Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR list

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish wherein each week bloggers list out their Top Ten. Autumn is here, and I am so very happy because something about it calls to mind reading books. And there are SO MANY books I am excited for, but here’s the top ten:

Frost Like Night (Snow Like Ashes, #3) The Midnight Star (Young Elites, #3) A Million Worlds with You (Firebird, #3)

All final books in their respective trilogies, which means I am very nervous and also very excited.

Heartless Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy Replica (Replica, #1) Glitter

Heartless is a wonderland retelling about the Queen of Hearts. Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy is a collection of short stories (with illustrations by Cassandra Jean) set in the Shadowhunter universe. Replica is a new book by Lauren Oliver – the concept of which intrigues me. Glitter is said to be something like Breaking Bad meets Marie Antoinette. All these new books by authors I already know!

Timekeeper (Timekeeper, #1) The Women in the Walls

A debut steampunk novel that has me very interested is Timekeeper, while The Women in the Walls is a horror novel by a new-to-me author.

 

#TackleTBR Read-a-thon – Wrap-Up

Oh, it has been a wonderful 2 weeks reading books! Did I tackle my TBR? Yes, I did. Now I had initially decided on these books to read

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Untitled, #1) A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) Lions in the Garden (The Uprising #1) A Forest of Wolves (The Uprising, #2) Gamescape: Overworld (Nova Project #1)

Naming the Stars Necrotech A New Darkness (Starblade Chronicles, #1) The Dark Army (Starblade Chronicles, #2) The Lying Planet

Now, for the first week I was a bit slow – I got only 3 books read in 7 days and was feeling bad about it. But, then I had holidays in the second so I caught up on as much reading as I could. My final tally:

Total Books Read: 9
Total Pages Read: 4042
Finished Books: 8½ [because I was already mid-way in Bright Smoke, Cold Fire when starting with this read-a-thon]

Books read

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Untitled, #1)  Gamescape: Overworld (Nova Project #1)  A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5) Uprooted

 The Swan Riders Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #1) Like a River Glorious The Night Circus

[Links for reviews can be found on covers]

So, while I did not read all the books I intended to, I still got through some books I really wanted to. Now, excuse me while I go get over this book hangover.

Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

What I feel after reading this book is what I imagine the circus-goers in the world of The Night Circus felt after dawn. It was absolutely magical, to say the least; it exceeded any expectations of what the story would be about when I started the book. To explain it would be like how the clock-maker felt after his visit – words would be incomplete, but I’ll try. The story of The Night Circus revolves around this game that two magicians have created – to pit their students against each other in a match of skills and imagination. This particular game is being held on a large scale – as part of the Circus that was created by their machinations. The two players – Celia and Marco – are told to not interfere or bother with their opponent, but instead set up elaborate displays in turns and ultimately a winner would be chosen. But the Circus they have created in tandem has become an entity of its own, dragging along the others tied to it in its path.

The story actually takes place over many years – from when Celia and Marco are kids to the future of the Circus. The chapters sometimes alternate in time, and there it gets a bit tricky remembering the ages of the characters and what previous chapter it connects to. The book is a little like a puzzle, slowly arranging pieces when you aren’t watching and suddenly things fall in place. Told from various character perspectives of the people involved in the circus, the plot places itself squarely across time and distance, as well as the wonder it creates in its audience. Another character a generation down, Bailey starts getting tied in the story, and when those threads come together, you realize how ingeniously the book was designed. The feeling of seeing everything but nothing is something you get used to, because the story plays out in between the lines too, in the small phrases scattered granting more meaning to the plot.

Now, while the romance is one of the driving points of the story, it is also about the wonder and burden of seeing things no one else can. Celia and Marco can perform these great feats, but even with the ones in the know, they can have only adoration and love, not entirely belonging. Not to say that they don’t form meaningful relationships besides each other, but there is also the fact that they have literally been bonded to the game since their childhood. The story in the first half is all mystique and wonder, and starts to get dark in the second half, when it becomes apparent that the longer the Circus goes on, the more the ones associated with it become troubled by it. But then again, it manifested in ways that I didn’t expect and right until the ending I was kept on my toes, a feeling I very much appreciated from this book. I would suggest this for all lovers of fantasy, for those who love to escape.

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ARC Review: Like a River Glorious

Like a River Glorious
Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

Like a River Glorious picks up a while after the end of Walk on Earth a Stranger. Leah and her friends are looking to settle finally, to put an end to their travels and start digging up the gold they came for. Unfortunately, California is not a great territory, law-wise and in such dangerous conditions, it is hard to finally relax. More so, because the threat of her uncle looms closer now that she knows he is around. In order to have a peaceful existence, she decides to face it directly. While there, she learns that while they have had it tough, there are others like the Native Americans who have it tougher. Racism is a point brought up but pushed aside very easily towards the end.

While the story is pretty good, and the plot is interesting, what marred my enjoyment of the book was the pace. It was glacial, and I kept getting distracted away from the book. Things are building up, and there is a pretty good climax but by that time I was a bit bored to read thoroughly. The writing couldn’t hold my attention enough in the face of the slow pace – I thought reading about a road trip was slow, but this one filled with developments only got really interesting at the end. Also, that ending felt like this is going to be a duology? I don’t really see what threat can come up for this to be a trilogy, but I guess I am still interested in the series. Overall, a good book but not such a well-written sequel.

Received a free galley from Greenwillow Books, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

Previous books in series

Walk on Earth a Stranger

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ARC Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger

Walk on Earth a Stranger
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

Set in mid-19th century America, Walk on Earth a Stranger can be more aptly called Road Tripping for Gold. Well, most of the novel chronicles the journey Leah Westfall, a Gold Seer (a person who can sense gold) travels from Georgia to California, seeking a new life in the Gold Rush. Not knowing the geography of the States, I was mostly lost with the places mentioned, but it is more about the adventure she has, while also on the run from her parent’s murderer.

Leah is a strong-willed, hard-working girl who, when faced with an unappealing future bound to her uncle as a gold sniffer, seeks out her own path. After her best friend Jefferson, she sets out to brave the wide world of across the continent. To travel freely, she pretends to be a boy and works for her living. When she finds a traveling group for the second half of her journey, she finds a family she never intended. Her trek has been out of fear, so distrust is her resting phase, but as she gets to know the people in her group, she starts to realize that maybe some people you can put your trust in, and that for all the bad in the world, there is some good, too.

Since this is pre-Civil War America, you see racial tones (more aggravated, I mean) through the novel – sometimes when Leah comes across her father’s Black friend, another a slave, and more concerning the half-Cherokee Jefferson. The people she is traveling with harbor some prejudices, be it on religion, or race, more towards the latter. They keep thinking the Native Americans are enemies, and Jefferson has to take much of this silently. For her part, she also learns how in some ways, she doesn’t see fully the lack of freedom Black people might have, even if they are free.

In terms of pace, this novel has a slow first half, and gains momentum in the second, where their journey gets more intense and arduous. The writing is pretty good, and I enjoyed the amount of detail she put into it, even if I couldn’t appreciate it completely. The author has set up an alternate urban fantasy with the gold seer thing, and I hope we get some explanation or expansion of that magical aspect. Overall, this book is a promising start to the trilogy.

Received a free galley from Greenwillow Books, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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