Size Doesn’t Matter (44): Mini Reviews by a Lazy Blogger

Size Doesn’t Matter (44): Mini Reviews by a Lazy BloggerKingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing #2
Published by HarperTeen on February 23, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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three-stars

Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss. Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale.

But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

Kingdom of Ashes was such a surprise as a follow-up to A Wicked Thing. I mean, I liked both, but they’re massively different in tone and pacing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is very jarring if you’re doing a back-to-back read of the two. Where A Wicked Thing was slowly-paced and thoughtful, Kingdom of Ashes races by with constant action and magic. They’re strong in different ways, and I really appreciate the series, but, yeah, definitely a surprise.

Though I think Kingdom of Ashes is a really strong novel as it is, I do think it would have benefited from a bit of a slow down. The plot goes by so fast, kind of like you’re watching the story happen out the windows of a bullet train. It works, but I think the story could have been even more effective. I like the ship and I like the evolution of Aurora’s powers, but, with a bit more time and development, I could have completely loved them.

That said, I do think there’s something very special about this series. Thomas’ focus is always very much on Aurora, with the possibility of romance pushed way back. Though I adore romance obviously, I think that’s the right choice for this story and especially this character. In updating a fairy tale about a heroine who got so little agency, Thomas’ retelling is all about helping her find who she is and make her own choices. A Wicked Thing is all about Aurora’s feeling that she doesn’t have a choice in her life and finally making one; Kingdom of Ashes is Aurora seizing control of her life. She makes some mistakes and does some bad things, but now she finally really owns her life. It’s a very cool way to retell Sleeping Beauty.

Rhiannon Thomas has done a really nice job with her debut series, and I most definitely want more books from her. I think these books are great and very different from the typical YA, but I also think they’ll be a tough read for a lot of people. If you can handle the slow pace of A Wicked Thing, though, you do get dragons. Just saying.

Size Doesn’t Matter (44): Mini Reviews by a Lazy BloggerParasite by Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology #1
Published by Orbit on October 29, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror, Thriller
Pages: 504
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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three-half-stars

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.

The first time I read Parasite, I was really disappointed. It wasn’t what I expected it to be, which was Newsflesh. And it was also paradoxically too much like Newsflesh. The characters weren’t Georgia and Shaun, but it was still a zombie sort of thing, and it wasn’t what I wanted out of Parasite. It was also just slow, a slog.

On my reread, I was pleasantly surprised to find Parasite really clicking for me. I totally get why it was slow, with massively long chapters, and a lot of science. However, this time the characters clicked for me and I was able to appreciate this new cast of personalities, as well as the humor Grant always infuses into her books.

Sal is a badass in her own way, but less overtly so than Georgia. Ditto Dr. Kim. They’re fabulous but they’re not Shaun and Georgia at all. Sal’s a nice person. She loves animals. At first glance, she’s a naive pushover, but there’s a core of steel under there if you mess with her. I like that Grant resists typical heroine tropes and went for a “weaker” heroine in Sal. Also, the interracial romance totally works for me, despite the weird circumstances of their relationship.

The plot is well thought out, as Grant’s always are, but it doesn’t pack the same punch that Feed does. Then again, I’m not sure if any book in the world packs that much punch because goddamn.

Basically, I’m mega glad I gave this book another chance because I love it now. 😀

Size Doesn’t Matter (44): Mini Reviews by a Lazy BloggerThe Untimely Deaths of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen
Series: Alex Wayfare #2
Published by Diversion on April 26, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Adventure
Pages: 232
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars

Time travel, adventure, and romance come together in the highly anticipated sequel to THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE.

Alex Wayfare is back in Base Life. Her 57th life. She's in Chicago searching for Blue, who travels with her whenever she goes back in time. She's never met him in Base Life, but she's hoping he'll remember her in the present, and that he'll want to be with her like he does in the past.

Their romance is put on hold when she's attacked by henchmen working for Durham Gesh, who wants to harness her abilities for his own ugly purposes. But that threat seems insignificant when she returns home to face her younger sister's deteriorating health. Researching every possible remedy, from ancient herbs to forgotten medical advancements, Alex seeks a cure for her sister's cancer in the past.

The journeys are never simple. From the countryside of eighteenth-century China to a top-secret research lab in 1970s Michigan, Alex is plagued by enemy Descenders who seem to anticipate her every move, and realizes she may have a traitor in her small band of allies.

A traitor who might bring Gesh straight to Alex's front door.

The only person Alex feels she can trust is Blue. But there are secrets Alex doesn't know secrets about Blue, about her team, and about herself. And the biggest secret of all will change her life, or her lives, forever.

Though it’s been a couple of years since I read The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare, I actually managed to get through the sequel without a reread of book one. Of course, I’d read that book twice, so maybe it’s not the herculean feat I feel like it is. The Untimely Deaths of Alex Wayfare is a solid sequel and will definitely please fans of the first book.

The one thing that I was missing in my reread was my grasp on exactly how the time traveling works; that much specific, detailed recall is just asking way too much of my memory. So I’ll admit I was a bit confused about all of that, but I’m assuming that’s the fault of the reader, not the book.

Alex continues to be a very prickly heroine and she doesn’t have quite as much of an arc as I expected, partially because of how short this book is, though I do think the page count is a bit misleading as the font in the paperback is pretty small. Alex does learn to open up a little bit, but she’s never going to be super trusting or made of sunshine. I think that’s okay, but it was a bit of a surprise.

I really like where Buehrlen took the romance, though I admit I don’t ship it massively. Though I do really like Buehrlen’s writing, she doesn’t tend to banter which is what makes me massively ship stuff. View Spoiler » So yeah, I think that resolution was my favorite thing about this book, alongside the writing.

The ending does feel a bit rushed. It’s not bad exactly, but it does seem a bit more open-ended than I might have liked. My guess is that Buehrlen is leaving the door open for a book three, so, while this one can be an ending, there’s also some stuff hanging. It does work either way, I think, which is impressive, but it’s definitely not a that’s-all-she-wrote kind of ending.

I really enjoyed The Untimely Deaths of Alex Wayfare, and I think this series is great for readers who are a bit more into plot than characterization.

One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (44): Mini Reviews by a Lazy Blogger”

  1. Danielle says:

    Parasite WAS on my TBR but I removed it because of so many low ratings and poor reviews. I haven’t read other books like it so perhaps I’ll start with the higher rated ones and if I like them I’ll come back to it.
    Danielle recently posted…Top Ten Books I Feel Differently About NowMy Profile

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