Monday, January 9, 2017

Things I've Read Recently (37): Books I Have Sequels to I Need to Review

Welcome to my first post of 2017!!

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason. In this case, I've got sequels to review!

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Published: September 22nd, 2015 by Margaret K. McElderry Books which is a division of Simon and Schuster.
Genre: YA Science Fiction leaning more Dystopian than anything else.
Binding: Hardcover.
Page Count: 374 and it's really heavy.
Part of a series? Yes, this is book one of the Prisoners of Peace series. There's at least one more, 'cause I have it over there on the table. I am not going to look up anything more because I really want to avoid spoilers. I'll update you in the next review.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.

Review: Okay, I have to say it - this book is set in my province. My province once, like, the world has tried to end, but it's still my province! And I'm glad it's a book I like for once considering my track record with not-amazing books set in Canada. I'm seriously stumbling for words trying to summarize my thoughts, but I really, really did enjoy this.

Bow has a gift for distinct, vibrant voices. There are two different narrators. Between a prologue that is one of the best done prologues I've read in a long time, and the book, those narrators are very, very different. The prologue's narrator is casual, very snappy, and callous, and I loved it immediately. Meanwhile, Greta's voice is completely different. She is regal, removed and elegant. Her voice is the kind of writing I will never, ever be able to accomplish because, well, you read my blog. I sound like this. Greta is a great narrator and a type of character I really enjoy. I love how much the writing shows how she's spent sixteen years being trained to react certain ways, and how strictly important the rules of ettiquette and behaviour properly suiting royalty are for her, and how drastic it is when those things change and her reactions and behaviour has to change.

Is this normally the part where I complain about the book being filled with only white straight people? Yeah, I don't have to do that! Because of the premise of the book, there are characters from many different places of many different races. I'm really, really white so obviously I am not the one you should be looking to for here regarding anything problematic, but I tried to be as critical as possible while reading, and I didn't really see anything that would raise red flags. One thing that I could see was that the main character could have been not white, but I could also see the really bad implications of a white author writing a character of colour being taken away from their family to a school-like environment.

I could be totally off-base, but I feel like things were handled well, and I hope I'm more right than wrong. I want books to be good and have good representation, not just that I can't see the bad.

So let's talk romance. I'll try to avoid spoilers, but I can't promise anything. There's a love triangle in this. I kinda loved it. Greta has two love interests, a male character and a female character. Have you guys ever read a book or watched a movie where the dude love interest is like super intense and full of angst and impulsive and the character isn't necessarily awful but you're so sick of that trope that you kind of hate him? This book uses that to surprise you. I make notes while I read and one of them said something like, "Can Greta hook up with (female love interest) instead?" AND THEN THEY WENT THAT WAY.

I loved it. Made me so happy :D

Also, the male love interest was Jewish, which I don't actually see a whole ton, and always enjoy.

All in all, this worked so well for me, and I can't wait to read the next one. I could be missing things, but I really hope I'm not. I liked this so much, guys.

On to the next!

A Pocket Full of Murder by R. J. Anderson

Published: September 8th, 2015 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers which is a Simon and Schuster imprint.
Genre: MG Fantasy
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 340 plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? Yes, this is book one of the Uncommon Magic series which has at least one more book because I have it sitting over there.
Got via: The library of course.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): In the spell-powered city of Tarreton, the wealthy have all the magic they desire while the working class can barely afford a simple spell to heat their homes. Twelve-year-old Isaveth is poor, but she’s also brave, loyal, and zealous in the pursuit of justice—which is lucky, because her father has just been wrongfully arrested for murder.

Isaveth is determined to prove her innocence. Quiz, the eccentric eyepatch-wearing street boy who befriends her, swears he can’t resist a good mystery. Together they set out to solve the magical murder of one of Tarreton’s most influential citizens and save Isaveth’s beloved Papa from execution.

But each clue is more perplexing than the next. Was the victim truly killed by Common Magic—the kind of crude, cheap spell that only an unschooled magician would use—or was his death merely arranged to appear that way? And is Quiz truly helping her out of friendship, or does he have hidden motives of his own? Isaveth must figure out who she can trust if she’s to have any hope of proving her Papa’s innocence in time. . .

Thoughts: This is gonna be such a boring review because I don't have giant thoughts on this book. This is good. Really cute and fun. I liked it. That's about it.

Okay I'm not really going to do that. This was a very cute middle grade fantasy book with some surprising depth. The main character and her family are Moshite, which is pretty obviously meant to be Jewish, much as Duesday is pretty obviously meant to be Tuesday. That's kind of a thing in thia book, where everything is slightly different in spelling and naming (along with the magic and everything.) As such, I don't know if people would call this Jewish representation since it's not called that. It is a religion and stated as such in the book. The book handles a lot of discrimination and bigotry because of the main characters' religion, and it isn't easily solved or solved at all.

Jewish followers, I'm throwing this one out to you. If you've read this (or if you haven't), what did you think?

All in all, there's a lot I liked in this. I really liked the focus on Isaveth's family, and her relationship with her sisters. It's really, really sweet, and I liked how her two younger sisters weren't just lumped into "annoying little siblings" role. There's an exciting plot, the setting is a lot of fun (it reminded me of The Wizard of Dark Street), and I liked the character. While there was a tiny bit of fatphobia that I did not like in one chapter, eleven year old me probably wouldn't have even noticed, and I know eleven year old me would have really enjoyed this.

Final verdict: Good. I look forward to the next one.

Okay, just two books today! More reviews to come!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

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