November and December Wrap-Up || So Many Great Reads

Monthly Wrap-up

November and December proved themselves productive reading months, but not so much in terms of writing months.

Bluejay Feather

Reading

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The Lies of Locke Lamora

Short Synopsis

A theif named Locke tries to get out of the dangerous web in which one of the city’s other influential thieves has him ensnared.

Thoughts

I heard such great things about this book. I enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it even more had my version of the audio book not had a tendency to cut off before the end of chapters.

That said, my willingness to put up with the audio book’s quality speaks magnitudes for the book itself.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time #2)

Short Synopsis

Thirteenth book in The Wheel of Time series.

Thoughts

I enjoyed it but, again, not enough to motivate me to finish the books in the middle of the series that I skipped.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Invictus

Short Synopsis

A group of teenagers travel through time and steal historical artifacts.

Thoughts

I enjoyed this one. See my full review for my thoughts.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Warcross

Short Synopsis

A teenage girl goes from almost homeless to completing in her timeline’s most competitive video game tournament.

Thoughts

I loved that this novel was set primarily in Japan, as there aren’t a lot of YA novels set there. The video game setting was fun, but the characters didn’t stand out in my mind as much as I would like.

Rating

4 blue jays

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The Empress (The Diabolic #2)

Short Synopsis

Sequel to The Diabolic, which followed Nemesis, a girl bred for the sole purpose of being an assassin.

Thoughts

My feelings for this book were conflicting and not helped by the fact that some of the elements that set Warcross apart from some of the other YA novels I’ve read were also present in this book.

However, I ultimately gave the book a high rating for reasons discussed in my spoiler review.

If you’re new to the series, please see my The Diabolic review.

4 blue jays

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Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Short Synopsis

Third book in an epic fantasy series.

Thoughts

A worthy sequel to Words of Radiance. (Which is saying something considering that the prequel is basically my favorite novel of all time.)

Its plot is less cohesive than its predecessor, but  there is still much exploration of the word of Roshar, the Knights Radiant, and Stormlight.

There will likely be a full review to come. In the mean time, those new to the series may enjoy my review of The Way of Kings. 

Rating

five blue jays

 

35527721

The Hate U Give

Short Synopsis

Starr is the only one who knows the truth of her best friend’s death. A truth with the potential to tear her community apart.

Thoughts

It’s no secret that I don’t read a lot of contemporary books, but I make an effort to read some from time to time because there are some great ones out there.

This is one of those.

I was hesitant at first because I worried that, like a lot of books that deal with political topics, this book would be preachy. This fear proved unfounded.

The characters are well developed and the author’s world-building, and yes, I am referring to setting the scene in a contemporary novel as world-building, of Starr’s city and the division within it was fantastic. In addition, the book’s subject matter is incredibly timely.

One of the best debut novels I’ve read, and a great way to start discussions about a difficult topic.

Rating

five blue jays

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Before The Devil Breaks You (The Diviners #3)

Short Synopsis

Third book in The Diviners series, which follows a group of young people with supernatural abilities.

Thoughts

Wow, this escalated quickly, but not quickly enough in some ways.

I went into this believing it was the final book in the series and not a book still in the middle of the series. This, at first, left me confused by the lack of resolution.

Rating

4 blue jays

Aether of Night by Brandon Sanderson

Thoughts

Not including a synopsis because I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to discuss the contents, but this proved one of the best unpublished manuscripts I’ve read, if not the best unpublished manuscript I’ve read.

I had some issues with it that made me see why it wasn’t published, but it was still good.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, And The Deep Origins of Consciousness

Short Synopsis

An exploration of octopus’s intelligence.

Thoughts

I’ve long been fascinated by octopuses, and this was an interesting exploration of their thought process.

Rating

4 blue jays

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The Soul of an Octopus

Short Synopsis

Yet another exploration into octopus intelligence.

Thoughts

No, I did not suddenly develop a desire to listen to a string of nonfiction books about octopuses.

This one was turned on in audio book form while I was traveling because one of my traveling companions mistakenly believed it to be the book I’d been reading.

We listened to it anyway.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

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Influence

Short Synopsis

Details the ways people exploit psychology to convince people to do what they don’t want to and ways to circumvent falling for their ploys.

Thoughts

Read this one in audio book form on the same trip where I read Soul of an Octopus. My traveling companion was a huge nonfiction fan.

