How far will you go for revenge? Would you enter a contest where the only way out was to win or die? Would you be able to kill other contestants in order to reach the position that will allow you to avenge your family?
These are questions that Sal has to ponder when they find a flyer for auditions to become Opal, part of The Left Hand of The Queen. Sal is a street thief who has spent the last few years just trying to survive. They know that becoming The Left Hand will allow them access to those who destroyed their life. Sal enters into the auditions and learns that revenge is not as simple as they first thought.
(Note since Sal is genderfluid and uses he/she/they pronouns based on how they are dressed I will be using they to refer to them throughout this review to avoid misgendering them at any point.)
What I enjoyed the most:
One of the things that caught my attention about this book when I first heard about it was the fact that the main character is genderfluid. I have read a few books where a side character is genderfluid but never one where the main character was. I have also not heard of genderfluid characters in a fantasy novel. I was interested to see how this story was going to be done.
Now I do want to state that I am not genderfluid and I don’t know anyone who is so my opinions are based off the research I have done. I did read some reviews of this book by genderfluid reviewers who approve of Sal and the way they were represented.
The society in this world seemed very accepting. When Sal first meets the rest of The Left Hand they state how they are to be addressed. They base their pronouns off what they are wearing, if they are wearing more feminine clothes they use she, if they are wearing more masculine type clothes they are he and if their clothes don’t fall into either category they use they. Once their pronouns are explained it is accepted. No one argues with them or try to fight them about who they are.
There was one moment where they were purposely misgendered and it was done by a character to argue against Sal. The character did it to put Sal down and argue against them staying in the competition. This character was quickly corrected and reminded to respect who Sal was. But that was the only time that Sal’s gender was discussed in any negative fashion.
There were also a variety of sexualities in this story. One character is bisexual, one is implied to be asexual and another is gay. There are also a number of POC as well. I liked the diversity in this book and how it was just accepted. This wasn’t about accepting people for their sexuality or color, it was about these auditioners trying to become The Left Hand for a variety of reasons. In the end it mattered what they could do not how they identified or who they were attracted to.
Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the use of masks. Everyone auditioning was given a mask with a number and that was who they became until the end. The three other Left Hands had their own masks and no one got to see their real faces. This was an important part of this story.
The masks kept identities secret. We didn’t get to know who anyone truly was. It didn’t matter. What mattered was what they could do. Could they kill without thought? Could they do what was necessary to become an assassin? Could they remove who they once were and take up this new position in life?
Sal puts on their mask and they become twenty-three. They become someone who is out to do whatever is necessary to become Opal. They can’t let anyone get in their way. But even though this is mainly about a competition to kill the competition there are soft sides to the characters. I liked that feel. I was glad to see lighter moments, moments where care was shown. I think without these moments the story would have been hard to relate to. I found who I would root for and who mattered. If it was all about death, it would have been easy to write everyone off including Sal.
What I okay with:
One of my favorite parts of a story is the dialogue. I feel like through the dialogue I connect to the characters. I can learn if they are humorous, deep or intellectual. I can learn if they are more sarcastic or serious or if they hide behind words. I had a bit of trouble with the dialogue in this story. I felt like it was stilted and clunky. There were times that I wondered what the point of a conversation was or where it was going. Sometimes it felt like conversations just ended for no reason. I wish the dialogue was a bit more precise and relatable.
I also had a bit of trouble with the world building. It wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t feel part of the story but it was enough that I never felt set in the story. I felt like we were fed pieces only when necessary creating more of a jigsaw puzzle image. I had trouble figuring out how things connected.
I wished we had gotten a bit more history. There is a timeline in the back of the book about how they land was created. I wish that had been peppered throughout the story instead. It wasn’t until I read that that I felt like I understood how certain pieces fit together but by that point I was done with the book. I think putting those pieces in the story would have helped me feel more grounded.
What I would change:
Characters are what keep me reading a story. They are the reason I feel connected to a tale. If a character is flat or undeveloped I find myself struggling to finish a book. Unfortunately for this story I felt little connection to Sal.
Sal is a thief who lost their whole family and is out to avenge them. That is about all I know about Sal. I wanted to know more about their connection to their family. I wanted to know more about their homeland. I wanted to know if they felt wanted or needed in their home if they were on the outside. I wanted more history about Sal.
I think if we had gotten some flashbacks to Sal’s life before we would have a better way of understanding their choices during the story. Sal has potential to be a deep character. I think making Sal a deeper character would have made this more than a simple revenge story.
