Someone asked me awhile back why I was doing this? What did I get for it?

This person knew I was under a great deal of stress, and they assumed automatically that something that takes up so much of my time should be lucrative. Believe me, if I could get paid to read novels and write reviews of them, I’d be doing that! But I don’t get paid to do this. I do get copies of books, an item I value over many many others, but that doesn’t pay the bills!

So why do I do this? Why spend so much of my limited time engrossed in novels and anguishing over their reviews? Why? Because I LOVE books, literature, reading, the written word, authors, writers, characters, fictional worlds that I wish so hard were real.

I APPRECIATE the amount of time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, coffee (or tea), and mania that goes into creating these precious works of art.

I think authors, especially indie authors, deserve to have that time and effort recognized.

So what do I get out of it? The joy of finding a new favorite author — one I never would have discovered in a Barnes & Noble. (No offense meant to B&N — love that place!)

What do I get out of it? A myriad of world views that I never would have encountered otherwise.

What do I get out of it? Hope. Yes, you read that right. Hope.

Often times our world can seem so dreary, our options limited, our efforts ineffectual, and we may find ourselves screaming, “What is the point!?” These works, these bound bits of inspiration, represent a tenacity of spirit from people with unfettered creativity and a commendable work ethic. And I find that damn inspiring!

So, I will continue to read their works. And I will read them critically because that is just how I am wired. I will present the world with my opinions on these works and hopefully introduce, at least one person, to a brand new author who will open up a whole new world for them.

Do I sometimes get overwhelmed by this project I’ve taken on? Yes, and I’m going to try to be more honest with myself moving forward about what I can and cannot accomplish in a 24-hour day. I will falter. And I will fail. But I will keep doing this because I love it!

I guess what I’m trying to say is:

I’m back! Check for a brand new review next week!

im back baby castiel

 

And now for a word from our sponsors…

I'm_just_kidding emma stoneJK! I don’t have sponsors. Errrm, carry on!

 

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed — A Review

writtenWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

“My mother always says when you fight destiny, destiny fights back. Some things, they’re just written in the stars. You can try but you can never escape what’s meant to be.”

If you saw my initial Goodreads post, you know I had an immediate, slightly negative reaction to this book. Since then I’ve had a very difficult time forcing myself to sit down and write about this thing.

Written in the Stars is about a Pakistani girl named Naila. She grew up in Florida with her mother, father, and younger brother. She was all set to graduate high school, go on to college with her friends, and become a doctor. But, as so often happens, a boy got in the way of all that. Saif was also Pakistani, but his family was not respected by the other Pakistani families in their Florida community, so it was NOT okay for Naila to be dating him. Whoops! Now, when her parents found out, they didn’t ground her or forbid her to date him. Nope. They shamed her like you wouldn’t believe then packed the whole family up for a vacation to Pakistan. What happened after that you’ll have to read for yourself. I’ll just say, I yelled at the book for the last 75%. Literally. Yelled. I think I may have woken up my neighbors. I live in a house — not an apartment (just to give you an idea of the volume).

I found the content of this book appalling. The culture described is completely foreign to me, and I have to say, I didn’t find anything redeemable in it. Pretty clothes and jewelry aside, there was not much beauty to be found in this way of life. I thought I was going to be able to find some redemption in the bonds of family, but this poor girl’s family was so fake. (Spoiler ahead!) What kind of people say they love you and laugh and dote on you one minute then turn around and confine you, drug you, and force you to marry someone against your will the next? (End spoiler.) It’s disgusting, frankly.

Now, I know I’m approaching this book from a Western, American perspective. On top of that I am a feminist. Every atom in my body was repelled by this text. It is my very negative reaction to the content that lowered the coffee cup rating on this novel. Perhaps that’s not fair. It is well written, if bland. The characters are well-developed, if abhorrent. There are certainly lessons to be gleaned here from whomever reads it, but I just really hated it.

Gah, you should probably read it anyway. If only to experience a small part of another culture.

 

I Flubbed Up – Book Reviews

Hey guys! Sorry; there should have been a review up yesterday 😦

Obvs I didn’t have a chance to get to it. SO, in the mean time, I’ll let you know what I’m reading.

Foul is Fair by Jeffrey Cook & Katherine Perkins. It’s a pretty good YA fantasy read so far (I’m only at 25%). It reminds me of The Nine Lives of Chloe King (Why oh why did they cancel that show!?) or Kami Garcia’s Unbreakable or The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. The main character is a young girl who discovers there is more to her genetic makeup than she first realized. Anyhoo, a fantastical coming-of-age story. I’m looking forward to finishing it when I have a chance to read!

Also, hopefully by Monday 7/3, I will have my review of Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed finished. I read this one as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016. I finished it on 6/27 and I must say, it perturbed me a great deal. I’m still thinking about it!

Welp, that’s me finished. “See” you all next week; and happy 4th if you’re American!

So that's me finished.