Thursday, October 29, 2020

All Things Halloween Review - Midnight Sun

Midnight Sun (Twilight, # 5)

By: Stephenie Meyer

Publication: August 4th 2020 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

672 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural, Vampires

Source: Own, Personal Library

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*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting beautiful, mysterious Bella is both the most intriguing and unnerving event he has experienced in his long life as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he let himself fall in love with Bella when he knows that he is endangering her life?

In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and, drawing on the classic myth of Hades and Persephone, brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.

Sigh! I just finished Midnight Sun. I know you guys know just how long I've waited for this book because most of you have waited as well. I was talking to my friend, Amanda, about the release and she was telling me that she feels like she's moved on and doesn't really want to go back to Edward and Bella. I can completely understand that. I mean how many books have I read in between my first reading of Twilight? I can't even be sure because I wasn't keeping track of what I was reading in any kind of way back then. But for me, knowing that Stephenie Meyer intended to publish Midnight Sun and hadn't done so (we all know the story of why) left me without closure. Sure, I read the version that was released. More than once. And loved it. So when I heard she was finally publishing this long-awaited book, I was elated. For her, and for myself and all of the other readers who had once waited expectantly for this book and long ago gave up on the idea. So there was never a question for me about whether or not to read this book. And honestly, I'm glad that I did. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

I was telling my husband that between the two, I think Edward has a more interesting story. Of course, Bella is relatable. She's the clumsy, high school girl who falls for the wrong guy. Who can't relate to that? But Edward's story is so much more complex given his ability to read minds. He has to react to everything that people are thinking and not just saying. This is one of the reasons why Midnight Sun is so much longer than Twilight. Not to mention his vampire brain that can think and act in a shorter amount of time than a human one so he's able to accomplish more thinking and more doing in between the actions of the same scenes from the original text.

The thing that hit me the most, that perhaps I enjoyed the most, was how much more complex Alice's and Jasper's talent were. For some reason, I seem to have been under the impression that Alice only saw two visions under any given situation. Two different outcomes based upon any single decision that is made. But that's not the case. She sees many more pathways than I could have fathomed, which actually makes more than just two simple paths. Because we make infinite small decisions constantly and the futures she sees aren't just influenced by one person's decisions. Jasper also had a much more active role in using his talent and in a more complex way than simply making Bella feel calmed down in anxious situations. I appreciated this and felt like I'd done him a little bit of a disservice in my prior readings of the series. But I'll leave you to explore that on your own.

I am sure that the original illegally released section of the book was edited, added to, and all that but I didn't feel much like it had been. I didn't notice much additional content so I was anxious to get past the place in the story where the original illegal release ended. Looking back on it, the number of pages definitely increased so I know additional content must have been added.

I know many people took issue with various character traits of both Bella and Edward. But I never minded those details and so even though I could see Stephenie Meyer amping up the amount of self-deprecation Edward feels for some of his behavior, I never felt like it was necessary. Yet the addition of his constant putting himself down because of what he is and his obsession with Bella felt in line with what I already knew of his character. I wasn't expecting how frequently and thoroughly he was devoted to his plan to leave which we know he does in New Moon. I guess I was fooled the same as Bella when he said he would stay. This was the only time I was really miffed with him. I would have preferred for him to have changed his mind when the events that spurred him to leave in New Moon occur as if he yet again changed his mind to what he'd always thought would be required of him rather than for him to be biding his time until he felt it was the right moment to leave. Planning to leave all along leaves a bad taste in my mind.

Favorite quotes:

-I struggled to find words to name the feelings that flooded through me, but I had no words strong enough to hold them. For a long moment I drowned in them. When I surfaced, I was not the same man I had been. My life was an unending, unchanging midnight. It must, by necessity, always be midnight for me. So how was it possible that the sun was rising now, in the middle of my midnight?

-I'd always envied Carlisle's perfect control, but at the same time, believed it was impossible for me to duplicate. I realized now that I'd chosen the lazy way, the path of least resistance, admiring him greatly, but never putting in the effort to become more like him.

