Saturday, July 27, 2019

Book Review: The Masterpiece

The Masterpiece
by Fiona Davis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It should be known up-front that I'm a big fan of Fiona Davis'. Her writing, characters and choice of historical settings are always superb. As with most of Davis' historical fiction there are two women in two separate timelines that eventually come together. You might think that perhaps this choice of set-up in historical fiction would eventually feel overused or loose it's magic as it's been used to death; but for me it's the perfect way to relate a story.

I seem to always have an affinity for the oldest timeline and characters in any given historical novel. Perhaps because they seem more intriguing, magical or unpredictable? Whatever the reason, The Masterpiece was no exception to the rule for me. Both timelines keep the primary location of the Grand Central Terminal in New York; and yet one is about how gorgeous, vibrant and art filled the station is; while the other is set during a time when they nearly took the whole train station down! I didn't know that Grand Central nearly didn't survive decades ago from being demolished; and so this historical tidbit was great to learn about.

As always Davis has characters that are realistic and relatable. Whether it's our divorcee fighting to stay alive in (relatively) modern day (1974ish) or the aspiring artist in 1929 who everyone walks all over because she is a woman; Davis makes me feel like these are real women. At one point nearing the end of the story I was beside myself when I realized that there might not be a happy ending here! Inspiring emotion for the people in the story is key to a historical novel being successful and Davis does it masterfully in The Masterpiece.

There's a lot going on in here. We have intrigue and mystery in both timelines; and of course it all comes together beautifully in the end to tie our two ladies together. I don't to say too much, as I don't want to give any good tidbits away; but if you enjoy the unraveling of a history and finding out about people's dirty little secrets then I think you'll be on board for this plot.
Unfortunately The Masterpiece falls to a four star book (from five) for me because of it's ending. There is a bit too much that just 'happens' for no real reason and so I put this book down feeling a little cheated at the contrived ending.

Regardless of if the ending is to my liking I still really enjoyed this story and would certainly consider revisiting it in the future. Davis gives us strong women who persevere even when the odds are stacked against them. I was able to relate to these women and even reflect a little on my daily life and realize that it could always be worse. Each day I read this during my commute to work (on the bus), at lunchtime or at home I felt like I was being subtly reminded that any one of our lead women could have been me. And that made me thankful to live when and where I do.
Any book that is able to so strongly connect with me is worthy of a recommendation and a place on my print shelf (the highest honour I can give). While not a perfect five-star read; The Masterpiece is still more than worthy of a dive into the art and magic of a train station.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Book Review: David Bowie (Little People, Big Dreams)

David Bowie (Little People, BIG DREAMS)David Bowie by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a step towards the other gender, Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara has taken her line of children's books called Little People, Big Dreams from primarily famous women into the stories of famous men. The idea of the series is to promote unique and influential people whom we want our children to look up to.

Obviously David Bowie was as unique a person as they come! He changed the landscape for people to start realizing that gender norms weren't necessary and that being 'weird' or 'different' was okay. The biggest disappointment I have in this release in Vegara's line of children's books is that there is very little said about how he influenced so many people to question their own sexuality and start conversations about the idea of gender fluidity and other realities that we are working to have society embrace today. It feels almost like Vegara, or her publisher, was not comfortable with stating outright the influence Bowie has had for so many in different marginalized community. Whether he was gay or not (note: he was married to a woman), gender fluid, bisexual, pansexual, etc. is irrelevant, partially because Bowie made it irrelevant; but also because it wasn't about being one thing in the 70's at the height of Bowie's fame. Bowie instead embodied the idea of allowing yourself to be whoever you wanted to be; even if that person didn't fit into the social box. While the book captures the idea of being weird is okay; it really misses out on emphasizing the gender norms that Bowie took head-on.

