reviews

This Debut’s On Fire! | A Shadow Bright And Burning by Jessica Cluess Audiobook Review

Title: A Shadow Bright And Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
Running Time: 12 hours, 49 minutes
Publisher: Listening Library
My Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Summary: I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?

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Can I squeal? Okay, I’m gonna take a second to squeal because…OHMYFREAKINGGODILOVELOVELOVEDTHISBOOKY’ALL!!! Let me just say that as of right now, Jessica Cluess very well might be my favorite 2016 YA debut author so far! And let me also just make  a side note since ’tis the season and all: if you’re looking for a good Halloween read that fits the seasonal mood but isn’t super scary, then look no further because Jessica Cluess has got you covered! Oh my gosh! Where do I begin? There were three things about A Shadow Bright And Burning that I really loved and those are: the characters, the plot, and the themes (not necessarily in that order).

Let me start out out with the lovely darlings who are our characters, beginning with none other than Miss Henrietta Howl, the main character. I adored Henrietta! I personally related to her very much. She’s down to earth and compassionate but she has a stubborn streak, a fiery temper, and quite a vulnerable side. I love that Cluess showed us so many facets of Henrietta; it made her seem so real and true. And then there’s the boys! Each of the was such a character, so unique! The main two we get to know are the flirtatious Magnus and the brooding Blackthorn. Magnus befriends and flirts with Henrietta while Blackthorn is not exactly Henrietta’s enemy, but certainly isn’t her friend. Each is a great character in their own right and I definitely want to know more about them.

I loved that while this book does have a hint of romance, it mainly emphasizes male-female friendships, which I think we don’t see enough of in YA. Henrietta’s newfound friends are loyal and loving and had a great dynamic with her. I loved the teasing and banter between Henrietta and the boys and how they kind of became a sort of new family to her.

But it wasn’t just the characters that were great–the plot was awesome too! Fast paced and action packed, the plot just sucks you in and moves you along quickly. Tropes were turned topsy-turvy, leading to me never being able to trust my first impressions. It became a fun game to try to guess what would happen next. There honestly was never a dull moment.

By far my favorite thing about this A Shadow Bright And Burning, though, were the feminist and anti-discrimination messages and themes threaded through the book! Victorian England is already an incredibly patriarchal setting and on top of that, Henrietta is one of the only female sorcerers in the history of this world and because of that she’s constantly asked to prove herself to this society. Henrietta fights against these anti-women sentiments at every turn, proving herself over and over on a personal and professional level. In addition, this book talks a lot about socioeconomic discrimination, which I was so glad to see because that topic isn’t discussed much in YA, let alone in YA fantasy! Henrietta comes from a girls school and is lower middle class and her best friend Rook is a servant, meaning he is essentially poor. This leads to them being looked down on. In one section of the book, Henrietta gets into a fight with Blackthorn about this, arguing with him that the poor are not less than the wealthy simply because they are poor and that when you are wealthy and in a position of privilege in society, it is your responsibility to take care of the poor and those less fortunate than you. There are also anti racial discrimination themes woven into the mix, as Henrietta witnesses how different magical “races” are discriminated against and the injustice of such racial discrimination. I was so happy to read a fantasy book which was so open and forward about its anti discrimination messages as I think we need more of that in YA. A Shadow Bright and Burning is a brilliant example of how to perfectly weave such themes into a YA fantasy story without being preachy and overtaking the story.

As for the audiobook format, I enjoyed it very much! Fiona Hardingham is one of my favorite narrators and has one of the most musical voices I’ve ever heard. In addition, her pacing is steady and even and her emotion would please even Goldilocks as it’s not too much and not too little, but just right! I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook o A Shadow Bright And Burning as it was totally A+!

So that’s it! I think it’s pretty obvious that I really enjoyed this book all in all! Cluess has certainly made a brilliant debut and I can’t wait to see what more she has in store!

reviews

Over Three Dark Hours Of Boredom | Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake Audiobook Review

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Amy Landon
Running Time: 9 hours, 52 minutes
Publisher: HarperAudio
My Star Rating: DNF/★☆☆☆☆

Goodreads Summary: Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

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Man! The hype sure has scorched me on multiple occasions this year! You’d think that by now I’d have learned my lesson but apparently not as I keep getting my hopes up. This time around I was promised darkness, death, and destruction–you know, all of the delightful D’s. And were those things delivered? Sadly, the answer is a firm no.

Though synopsis of Three Dark Crowns promises antiheroes and deadly duels, for at least the first 60% of the book, none of those are present (and I stopped reading after that). Instead we get three surprisingly kind main characters fawning over their incredibly dull love interests! And the misleading marketing is only the beginning of my problems with Three Dark Crowns! In fact, the misleading marketing looks downright trivial when compared to the fact that there was literally no plot and that the characters were incredibly shallow.

I made it about 6 hours through this approximately 10 hour audiobook and there still hadn’t been an inch of plot yet! The only thing that took place was each girl mooning over her respective love interest. And the thing is, none of the love interests were interesting or compelling. They only defining trait they all had was the distinct quality of “blah”. But that’s not the point of this paragraph. The point is that nothing happened during the majority of the book!