I also appreciated the story ties into the cover. The cover graphics have been inconsistent (at least to me) concerning their relevance to the story content of each book. So I always appreciate when the cover actually does have a connection to the story.

All in all guys, I loved it. Sometimes books that feature the alternate main character's POV don't actually feel like they're adding any benefit to the original. But that was not the case for Midnight Sun as I felt it added to the original story in more ways than one. I actually think Edward has a more interesting story, but perhaps I wouldn't think so if I didn't have Bella's side of the story first. I felt extremely anxious during the scenes focused around James even though I knew the outcome. And I fell in love with the characters and story all over again. If you already feel like you have closure with Edward and Bella's story then maybe you will be perfectly content without reading Midnight Sun, but I can say I only feel closure having finally completed this book, and I'm so grateful to Stephenie Meyer for finally finishing it. Midnight Sun gets 5 Stars from me. Have you read Midnight Sun? What did you think? Let me know!

P.S. I also want to mention that while I can still picture Kristin Stewart as Bella, Robert Pattinson's portrayal of Edward never set right with me, and Midnight Sun concretes my belief that he didn't understand Edward in the same way that Stephenie Meyer wrote him. So I had to erase all movie scenes from my head. Which wasn't too terribly hard to do.

P.S.S. I had no idea that I would hate Rosalie as much as I do given what I now know about her thoughts. She was never my favorite character, but now I am so angry with her.

This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Can't Wait for A Court of Silver Flames

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. Find out more here.

A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, # 4)

By: Sarah J Maas

Expected Publication: February 16th 2021 by Bloomsbury Publishing

648 pages

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Fae

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she's struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can't seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre's Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta's orbit. But her temper isn't the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other's arms.

What are you guys waiting on this week? Let me know!

Monday, October 26, 2020

All Things Halloween Review - Igniting Darkness

Igniting Darkness (Courting Darkness, # 2)

By: Robin LaFevers

Publication: August 4th 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers

496 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Source: Personal Kindle Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--From New York Times best-selling author Robin LaFevers comes the follow up to “sharp and breathless” (Kirkus Reviews) historical fantasy Courting Darkness. Set in the world of the beloved His Fair Assassin series, this is perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Game of Thrones.

When you count Death as a friend, who can stand as your enemy?

Sybella, novitiate of the convent of Saint Mortain and Death’s vengeance on earth, is still reeling from her God’s own passing, and along with him a guiding hand in her bloody work. But with her sisters on the run from their evil brother and under the watchful eye of her one true friend (and love) at court, the soldier known as Beast, Sybella stands alone as the Duchess of Brittany’s protector.

After months of seeking her out, Sybella has finally made contact with a fellow novitiate of the convent, Genevieve, a mole in the French court. But when Genevieve mistakenly draws the attention of the French king to the convent of Saint Mortain and its deadly arts, she may do her sisters (and herself) more harm than good. Sybella, having already drawn the ire of the French regent, may not be able to depend on her sister and ally as much as she hoped. Still, Death always finds a way, even if it’s not what one expects.

No one can be trusted and the wolves are always waiting in this thrilling conclusion to the Courting Darkness duology, set in the world of Robin’s beloved His Fair Assassins trilogy.

Man I could kick myself. It's been 13 days since I finished Igniting Darkness and I'm finally forcing myself to write this review. And in those 13 days, I've finished 3 other books. I used to have a rule of not letting 2 days go by without writing a review and not finishing another book before reviewing. I knew I'd regret waiting so long and now I'm really struggling with remembering what I wanted to say at all. Well, all of that and pregnancy brain which is very, very real. I'm going to do my best though.

I was so angry with Genevieve at the end of Courting Darkness. She puts the entire convent at risk of the king's anger. And her disregard for her feelings for Maraud in an attempt at manipulating the King for her own benefit had me wanting to shake some sense into her. Thankfully she had Sybella to help get her back on the right path as well as fix some of her mistakes. Especially considering the terrible position she put Sybella in. So I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about her during Igniting Darkness, but she was able to put some distance between herself and the King, physically even if he did come to rely on her thoughts as an impartial friend.