There are some cute pages in this book about Bowie being 'weird' or 'unusual' but overall it really missed the mark for me. There was an amazing opportunity in this children's book to really allow kids to consider gender norms and, perhaps, have little boys decide to wear dresses. Instead this story played it safe and for that reason I cannot say this is as good as it really could (should?) have been.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Book Review: Suspended Hearts

Suspended Heart by Heather Fowler  (short story collection)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As always with a collection or anthology of short stories there are winners and losers. Some standout and are memorable; others are forgotten the moment you read the title of the next story. On the whole Heather Fowler has given us a fairly standard set of different genre stories inside the magical realism realm. I really enjoyed some of these (especially Cock-Sculpting, Minnow Lake and Fear of Snakes) and found some of them a bit bland or too allegorical for my taste (like Razorblade Skin, Made of Clay and Erotic City of Ghosts).
Likely any one who enjoys speculative and weird stories will find at least one of these 20 stories that whets their appetite.

Story #1 - Suspended Heart
A lovely little story about a woman and her missing heart; and her desire to never, ever take it back. What I wouldn't do to have ditched my heart in a mall a few times over in my life so it didn't hurt anymore.

Story #2 - Bloom In Any Season
A gal blooms lovely in spring/summer; and then looses her lovely flowers in fall/winter. Then no one wants her in the same way. It made me think of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As well as reminded me of how much we can change as people depending on our existing state of mind. Wonderful little story!

Story #3 - Cat/Bird Love Song
This story is just depressing. It’s about being alone and the challenges of love when you are attracted to those likely to dislike you just because of your look, race, age, etc.

Story #4 - Crack-Smoking Parrots
So this title is literally describing our two lead characters. Two parrots. It’s a very purposeful allegory, filled with a lot of humour, regarding how difficult it is to publish anything these days. I genuinely laughed out loud twice during this cute little story.

Story #5 - The Girl with Razorblade Skin
I’m not totally sure I get this one. It’s clearly about self esteem and making your life your own; I’m just not sure on the symbolism of the razor blades. I’m starting to think I need an English teacher to explain some of these stories to me.

Story #6 - Godiva
Here we get a story that is all about the #MeToo movement and the idea that dressing like a slut, wanting to show off your body, etc. is not consent.
Ironically (perhaps) I feel like the lead gal in this loves being a slut and when she’s upset at one point I had very little sympathy. I’m not sure if that was the intended point or not...

Story #7 - My Brother, Made of Clay
Another one that had mostly gone over my head. It’s obviously about how bad parenting and negativity grows awful children (or plants) but I can honestly say the point of the story is lost on me.

Story #8 - Cock-Sculpting
Here’s a story where the title is literally what the artist in the story does. Yes that’s right she makes male genitalia from clay; based on real life models (of course). And I loved it!

Story #9 - Psychic Pigeon
A really sad but great story. Told from the perspective of a pigeon who helps out a woman being sexually assaulted (as blackmail to keep her job) by her boss.

Story #10 - Fear of Snakes
Okay this super short story is near and dear to me as a snake momma. My three darling snakes are amazing; although I will confess to loving my 6’4” boa the best.

Story #11 - Men like Chameleons in the Dark
Imagine if a colour on your body indicated how you felt about someone? An involuntary colour change would betray your every moment of love, lust or hate.

Story #12 - Saints and Blue Babies
This religious story is a little weird; but I liked the overall idea that all religious are the same religion at the end of the day.

Story #13 - The Rose Lamp
An intriguing story that should really be expanded into a full length historical mystery novel. Sooo much potential in this one but because it’s so short it doesn’t quite reach its full worth.

Story #14 - The Bheindris
A typical sci-fi short story about a human in love with a robot. Nothing new to see here.

Story #15 - A Companion of Minnow Lake
This is exactly the type of odd, creepy story I love best in short stories. Absolutely wonderful and nice to see an elderly man as our lead character.

Story #16 - Channel 59
A commentary on our societal addiction to television and by proxy our smartphones. Showing that addicts will find a way to get a fix; even when it seems impossible.

Story #17 - Time Broker
The ultimate question... what would you be willing to give up in life in order to have more time? We all say what we wouldn't give to have more time in a day; but have you ever thought about what that might actually mean and if you intend the statement literally?

Story #18 - Schrodinger’s Love Cat
Thanks to The Big Bang Theory I know what Schrodinger’s theory is! I was really excited for this story as I think there’s so many ways the cat theory can apply to opportunities or what if situations. Sadly this story didn’t elaborate on it any further than at the basic level.

