I’ve recently been trying to catch up on my Netgalley reads, so today’s post might be a little long but it will be worth it. I’ve received a couple really fantastic books!
The Animators – 4 stars:
Goodreads Synopsis: In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether. Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel’s difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon’s home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known—her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy—reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book, as I did not ask for it but was suggested it by NetGalley. The Animators surprised me and I actually really enjoyed reading it.
The writing is really vivid and I fell in love with the prose first, Whitaker has magic when it comes to putting together words. And from this fact alone I will be watching with anticipation for her next book.
But back to The Animators. Wow, this book is an emotional roller coaster. I love that both the main characters were artists, and that they worked on cartoon movies (adult cartoon movies).
Sharon and Mel are adorable. Both wildly different and yet they work together so well. They took care of each other, put up with one another, and made a brilliant team. The Animators is a beautiful story of friendship and love and loss and life. It was easily a 4.5 read for me and I recommend it to you all.
Ever the Hunted – 3 stars:
Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer. However, it’s not so simple. The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.
I still have mixed feelings about this book, and it’s been weeks since I’ve finished it.
For one I was never as invested in the characters as I wanted to be. Britta could be really great at times, and then really dumb at other times. And right off the bat I disliked the love interest Cohen, who was the typical YA arrogant dick. Cohen had the whole “I loved you so I left you” complex going on which is a huge cliche and one of my personal pet peeves.
But I did like the world, I thought it was pretty well developed and would continue to be interesting in the second book. However by the time I finished Ever the Hunted I didn’t really care either way about what happened to the world, or the characters. There were weird things going on with the romance, on top of the author is pushing the “one-true-love” cliche.
And I mean…I didn’t hate this book. I wasn’t ever truly bored, I just didn’t care as much as I wanted to. “Meh” is a good word to sum up how I felt about Ever the Hunted.
The Butcher Bird – 3 stars:
Goodreads Synopsis: Oswald de Lacy is growing up fast in his new position as Lord of Somershill Manor. However, there is still the same amount of work to be done in the farms and fields, and the few people left to do it think they should be paid more—something the King himself has forbidden.
Just as anger begins to spread, the story of the Butcher Bird takes flight. People claim to have witnessed a huge creature in the skies. A new-born baby is found impaled on a thorn bush. And then more children disappear. Convinced the bird is just a superstitious rumor, Oswald must discover what is really happening. He can expect no help from his snobbish mother and his scheming sister Clemence, who is determined to protect her own child, but happy to neglect her step-daughters.
From the plague-ruined villages of Kent to the thief-infested streets of London and the luxurious bedchamber of a bewitching lady, Oswald’s journey is full of danger, dark intrigue, and shocking revelations.
When I first requested this book I didn’t realize it was the second in a series, thankfully this fact doesn’t seem to hinder the reading much. Most of what I assume you need to know from the first book is told in this one, as either flashbacks or thoughts about what happened.
The Butcher Bird is a fast read, the mystery thrown into a historical fiction is a great blend of story. Our main character, Oswald, though at times a little naive, is a good man. Which makes him easy to like and to cheer for. He’s always seeming to get the short end of the stick as well, which is frustrating and made me want to continue reading in hopes he’d finally get a rest by the end.
I thought I would be pretty sure of the ending, but the more I read the more I was surprised by twists and turns. And the ending was not what I expected, in a good way. The Butcher Bird is about a 3.5 read, and I’m definitely interested in reading the rest of the series.
Saint Death – 5 stars:
Goodreads Synopsis: A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by prize-winning novelist, Marcus Sedgwick. Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez – twenty metres outside town lies a fence – and beyond it – America – the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he’s been working for. He’s dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he’s on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they’re as good as dead. Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) – she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.
This is the best book I’ve read all year. I mean it completely blew my mind and tore my heart out. Saint Death is a perfect book. It has a relatable character, somewhat experimental prose, and a stunning/devastating ending.
Saint Death is a short book, but it pulls you in from the first page. Starting off introducing the setting with the body of an unknown girl, and moving into introducing the main character Arturo. As a character, Arturo is a perfect blend of good friend and struggling human. His desire is to help, but he’s also angry and hurt. He gets pulled into a turn of events that shouldn’t happen to anyone, but they do and he deals with them as best as any human can.
Through Arturo’s story Sedgwick speaks to the truth of what happens on the US/Mexican border.
“It is a wall that is being built. And these are the bricks in the wall: the drug gangs, the police of Mexico and of America, MIGRA, the DEA, the governments and politicians of these two countries. Then there are the biggest bricks of all. Companies; these giant corporations that are more powerful than anything, more powerful even than the countries where they operate. The maquiladoras here; they pay no taxes. None. They pay wages so low that even a job still means living on the poverty line. ¿And why does this happen? Our leaders; they tell us that this capitalism of theirs will save the world; that it will create jobs so that everyone will get richer. ¡It’s a lie! ¿How can there be a consumer society when its workers do not earn enough to consume anything?”
Saint Death is a book I 100% recommend to anyone and everyone, you’ll not be disappointed by it.