I knew that Genevieve and Maraud would have to reconnect with each other and I both dreaded it and anticipated it more than anything else about the book. I just knew that if she got caught with him then the King would punish one or both of them. I worried how Maraud would handle Genevieve sleeping with the King. Of course the two weren't committed to each other, weren't even sure they would ever see each other again, but it has to feel like a betrayal nonetheless. Yet he never even questioned her about it. How convenient.

Sybella is still one of my all-time favorite heroines. She's struggling with a lot in this book...well really that's not unusual for her. She's gotten her sisters to safety but keeping them there isn't as easy as it may seem. Beast finds himself in jail for something he didn't do. A twist of the Reagent as always. Pierre plagues her on all sides. Aligning with the Reagent to turn the King against Sybella and by default the Queen. Plus she's struggling with her faith now that Mortain has become human. Who does she serve now? Even though I anticipated Genevieve and Maraud's reunion most in the book, Sybella's story always ends up being the most interesting.

Favorite quotes:

-A knowledge both primitive and true rises up from deep within me, and I feel the power of the Dark Mother fill me. Understand in my bones that while I have been broken and beaten and beyond despair, I have also rebuilt myself and have risen from the ashes of my own funeral pyre.

-“Knowing a miracle will occur does not keep one from marveling when it does.”

-And though this moment feels hopeless, that doesn’t mean I must give in to despair. Hope need not shine brightly. It need only be a dogged refusal to give up.

Igniting Darkness is so much better than my review of it. Robin LaFevers does a wonderful job of weaving a story together. So many pieces that must come together. So many characters with different motivations each. Wonderful heroes and heroines, but also equally challenging villains that thwart our heroes at nearly every turn. This story has a lot of focus on fathers. Different types of fathers who each have differing influence over their children. There's also a more feminist message to Igniting Darkness even though the entire His Fair Assassins and Courting Darkness Duology stories have focused on strong female characters leading countries, making major decisions that affect many, saving the day, and protecting others. This book had a less subtle message on the ill treatment of women from the time these books are supposed to take place. I don't mind stories that focus on strong female characters. I love them actually. And I don't mind since this is a fantasy series that the author wants to stray from social norms of the time to write what she would like to see. But I guess I just always get hung up on books with a message, even if the message is one I'm in agreement with. I end up feeling preached at and I just wonder why make the distinction in the first place? Write the story you want to read. Make society be more accepting of women if that's what you want to see, but don't put up a billboard about it so to speak. Anyway, overall I enjoyed Igniting Darkness and give it 4 Stars. Have you read Igniting Darkness? What did you think? Let me know.

This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge - October Wrap Up

Time for our Monthly Wrap Up for the 2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

Neither Sandy nor Holly finished any series enders this month.

Which series enders did you finish? Link the up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the October giveaway runs from October 25th - November 25th. On November 25th we will use random.org and the linky entries to pull a winner.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Sunday Post & Stacking the Shelves - 10/25/20

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

This has been a hectic and super busy week. Most of the week has been spent cleaning house in preparation for the kids' birthday party Saturday. But unlike a normal week, I couldn't clean while they were at school for the most part. Monday I had an eye doctor appointment. Tuesday was Little Girl's actual birthday. We had a great day, but yet we didn't overdo anything. She even told me that this was her best birthday ever. Wednesday was my only normal day and I did clean house while they were at school. We did find out that my nephew has tested positive for COVID-19. I haven't seen him in almost two weeks and he wasn't showing any symptoms then. My mother came to visit Thursday. She was a big help in entertaining the kids so that I could clean more. Friday the kids had a field trip to a local farm and pumpkin patch. I did more cleaning once we got home. Saturday we celebrated Husband, Little Girl, and Little Boy (his birthday is next week) with a lunch for family to come. Since my nephew tested positive for COVID his immediately family didn't come, and then my sister and her family were unable to make it because my other nephew had a band competition (it's his senior year). So it was much smaller gathering than we anticipated, but that's probably for the best. That afternoon, Little Girl had a party at a local trampoline park for her friends from school. They had a blast. And I am thoroughly worn out.

