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review 2017-06-04 21:19
All Good Things
All Good Things - Emma Newman

I a stalwart fan of Emma Newman through her powerful work, Planetside. Although the tone and plot of the Split Worlds series are very different, I loved them all, devouring the previous four books in less than one week. After waiting for the final book for almost a year, I found it a satisfying conclusion to the series. As with the previous books in the series, All Good Things deals heavily with themes of feminism, environmentalism, agency, and responsibility.

 

This book is the completion of a long story arc, and I don't believe it should be read without the rest of the series. All of the characters from previous books have returned. As always, I wasn't quite sure if I actually liked Cathy, the major protagonist of the series and the is the driving force of the story. Cathy is a fierce feminist who wants to bring change to the changeless Nether world, but to me it feels like she is driven by a selfish, myopic ideology that often stops her from seeing the harm her actions inflict on others. This selfishness is examined in the novel: Cathy seeks to bring dramatic change, and this is bound to have negative impacts on others. What right does she have to make these types of decisions for so many others? As one character puts it:

"To create change, to disrupt a system of control, one must carry out radcal acts. One must be prepared to destroy so that something new can be created. Those in control will never give up the power afforded to them voluntarily. It must be taken. If that requires the deaths of a few to give freedom to the many-- and survival of the many--then so be it. This is not a gentle act."

But who has the right to decide to make that sacrifice? Does having the power to carry out the act give you the right to do so?

 

Fortunately, the other characters-- Sam, Lucy, Kay, and the gargoyle -- are more sympathetic. However, there's a big "anyone can die" and "anyone can betray" vibe in the novel. There is no easy division into protagonists and antagonists in the novel: everyone is driven by their own motivations and secret loyalties. Because of this, there have been many different antagonists in the story, with protagonists easily morphing into enemies. Sometimes, the changes felt too facile to me, the deaths of characters too superficial, the betrayals too unrooted. I particularly disliked how anticlimactic some of the dismissals of characters we've grown to care about throughout the series were, and how easily the characters were forgotten and set aside.

For all the strong feminist themes of the novels, if you look at who dies or is forgotten, you'll see an impressive number of women. Bea's death was simply pathetic. Kay got refrigeratored, something I find particularly hard to stomach from an overtly feminist series. But it's Lucy I found most troubling. She has been such a strong character throughout the series. To have her thrown away and forgotten because of an out-of-character and clumsy betrayal in which she became the pawn of a man? Not good. For me, the saving grace of the novel was that Will was revealed as the absolute villain of the piece. I was worried throughout that his rape and control would be seen as "extreme love" and that he would end up as the protagonist, as is so often the case in urban fantasy romance novels. As Cathy notes, rape is rape, and it should not be whitewashed.

(spoiler show)

At the same time, I loved some of the twists of All Good Things: one of my favourite aspects of the book is how antagonists morph into allies and how an abrupt twist brought the one true villain of the series into sharp relief.

 

At its core, the novel is all about control and ownership and responsibility, and however surprising the ending, I found All Good Things a satisfying end to the series. If you've read the other Split Worlds books, I don't need to tell you about this book because you're going to read it anyway. As for me, I can't wait to see what Emma Newman has in store for her readers next.

 

~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Diversion Books, in exchange for my honest review.~~

 

Cross-posted on Goodreads.

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review 2017-05-24 00:59
5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior
5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior - Mark Siegel,Alexis Siegel,Xanthe Bouma,Matt Rockefeller,Boya Sun

Since you are all well aware of my obsession with Middle Grade fiction at this point, let's go ahead and skip that. Can we instead please focus on the growing existence of Middle Grade graphic novels? I am so pleased that there are more and more of these out there, and I'm determined to champion all of them! Kazu Kibuishi's blurb had me from the moment I saw this book. So I was thrilled when I was asked to join the blog tour. Warning: there's some gushing ahead. Let's go ahead and get the small qualms that I had out of the way first, though.

 

I think this graphic novel could definitely have benefited from a bit more action. It was heartening to see that the authors weren't afraid to bring the real idea of war alive on these pages. I love when MG readers aren't treated with kid gloves. However I think this book needed to move at a bit quicker of a pace. The illustrations are gorgeous, (I can't wait to actually see them all in color.) but some of the filler panels felt like a bit much. I wanted more of Oona's quest, more of their desperate rush to save the day, and just more tension in general. This first volume was missing that epic feeling that stories like this usually have for me.