Story #19 - Little Red Riding Hood and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War
This is an amusing take on Red and her encounter with the wolf which included her grandmother being eaten. I liked the wit put into it and wish I could read Red’s diary now.

Story #20 - Dangling Now, The Erotic City of Ghosts
I’m sure some English professor could find meaning in this last super short story and tell me how it brings all the stories together in a way. But to be honest it feels like some nonsensical words put together that don’t make a story; but instead set a scene. No characters, plot or anything exist here, so I feel it’s not really a story at all.

Out of these 20 stories I really enjoyed about half of them. Some were much better than others; as tends to be the way with short story collections. I'd definitely read more of Fowler in the future and would love to see her write some full-length speculative fiction for readers to gnaw their way through.
I would encourage Fowler to stay with the lighthearted or creepy stories more so than the contemporary ones. She does a good job of incorporating the contemporary themes desired into the amusing or scary stories; and it keeps the reader far more interested (or at least me more interested) than the basic tell it like it is story.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley and BookSirens. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Book Review: Fierce Fairytales

Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your SoulFierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The idea is good, the illustrations gorgeous but the last 1/3 of the collection is just a big giant bash against men with no real fairytale link at all. It’s really too bad Nikita Gill can’t seem to understand that not all men are awful. The last few poems are very disturbing to me considering they are the most likely to be remembered (being last). It's too bad because many of the poems near the beginning of this compilation are solid, strong takes on known stories.

Great Pacing & Feel
Gill gives us some wonderful quotes and moments in Fierce Fairytales throughout her (very) short stories and poem snippets. She has taken known fairy tales (some from around the world) and given them a darker or more realistic spin.
One example of that writing that really stood out to me (being as I have a medicated Anxiety disorder) is:
"Anxiety makes more heroes than history would care to repeat. It is better than sitting and waiting, letting the demon claw into your mind with worry. Anxious people are resourceful, they need to know how to keep the sea of panic at bay so they do not drown.”
This resonated as very true for me. Some people tell me I’m brave. But I’m really not, I just can’t stand not knowing or waiting to find something out. My lack of ability to breathe, be patient and not panic is a detriment and shows weakness more so than anything. Although I will agree with the resourcefulness comment. I have gotten good at distracting myself, calming myself down, or otherwise finding a way to not pass-out or show external signs of any given panic attack I may be having.

Pretty Isn't Enough
The idea of updating fairy tales or poems and putting them in a gorgeously bound (and illustrated) book for children/teens is wonderful. The actual production of this book is amazing. I would have cherished it as a child just for how pretty it is; even if I didn't like all the stories. I think there is probably something here for everyone; but unfortunately you have to navigate a lot of obnoxious, in your face rhetoric to find it. Gill starts us out with the tamer stories and sets the tone and mood. She lures the reader into buying into her ideas, stories and verse. Only to take the last quarter of this book bashing, and I mean declaring all out war on, men. I didn't like this. It felt too overt and just too nasty to teach children or teens.
Being upset about the inequality to date in our world is not really a useful thing to teach our children. What we need to teach them is how to stand up for themselves and speak out against those that are treating women (or others) inappropriately. This doesn't require us to fear-monger or make like all men in this world are awful. At one point I felt like maybe Gill was building a new lesbian army of teens to take over the world; that's how all out awful a lot of the last poems/stories were. Just unnecessary in my mind and not productive.

Were it not for the last quarter of the book this would probably get a four star rating from me; but I struggle to even give it three stars given how much I disliked the last few passages. Gill needed an editor or publisher that spoke up about how any boy/man that picks up her book is likely to be put off by the end. And perhaps needed to hear, in advance of publication, that many women don't take kindly to generic bashing of males. I would love to give this book to two little girls I know in order to have them use their imagination when it comes to Disney or modern-day interpretations of fairy tales; but I'd have to rip out the last few pages. Given the children know how much I love books that would cause all kinds of questions. So instead I will leave Fierce Fairytales off my gifting list and be conscious of the rhetoric around me that all the lovely children in my life (none of which are my own) may be subject to on any given day.
In order to really be an equal society we must get over our anger and remove the chip on our shoulder. The only way to true equality is to work together to level the playing field; not to get revenge and one-up anyone over anyone else. I'm disappointed that the overall point and end of Fierce Fairytales was clearly that we women need to take control of everything over our male peers.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: Batman: Damned