In some ways, this book changed the way I thought of the actions of those around me. I noticed some of the practices detailed in the book being used by people even before I finished reading it.

Rating

4.5 blue jays

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Children of Eden

Short Synopsis

Rowan is a second child born in a city where the law that each couple may have only one child is harshly enforced.

Thoughts

This may well be the most unpopular opinion I have ever posted, but I have to be honest.

I read this book because it was one of the only ones downloaded on my Kindle during a time when I had no access to WiFi or cell service.

Someone else downloaded this book while they were borrowing my device. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have chosen it to begin with.

Reading it with no prior knowledge of the reviews or publisher of this book, I honestly thought that this had been self-published and would have a low average rating. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this was not at all the case.

The most positive thing I can say about the book is that it is captivating. I was able to read it in a crowded place. Beyond that, the plot felt derivative of other YA dystopian novels I have read, and I didn’t care much for the characters.

The reason I felt the book might be self-published is because of all the melodrama, (Though, to be clear, I have read many great self-published books with little melodrama.) The book reads like a debut.

I can, however, see many people who are new to the dystopian genre enjoying this book because of its captivating nature and bisexual love triangle that I hear some readers searching out from time to time.

Rating

2.5 blue jays

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Steering the Craft

Short Synopsis

A non-fiction writing craft book by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Thoughts

Okay, so I didn’t read this book during November or December, but I did read sections of it throughout 2017. I never reported the book in my wrap-ups, so I’m mentioning it now instead.

A good, brief book on writing craft.

Rating

4 blue jays

Writing

Writing wise, the only thing I accomplished was writing and revising a short story. If my attempts at publication prove fruitless I may post it to the blog because I was rather satisfied with how it turned out.

Bluejay Feather

Hope you all had a happy New Year!

Anyone read any of these books? What did you think? What did you read at the end of this year? 

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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August, September, and October Wrap-up

August, September, and October Wrap-up
This image is derivative of “Red-blue sunset” By  Adam Ziaja  CC BY 3.0.

These past few months were eventful to say the least. So eventful that I am wrapping-up my reading experience for three months in one post. Seriously though, there is a lot to cover.

I read some books that disappointed, others I loved, went to two author events, and finished the first draft of a novel.

Bluejay Feather

Reading

I read eight books in August, September, and October.

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Title

Shadowcaster (Shattered Realms #2)

Short Synopsis

A princess proving her worth. A captain on a dangerous assignment. A boy with enchanting music.

Thoughts

I was hoping to enjoy this book as much as the books in the original series, but like the previous book, the characters didn’t seem as memorable, and the story didn’t seem as compelling as the Seven Realms series.

 

Rating

3 blue jays

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Title

Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis Trilogy #2)

Short Synopsis

Akin is the first human-alien composite male, but looks human. This makes Akin a subject of interest to the sterile human survivors of the apocalypse.

Akin must act human enough to avoid their wrath, while remembering his true nature.

Thoughts

I need to read more of Octavia E. Butler’s works. I’ve really enjoyed the two I’ve read so far and can’t wait for the others.

My main complaint is that this was too short, but that has more to do with the style of writing that was popular at the time it was written than the author. Still thought provoking even though it was published about 30 years ago.

Rating

4.5 blue jays

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Title

Amid Stars and Darkness

Short Synopsis

After being kidnapped by an alien, Delaney must impersonate an alien princess or else the entire human race will be enslaved.

Thoughts

I was waiting in a long line at the library and picked this up on impulse as I walked by. I’m not sure I would have read it otherwise.

It’s too romance heavy for my taste, and I prefer more science in my science fiction, but it was otherwise a light, fun read.

If you’re looking for a book you can’t put down, this might be for you.

Rating

3 blue jays

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Titles

The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time #4), The Gathering Storm (The Wheel of Time #12)

Short Synopsis

Books four and twelve of the Wheel of Time series.

Thoughts

Some of you are probably wondering if I indeed skipped from book four to book twelve in this series. The answer is that, yes, I did. At the risk of annoying some of the Wheel of Time fans, I must admit my motive for reading this series lies in the fact that Brandon Sanderson wrote the last few, and I want to read all his books.

I like the other Wheel of Time books, especially book four but not enough to read the eight 1,000 page long books in between books four and twelve.