 

That being said, the characters were absolutely lovely. Oona, An Tzu and Jax were all vivid, and easy to fall in love with. I loved how each of them came from a different background. The concept of race is alive and well in this book, and the idea of racism is gently touched upon as well. It makes me happy to see authors putting these things out into the world for readers of this age group to start to digest. Oona overhears people of different worlds talking badly about people of other worlds, and making mean jokes. She sees some people get upset about what others are saying. Young readers can start to get a grasp here on unity, diversity, and especially empathy. It's an amazing thing.

 

Add in the fact that the ending of this book has a twist I wasn't expecting, complete with a cliffhanger, and you have my complete attention. Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel have started something beautiful and magical with the 5 Worlds series. They've opened up a dialog that I think is important, in a way that is easy to digest and a lot of fun to read! Readers, young and old alike, will love this series. My only regret is that there isn't more of Oona's story to devour yet. I NEED to know what happens next.

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review 2017-01-01 03:55
Any Other Name by Emma Newman
Any Other Name - Emma Newman

Series: The Split Worlds #2

 

I didn’t want it to end like that. And Cathy is going to be so mad at Will. Plus he’s screwed if she ever takes another look at that ledger.

 

I’m not sure whether I can explain this book without going into lots of detail I don’t feel like getting into. Cathy was born into an uber-conservative fae-touched society, tried running way into the real world and that turned out badly. Here she finds herself married off and not adjusting to married life very well, although she eventually starts to wonder whether running away again would be the coward’s way out.

 

None of that really explains my rating or why I like this series though. It has some interesting elements. Like a guy who walks around with his soul contained in a gargoyle (it makes him immune to certain influences). And there are more butler quips, like whether Cathy tells Will he would make a rubbish butler because he doesn’t bring tea with his bad news. Overall it’s interesting and less fluffy than a lot of urban fantasy. And I’m intrigued by Lord Iron.

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url 2016-12-13 02:02
Review: Hello My Love ( A Modern Love Story) ( Between Two Worlds Book 1) by Evy Journey
Between Two Worlds (Book Series 3) - Evy Journey

Here is a summary of what the book is about. It is about what would happen if Jane Austen's Elisabeth Bennet were alive today? What are some of the challenges she would have to face in today's world?

It is a modern day story of a true classic of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice book. It reminds me of a TV series I saw  on DVD called Austentatious. It was about the women in the Jane Austen novels, how they lived in today's world and the consequences. For example they used the modern technology we use today and the stories are told in the language dialogue of the modern women.

All chapters in this book are labeled in Roman numerals. That is about as old fashioned as this book gets. For those that have a hard time getting through Jane Austin's classic novels this book is a great alternative. This book tells the story in modern terms and locations that are familiar to the world today. It makes the book very pleasurable to read but does not lose the classic content of the Jane Austin story.

I would highly recommend this book. The characters are interesting and come alive on each page. Bravo, well done!

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review 2016-09-11 09:12
Aokigahara - 4.5 stars...
Suicide Forest - Jeremy Bates

I absolutely love books with unique settings so when I came across this series I was completely psyched! This first book is set in Aokigahara and it's about a group of ESL teachers living in Japan that want to climb Mt. Fugi before they leave. On the day of their trip though, the weather takes a turn for the worse and their climb gets delayed. So in order to kill time, they decide it would be fun to camp for a night in Aokigahara, then hopefully climb Mt. Fugi the next day. Once they get in the forest though, a number of things start happening and their "fun" camping trip turns into their worst nightmare. 

 

I can honestly say that I never want to visit Aokigahara after reading this book but I had tons of fun reading about their trip! LoL It was creepy and intense and Bates kept me in suspense the whole time. I thought the horror element was nicely done too. It wasn't too over-the-top which I really liked and thought lent the story some added realism. 

 

The only reason I didn't give it a full 5 stars was because there were a few minor plot holes here and there that probably could have better fleshed out. For example:

 

The group's ready acceptance of two strangers, Nina & Ben, into their camping trip?;  Ethan agreeing to climb the same, exact tree with rotting branches that John Scott just fell off of?; John Scott- a hard core military guy with bags of shrooms?; The group's ability it seemed to not eat or drink hardly anything but still function normally?; Neil acquiring food poison from what food?; John Scott's ability to up and walk & run with a crutch right after a compound fracture?...

 

(spoiler show)

 

None of those things distracted from my enjoyment of the story though. It was tremendously good and I highly recommend to anyone looking for a thrill! As soon as I finished reading it, I vowed to read every other book in the series and I immediately bought the second book Catacombs online. I can't wait to start reading it and see what awaits me in Paris. : )

 

*I read this book for my 2016 Halloween Book Bingo: ~Grave or Graveyard~ square

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