Maybe you’re okay with plotless books, so long as there are compelling characters. Then let me tell you, my friend: this book is not for you either. I was drawn in to this book by the promise of darkness, depth, evil, and moral complexity. LIES! LIES, I TELL YOU!!! Arsinoe, Katherine, and Mirabella aren’t just ridiculously nice, they’re also insanely bland. None of the girls had any defining traits or personality. I swear, they were so interchangeable that if you took away their names, you’d be hard pressed to convince me I wasn’t listening to a book about a single person.

Speaking of listening, in all honesty the only thing I remember about the audiobook and the narration is how bland, unremarkable, and, frankly, unmemorable it was. The narrator wasn’t horrible and her voice wasn’t unpleasant, but it carried no weight or emotion and had no musicality. I’d say the audiobook format of Three Dark Crowns is most likely equally as pleasant as the physical format.

All in all, this was not the book for me. I’d say don’t go in expecting evil and fights to the death and maybe then it’ll be more enjoyable.

fun

Month In Review + Obsession Confessions | September 2016

So you can pretty much equate a quiet blog with a hectic life. At least, in my case you can. Cause honestly, that’s pretty much the short summary of my September: quiet blog, hectic life. I spent the majority of my days adjusting to being in school and doing homework. I tried to squeeze reading, eating, and sleeping into what time I hard left, which, unfortunately, left me with little time for blogging. So I kind of vanished. I’m still running around like a crazed, debt-riddled, twenty-something college student though, and life doesn’t look like it’ll be slowing down anytime soon so my content will probably be a little sparse for a bit longer….

The Reading Review

Books Read + Mini Reviews

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen | 5/5 Stars

I seriously enjoyed this book and its soooooo ironic because I was so resistant to reading this book due to the fact that it involved trolls and I just thought that wouldn’t be interesting. Boy was I wrong! Stolen Songbird is fast paced, action packed, and full of swoonworthy romance! I highly recommend picking it up!

A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir | 5/5 Stars
This book sold me on the Ember series because is was just amazing!!! A Torch Against The Night definitely stole the spot of “favorite book of September 2016” because…wow. I’m still reeling. I can’t say much more because this book is a sequel but just know that it’s so incredible!

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron | 4/5 Stars
I was pleasantly surprised with this book I went in not expecting much since there wasn’t much buzz surrounding the book and came out pretty pleased. I was intrigued by the mystery The Forgetting presented and was enraptured by the plot. The one thing I’d say about this book is that the first 3/4 of the book is kinda slow, but it’s made up for by the action packed ending.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake | DNF/ 1/5 Stars
This book and I did not get along. I went in expecting darkness, evil, and fights to the death. Sadly, there was none of those things. The characters weren’t just all nice, they were boring. The book was made worse by the fact that t had no plot whatsoever. I finally decided to set this book down after listening to 60% of it.

Book Haul

Book Bucket

Blogging Recap

Monthly Snapshots

for more, follow @thebookkeeper5 on Instagram!

Around The Blogosphere/Vlogosphere

  • Carolyn has one of the most important discussions on diversity that I’ve read and I highly suggest you read it

Obsession Confession

Book

So after my rousing endorsement in the Read + Mini Review section above, is anyone really surprised that I’d choose A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir as my bookish obsession of th month??? A Torch Against The Night was an absolutely phenomenal whirlwind of a ride! It is my honest opinion that the Ember series is one of the best YA fantasy series out there and A Torch Against The Night proves that! As this is coming ffrom the mouth of someone who wasn’t on board with the hype surrounding the first book, An Ember in the Ashes! But trust me when I say now that I see so much potential in this series!

Music


Whenever this song starts playing, I legit get a tingling in my toes that translates into, “Time to dance!” I love the way “Life Itself” mixes different sound and beats! In a way, it kinda reminds me of old school 90s rap mixed with a funky pop tune and semi-ethereal vocals. Definitely a great song to jam to!

Movies & TV

And thus we have come to my favorite movie/TV show/trailer of the month. This past month, the movie added to my “to watch” list was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (directed by Tim Burton and based on the popular YA series of the same title by Ransom Riggs). I have yet to actually see this movie, but I honestly can’t wait! After reading the book, I can’t wait to see what Burton brings to this story, especially as I think there  is no better person to bring this story to life! From the look of the trailer and from what I’ve heard from reviewers and audiences, the film does differ slightly from the book, but that’s only to be expected. Regardless, I can’t wait to see this sure to be kooky, crazy film myself!

Web/Blogs


This month I’d like to give Shannon at It Starts at Midnight a shout out for running an awesome blog! I love how Shannon infuses each and every one of her posts with her own unique brand of sass, snark, and sarcasm. Shannon’s reviews are always interesting and engaging and her discussions are alway so insightful. I’m always excited to see a new post from Shannon on my timeline and I look up to her as a blogger so much! Definitely run over and check out her blog!

Quote of the Month