Friday, June 29, 2018

Gratitude in Motion by Colleen Kelly Alexander, 2018

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It was a beautiful fall day in Connecticut when Colleen Kelly Alexander, a lifelong athlete, rode her bike home from work. She had survived both a diagnosis of lupus and brain surgery, had a fulfilling career, and was married at last to the love of her life. Everything was good as she coasted along, meeting the eyes of a truck driver as he approached the stop sign beside her.

He didn't stop. The truck hit Colleen, running over her lower body with front and back tires and dragging her across the pavement. As she bled out in the street, nearby strangers surrounded her and the driver attempted to get away. An EMT herself, Colleen knew she had to stay awake. "I've just been reconnected with my soulmate," she told the medic. "We want to have a baby. I can't die now. Please don't let me die."

Five weeks in a coma and twenty-nine surgeries later, Colleen survived. Rather than let the trauma and PTSD control her life, she became determined to find a way to make something positive from her pain. She decided she'd run again and dedicate her race medals to the everyday heroes around us, including the medical staff and blood donors who saved her life. Since then Colleen has run fifty races and completed forty triathlons, including four half-Ironman events. Now a spokesperson for the Red Cross, Colleen shares her incredible inspirational story to encourage others to take that first step forward.

(296 pages)

What an inspiration. Truly, Colleen survived the unthinkable and managed not only to regain her will to live despite horrific injuries but to find inspiration and strength in overcoming it.

First, a word to the more squeamish readers: she spares no punches. Her descriptions of her injuries and treatments are brutally specific. Much of her body was completely ripped to shreds, and she underwent lots of excruciating and humiliating treatments. She was also in a very dark place emotionally for a while after the accident. As the daughter of two doctors I didn't mind hearing the gory details, but some might not take it so well.

I thought it was amazing that Colleen was strong enough to not only survive such a horrible situation but also to find grace and gratitude through the ordeal, to continue marathoning, and to turn herself into an advocate for blood donation and being grateful for the people around you.

But really, if anyone was going to overcome this accident so gracefully, it would have to be Colleen. The first few chapters of the book are about her childhood, (three) marriages, and early career. She'd literally built a career around working at community centers, helping and advocating for disadvantaged youths. She was on the way home from a meeting with her boss at the center when she was run over. Colleen's clearly always had a loving and open heart.

It's hard to say much more in my review, because I'm honestly just inspired by Colleen's story and her gracious attitude about it. I've had several joint injuries over the past few years which have made me stop doing some activities because of the pain/risk of reinjury. Reading about Colleen's drive to go back to marathons, even when she was literally bleeding by the end of the races, was so inspiring. As soon as I know that I can't do any more damage by stressing my ankles, I'm going to go out and be active again because there's no way my small amount of pain is anything approaching what she has to go through. If she could overcome it, I definitely can.

The word I keep coming back to when reading Colleen's story is inspiring. I don't often wind up loving the memoirs I read, but this one is definitely the best one I've read by far–it's really touched me on a more personal level. I highly recommend it to any and all, as long as you have the stomach for the gorier details.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Salted Caramel Dreams by Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper, 2018

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Jasmine and Kiara have been best friends forever. They've always shared everything, down to their favorite salted caramel dessert. But this year, everything changes -- Kiara joins the school basketball team, and is suddenly too cool to be friends with Jasmine. Jasmine has never felt more alone.

Her mom signs her up for a dance class against her will, and she hates it at first, but it starts to grow on her. One of the other girls in class, Ava, is really nice, and her best friend, Joseph, is very cute! Things are looking up.

But just when Jasmine is starting to be comfortable with her new normal, Kiara reaches out. Can the girls help each other when they need it most?

(240 pages)

This. This is exactly what I needed to start off the summer.

It's grabbing and interesting and has a good message, but at the same time it's light and rather fluffy and fun. It's not stressful, there are no big dark secrets or terrible decisions. Jasmine's best friend drops her for the cool kids, and Jasmine has to find her own path. I loved it.