In the end I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads. I liked the pace, it was fast and never felt dull or slow. I just wish we had gotten a bit more about the world and a bit more about Sal.
“Most everyone wanted me to pick one, make addressing me easier to them by denying myself. I was already dressing so they could get it right. The least they could do was try. I didn’t see why I had to choose.” (pg. 79).
(This is a review for a third book in a series. There will be minor spoilers for the previous two books)
The end to a series worries me, whether it be a TV show or book series. I am eager to reach the conclusion, to see how things work themselves out but I am also a bit terrified. The final book in a series is the one chance to wrap everything up in a way that makes sense and gives us an idea of what will become of the characters. I know that there is a lot of pressure to end a series just right. I have been severely disappointed before (*cough Hunger Games, Maze Runner cough*) and that scares me for other series. Then there are the times where things just fall right into place and things end perfectly. V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light is one that ends just the way it should have.
A Conjuring of Light picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows left off. Kell is a prisoner, Rhy is dying and Lila is determined to save them both. I am not going to reveal too much of what happens because it could ruin the story. But the plot primarily revolves around everyone trying to banish the shadow king from Black London. They all realize they have to work together to get their home back.
This book took off from the very first page. The tension and stakes are set high and they do not soften at all. Things began at a running pace and they only grow into a sprint as the book goes on. I was on the edge of my seat from the start, waiting to see what the next chapter was going to bring. Who would going to get hurt or die? What obstacles were going to fall into their way? What were they going to do to defeat this threat? The pace never let up and I loved that. For a final book I wanted things to keep moving and this book did just that.
All of the characters evolved well throughout this series but the one that struck me in this book was Holland. Holland was a character that sat in the background for the other two books for me. I didn’t feel anything strong for him one way or another. He was just kind of there. I understood him. He was being forced to act against his will and he loved his city but I didn’t connect to why. I didn’t get why I should care. This book changed all of that.
This was Holland’s book. We saw his past, and got an understanding of his connection to White London. His choices, what he wanted and what he was willing to do all made sense after this book. I became invested in his life and was eager to keep learning more about him and his past. He felt the most alive to me. I felt sympathy for him and wanted to help him, which was not something I thought I was going to feel for him when I started the book.
Another aspect I really liked of this book was the way the romantic aspects were wrapped up. Often romance has a tendency to take over a story. Even if the book is not romance, the romantic aspects start to dictate the choices made and where the story goes. I like romance but I have an issue when we lose the story inside that romance.
This series did not do that. The two romantic storylines were integrated into the larger story well. We got a wrap up to them, we got to ee the issues inside those relationships but they weren’t the only thing we focused on. We got the bigger story with the romance elements inside of it. I appreciated the way they were written and wrapped up.
This was the way to end a series in my opinion. The plot came to a final conclusion. The relationships were finalized and there was still room left open for another story with these characters. I like when there is a possibility for more while ending the story we were reading in a final and satisfactory way.
This book does not play fair. This was my mantra for most of the time I was reading History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. It was one of those books that messes with your emotions in a way that makes your head spin. One minute I was laughing, then a sentence later it was like someone had let the air out of my balloon and I sank to the ground, head in my hands. I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked this book up.
Griffen is a young man dealing with something many hope to never have to deal with; the death of someone he cared about. His first love, Theo, passes way suddenly and Griffen is left to pick up the pieces of his life and heart.
Unfortunately for Griffen the only person who really knows what he is feeling is Jackson, the boy that Theo was dating before he died. Together they aid each other in dealing with their grief. But Griffen learns he has to find away to put Theo in his past, to live with their history but to not let that history rule him.
I read Adam Silvera’s other novel More Happy Than Not and that book nearly destroyed me. (Full review here). So I knew that Silvera knew how to ignite intense emotions in a reader. I knew he was a writer that could make you severely ache for the characters. I thought I was prepared for the rollercoaster that this book was going to be. I was wrong.
More Happy Than Not was a book that had a constant dark cloud hovering over it. It was rarely one where you smiled. Things started off dim and sad and you only continued to dig into that hole over the course of the story.
This book started off sad but didn’t stay that way. The way it is told is it switches between Theo and Griffen’s past, from the beginning of their relationship until their break up and Theo’s death and the present where Griffen is dealing with Theo’s death and his grief.
