Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis

TITLE: Give the Dark My Love

AUTHOR: Beth Revis

LENGTH: 368 pages

PUBLISHED IN: 2018

GENRE: young adult fantasy (alchemy, plague, undead/zombies)

ISBN: 9781595147172

REASON FOR READING: love this author

RATING: 4/5

SUMMARY (Goodreads Summary):
When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her.

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.

MY THOUGHTS: Okay, honestly within the first few sentences, I was like, “Ugh, really? A zombie book?” But it didn’t take long for me to realize the zombies weren’t as big a thing for the whole story as I anticipated. Yes, by the end–which is actually revealed in part in the prologue–the undead are important to the story. But they gradually become important as the story progresses.

I’m no expert on the history of alchemy, but I always thought it was the quest to change other elements into gold. If that’s the kind of alchemy you’re expecting in this book, well, you’ll be introduced to another version.

After the beginning, I was skeptical, but I’ve loved all four of Revis’ books I’ve read before so it was worth giving it a go. The four other books are sci-fi–this introduction to her fantasy world turned out quite gripping. I found the book harder and harder to put down the further I read. It appears to be the first in a series, and I’ll definitely be reading future installments.

Also, I’d like to give a quick nod to Revis for including a female general, a female governor, and a lesbian/bisexual (I’m not sure one or the other was specified–I know they’re not the same) as characters very nonchalantly. Small details that you might not even realize, and weren’t made to appear out of the ordinary at all, just like they should be.

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Prudence by Gail Carriger

Title: Prudence
Author: Gail Carriger
Length: 357 pages
Publication Date: 2015
ISBN:9780316212245
Rating: 3/5
Reason for Reading: I rather enjoyed Gail Carriger’s previous “series”, the Parasol Protectorate (this series is a spin-off of that one, about 20 years later), and another series she’s currently writing, Finishing School “series”.

SUMMARY (from Goodreads):

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

My Thoughts: I liked this book. It was okay. I don’t know why exactly I just didn’t feel like it was as good as Carriger’s other books. I simply can’t pinpoint it. The fact that this book has probably 10-15 spelling errors doesn’t affect the rating–that’s not Carriger’s fault, it’s a bad editing job is all.

This book is centered around Prudence (aka Rue), the daughter of Alessandra Tarabotti and Lord Maccon, the main characters of the Parasol Protectorate quintet. Rue has “powers” similar to her mother’s, but even cooler–while Alessandra can basically neutralize the supernatural powers of others by touch (so, a werewolf or a vampire would lose it’s supernatural-ity/becomes mortal while in contact with her), Rue actually steals the supernatural powers (so, a werewolf becomes mortal and Rue becomes a werewolf). I think it might’ve been Rue’s rashness that made her less likeable than the other characters Carriger has written. Just like I don’t like every person I encounter, I don’t like every character I read–it’s just unfortunate she’s the main character :/ Regardless, I’ll give the second in this series a try before I lay it to rest for good. Everyone deserves a second chance!

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

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Title: Etiquette and Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Length: 307 pages
Published in: 2013
Genre: sci-fi/fantasy (alternative historical fiction)
ISBN: 9780316190084
Source: public library
Reason for Reading: Gail Carriger wrote the Parasol Protectorate quintet, which I loved, and this is the first in her new series, Finishing School
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education. Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail’s legions of fans have come to adore

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My Thoughts: I’m really happy that Carriger is coming out with a new series. I thought this book was funny and delightful. I was especially glad to see a character from her Parasol Protectorate series, Sidheag Maccon. I’m hoping this means she will somehow connect the two. I wanted so much to know if Sidheag’s special talent would come out and how it would affect the story. But I guess Tgat@p for another book.

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Title: Shades of Earth
Author: Beth Revis
Length: 369 pages
Published in: 2013
Genre: post-apocalyptic world/dystopic
ISBN: 9781595143990
Source: public library
Reason for Reading: This is the third in a trilogy by Beth Revis and it has been one of my favorite series to follow. (I’m very sad it’s all over!)
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

My Thoughts: This was a wonderful end to a story I love. While I was sad to see it end, I found it to be just the kind of end I liked.