Maybe I'd have reviewed it a little more negatively if I'd read it in a different frame of mind (it's not exactly breaking new ground, here!), but for the purpose it offers to serve it does a lovely job. I cared about Jasmine, I loved the descriptions of her projects and plans for an Etsy shop, and I was angry when Kiara hurt her. I've done some drama myself, so it was easy to understand what she was going through in auditioning and preparing for the play, and I loved watching her shake herself off and find new hobbies and form new friendships after Kiara dumped her. Too many MG school-drama books are way too melodramatic and ridiculous; this was just the right balance of hurt and maturity.

Also, the climax was slightly too convenient but it played off well enough that I found it to still be plausible and certainly enjoyable.

Basically, Salted Caramel Dreams is exactly what it says on the tin–and probably better than you were thinking it would be. Now that I'm finished with it I want only two things: 1) more books in this Swirl series and 2) a salted caramel steamer. Those things sound awesome!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 22, 2018

House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg, 2018

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An affecting biography of the author of Anne of Green Gables is the first for young readers to include revelations about her last days and to encompass the complexity of a brilliant and sometimes troubled life.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maud who adored stories. When she was fourteen years old, Maud wrote in her journal, "I love books. I hope when I grow up to be able to have lots of them." Not only did Maud grow up to own lots of books, she wrote twenty-four of them herself as L. M. Montgomery, the world-renowned author of Anne of Green Gables. For many years, not a great deal was known about Maud’s personal life. Her childhood was spent with strict, undemonstrative grandparents, and her reflections on writing, her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, her "year of mad passion," and her difficult married life remained locked away, buried deep within her unpublished personal journals. Through this revealing and deeply moving biography, kindred spirits of all ages who, like Maud, never gave up "the substance of things hoped for" will be captivated anew by the words of this remarkable woman.

(352 pages)

I've always loved the story of Anne of Green Gables, ever since I first saw the CBC tv version when I was so young I barely understood what was going on. Few things make me feel more nostalgic than popping in the old DVD and watching Megan Follows sitting in her attic bedroom, gazing into her reflection and musing about kindred spirits. Once I got a little older, I found the L.M. Montgomery books at my local library and worked my way through quite a few of the many Green Gables books. I even picked up Emily of New Moon, though by that point I was pretty oversaturated on Montgomery's books.

While I love the premise and execution of the Anne of Green Gables series, I always felt like the series dragged on way too long. So it's very interesting to learn that Maud was never really interested in or planning on writing such a long series–she really just meant to write a standalone, but it was so popular and lucrative that she was pushed to write more and more over the years.

Really, it's just so sad to read about Maud's life. In many places, she actually feels more like a character from one of her books than a living, breathing person. Her childhood was extremely similar to Anne's, as she was raised by emotionally distant grandparents on stunningly beautiful Prince Edward Island. However, Maud was not an outsider to the island; rather, she was descended from the closest thing to "royal families" the island had–and was related to basically everyone else on the island. And while she loved her grandparents, their emotional distance was much harsher than Marilla and Matthew's was from Anne. Because she was female, Maud's grandfather even tried his absolute hardest to block her from getting an education. She managed to go to college despite him, with her grandmother's help, but it was a very hard road.

Once she reached adulthood, Maud's path became no easier. She shuffled around teaching in one-room schoolhouses, finding various happiness in the different towns. Over the course of her adolescence and early adulthood she had many suitors or almost-romances, but they were all nipped in the bud for one reason or another (often by her own choice). Her love life was truly tragic, and her life as a whole became darker and sadder the further along the story went. By the end of it, I felt choked and angry from even imagining myself in her shoes. She may have been one of the rare early female writers who found fame and relative fortune through her writings while still alive, but that just can't balance out the rest of her terrible life.

Maud was a victim of her own decisions as well as her upbringing. She was quite the coquette at times, and she flirted extremely close to sleeping with a man while engaged to somebody else. It was certainly enlightening to lift back the curtain on L.M. Montgomery's life, and depressing to see how a delicate kindred spirit can be crushed when it is not properly nourished by a wonderful support system like Anne's. I appreciated the chance to learn Maud's story, even if it is depressing, but I am also glad that I didn't learn it until I was out of my childhood. Please, whatever you do, don't pass House of Dreams on to any young readers who are still in the process of falling in love with Green Gables. Don't ruin the magic for them.

