August 4, 2017

Abbreviations #35 | The Map That Leads to You, The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue, Daughter of the Burning City, The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart, The Emperor's Ostrich + The Library of Fates

The Map That Leads to You book cover
The Map That Leads to You by J.P. Monninger
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)
Buy the Book: Book Depository | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

I’m a little torn on The Map That Leads to You. The entire premise sounded like it would be right up my alley: Heather is traveling around Europe with her two best friends during the summer between college graduation and the start of her employment, and on a train ride to Amsterdam, she meets Jack – mysterious, passionate and someone she winds up falling head over heels in love with. In a sense, the novel was exactly what I wanted. Monninger really has a knack for detailing places, I really liked the friendship between the three girls and there was something really appealing about the themes that were explored. Unfortunately, the novel fell flat when it came to the romance. It started off well, and I won’t deny there were strong moments, but the overall relationship just was not my cup of tea. Because of this, as well as minor grievances with the main couple as individuals, I find that my opinion on this one is middling – it’s good, but not a new favorite in this genre.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue book cover
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Source: e-galley downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is about Henry “Monty” Montague, a roguish young gentleman who embarks on a Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend Percy, his younger sister Felicity and their assigned guardian. Things take a turn for the adventurous when Monty does something reckless and ends up setting the three of them on a path filled with the perilous and the unexpected. I must say - I’m a big fan of the subgenre of historical YA that features hilarity and hijinks. (My Lady Jane is another title that comes to mind that I thoroughly enjoyed). I thought Gentleman’s Guide was a fun read! It uses a very distinctive narrative voice; while I didn’t necessarily love Monty all the time, he was still an interesting fellow to follow. I did enjoy this, though not as much as I’d expected to, considering the high expectations I’d had going into it. Still, if you’re looking for something that’s a little bit different in this genre, then I’d certainly say you should check this out.

Daughter of the Burning City book cover
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Source: ARC received at BEA 2017 (Thanks!)

Daughter of the Burning City tells the story of Sorina, a talented illusion-worker who has created her lifelike illusions and perform with them as part of the Gomorrah Festival’s Freak Show. When one of her illusions is murdered, it’s up to Sorina to figure out who the culprit is – perhaps with a little help from her father Villiam and a new acquaintance Luca. I hadn’t heard of this one prior to BEA 2017, but it had me at festival and murdered illusions – and now that I’ve read it, I can say I’m glad I picked it up even though it wasn’t a new favorite. I liked the wonderful oddities that were the main cast of characters, the atmospherics of the festival setting (which was wondrous and intimidating at the same time) and the way that this book was simply the sort of adventure where I sat back, let go of any preconceived notions and let the author lead the way. But I had issues with the uneven pacing, predictable plot points and something at the end that would be a spoiler if I mentioned it (but made me feel weird). Still, I liked being immersed in the wildly strange, often dangerous world of the Gomorrah Festival, and seeing how everything played out for Sorina and company.

The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart book cover
Publisher: Zaffre Publishing
Publication Date: March 10, 2016
Source: Paperback borrowed from my sister (Thanks Mel!)
Buy the Book: Book Depository | Amazon

Abi knows that Joseph is the love of her life, even though he dumped her because he claimed they were incompatible. When Joseph returns a box of her possessions, she finds a bucket list of ten things that he wanted to do – and determines that she will do every single thing on the list in order to win him back. And so the premise of The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart goes, and I’m sure you can probably predict how this one ends. (I know I did.) While it’s not a read that changed my life, it was enjoyable. I was hankering for a lighter read, and I’ve found in the past that British chick lit often suits me perfectly when I’m in the mood. That was definitely the case here, and so, in spite of the utter predictability of how the story would end, I found myself inclined to keep reading to find out how Abi’s journey would play out. Not a new favorite by any means, but I’d definitely say it would be an ideal book to take on your summer trip!

The Emperor's Ostrich book cover
The Emperor's Ostrich by Julie Berry
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

The Emperor’s Ostrich is the latest middle grade release from Julie Berry, and it’s got the makings of a fantastical fairytale: a dairymaid in search of a lost cow finding herself on an unexpected adventure where she meets a quirky cast of characters, helps save the empire and gets the happy ending she deserves. If it sounds like a story filled with whimsical chaos, well, that’s precisely what it is. I was delighted by the way it mirrored many of the fairytales I read as a girl (and sometimes read even now). Even though it’s out of this world, over the top and heavily exaggerated, and even though the beginning was a bit clunky, I thought it was fun. It’s cheeky and amusing, and I think it’s a delightful read for anyone who likes reading stories that are like fairytales (though the appeal will be stronger for younger readers, I’d say).

The Library of Fates book cover
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

The idyllic kingdom of Shalingar has, until now, escaped the conquest of the violent, impulsive Emperor Sikander. But in one fell night, everything changes and Amrita, Princess of Shalingar, finds herself a fugitive with only an oracle named Thala for company. The two unlikely companions find themselves torn between two paths: going to warn Amrita's people and come to the aid of her kingdom or a visit to the Library of All Things, where it may be possible for them to change their fates. Now, overall, I liked The Library of Fates. The novel gives me very strong fairytale vibes, which was truly fun, and Khorana provides lush descriptions of places, people and things to really ground the reader in the world. But I just couldn't quite find a personal connection with the characters (which is something I tend to search for in my reads), and there were a few other (spoilery, unfortunately) bits that didn't particularly work for me. It's a solid, standalone fantasy read, however, so definitely try and check it out if you're interested in the story.


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