THE PAST WEEK:

Monday: All Things Halloween Review of Betwixt (Betwixt & Between, # 1) by Darynda Jones (4 Stars)
Wednesday: Can't Wait for Sword of Rage (Reigning Kingdoms, # 1) by Jennifer Anne Davis
Thursday: All Things Halloween Review of A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, # 3.1) by Sarah J Maas (4 Stars)

UPCOMING THIS WEEK:

Monday: All Things Halloween Review of Igniting Darkness (Courting Darkness Duology, # 2) by Robin LaFevers
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday?
Wednesday: Can't Wait for Wednesday
Thursday: All Things Halloween Midnight Sun (Twilight, # 5) by Stephenie Meyer

My annual "All Things Halloween" event started last Tuesday. This is my month-long event where I feature reviews from Halloween-y genres (fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, sci-fi, horror, mystery, thriller, and suspense). Over the last few years I've had mostly fantasy books as I just haven't been in the mood for much horror, but still...these are books that can get you in the mood for Halloween.

Don’t forget to link up for the 2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge! You have until December 15th, 2020 to sing up. Each month there will be a giveaway for those participating with an end of the year giveaway too! Click on the picture below or the link above to find out more!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

The Knockout

By: Sajni Patel

Publication: January 26th 2021 by Flux

360 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--A rising star in Muay Thai figures out what (and who) is worth fighting for in this #ownvoices YA debut full of heart.

If seventeen-year-old Kareena Thakkar is going to alienate herself from the entire Indian community, she might as well do it gloriously. She’s landed the chance of a lifetime, an invitation to the US Muay Thai Open, which could lead to a spot on the first-ever Olympic team. If only her sport wasn’t seen as something too rough for girls, something she’s afraid to share with anyone outside of her family. Despite pleasing her parents, exceling at school, and making plans to get her family out of debt, Kareena’s never felt quite Indian enough, and her training is only making it worse.

Which is inconvenient, since she’s starting to fall for Amit Patel, who just might be the world’s most perfect Indian. Admitting her feelings for Amit will cost Kareena more than just her pride–she’ll have to face his parents’ disapproval, battle her own insecurities, and remain focused for the big fight. Kareena’s bid for the Olympics could very well make history–if she has the courage to go for it.

A Captain for Caroline Gray

By: Julie Wright

Publication: March 2nd 2021 by Shadow Mountain

336 pages

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Regency London

Caroline Gray’s third season in London society ends as badly as her first two—no marriage proposal, no suitor, not even a glimmer of an interested prospect. She suspects it’s because she is far too quick to speak her mind to men who are put off by her forthright opinions, her eager intellect backed by a formal education, and her unconventional ideas about the future. She is far more daring than demure to suit the taste of her class. Besides, Caroline thinks there will always be next season to find a husband.

However, her family’s dwindling income leaves Caroline with only one choice to secure her future: a one-way ticket to sail with the Fishing Fleet to India, where the son of a family friend waits. If the match doesn’t work, Caroline cannot return home.

Captain Thomas Scott loves the thrill of the open sea, and as commander of one of the ships of the “Fishing Fleet,” he ferries scores of young English girls to the shores of India to find husbands. The voyages pay well, but he struggles to understand why families would allow young women to be matched with total strangers so far away.

The trips have always been routine and uneventful—until this trip’s first night’s dinner with one Miss Caroline Gray. She engages in a lively political conversation, presenting opposing viewpoints to the conventionally opinionated gentlemen at her table. Captain Scott is secretly amused and delighted at her boldness, not to mention quite drawn to her beauty.

The rest of the passengers are shocked by her behavior and Caroline finds herself an outcast, suffering harsh judgments from the other passengers. However, she finds an unlikely ally in Captain Scott which quickly draws them closer.

Both know an arranged marriage awaits Caroline at the end of their voyage, yet the attraction between them is undeniable. Caroline will have to decide if she will honor her mother’s wishes and marry a man in India whom she has never met—thus securing a future for her and her mother—or be brave enough to throw convention to the wind and commit to love a sea captain. He may be enchanted by her bold and unconventional ways, but will his love and admiration last?

That's it for my shelves and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you add to your shelves this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!