Batman: Damned by Brian Azzarello 
(3-issue comic series)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Without a doubt the most interesting part of Batman: Damned 3-part over sized comic series is the 'Batwang' seen in Book 1. Yep, I was stoked (and still love, regardless of the controversy) that we finally saw a man with no clothes on in the Batman universe. And boy is he yummy. Add in the hot sexual version of Harley Quinn we get in book 2 and I can't help but be a huge fan of the art and lack of clothing in all genders. In fact all the stars I give this series are for sexy, gritty art.

DC Black Label
Intended to be a line of comics that are intentionally put together for adults, DC's Black Label started off strong with White Knight. These books are marketed as very dark, gory, sexual and meant to show-off the real grit of the DC Universe. It gives the opportunity for DC to explore all sorts of themes that can't be looked at in their monthly lines (more geared at teens).
On the heels of the superbly done White Knight Black Label; I was super excited about Damned. Too bad the art is by far the best part. Oh, and the Batwang I mentioned earlier is just icing on the cake really. It's perhaps interesting to note that in White Knight we see naked, nipple pointing Harley Quinn and no readers or fans protested; but put naked Batman's naked mushroom cap and suddenly the world has ended. *eye roll*
As a bi-sexual woman I would love to see comics get a little more fair when it comes to the sexualization of each gender. I don't want the women in more clothing; but instead let's remove some of the clothing on the men. It's worth noting here, the Batwang page is darkened in this compilation edition and so you won't get the full art like in the original first print issue of the comic. (side note: this fact just proves how sexist the comic industry is. And reinforces that the fanboys, a.k.a. a bunch of wussy men, whined enough that DC pulled the glorious nakedness of Batman).

Format & Font
I read a lot of comics and so the size of the standard modern day comic is very comfortable to me. Damned is printed in a much wider page that felt awkward. I also don't like how much floppier the pages are (even though they are a good heavy stock). I just see more opportunity to damage or hurt the artwork/pages in any format (besides electronic) that this is printed in.
And what is up with the font at times? It's hard to read, awkward and just annoying. I know it's Batman's thoughts or inner dialogue to himself but it's really obnoxious in the way it's presented. It's not necessary to put the words in some crazy hard to read font in order to get the feel of the deepness or darkness of the narrative. I'd much prefer being able to easily read the narrative and have the words be portray the ambiance than have it be difficult to read. I realize the font is meant to match the illustration style of this series; but for me it's just trying too hard.

Given the hype and controversy surrounding this series, it's a real let down. While I love the moment in Book 2 when Harley bears her heart out to Batman over Joker's demise and how much she misses him; there's really nothing else here. We have little to no new character development, are given annoying Constantine who just confuses the story more (as he tends to), and Zatanna shows for no apparent reason I can tell. And don't even start me on how the angel statues in Book 3 are a poor rip-off of Doctor Who's Weeping Angels. I would speculate on the Enchantress looking character that is unnamed in book 3 but I literally have no clue (and don't really care that much) given her small role in the story.

While I'll certainly keep this series in my collection as it features Harley AND a bat-penis; I just can't imagine coming back to it very often to really read it. Unless of course the next Black Label comic builds on this. Although I really hope it doesn't because I'm not loving the end (which felt so anti-climatic to me) and was just typical annoying DC being incapable of leaving anyone dead in their universe. Given the grit and adult content I feel like the least we could get is some continuity in keeping dead characters dead. But then they'd have to come up with amazing new characters and the reality is that we all just read about our faves.
My overall recommendation is flip through this one at the library or your local shop to see the art and then move onto something else. Or go read (or re-read) Batman: White Knight; the best mini-series DC has put out in the past couple years.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book Review: Rainbow