Now I need to go back and rewatch the tv show to recapture some of that magic for myself. Let's do that here, too: if you've seen or read any of the Anne of Green Gables installments. what's your favorite scene?

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Lights, Camera, Disaster by Erin Dionne, 2018

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Hester Greene loves making movies. With her camera in hand, she can focus, make decisions, and have the control she lacks in life, where her executive function disorder (think extreme ADHD plus anxiety) sabotages her every move.
But middle school is not a movie, and if her last-ditch attempt to save her language-arts grade--and her chance to pass eighth grade, period--doesn't work, Hess could lose her friends, her year, even her camera. It will take more than a cool training montage to get her life together, but by thinking outside the frame, she just might craft a whole new ending.
Written partially in script form, with STOP/PAUSE/PLAY/REWIND moments throughout, this laugh-out-loud story will speak to any budding filmmaker, or unintentional troublemaker, in every act of their lives.

(272 pages)

A long time ago, I bought a copy of Dionne's The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet and absolutely fell in love with it. Something about the combination of Shakespeare, classroom issues, and sibling dynamics was just perfect for me. I went back and read it more recently and found that much of that magic has been lost to time for me, but I still wanted to read this new book by Dionne.

And I did enjoy it. Though not as much as Hamlet. The framing of the story in filmmaking terms (with chapter titles like "Saturday" and "Moments Later," and descriptions like "FAST FORWARD" and "RESUME PLAY" to zoom past boring events by summarizing them, was a great touch. I've never personally been even slightly interested in filmmaking, but it was still cool to see Hess's passion for it and how she basically thought in film for much of the time.

Many kids might find themselves in Hess, as she skates dangerously close to failing a class and having to repeat a grade, but as a type-A personality myself I struggled to relate to her (or, really, not to be annoyed with her at times). I realize that her executive function disorder makes it hard for her to focus, but she has basically completely given up on even trying at this point. She spends all her free time goofing off. And, frankly, if her disorder is bad enough that she can't make herself work, then her parents should have gotten involved way sooner than they do. My parents homeschooled me throughout elementary and high school, so I find it pretty lame that Hess's parents didn't even bother to keep tabs on her homework, or try out alternative ways to study, until things got truly desperate.

It was a good read, though, and I'm glad I had the chance. I don't think I ever would have enjoyed this book quite as much as Hamlet, even if I'd read it in that sweet spot when I was desperate for more Dionne books, but I likely would have still enjoyed it.

What authors did you read as a child? Have you ever gone back and read a new book by them, and how did it go?

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Jigsaw Jungle by Kristin Levine, 2018

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A mysterious treasure hunt helps to heal a broken family in Kristin Levine's first contemporary tale.

Claudia Dalton's father has disappeared. What began as a late night at work has spiraled into a missing persons case - one that's left twelve-year-old Claudia questioning everything she's ever known about her father and their family.

But when she finally gets word from her dad, it turns out he isn't missing at all. He's just gone to "think things over and visit an old friend," whatever that means. Feeling confused and helpless, Claudia starts to assemble a scrapbook, gathering emails, receipts, phone transcripts and more, all in a desperate attempt to figure out what's happening with her dad. Claudia's investigation deepens at her grandfather's house, where she receives an envelope containing a puzzle piece and a cryptic message.

It's this curious first clue that sets Claudia on an unexpected treasure hunt that she hopes will bring her dad home and heal whatever's gone wrong with her family.
(368 pages)

I thought this was going to be one of those puzzle adventure books, like The Gollywhopper Games or Mr. Lemoncello's Library. I thought Claudia's father had left behind a whimsical puzzle for her to find him. I wasn't thrilled with the idea that he had completely abandoned his family just to go "think things over," but I thought the focus would be enough on the puzzles that I wouldn't have to think too hard about the iffyness of the premise.

