The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3)
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia
Panda Rating:

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

You know when you’re so excited to read a book and then you finish it and you’re left feeling pretty… whelmed? Not over or under whelmed just… WHELMED? I think that’s kind of how I feel after finishing this series. I don’t know, I’m honestly kind of confused!

“You can whisper, and people will still hear thunder.”

Continue reading “The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman – #BookReview”

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman – #BookReview

Goodreads: Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia
Panda Rating:

The stakes are high in this chilling sci-fi thriller, in which professional scythes control who dies. Everything else is out of human control, managed by the Thunderhead. It’s a perfect system – until it isn’t.

It’s been a year since Rowan went off-grid. Hunted by the Scythedom, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. Citra, meanwhile, is forging her path as Scythe Anastasia, gleaning with compassion. However, conflict within the Scythedom is growing by the day, and when Citra’s life is threatened, it becomes clear that there is a truly terrifying plot afoot.

The Thunderhead observes everything, and it does not like what it sees. Will it intervene? Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?

“That’s exactly what the scythedom is: high school with murder.”

A somewhat slower paced sequel to Scythe but it is no less enjoyable. I savoured learning more about this dystopia and I became even more invested in the characters. I loved the Thunderhead and as a reader, I felt its helplessness to do anything very acutely!

Continue reading “Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman – #BookReview”

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman – #BookReview

Goodreads: Scythe
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia
Panda Rating:

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Having just finished my first re-read of Scythe I’m reminded of just how much I freaking love this series. I didn’t write a review after the first time I read the book and there was actually a lot that I actually forgot (not surprising considering my trash memory). In a way it kind of felt like I was reading it for the first time and wow, it was just as crazy a ride as the first time!

“The growth of civilization was complete. Everyone knew it. When it came to the human race, there was no more left to learn. Nothing about our own existence to decipher. Which meant that no one person was more important than any other. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, everyone was equally useless.”

Continue reading “Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman – #BookReview”

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine – #BookReview

Goodreads: Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Dystopia, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fantasy,
Panda Rating:

Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time. In 48 AD, a fire set by the troops of Julius Caesar destroyed much of the Great Library of Alexandria. It was the first of several disasters that resulted in the destruction of the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world. But what if the fire had been stopped? What would the Library have become? Fast forward: the Great Library is now a separate country, protected by its own standing army. It has grown into a vast power, with unquestioned and unrivalled supremacy. Jess Brightwell, seventeen and very smart, with a gift for mechanical engineering, has been sent into the Great Library as a spy for his criminal family. Magical spells and riots abound in this epic new YA series.

How could my interest not be piqued after reading this blurb? Caine presents such a fascinating retold history wherein The Great Library of Alexandria is the most powerful entity in the world and knowledge is highly regulated. I admit to having a difficult time getting into the story initially. The pacing was slow and I found myself getting lost in the details of this alternate world, but I kept on reading because I was hoping that it would pick up and I wasn’t disappointed!

“There are three parts to learning: information, knowledge and wisdom, A mere accumulation of information is not knowledge, and a treasure of knowledge is not in itself, wisdom.”

Continue reading “Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine – #BookReview”

Under the Cottonwood Tree: El Susto de la Curandera – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview

Goodreads: Under the Cottonwood Tree: El Susto de la Curandera
Publish date: 15 December 2019
Publisher: North Fourth Publishing
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Panda Rating:

In the deep confines of the beautiful and majestic Rio Grande bosque, a fable is told of a simpler time concerning the rich tri-cultural communities of New Mexico. Join brothers Amadeo and Carlos Lucero in this enchanting story of magic and adventure. Discover how the power of love and family triumphs and turns an old witch back into a healer.

This was an absolutely delightful tale of family, friendship, grief and love that is richly infused with Mexican folklore and culture. I knew I would love this graphic novel the minute I started reading it! This was a very fast-paced read and I easily read it one sitting (mostly because I didn’t want to put it down). The personal touches in both the foreword and afterword made me enjoy this more, as reading the history of how this story came to be and the authors’ personal connections with their own curanderas showed how much the story meant to them.