One minute you are reading about a cute date they had, laughing at their jokes about the “zombie-pirate apocalypse” and then something is mentioned about the future and it is like a wave has hit you. As a reader you know that, that future does not exist. You know those plans will never be fulfilled, all those promise are broken. You go from laughing to feeling hurt and sad. You keep going up and down almost afraid to turn the next page.
In Silvera’s last book it was the ending that spun the whole story into a different direction. That book smacked you over the head with a brick. This one didn’t hit that hard but it still changed the feel of the story. I am not sure if this is going to be a thing of Silvera’s but I like that there is a pull at the end that deepens the story.
Griffen has to learn to move on with his life. He learns that Theo will always be a part of his past. Their history will always mean something but it can’t consume him. History has to be just that history. You can reference it, learn from it and revel in it when you need that nostalgiaia but you can’t live in it. If you do you risk losing yourself.
Griffen finds a way to add this to who he is as a person and move into his future. It is a future without Theo but is one that he learns to live in. History is all they have now but Griffen learns that, that is okay.
I haven’t done one of these in awhile. What are you reading Wednesday is a feature over on It’s a Reading Thing. Pretty simple to take part. Find the book you are currently reading and answer the following questions.
1.) What are you currently reading? – we are the ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
2.) Got to page 34 or 33% in your e-book and share a couple of sentences:
“It begins with excitement. The date is 24 January 2016, Frieda Eichman of Grunstradt is the first to identify the astroid, using the telescope her father gave her for her thirteenth birthday. He’s been dead these last twenty years, but he would have been proud.”
3.)Would you live in the world that exists in the book? Why or why not?
The world is actually our world. Henry is given the option to destroy or save the world. I am already technically living in this world. But if I had to choose to live in Henry’s life I would not choose not to. His life is very rough and I am not sure I could handle that much pain and grief. I honestly wouldn’t blame him at this point for destroying the world.
What are you currently reading?
I picked up Vicious because it was by V.E. Schwab. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors of this year and I am working on getting through all her books. I have heard this one is one that is recommended for those who want to start reading her books. I didn’t know much about the story, other than it was a revenge plot. But I have been impressed by her other books, and the depth she brings to her characters, and this one did not disappoint me.
The story itself is pretty basic. Victor and Eli are college friends. They are working on their thesis’s and Eli decides to do his on EO’s or ExtraOrdinarys. ExtraOrdinarys are basically people who have super powers. The thesis becomes an experiment. The experiment goes wrong and Victor ends up in jail. After ten years he gets out and he is set on revenge against a man he used to call a friend.
If this story did not have strong characters I would have lost interest fast. The plot is not one full of twists or turns. There is nothing too innovative about the plot itself. The addition of the super powers makes it a bit more interesting but nothing too new. Victor blames Eli for what happened and Eli blames him. At the end of the day it is a story about simple revenge.
What makes it more complex and what held my attention was Victor and Eli. These two are complicated people. To start off they aren’t two people who are real close friends. They are tolerate friends in the beginning. They find a kinship in each other. Both of them are selfish. They both don’t trust others and they both don’t trust each other.
We learn quickly that while they get along they still hold each other at arms length. Victor resents Eli for getting a girl they both liked. Eli starts to resent that Victor became part of his experiment. They both state that they can tell there is something not quite right about the other one. They can see in each other the darkness that is in their hearts, but it doesn’t make them run.
Neither one of these men are “good” people. They both make some pretty bad decisions and they both hurt people. I think this is what made the story. I knew that because we primarily focused on Victor that we are supposed to be on his side. He is our primary narrator so we should want him to win, we should understand him. The thing was that even though I understood him, I didn’t actually like him.
Victor has a soft side, which is needed because otherwise there is no way we could relate or want to listen to him. But that soft side doesn’t last long term. He makes one good decision and then runs backwards ten feet. The man is set on his plan and in the end people will get hurt, he can’t stop that. He cares about Sydney and Mitch (his sidekicks) but he doesn’t care enough to turn away from what he wants.
Eli thinks he is doing what is right. I understood where Eli was coming from but I couldn’t sympathize with him. He comes off as delusional most of the story. I found it interesting that I didn’t hate him. Usually in these type of stories you take sides. You choose either the hero or the villain, usually the hero. But in this story there was no side to take.
