Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.
Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.
I made it pretty far into Sword and Verse before conceding that it just wasn't the type of YA fantasy I like. I really liked the premise and some of the worldbuilding --- but it's all too superficial and flimsy. It doesn't help that the book and main character are more interested in the romance plot than anything else. That's fine --- it's jut not the type of fantasy I want to read.
Read 270/384 - roughly 70% and then skimmed the rest.
A Better Man by Leah McLaren
Every couple has a wish list.I admittedly did not get far into this book.. but it was just so distasteful and horrible. I've read narratives about unhappy marriages before but this one is so... dire. This book is only 320 pages long but I read about 100 before setting it down for good. I rated this one 1-star even though I didn't finish because it was just that much of a disconnect in that short of time.
Nick to come home earlier
To engage with their children
To engage with her
Nick wants . . .
Having decided that their marriage is over, Nick is determined to leave quickly and with dignity. But when he looks into the financial realities of splitting up, he realizes that more of his hard-earned income than he can handle will go to Maya.
Then a mutual friend proposes that Nick improve the marriage in order to end it amicably, because the better father and husband he is, the more self-sufficient Maya becomes and the cheaper his pay-out will be at the end.
But as Nick sets out to be a better man, he starts to feel like one. Time with his kids, dinners with his wife, fewer hours in the office has the strange effect of making him happier. As Maya starts to feel appreciated by her husband again, she starts to blossom, to unclench her fists from the parenting reins and start to do things for herself.
Nick and Maya feel like they are falling back in love. How odd, how funny, how serendipitous. But if Maya knew what had promoted this marital metamorphosis? Then it would be war.
A BETTER MAN is the story of a modern marriage on the rocks, how we constantly change in and out of relationships, and the price of love.
The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak
"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."
Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD...for four hours. She's totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she'll never see him again.
Except, Stella's life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?
But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?
Holy crap was this this novel predictable and blah. I thought it might be too cutesy and I was right. The premise skews a bit twee for me but I had heard good word of mouth. However, I could predict the love interest, the inherent mixup and then romance as soon as the first walked into the book. I read maybe three chapters, and the end. I was right. This is just not the type of contemporary YA I am drawn to.
Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch
It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.
Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?
Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?
As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.
The two stars I gave this novel pains me; it pains me as much as the fact that it took me weeks to get through the 55% percent I managed before throwing in the towel. I enjoyed the series debut last year but the sequel is a plodding mess driven by dull characters acting out a tired dynamic. It draaags and it's a long book. The premise wears really thin and makes even less sense once it's revisited in a second novel. I just.. couldn't.