Rating

4 blue jays
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Title

Darkness of Dragons (Wings of Fire #10)

Short Synopsis

The final book in the second arc of the Wings of Fire series.

Thoughts

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, it’s probably no secret that Wings of Fire was one of my favorite middle grade series. To some extent it still is. However, this book is probably one of my least favorite in the series, though my least favorite overall would have to be book nine.

It came across as a little anticlimactic to me, and I wasn’t a fan of the characters’ resolution of the conflict that’s been building in the last few books. Still, it was a fun read.

Rating

3 blue jays

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Title

Shadowshaper (Shadowshaper #1)

Short Synopsis

Sierra must uncover the mystery of her family’s magical heritage before anyone else dies for it.

Thoughts

I wanted to love this book so much. The atmosphere is great. Older seems to have captured an otherwise realistic portrayal of Brooklyn with some magic thrown in.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t capture my attention enough for me to give it a higher rating.

That said, if you’re looking for a detailed, diverse portrayal of Brooklyn this may be the book for you.

Rating

3 blue jays

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Title

The Silver Mask (Magisterium #4)

Short Synopsis

Fourth book in the Magisterium series.

Thoughts

Oh, look, the only book I read in October. *Hides in shame.* If this isn’t an indicator of how busy I’ve been I don’t know what is.

There is something about this series that makes me always come back to it even though there are some less than amazing elements to it. I think it’s the premise. I love “hero destined for evil” stories so much.

Rating

4 blue jays

 Author Events

In the past three months I went to events for Leigh Bardugo and R.L. Stine. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Bardugo twice before, but I don’t see how I can go to too many signing events when one of my favorite authors is involved.

Even after attending her events in the past, I still learned something interesting about Bardugo’s writing style. She uses a modified version of the beat structure outlined for scripts in the book Save the Cat. She outlines most of the beats mentioned in the book, but skips a couple because she’s never sat down and read the book to find out what the others were.

Hey, when it comes to writing, the right way to write is the way that works.

R.L. Stine was a first for me. My biggest takeaways from his event were that sometimes life takes us in unexpected directions, that one of the best ways to succeed is to be open to these directions, and that ideas come from unexpected places.

If you would like to see a full post about these events, leave a comment to let me know.

Writing

Total Words Written in August
The words I wrote in August. Graph generated with NaNoWriMo goal tracker.

My months have been so distinct from one another in terms of writing progress that it almost seems wrong to sum it all up in one post like this.

August was a great writing month. During the first half of the month, I averaged around 5,000 words per day. My first draft ended up being 70,000 words. This makes it the longest first draft I’ve ever written, though still shorter than the longest thing I’ve written (90,000 words).

I took a break after finishing my first draft midway through the month, intending to get back to my writing in September.

I started some short stories in September, but the progress I made was interrupted due the disruption Hurricane Irma made to my schedule. I’ve put those short stories on hold for now.

Little writing progress was made in October until the end of the month when I began reading through the draft I finished in August.

Bluejay Feather

Have you read any of these books? If you could meet any author who would you choose? How do you go about revising your first drafts? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

April and May 2017 Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-up

Reading

Between April and May I read eight novels.

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Title

The Sun is also a Star

Short Synopsis

Two teenagers meet and fall in love on the day that one of them is being deported.

Note: I received an advanced copy from the publisher. However, this is is with regards to the final audiobook, which I did not receive from the publisher. Opinions are my own.

Thoughts

I liked this book more than I expected. The characterization is great, and the novel was more thought provoking than I thought it would be.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

Gemina (Illuminae #2)

Short Synopsis

Large corporations plot to get away with mass murder to make profits in space.

Note: I received an arc from the publisher. I read the first half this way, but decided to wait for the release date because so many details were to come. I listened to the second half of this book in audiobook form. Opinions are my own.

Thoughts

The gap between my reading of the first and second half of this book comes down to bad timing more than anything else. I started reading this book right before going on vacation, and a million things started the moment I got back from vacation, so this book sort of fell by the wayside.

Apart from that this was a really fun, suspenseful read.

Rating

4 blue jays

29939230

Title

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

Short Synopsis

The third book in a trilogy that I cannot write a synopsis of without spoiling books one and two.

Thoughts

I enjoyed this book, but it was a slower read than the previous books. Also, I didn’t get all of the resolution I’d been hoping for. For more of my thoughts on the Shades of Magic series see my series review.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Titles

The Scrivener’s Bones (Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians #2)

The Nights of Crystallia (Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians #3)

Short Synopsis

Alcatraz fights against the cults of evil librarians that secretly rule the world.