Rainbow: A First Book of PrideRainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is just so cute! Michael Genhart has brought to us a simple little book that explains each colour of the rainbow used on the Pride Flag. We get a simple one line to read out to children along with cute illustrations of same sex couples of different ethnicity.
I'm not sure if it was intentional or not; but there are couples in the book where it's hard to tell if they are male or female. This feels just perfect for this little primer that is all about people being inclusive. I also liked the descriptions of the colours in the flag. I think this is something that everyone should know and helps reinforces Pride values.
This review is based off the assumption that Rainbow comes as a board book for all pages and is suitable for babies - toddlers.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: Justice League vs. Suicide Squad

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad by Joshua Williamson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a Harley Quinn fan I don't follow Justice League (JL); but of course follow Suicide Squad (SS). I was very excited to see my beloved villains/anti-heroes go head-to-head with the righteously annoying JL. Sadly that is not exactly what I got here. While we get some fighting between the two groups; mostly the story centers around a totally different group that is causing trouble for everyone.

What is most interesting in this large story (each comic had an extended page count in this collection) is that all powerful Amanda Waller didn't have complete control every moment of this story line. It was also nice to see Batman appreciate any help, regardless of where it comes from.
There are some side stories with the Lanterns and other characters I don't know very well. But they have asterisks to tell you "for more go to XXX comic" or aren't intrusive enough that I felt left out of the main plot and story.

Memorable Moments
There are a lot, and I mean a lot of 'moments' in this series between characters that are cute. And (besides Batman) there is no one 'stand-out' character. When you get this many well-known DC characters in one room it's difficult to give them each a piece of time to appease the fans. Considering the scope of the book I thought Joshua Williamson did a decent job of trying to give everyone, from both JL and SS, some time in the spotlight.

Harley Quinn
At the very least my girl Harley and Wonder Woman had an adorable little moment (with a throwback to Harley's Little Black Book edition with Wonder Woman) that I won't soon forget. This is also an interesting crossover comment as the Harley in Black Book is assumed to be the non-SS Harley (herself in her title comics). This does raise (for the millionth time) my question about how we have two Harley's in the DC canon universe that are clearly not the same person... that said if you read White Knight (which I HIGHLY recommend) you'll find out that maybe there is a way this is all possible.
At any rate DC keeps me on my toes following Harley around in her adventures and crossovers.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Second note: I do also own this trade paperback and the individual comics because I collect all things Harley. :)

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Book Review: The Queen of Bloody Everything

The Queen of Bloody Everything by Joanna Nadin

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF @ 30%
I really forced myself to read to 30% on The Queen of Bloody Everything (Queen). This book appears as though it might be cute, fairly light and fun; which is why I picked it up after some intense reading that had resulted in a book hangover for me. While I realize a hangover may be part of why I didn't get into Queen; I have my doubts. Weeks since putting it down, I still have zero desire to try picking it up again and so I'm calling it as just not for me, and determining that Joanna Nadin just missed the mark for me on this one.

We are brought into Queen via the narrative of a woman telling her life story to her mother. The cadence is a bit odd at times as the narrative (our leading girl/lady) will say things like "you" and she's not referring to you as the reader; but "you" as in her Mother that she is talking to. This is, of course, because her Mother was a main character in her life story. However, because Mom doesn't respond back, or have any interaction with our leading gal, it was awkward for me (until about 20% in) to keep straight who was talking at times.

While telling a story may seem like enough for a novel; that story really needs to have plot. Besides the 'life and times' narrative of our lead gal's experiences I could not figure out what the plot of the story was. While Mom is a total headcase and very narcissistic, this fact isn't plot to me. As I always say, existing in life is not plot; otherwise we all have very plot filled (even if boring, lol) lives everyday. Plot should drive the need or reason for the story to be told (ie: destroying a ring, obtaining a crown, establishing a business, finding a killer, etc.). I couldn't find a single reason why I was being told this story.

Wholly Unlikable
As mentioned, Mom is a complete narcissist. Let me be more specific she is a: selfish, bitchy, loser of a mother who believes she is clearly more important than anyone else. I really hate these people (in fiction and real life). No one person is 'more important' than anyone else. And while I realize we are supposed to dislike Mom I literally couldn't bring myself to find any redeeming factors about her in 30% of the book. I can't imagine any scenario in which she has some magical turnaround (and is worthy of the time her daughter is putting into telling the story of her awfulness) that could result in me liking her for more than a fleeting moment. In fact I'm not sure why the daughter/narrator is even bothering to revisit these awful memories she has. This ties back to the issue with a lack of plot. Why are hearing this story?

