THOUGHTS, FEELS & RANTS: Wayward Son Review

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My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

My Rainbow Rowell and Pre-Wayward Son Feels

It’s no secret that Rainbow Rowell is my all-time favorite author, and it’s no secret that I needed another book by my all-time fave this year. You can then imagine my excitement that 2019 brought us Rainbow and Faith Erin Hick’s fall-themed graphic novel, Pumpkinheads, and the much anticipated sequel to Carry On, Wayward Son.

Like most Carry On fans, I was pretty excited for Wayward Son. I admit that I wasn’t super anticipating it or staying up until midnight to start reading it upon release because Carry On isn’t my all-time favorite Rainbow Rowell book (look at my blog’s name for a hint at which book of hers is). However, I did find myself getting more and more excited for Wayward Son as September 24th came closer. I was just so excited to have a new novel by my favorite author, realizing that we didn’t have a full Rainbow Rowell novel since Carry On came out in 2015. Fortunately for me, I had a few days off from school at the end of the month, which meant having extra free reading time- and let’s be honest I definitely neglected some school work along the way. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition. Rainbow Rowell’s B&N editions have the best fan art as end papers!

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Somewhat returning to my anticipation, I didn’t really have too many expectations for Wayward Son going in. I knew that the book explored what happens after ‘happily ever after and the hero saves the day’ for Simon in quite an unexpected way- a U.S. cross-country road trip. It made the book just seem so much fun. I was ready for a fluffy story following Simon, Baz, and Penelope’s trip across America. While there was some fluff, even with my little expectations, Wayward Son’s plot was completely what I was not expecting, even as someone who didn’t have expectations.

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FAVORITE LEIGH BARDUGO BOOK: Ninth House Review

Summary (from the publisher): 

81WHkIj6+yLGalaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House has been on my TBR since March 2017. At that point in my reading life, I had recently finished reading and fallen in love with Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Add those feels with the premise of Leigh Bardugo’s first adult debut set at Yale University and you had me hooked. Having read Ninth House in July 2019, I can tell you that this book was completely worth the wait because it is one of  my favorite books of 2019.

When I picked up Ninth House this summer, I had read 73 books so far in the year, already having proclaimed my favorite book of the year. As expected, I devoured Ninth House over two days. While that might not seem too long to be reading a book, I definitely spent more time reading Ninth House than normally. I tend to take longer while reading literary/adult fiction, and I pay more attention to details in fantasy books (which again means more time).

Despite this book practically never leaving my side over these two days, it wasn’t until I read the very last line that I realized this book was my favorite of the year. As you can tell and likely already know, I read and love a lot of books. Yet, it has been such a long time that I had ‘this feeling’ of loving a book so much immediately after finishing.

In short, Ninth House follows Yale University freshmen Alex Stern as she joins the Ninth House, a group that protects the universities’ magical secret societies and often dangerous rituals. Alex is the survivor of an unsolved multiple homicide and while working for the Lethe House, she finds herself trying to solve another unsolved murder  in New Haven. Led by an upperclassmen, Darlington, Alex gets involved in the societies’ sinister happenings and in doing so, must confront her own dark past.

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Leigh Bardugo doesn’t exactly lay out the plot and details from the get-go, as the book jumps between Alex’s present at Yale, her past, and some flashbacks from her mentor, Darlington. In a way, not having everything detail or element explained helped make the world more expansive and really left me not knowing what to expect. I knew Ninth House had some sort of fantasy element, but in reality, Leigh Bardugo explores all sorts of magic and spirits within each society. The best way I could describe this book is in terms of another fantasy queen’s books, V.E./Victoria Schwab. Ninth House had City of Ghosts vibes, set  in an adult fantasy world like Vicious, but of course with Leigh Bardugo’s magic, ghosts and other twists.

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NEW FAVORITE FROM FAVORITE AUTHOR: The Fountains of Silence Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Fountains of SilenceMadrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

I read Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray during my senior year of high school while home sick a few days. I felt that I had learned more from that book than I would have if I were in school those datys. Within that same month, I also read her two other books, Out of the Easy and Salt to the Sea.

Why this short trip down my Ruta Sepetys memory lane? I have been basically waiting for The Fountains of Silence since having read all three of her books in February 2017! The Fountains of Silence was one of my most anticipated books EVER and it was definitely a must-grab during Book Expo.

IMG_7777Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray take place during WWII and Out of the Easy in  in 1950s New Orleans. Ruta Sepetys’ latest release takes a different route that has rarely been done in YA historical fiction, taking place in 1950s, Franco-era Spain. It’s 1957 Madrid and Americans are flooding into Spain, including amateur photographer Daniel. Daniel finds himself captivated by the country and Ana, a young maid at Daniel’s hotel with dark secrets of her own. Ana’s family has faced many struggles under Franco’s dictatorship, and she must decide if she can trust Daniel despite everything she has been taught. As Ruta Sepetys describes at the end of the novel, Daniel is very much like the reader, an American from the outside looking in. Despite his desire, he cannot truly understand Ana and the others’ struggles living in this dictatorship.

The Fountains of Silence met my expectations and more. I admit that I was nervous about the 1950s Spain setting because I love her Ruta Sepety’s work set during World War II. I took a history class on the World Wars during my sophomore year of college and we only briefly covered Franco and Spain (let alone VERY briefly covering it in high school American history class). The Fountains of Silence was just such an emotional and educational experience. The chapters are divided into sections with some sort of historical and government documentation describing life in Spain or the U.S.’s relationship with the country at the time. I can definitely see The Fountains of Silence being taught in high school history and literature classes.

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