Both men made choices to help themselves and only themselves. Both of them hated each other for a series of events that really both of them could be blamed for. I didn’t want Victor to “win” or for Eli to “lose.” I wanted them to find a way to see the darkness inside themselves and realize that what they were doing would do nothing for anyone, even themselves.
The end of the book was a bit of a let down. I expected a major confrontation between the two men. I expected them to go at each other, or to have a long talk; one that laid everything out and put who they were out there in the open for everyone to see. The book led up to that point and it took a handful of pages to complete. I predicted it from half way through the book. I wanted more from the ending. I wanted it to end with a bang and what I got was more a whimper.
I enjoyed this book. It is not my favorite by V.E. Schwab (that is still This Savage Song). I liked the characters and that neither were good people. I liked not knowing who I was supposed to like. I liked the way it was told by flipping between past and present, it made the story feel like it was always moving. I just wish the end had had more of an impact.
(This is a review for the third book in a series so there are minor spoilers for the previous two books.)
Library of Lost Souls is the final book in the Miss Peregrine’s series. I am always worried about final books. I worry that questions won’t get answered or something will be resolved but not in the fashion that I think works for the story. I am glad that this final book was not any of those things. This was a good way to end this series. The loose ends were wrapped up and the story came to a satisfying conclusion. I was not left wondering anything or upset at not knowing what had become of a character.
This final book finds Emma and Jacob having to travel through a dark time loop called Devil’s Acres in order to save their friends. They have to team up with some unsavory characters and make tough decision to save those they care about. They go on a fast-paced adventure to save their world.
Throughout this series Jacob was my favorite character. He started off the series as a naive kid. After his grandfather’s death he is told by his parents and doctors that he has gone crazy. For a short time he believes them, thinking his grandfather’s death has driven him out of his mind. But that doesn’t stop him from trying to find out the secret his grandfather left behind. He finds Miss Peregrine and the peculiar world and his life changes.
This last book was the wrap up of Jacob’s character transformation. In this book he keeps talking about two separate Jacobs. There was the “then,” Jacob and there is the “now,” Jacob. “Then,” Jacob lived in a straight forward world. People did not fly, no one was invisible and there were no monsters. Nothing extraordinary ever happened to him. “Then,” Jacob went to school, hung out with his one friend and spent time with his parents. His life was simple and normal.
“Now,” Jacob lives in a brand new world. All the things he thought were impossible are now possible. The word impossible doesn’t even have a true meaning to him anymore. This new world is one the requires him to be brave and couragous. He can’t rely on anyone else. He needs to make quick decisions and trust himself. He no longer can just sit around and wait for something to happen in life. In this last book it is up to him and Emma to save their friends. He had to grow up fast.
I liked this book because Jacob had to find a balance between the two sides of himself. He couldn’t let his old life intrude too much because then fear would take over. He wouldn’t be able to find his friends and fight to save not only their lives, but their world. He had to find a tougher side of himself.
On the other side though, he couldn’t let “now,” Jacob have full control. He had to remember how to have sympathy and how to be cautious. He couldn’t always act, sometime he had to let others take over. It was nice to see a character that did not go through a total trasnformation. Jacob retains parts of who he used to be and integrates them into this new version of himself.
Most of this book takes place in Devil’s Acres. This is a time loop where those who have been banished or ostracized from the peculiar world live. It is a dark and horrible place. I thought it was a proper place to end this series. This was a series that got darker as it went on and to end here felt right. I liked that this series showed the darker side of the world as well as the light. No matter the world there is always some dark aspect and in the end the dark and light create a balance. I liked this setting, it was interesting and I thought created the right mood for this final story.
I loved almost every aspect of this series. The characters were all unique and interesting. The inclusion of the photographs helped create an eerie and interesting atmosphere. I thought it was paced well, balancing the exposition with action. The only issue I had was the relationship between Emma and Jacob.
I did not think that Emma and Jacob needed to be romantic interests for each other. I felt like their relationship was forced in order to have some romance in the story. I did not feel any real connection between the two of them. I wish they had just become a very close friends.
I think sometimes people forget how powerful a close friendship can be. Romance is not the only way to show a deep connection between two people. And not every girl and boy who meet each other need to fall for one another. Sometime I wish that some of these characters would just become best friends. It would create a new dynamic and I think would have felt more natural for these two.
Despite my issue with that relationship I loved the rest of the series. It is a unique story, one full of adventure. I loved the world. The addition of the photographs gives it a unique feel. If you are looking for a bit dark, yet fun series I would highly recommend this one.