Thoughts

I thought the second book was hilarious, but the third book started to get a little old. I think I would have enjoyed book three more if I hadn’t read them so close together.

Rating

Book two gets a 4/5. Book three gets 3/5.

4 blue jays

3 blue jays

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Title

The Robots of Dawn (Robots #3)

Short Synopsis

Bayley must visit a Spacer world to prove a man’s innocence.

Thoughts

I enjoyed this novel and am sad that this seems to be the last book with Baley as the protagonist. However, I think this was my least favorite book in the series. This has a lot to do with the fact that Asimov’s romance writing skills are rather cringe worthy.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

Strange the Dreamer

Short Synopsis

Young man who loves libraries goes on a long journey.

Thoughts

‘I really enjoyed this book. See my review for my full thoughts.

Rating

4.5 blue jays

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Title

The Revealed (The Missing #7)

Short Synopsis

Seventh book in a series about missing children from history.

Thoughts

This series has drawn out a little too long for my tastes. This book was fun, but I won’t be reading the final novel.

Rating

3 blue jays

Writing

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in April. Most of the month was spent revising short stories. I wanted to do more editing on one of my novel length project, but at least I met my goal.

Camp April 2017 Stats

I’m planning to participate again in July. As of the moment, my goal is to get a significant portion of the way through the short story I talked about in my Beautiful People for Writers post this past May.

Bluejay Feather

Any thoughts on these books? 

What did you read last month?

Anyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next July? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

January and February 2017 Wrap-up

I’ve decided these monthly wrap-ups were getting repetative, and so, for the next couple months I’m going to try posting bi-monthly wrap-ups instead.

29550388Title

Talons of Power (Wings of Fire #9)

Thoughts

I liked it, but this is my least favorite book in the series so far. My expectations were high after how much I enjoyed the spin-off novel, Darkstalker. My main issue is with Turtle as a protagonist. Every time I thought he was going to take some initiative it didn’t happen.

Rating

3 blue jays

27904311Title

The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2)

Thoughts

I enjoyed this, but not as much as the first book in the other series Riordan is writing at the moment. I’m curious to see how this series might interact with Rick’s other series in future books.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

9361589Title

The Night Circus

Thoughts

I liked this, but didn’t love it. It is very atmospheric with an interesting magic system, but I felt the pacing was too slow.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

Title

You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay

Thoughts

I read this novella because I was reading a lot about point of view and wanted to read something written in second person (using “you” instead of “I” or “(s)he”). It’s one of the best novellas I’ve ever read. This story has great world building, characterization, and use of this notoriously difficult point of view.

Read it online here: http://uncannymagazine.com/article/youll-surely-drown-stay/

 

Rating

4.5 blue jays

December 2016 Wrap-up

I read four books in December. Three were fiction and one was non-fiction. One was fantasy and two were sci-fi. Two were young adult.

28954189Short Synopsis: Two teenagers must compete for a position neither of them wants: to become a professional killer.

Thoughts: Not my favorite Neal Shusterman book, but still an awesome read.

See my review to learn more.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

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Short Synopsis: A duke, his concubine and son are exiled to a desert planet. Chaos ensues.

Thoughts: This one took me a while to get through. There is a lot of world-building that can slow the pace down at times, but the world-building is ultimately the novel’s greatest strength.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

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Short Synopsis: Fifth book in the Abhorsen/Old Kingdom Series.

Thoughts: I read the first three books, but skipped the fourth on account of the negative reviews. Skipping the fourth (a prequel) had no impact on my enjoyment of this novel.

Goodreads claims this is the nineteenth book I’ve read by this author. I suspect the count is closer to seventeen, but it’s still high regardless. Nix’s world-building keeps me coming back.

Also Lirael=awesome. That is all.

Rating: 4 blue jays

180467Short Synopsis: Nonfiction book about how writers can self-edit.

Thoughts: A lot of this is basic and I already knew, but there were some details I needed a refresher on and a few things I hadn’t realized. This book does a great job doing what it set out too, but I’m not going to rate it because I have such a hard time deciding what to rate non-fiction.

October and November Wrap-Up

Sorry for the hiatus everyone, but now I’m back. Since I missed my wrap-up for October this will be a wrap-up for both October and November.