Continue reading “Under the Cottonwood Tree: El Susto de la Curandera – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview”

Human by Diego Agrimbau, Lucas Varela – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview

Goodreads: Human
Publish date: 16 October 2019
Publisher: Europe Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel, Post-Apocalytpic, Science Fiction
Panda Rating:

Planet Earth: 500,000 years in the future. Humans have been extinct for millennia. Two scientists, Robert and June, have been orbiting the Earth, waiting for the planet to become habitable once more. With the help of a team of robots, they plan to start over from scratch: a new Adam and Eve who won’t make the same mistakes as their ancestors. But first Robert has to find June, who seems to have landed somewhere else in this vast jungle—their Eden—full of grotesque creatures and strange primates…

This was a pretty bizarre graphic novel that I’m not quite sure I loved. I was immediately drawn in by the cover and the synopsis, which presented a pretty interesting post apocalyptic tale about returning to earth 500,000 years post death (both humanity’s and Earth’s). The story was well illustrated, however, the illustration style wasn’t what I expected when I picked this up. I thought the color palette of reds, greys, black and white was an interesting choice though; in a way it made earth seem a little bit leached of life, although that clearly wasn’t the case as there was plenty of animals living in the jungle. While I wasn’t a big fan of the illustrations, I thought the overall message of the story was very thought-provoking and made reflect on our relationship with our surroundings.

Continue reading “Human by Diego Agrimbau, Lucas Varela – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview”

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: The Grace Year
Publish date: 08 October 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopia
Panda Rating:

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive. Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been pulled out of my reading slump because I finished The Grace Year in one night (literally); and despite being hella tired the next day, I had zero regrets doing it. I tried putting it down at one point because responsible adult etc., but it didn’t work. I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I picked it up and kept reading until the end!

“In the county, there’s nothing more dangerous than a woman who speaks her mind. That’s what happened to Eve, you know, why we were cast out from heaven. We’re dangerous creatures. Full of devil charms. If given the opportunity, we will use our magic to lure men to sin, to evil, to destruction.”

The Grace Year was… wow? I really don’t have the words for it but I will say that it’s probably one of my favorite reads of 2019! Whoever said it’s reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies was spot on. It’s dark and full of twists. It’s mind-bending and insanely spooky and makes you question whether the magic is real or not. It’s also surprisingly violent and gruesome–don’t let that beautiful pink cover fool you. This book is not full of roses and fluff! It’s a dark read that makes you think and question your role in perpetuating inequalities (whether you know it or not). It’s set in a dystopian society but I have no doubt that elements of this story will ring true for many women because on some level, we have all experienced what these girls/women go through. It took me on an emotional and mental journey that I was totally unprepared for (lol) but hell, it was worth it! I didn’t expect to find myself in tears by the end of this book, but there I was at 4AM hugging my Billy bear to my chest and crying into my pillow.

I loved (MC) Tierney’s character and how she developed throughout the story. Most of the other characters were minor, but I still enjoyed the roles that they played too, especially Ryker, Gertie, Michael and Tierney’s parents. The story was tense and fast-paced; I always felt as if some unknown horror was lurking around the corner waiting to be unleashed. There’s a pervasive eeriness to Liggett’s writing that had me sitting on the edge of my seat and goosebumps constantly rising on my skin, especially towards the latter half. After everything the girls survived, what happens in the end brought me to tears. The defiance and camaraderie, the willingness to acknowledge the need for change, and to open their hearts to making it happen by taking just that small step against the patriarchy, made me emotional AF.

“The things we do to girls. Whether we put them on pedestals only to tear them down, or use them for parts and holes, we’re all complicit in this. But everything touches everything else and I have to believe that some good will come out of all this destruction. The men will never end the grace year. But maybe we can.”

If there’s anything to critique it’s that: 1) I don’t think the romance was necessary. It also came off as hypocritical, especially considering Tierney’s strong stance on marriage throughout the story. 2) I wish that there was more groundwork for how this society came to be. There were hints that things were different beyond the borders, but how did this county and the poachers come to be this way? I would’ve loved to know more of the backstory to this world. And 3) This might be because I read the ARC, but there were some editing errors that I hope are caught before publication because the way it reads right now, paragraphs start in next sentences and it’s often confusing, especially when there’s so much time that’s passed in between (hopefully that explanation makes sense).

This isn’t a story that has a typical HEA, and it was a little bit open to interpretation (imo), but it does bring hope and that’s just as important. I honestly can’t wait until everyone gets the chance to read this because I’d highly encourage you to pick it up. I’m so excited to see what else Liggett has in store!

The quotes used in my review were taken from an advanced copy, so there may be minor differences in the final publication.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and St. Martin’s Press for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is out 08 October 2019.
Have you read The Grace Year or does it sound like something you want to read?

Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!