Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Dreamer's Revolution • The Song Rising

The Song Rising book cover
A quick note: The Song Rising is the third novel in The Bone Season series. While I can guarantee that there will be no spoilers for The Song Rising, there may be spoilers for the previous novels.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that the third novel in The Bone Season series, The Song Rising, is very nearly out in the world. I have been waiting for a very long time for this continuation, and I know many of my fellow readers have been as well. 

Having escaped Sheol I and defeated all the contenders in the Rose Ring to become the Underqueen of the London Syndicate, in The Song Rising, Paige has now found herself in a powerful position. She is determined to rally her troops to fight for the rights and protection of all voyants, and begins to take the steps in order to make them an army fit to assist the Ranthen in overthrowing Scion and the other Rephaite. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and Paige soon finds that she is responsible for the welfare of her underlings. With Scion dogging her steps at every turn and the military's presence growing, Paige is forced to make some tough decisions as she continues to light the spark of revolution.

I was actually one of the lucky people to receive an early review copy of The Song Rising, thanks to the lovely folk over at Bloomsbury. Since it has been one of my most highly anticipated sequels for ages, I immediately skipped everything on my then TBR in order to reread the first two novels and dive right into this one.  Now, even though you're likely seeing this review months from when I'm typing it up, I thought it'd be best to write it while fresh off reading the book.

It was absolutely incredible to be back in the world that Samantha Shannon so carefully crafted in her first two novels, complete with the variety of clairvoyants, the restructured London syndicate and the ever-present threat of Scion and the Rephaite. Since I'd come off of a reread of The Bone Season and The Mime Order, I comfortably transitioned into The Song Rising without any confusion. What is truly impressive, in my humble opinion, is that the world once again expands and introduces us to even more of the world. And while it is obviously sad, bleak and terrifying, it is also so darn interesting to learn about what is going on outside of the London citadel. I love that with every single story, Samantha has been slowly letting readers see the rest of the world in her head, and I absolutely cannot wait for more.

The Song Rising book cover
It was also so wonderful to be reunited with Paige, Nick, Eliza, Warden and countless other characters that I've come to know and love (or perhaps revile) in reading the previous novels. For the great majority of the main players that I was familiar with, it felt like deepening a bond with a friend, particularly as we learn more about certain individuals who might not have had center stage (or any stage at all, really) prior to The Song Rising. And for the newer characters who crop up in this story, Samantha does an excellent job of fleshing them out as flawed individuals doing the best they can with the circumstances they are in (in the case of the "good" guys) and psychopaths who are not opposed to death and destruction in order to get their way (in the case of the "bad" guys). 

But I need to really take a moment here to appreciate Paige Mahoney, our main gal. She faces a number of challenges in The Song Rising, challenges that would have lesser men and women running like hell, and these challenges are what break her, shape her, make her. She's certainly not perfect, especially considering her youth, and she does make mistakes. But with each mistake, and even each victory, there is growth and there is experience and there is Paige learning to be a strong leader. It really impressive how much Paige grows over the course of this novel, and it is a character arc that felt really organic as well.

So, the world is great. So, the characters are phenomenal. But Lex, you might ask, what about the story? The short answer: it was incredible. The longer answer? Well, it is clear to me that this story was so well-executed. Every scene had a purpose, whether it was to move the plot forward or showcase more of a person's character, and I admired that so much care had gone into the telling of this tale. Each section felt organic and fed right into the next one, and it was hard to stop once I'd started. I was so immersed in the newest chapter of Paige's story, and I devoured the entirety of it in just one afternoon. It was exciting. It was terrifying. It was heartbreaking. It was inspiring. And it was very, very, very good. So, yes, I loved the story as well.

If it isn't obvious from all the gushing, I loved The Song Rising. While it has been a fairly large gap between the second novel and this upcoming one, I can certainly say that the novel (well, the advanced reader's copy) that I held in my hands and read was an insanely good book. Impressive world-building and character development, as well as a compelling story - it's the full package when it comes to the reads I wind up loving, and I cannot wait for more. (Seriously, I need book four now. For reasons. Which you will understand, should you read the third book.)



The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon | Series: The Bone Season #3
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA | Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)
Buy The Book: Book Depository | Amazon | IndieBound

Monday, February 20, 2017

Table for Two #2

I'm really excited that Rachel of Hello, Chelly and I have teamed up once more to bring you a brand spanking new collaboration that involves two of my favorite things - New York City and food. We're proud to introduce Table for Two, where the two of us will be highlighting restaurants and dessert spots in New York City. You'll be hearing our personal opinions on the place and the food, as well as where you can go to try it out for yourself!



We're back with another round of Table for Two! This time around, we decided to grab dinner at Izakaya Mew, a restaurant I only discovered last year and fell in love with, and dessert at Sweet Churros in K-Town (which you can read about on Rachel's blog).

Honestly, if you hadn't heard of the place (or if you don't have sisters like mine, who are excellent at finding food spots to try), you probably wouldn't even notice Izakaya Mew. The entrance is a single door with very simple signage, and it opens directly onto a narrow staircase. Once you descend, you'll get your first glimpse of the dimly light, simply furnished spot - hanging light bulbs, Haruki Murakami art, and a lot of wood details. It's a charming little nook amidst the big city bustle, and not even the crowds would deter me from a regular visit.