I haven’t had a lot of free time for the past two months, so I only read five books, but five is better than nothing.

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Short Synopsis: Orphan boys compete for the for the chance to impersonate the crown prince.

Thoughts: This book was a lot of fun, and I would have loved it if I’d read it a few years ago. The plot was my favorite part, and I loved the twist towards the end. However, I found the main character annoying at times, and would have liked more variety in the world building from what I’ve read before.

Rating: 3 blue jays27190613

Short Synopsis: If Vlad the Impaler was female.

Thoughts: I’m of two minds about this book. On one hand, I learned a lot about the Ottoman Empire, found the characters well developed, and the plot enjoyable. On the other hand, it feels odd to me when authors write novels about real people and the story felt abrupt. Part of my problem with the ending stems from me believing this book to be a standalone when it isn’t, but I still felt the ending was sudden.

Rating: 4 blue jays

23677341Short Synopsis: Boy is abducted by aliens and told all he needs to do to save the world is push a button, but he isn’t sure he wants to.

Thoughts: This book was not what I expected. There was a lot less sci-fi than I thought there would be, and a lot more contemplating humanity.

That said, I read this book in only a day or two, which is faster than any of the other books I read during this time period, and I recognize awesome character development and an interesting theme when I see them. As a result, I’ve given the book a high rating, in spite of the fact that it had too many contemporary elements for my reading preferences.

Rating: 4 blue jays

27161189Short Synopsis: Final book in a long and drawn out series.

Thoughts: There was only one character in this book I actually cared about, and he is the only reason I kept reading when otherwise this would have been a DNF about three books ago. I would have liked to see more of this side character in the book.

Rating: 

2.5 blue jays

26228034Short Synopsis: Second book in the Broken Earth series.

Thoughts: I loved the first book and was really excited for the sequel. While I did like the first book a little more, I still loved this novel. The world-building is some of the best I’ve seen.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

 

September 2016 Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-Up (1)

I read seven books in September. Of those, five could be considered dystopian. Never thought I’d say that after the dystopian craze died down, though admittedly, the more recent “dystopian” books have a different feel than the ones published during the trend.

Reading

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Short Synopsis: Trilogy following a teenager asked to fight in World War III due to his skill in virtual reality games.

Thoughts: I’ve read books with similar plots in the past, but what set this series apart from the others was the author’s attention to detail in her world-building. The author thought of some potential challenges and usages of the technology used in the story that I’ve never before considered or seen considered in a story. This adds richness to the story.

I read this series after enjoying an arc of The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid. This series is very different from the author’s forthcoming standalone, and reads on the boarder between middle grade and YA whereas her standalone read as in the hazy area between young adult and adult/new adult.

Rating:4 blue jays

23299512Short Synopsis: In a city where violence breeds monsters, two teenagers must learn to see past their differences to survive.

Thoughts: I stayed up until 2am reading this book. I value my sleep, so this is a rarity. That’s how addictive this book was. I also loved the idea of having violent acts create actual monsters, and the character archetype of a monster who wants to be human is one of my favorites, so I loved August.

Rating:4 blue jays

16299Short Synopsis: In the beginning there are ten people, and by the end there are none.

Thoughts: I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed some of the classics I’ve read recently. I suspect this is due to the fact that I’m choosing to read these as opposed to being told to do so for school.

Loved the way the plot all came together to work with the nursery rhyme. Still, I’m glad to have read the most recent version, with “solider boys”, because I think the original would have upset me too much to finish.

Rating: 4 blue jays

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Short Synopsis: Second book in the Six of Crows Duology.

Thoughts: Really enjoyed this one. I loved the way the author made all six narrators distinct from one another. They were all incredibly developed, and I was rarely confused about whose perspective I was reading from.

The pacing was great, and I loved the way the characters had to work around set backs in their plans.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

22328546Short Synopsis: Mare was born a red, the lower-class subservient to the godlike silvers. When Mare discovers she has a Silver-like power of her own, she must pretend to be silver.

Thoughts:Some of the plot points felt forced, and I was annoyed with the characters for large portions of the book. The last thirty percent or so was my favorite part.

Based on the reviews of the next book I think I’ll stop here, but I wouldn’t be opposed to reading books unrelated to this one by Victoria Aveyard.

Rating: 3 blue jays