There is a lot going on in this book. The population of humans from Sol-Earth have been unfrozen and the shipborn people fear them. Despite the differences between them, both groups go to Centauri-Earth. There they are forced to work together to survive some intelligent alien life forms that populate the planet. I’ll admit that I managed to work out, for the most part, what that alien life form was before it was revealed without much thought on my part. But that doesn’t change how excited I can get about how the story leads up to that moment of revelation. And there was a certain character who those who have read the story will know of–who wasn’t all they appeared to be. I hadn’t pinpointed how different this person was, but I knew there was something wrong about them. That should’ve been pretty obvious, considering I’d figured out the other mystery.

Anyways, Revis hardly “ended” the story at the close of this book. The story has barely begun and she left the story open. There are some stories with which I’d like to be told the definite end for the characters and have some nice closure. But considering how much of this story was left to the imagination, I think it was a great choice on her part to let her readers imagine for themselves how the story goes on, or ends if you choose.

I’m sad the story has “ended” but I anxiously await any new worlds Revis might create for me to travel to.

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

Title: Dreams of Joy
Author: Lisa See
Length: 353 pages
Published in: 2011
Genre: historical fiction (communist China)
ISBN: 9781400067121
Source: 
personal collection
Reason for Reading: 
I love Lisa See, especially Shanghai Girls, which was a prequel to this book.
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

Reeling from newly uncovered family secrets, and anger at her mother and aunt for keeping them from her, Joy runs away to Shanghai in early 1957 to find her birth father—the artist Z.G. Li, with whom both May and Pearl were once in love. Dazzled by him, and blinded by idealism and defiance, Joy throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the communist regime.

Devastated by Joy’s flight and terrified for her safety, Pearl is determined to save her daughter, no matter the personal cost. From the crowded city to remote villages, Pearl confronts old demons and almost insurmountable challenges as she follows Joy, hoping for reconciliation. Yet even as Joy’s and Pearl’s separate journeys converge, one of the most tragic episodes in China’s history threatens their very lives.

My Thoughts: I found this a little slow-moving towards the beginning, like I did with Peony in Love, but it turned around and got quite interesting. I’ve never read much about what life was like in communist China, and while this is fiction, I know See is pretty good at her historical fiction 🙂 As usual with her writing, I was easily able to picture life in Shanghai and in the countryside. And the characters’ emotions were so well described that I was excited, anxious, happy, mad, and disheartened throughout the story.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

Title: The Last Runaway
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Length: 301
Published in: 2013
Genre: historical fiction
ISBN: 9780525952992
Source: 
borrowed from library
Reason for Reading:
Loved Girl with the Pearl Earring and Remarkable Creatures by Chevalier, so I’ve been waiting for her next to come out 🙂
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from book jacket):

Ohio 1850. For a modest English Quaker stranded far from home, life is a trial. Untethered from the moment she leaves England, fleeing personal disappointment, Honor Bright is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in an alien, untamed landscape. The men sweat and spit; the women drink whisky and shoot copperheads, even as they stitch bonnets and quilts.

Ninteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. In her noew home, Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community famed for championing human equality.

Drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two exceptional people who embody the startling power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal cost.

My Thoughts: This book really struck home with me. Having lived my entire life in Ohio, about 1.5 hours drive to the setting of the book, I was totally engrossed in the historical aspect of the book. I could so easily picture Chevalier’s descriptions of the landscape and weather. I’ve never known another landscape or extreme weather shifts (today it is 50 and tomorrow it should be in the 20s!), though it certainly has changed since Honor first came to know Ohio. I often forget just how different England and America are, especially in the 1850s. I’ve been to Scotland for a trip, but did I pay attention to whether or not there were such mundane animals I’m used to seeing like squirrels and raccoons? Of course not! I can only imagine the shock an immigrant would feel upon changing European city-life for backwoods Ohio–even settling in New England would have been better than the polar opposite that was the untamed midwest.

But I digress…I read this book in three sittings. I haven’t read a book so quickly in such a long time. It is a simple story, yet Honor has some very complex feelings about fitting in and belonging. As I’ve never really moved far from my family and friends and all I know, I cannot identify with Honor. But that just made her story all the more interesting to me. I don’t quilt or sew, but Chevalier’s inclusion of that small aspect of daily life made me want to grab my friend who does quilt with her family and see just what it’s like. Oddly enough, I felt that the Quaker ways didn’t seem all that different from the Amish as they are today.

One last thought. This cover is beautiful! I just love it 🙂

A Favorite Quote:

“I think now that the stunning show of leaves in red and yellow and orange in the autumn was one last gift from God to see us through these colourless winter months.” (p185)

What a beautiful way to describe the changing colors of fall in Ohio…