The title is actually very telling in this instance. Our narrator calls herself "The Queen of Bloody Everything" after her mother says it one day. But instead of realizing (at least as a child in first 30%) that this is not a compliment; our narrative seems to interpret it as a good thing. If you like pompous, awful characters that bulldoze their way through life, surviving on the charity of others, you might enjoy Nadin's story.
While I did not get far enough in to hear our narrator tell any part of her story as an adult; I feel like after 30% of the book I know what this is about. A rambling, narcissistic excuse for why useless people who hurt others should be forgiven. There is no doubt to me that eventually Mom makes some amazing turnaround to help or save the daughter, our narrator. If this is not the case in the end I'd be very surprised...
Ultimately, regardless of the ending, it came to the fact that I just didn't care about ANY of the characters in Queen and didn't miss them for even a moment when I put this one down and didn't finish it.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Book Review: Traitor Born

Traitor Born (Secondborn, #2)Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With young adult/teen books a dime a dozen these days, it's seemingly difficult to parse through the many major publishing house options; never mind the independent ones out there. I have been lucky enough to discover Amy A. Bartol's indie teen series Secondborn and even though there are so many cliche moments in this series I don't even care!
Note: This review is for book 2, there are spoilers for book 1 below.

Yummy Love Interest(s)
I feel like I need to disclose immediately how much I adore the main love interest for this series. This may mean that I am biased. There are also sooo many characters that could make for great romantic flings or engagements with our lead girl. In fact I found myself really wishing at times that she was bisexual so she could match up with anyone in the book! But I have no problem with the hetero choice Bartol has made here as it's very steamy; along with a healthy dose of teenage angst Bartol makes me feel like a teen having goofy puppy love thoughts again. This is quite the feat given that I'm approaching 40 years of age.

Forbidden Love
There is obviously something about the Romeo and Juliet set-up that holds larger than life appeal for humans. We instinctively want what we can't, or aren't, supposed to have. Now in this case, as our class system of first born, second born, etc. persists in this society, we know that if our rebels are successful they may create a new situation that allows them to be together. But first they need to survive getting there; both from their enemies and from hurting one another.
I do wonder, often, with teen books (and some adult ones) that include possible partners who are on opposite sides of a fence if there isn't an inherent biological need to reproduce that overpowers everything when we are attracted to someone 'dangerous' or 'unattainable'? I'm sure there is complex psychology behind the whole wanting what you can't have... At any rate, be prepared as the forbidden love from Book 1 continues at a heated rate here in Book 2 and gets tied up in other possible side romances.

So much happens in Traitor Born. We have many sub/side plots happening around our main gal; plus the occasional pop-up of scary, scary Crowe to be vigilant about. We see some of those we thought loyal to one side (or the other) begin to switch over to a new belief (for good or bad) and we see the evolution of our lead gal realizing she has to fight back as hard as anyone; and at great risk to her own life. Additionally the attacks and in-fighting with our lead gal's family, and those around her, intensifies and we find out some answers to mysteries in book 1. But don't worry Traitor Born leaves more than enough left unknown or to happen for Book 3 (Rebel Born) to tackle. And leaves us off on a huge cliffhanger!

While I would say Traitor Born is solidly in the category of cliche teen fantasy; it's also wonderful teen fantasy. Having read Book 1, and knowing what I was getting into, Bartol gave me exactly what I expected and wanted when I picked up Book 2. Never underestimate a good book that keeps you on your toes with plot; but has an atmosphere, characters, and emotions you are expecting. I don't fault Bartol for this cliche feel at all. In fact I commend her for having a teen fantasy series that is both totally unlike most out there and yet fits perfectly in the genre. This is what most readers want (in my opinion) or at least what I do; something unique but not too far outside what they expect given the genre and blurb provided for the story.
If you are craving some teen angst relationship drama, elaborate political scheming and a unique class-based society then Amy Bartol's Secondborn series is for you. If you enjoyed Book 1 even a little bit then you are sure to like Book 2 as I believe it is even better than it's predecessor.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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