Instead, the book is basically Claudia and her paternal grandfather's journey of discovery through old footage of her father's childhood, piecing together the reason that he felt he had to leave.

I won't talk about the details of that reason, because it's a huge spoiler for the book. And I won't discuss all the reasons I think her father's actions are despicable, because that would just be too negative (plus, as I said, a major spoiler). But I will say that I believe that once you have committed yourself to your family, you can't just walk away. I don't care what your reasons are, no amount of inner turmoil makes it morally okay for you to just disappear from your loving wife and daughter's life. Claudia and her mother literally called the police when he didn't come home, because they didn't know what had happened to him. He didn't leave a note or anything. And then he starts sending them these really cryptic clues, forcing Claudia to comb through these old home videos and go to museums he went to as a kid, stringing both his father and his daughter along day after day. I can't believe I even need to state the obvious, but this is not okay!

I also can't believe how well everyone treats him once they finally do find out the reason he's gone and hunt him down. In Claudia's shoes, I would be beyond shattered. And Claudia is upset, but not nearly as upset as I'm sure she would have been in real life.

And, look, I'm not going to talk about the spoilers, but I do want to warn potential readers (and especially parents) that there is some content in the book that a significant proportion of people do not feel is appropriate for a children's book. I honestly think it's very dishonest of the publisher not to have warned the reader/parents in some way that this material would be there. I won't go into it more here, but if parents want to know more specifics they can ask me in the comments.

Moving away from the negative, I will say that I really liked both of Claudia's friends. They felt very realistic and the parts of the story with them were definitely my favorite parts. And the actual format of the book is really cool: it's the actual records Claudia kept, so they're video transcripts and phone records and text messages, etc. interspersed with some short narration to tie everything together. It's really clever and well-done, and I would love to see more books done in creative ways like this.

But honestly, I'm just sad that The Jigsaw Jungle was so much more troubling than I thought it would be. I really was looking for just a simple puzzle adventure book when I requested it! As it is, though, I'm ready to set my copy down and move on.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Death by Effigy by Karen L. Abrahamson, 2017

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A traditional Burmese puppetry troupe is more than meets the eye: these puppets hold living spirits.

Disaster strikes on the eve of a performance for a royal wedding, when one of their puppets is murdered - his neck broken, his spirit gone. They cannot perform without him, but failure to perform could cost them their livelihoods, or worse, their lives.

Aung, the troupe's elderly singer, must navigate the labyrinth of court intrigues to solve the mystery and appease the angry spirits: goals which might be at odds. Assisting him - or is that, hindering? - is the troupe's enthusiastic but youngest puppet.

Can they salvage their performance and save their lives?

A story of magic and traditions of south-east Asia.

(129 pages)

I'm embarrassed to admit that it would take me quite a while to find Burma on a map, and that my knowledge of Burmese culture is . . . well, let's just say it's nothing to brag about.

Which means I didn't really know at all what I was in for when I started Death by Effigy. Its entire frame of reference is different from my own. I did my best to shut off the analytical part of my brain, though, and simply enjoy the ride through unfamiliar terrain. The Foreward contextualized the story by providing a short summary of the cultural and religious history of Burma leading up to the time period of the novella, painting such a fascinating picture of the country's past that I honestly would have loved if it had been expanded to fill the entire book.

Death by Effigy is an engaging, unique little novella, featuring–of all things–an old puppeteer and an ancient (though carved to be silly) living puppet as the protagonists. I would normally have taken issue with some of the outlooks espoused by characters in the story (especially Aung's sense of revulsion upon finding his childhood sweetheart has become a Christian, and the central plot of a royal wedding in which a polygamous old king is marrying a thirteen-year-old!). But I managed to shut down the parts of my brain that were offended by such things and simply focus on enjoying the story I was being presented with and appreciating the glimpse into a culture I don't usually know anything about. Once I put the book down I took a moment to recognize and acknowledge that I don't agree with these parts of the story,  but as long as they are truly authentic I wouldn't choose to remove them; it's important to honestly represent the attitudes and practices of other peoples–even if the idea of a thirteen-year-old girl marrying anyone turns my stomach.