Once you're seated at your table (which is, admittedly, a bit of a tight squeeze because the tables are a bit close together to accommodate more people), you'll be handed their menu and poured a glass of water. Their menu has so much to offer in terms of Japanese food mixed with New York flavor, and it'll take a while before you decide on what you want to eat! This visit, I decided I wanted to have the fancy roll (which is eel, avocado, cream cheese topped with crabstick and eel sauce) and Rachel had the katsudon (which is deep-fried cutlets over rice). We also shared the salmon sashimi tacos (marinated salmon with guacamole) for an appetizer. As always, the food was absolutely delicious and extremely filling! Plus, the prices are quite reasonable too.

All in all, Izakaya Mew is, by far, one of my favorite spots to eat in New York! Especially for Japanese food, since all the things I've ever had at the restaurant were delicious. You can find Izakaya Mew on 53 W 35th St. Basement, New York, NY 10001, and they are open for lunch (Monday-Friday from 12pm-2:45pm), as well as dinner (Monday-Thursday from 5:30-11:00pm, Friday-Saturday from 5:30-12am and Sunday from 5:30-10pm). Let us know if you decide to check it out!


2017 Love-a-Thon: Wrap-up + Giveaway

This is it, folks. We've officially hit the end of this year's Love-a-Thon. I'm always sad to bid this event goodbye, because it's so near and dear to my heart. I've loved having the opportunity to get to know many folk better, being inspired by all of the insanely creative posts that have popped up over the weekend and just being reminded how much I love the genuine enthusiasm that I see during the event. I'm so overwhelmed by joy and gratitude, and want to say thank you to every single person who was involved in making it happen this year.

First of all, I'm so grateful to my incredible co-hosts - my darlings Cee, Kristin & Mel. Without your creative input, generous contributions of time and effort and genuine enthusiasm, this event would not have been what it was. So grateful for the three of you, and glad we could work together for this year's Love-a-Thon!

Second of all, I need to give a shoutout to the wonderful folk who donated so generously to make our giveaways amazing this year: Tor Teen, Disney-Hyperion, the NOVL, and Alex from Booksy Daisy Reviews. I'm so blown away from your generosity, and excited for our giveaway winners!

And, last but certainly not least, thank you to each and every single person who participated this year. My passion for this event is fueled by seeing connections being made, and witnessing the genuine enthusiasm and positivity that this event brings about, and this year was no different. So grateful for you all, and I hope you've enjoyed the Love-a-Thon this year!

Just going to leave you all with another repeat of what I first said at the end of a Love-a-Thon two years ago, mostly because I feel like it's still relevant:
Let me leave you with one important thought: Love should be shared all year round. Yes, this Love-a-Thon is time we set aside specifically to celebrate the people we love in this crazy awesome blogging community, and that's always a wonderful thing. But it's important to remember to be kind, to be respectful and to be expressive of our love + gratitude + joy all the time. We should strive to keep the positive attitude the Love-a-Thon inspires going all year round!

Thanks again for being a part of the 2017 Love-a-thon! I wish I could give you all virtual hugs (or high fives, if you're more comfortable with that), but I suppose these last three giveaways are going to have to do... But seriously, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so, so much. Please enter the giveaway below, which is open internationally. We'll be choosing three random winners for each of the prize packs listed below!

Prize Pack #1
prize pack consists of:
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson
High Stakes edited by George R.R. Martin
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Shades of Magic series book hugger
NOVL water bottle + tote bag
Tor Teen, The Dark Talent + Amberlough pins
Game of Shadows tattoo
Game of Shadows postcard
Arabella of Mars paper doll
Becoming Bonnie newspaper
Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan
I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (ARC)
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (ARC)
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Shannon + Dean Hale (ARC)
Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (ARC)

Prize Pack #2
prize pack consists of:
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson
High Stakes edited by George R.R. Martin
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Shades of Magic series book hugger
NOVL water bottle + tote bag
Tor Teen, The Dark Talent + Amberlough pins
Game of Shadows tattoo
Game of Shadows postcard
Arabella of Mars paper doll
Becoming Bonnie newspaper
The Nerdy + The Dirty by B.T. Gottfred
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Updraft by Fran Wilde
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Gauntlet by Holly Jennings (ARC)
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (ARC)
At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson (ARC)

Prize Pack #3
prize pack consists of:
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson
High Stakes edited by George R.R. Martin
Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly 
Seriously Shifted by Tina Connolly
Shades of Magic series book hugger
NOVL water bottle + tote bag
Tor Teen, The Dark Talent + Amberlough pins
Game of Shadows tattoo
Game of Shadows postcard
Arabella of Mars paper doll
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
The Infinity of You and Me by J.Q. Coyle
Spindle by E.K. Johnston
Dreamworld by Kit Alloway
Replica by Lauren Oliver
Romeo and What's Her Name by Shani Petroff (ARC)
The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu (ARC)
Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman (ARC)

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