Actually, speaking of honest representation, I should point out that the author is not actually Burmese, but is Canadian. The book's tone and content "feel" authentic to me, a complete novice, and the author sounds like she really did her research in the Foreward, but without talking to people actually from that culture I don't know for certain that it really reflects the culture or lifestyle of 19th-century Burma.

All in all, Death by Effigy was an engaging story that held my interest, exposed me to a little piece of the world that I'm unfamiliar with, and offered an exercise in setting aside my own worldview to fully enjoy my foray into a new one. Its short length made it a quick and painless read, never lagging (though I did have trouble telling some of the puppeteers apart) and the story was an interesting and engaging one. I'm glad I had the chance to read it.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novella from the publisher, who is a family friend.

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White, 2018

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Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which make her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won—until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is in meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't—that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

(416 pages)

This is the second book in the Shadows Over England series, following A Name Unknown which is about Willa's older sister-thief Rosemary. I really loved A Name Unknown. In fact, this is a direct quote from my review of it:
I believe I can unequivocally say that A Name Unknown is not only the best Christian fiction novel I've read in a very long time, but it's also straight-up one of the best romances I've read in a while.
 That's why I jumped at the chance to read A Song Unheard. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite as enamored with it. The writing is still quite good, and the historical setting (the beginning of WWI) is a fascinating one, but I just didn't connect quite as well with the characters.

Perhaps it's because I don't have a good ear for music (I have to admit it all kind of sounds the same to me), so I have a harder time relating to the bond Willa and Lukas form over their music which made it feel rather forced. Perhaps it's because I'm growing rather sick of genius characters who magically have all these super, one-of-a-kind code-breaking skills that are basically one big deus ex machina.

I think my favorite storyline was actually Lukas's sister's, because she had to grapple with the moral nuances of war as she grew to know the enemy soldier, practically old enough to be her father, who seemed to grow to care for her and her mother, but was also a part of the forces which had torn their city apart. These are the sorts of ethical complexities I like to see in all war books.

I enjoyed A Song Unheard well enough that, even if it were the first book in a series, I would still be interested in reading the followups. Since it's following A Name Unknown, I am definitely hoping to read the next books in the series. These books are on the long side, but they are well-written and engaging, and even this slightly weaker entry is still much better than much of the competition.

What other historical romance books would you recommend for some light summer reading?

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Robin Hood, The One Who Looked Good in Green by Wendy Mass, 2018

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Robin has a bad habit of getting into trouble–and a better habit of getting out of it (barely). He lives on an isolated outpost in the middle of nowhere and has no idea why his parents disappeared years ago. Then a strange delivery arrives at his doorstep, and the past is suddenly very present.

Marian was raised to be a very powerless girl in a very powerful family. But that hasn't stopped her from making her own adventures–and trespassing in some places her parents definitely don't want her to see. She has no idea what life would be like outside of her home–until a mysterious invitation forces her to leave everything behind.

Robin and Marian have lived very different lives in every different places. Their paths should never, ever cross–but before they know it, they are thrown together on a quest that requires legendary bravery, quick-witted escapes, and the ability to . . . get along with each other.

The sky's no longer the limit on what Robin and Marian can do–as long as they manage to do it together.
(224 pages)

This is actually the fourth Twice Upon a Time book, but they're all standalones so they can be read in any order. I was a huge fan of the first three books in the series, but it had been several years since Beauty and the Beast: The Only One Who Didn't Run Away came out so I was extra excited when I learned this one was coming out. 

I have to say that I was surprised with how different Robin Hood is from the previous entries in the series. They usually stuck pretty close to the original tales, just embellishing and reinterpreting the stories from fun new angles. I suppose Robin Hood continues this pattern, but it does it to such an extreme that the story is set in a dystopian inter-planetary future with impressive healthcare tech but also an oppressive, omnipresent government (headed by Prince John, filling in for his brother King Richard, as per the original tale). There are spaceships and futuristic technologies, meshed with this very old-timey legend. It's an interesting mix, and I found it very intriguing to see how Mass did it.

Honestly, though, I felt like there was something . . . missing. Maybe it was that Robin and Marian spent very little time actually together, so their romance felt like it came almost entirely out of nowhere. Or maybe it's that neither of them or their backstories felt quite fleshed out enough. It seemed like we could have gone deeper into their lives before they met to understand their personalities and motivations, so their actions later in the story seemed less disjointed. I think this was more of an issue with Robin: Marian's backstory and personality were pretty well-sketched, though I would have liked a little more details, but Robin just seemed like too much of an archetype for my taste. The backstory of his family is interesting but still kind of hazy, even by the end of the book.

Also, this is a small point, but a character passes some time with Friar Tuck at what can only be assumed to be some sort of Catholic-esque school, but the setting is basically scrubbed of all religious messages and replaced with basically meditation techniques. I didn't like this at first, but I can understand why Mass chose to keep those spiritual-ish scenes without weighting them with the trappings of a particular religion.

At the end of the day, though, the truth is that I really enjoyed reading Robin Hood. Basically, I just wanted it to be longer. At only 224 pages, there wasn't enough space to explore all the characters, scenarios, and issues that Mass introduced with her worldbuilding. It's still a fun read, though, and I hope Mass decides to add even more books to the series in the future. I would love for her to continue fleshing out this universe, adding more depth to it by creating new interpretations of more fairytales.

What about you, what do you think of fairytale retellings? Should they stick close to the base material, or do you like it when the author completely picks them apart to make something new? 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Bright Burns the Night by Sara B Larson, 2018

Spoiler Warning: this is the second book in a duology. Click here to read my review of the first book, Dark Breaks the Dawn.

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Ten years ago, King Lorcan of the Dark Kingdom Dorjhalon defeated Queen Evelayn and cut her conduit stone from her. Since then, he has kept her trapped in her swan form. With the loss of balance between Dark and Light, winter has descended and the Draíolon of Éadrolan lose more power every day. But once a year, Lorcan transforms her back to her Draíolon form and offers a truce. And every year Evelayn refuses -- for he requires her to Bind herself to him for life.

But now, with an Ancient power bearing down upon them, everything may change. Evelayn will learn that the truths she once believed have shattered, and that she may need her enemies even more than her allies. Lorcan and Evelayn become partners in a desperate quest to return the balance of power to Lachalonia. How far will this partnership go? Can friendship -- perhaps even love -- bloom where hatred has taken root?

Sara B. Larson delivers a thrillingly romantic and hauntingly satisfying end to this extraordinary duology.

(320 pages)

Whew. What a ride. I can't remember being this emotionally invested in a book's characters in a long time. I really cared about them, and their stories. Evelayn and Lorcan's relationship was particularly fascinating to read.

That said, I fully recognize the flaws in the story. The insta-love issues I had with the first book are even worse in this one, and the plot largely consists of a bunch of characters running through the woods with their target and the antagonist both quite vaguely defined.

But in Bright Burns the Night, it just kind of works. I don't think anyone is going to categorize this series as fine literature anytime soon, but they're just plain fun to read–and Bright is much more fun even than its prequel.

I have some issues with Evelayn's love life in this book, which is basically entirely different from the first one, and I think it's really dumb how fast she moves on from literally being turned into a swan for ten years. Her and Lorcan's relationship is extremely unrealistic.

But still. It's fun to read. And really, that's all I want for a book. Bright Burns the Night didn't just keep me tied to the page while I was reading–it also stayed in my mind for several days, as I rolled the story around in my head and relished some of the most striking scenes and characters. It's a story that has staying power, and I love that. And that's not even mentioning the fascinating magic system, where characters can smell emotions and royals can shapeshift.

I can't delve much into the plot because most of it is just the characters in the woods, and then the end has spoilers, but I did find the ending rather confusing. I like it, but I have some questions about what actually happened and how certain things will work in the future.

Honestly, looking at the story objectively, I feel like I probably shouldn't review it quite as highly as I do. But I loved the experience of reading it, so that counts for a lot. If you like what you hear about the duology, then check it out for yourself and let me know if your impressions are the same as mine!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.