Among the Nameless Stars was a prequel novella for one of my favorite novels, For Darkness Shows the Stars. The writing in this novella didn't seem to be the same quality that I loved in the novel. The story was ok but not terribly interesting. I feel like if there's going to be a prequel it should be about something mind-blowing or amazing and the simple plot about the boat race was not enough to keep my attention. I just didn't see the point of this novella. I didn't get any new insights into the story. It fills in details about Kai but I already knew where the plot was going. It might be that it's just been too long since I've read For Darkness Shows the Stars that made it feel like I didn't learn anything new or interesting.
Divide and Conquer, book 2 in the Inifinity Ring series, starts off talking about Paris which was actually where the last game ended and not where booDivide and Conquer, book 2 in the Inifinity Ring series, starts off talking about Paris which was actually where the last game ended and not where book 1 ended. It was a cool way to tie the online games in with the books. You don’t have to play the games to understand the books, but I think they are fun and the maps that go with the games inside the books make it feel like you are a part of the quest.
This particular period in Viking history was a perfect one to appeal to kids. There’s a king named Charles the Fat (seriously – that’s his REAL name!) and an epic battle rivaling Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings with the Vikings outnumbering the Parisians 30,000 to 200. It’s funny how real history can be more extreme than fiction (Helm’s Deep was 10,000 to 2,000).
While I was reading, I looked up all this Viking history that I didn’t know before. I learned something new! The main characters “fix” history pretty fast so we get to read about what really happened instead of a fake past like the last book.
The writing was pretty good and I thought it was a lot of fun. I did find it confusing that as the story goes on, they try to fix two breaks instead of just one. The events are related and it was cool to see where history went from that event, but I did feel lost for a little bit.
The game that comes after this is not terribly hard or challenging. There were two mini-games that involved pushing arrows on your computer at the right time. I hate those kind of games. The rest of the game went very fast, but it was pretty fun. There is a forum now so you can complete all the side quests and get all the points if you so desire.
Overall, it was fun historical fiction about Vikings and epic battles that will teach you something you probably didn’t know about history in a way that will really appeal to kids, too.
Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love.
-Maggie Stiefvater, Raven Boys pg 1
And then I was bored for the next 200 pages. Don't get me wrong - there were a lot of things I liked. I really loved the characters, especially the four Raven Boys. They reminded me of Logan and his friend from Gilmore Girls. They had this spoiled, prep school/bad boy vibe but were somehow likable even though they were kind of condescending sometimes. I thought the mythology of ley lines and the quest for them was very unique and creative in the young adult genre. But I didn't feel like the conflict was strong enough to carry a whole novel. The entire conflict is based on that first sentence and it doesn't get developed much more for the rest of the book.
In addition to the killing-her-true-love thing, there is a mysterious quest that helps pull the story forward but that story line didn't get interesting until about half-way through the book. Part of my lack of interest in the Raven Boys' quest was because I didn't understand the motivation behind it. When I finally found out why they were looking for ley lines, I was excited and totally on board but I wish it had been foreshadowed earlier in the story. In fact, I didn't like the foreshadowing in most of the book. I felt like the author, Maggie Stiefvater, tended to reveal important details after the fact (like with the scene when Adam does something for Ronan). It would have had a much bigger impact on me if I knew why Adam was helping Ronan while it was happening instead of it being explained after the fact.
Once I did get halfway through, the quest got really cool and I loved their modern quest for the paranormal. There was a Beautiful Mind kind of twist that happened that perked up my interest. And kudos to Maggie Stiefvater writing a paranormal novel that did not involve vampires, werewolves, mermaids, fairies etc.
I was a little sad that there wasn't much romance considering that she was supposed to meet her true love then kiss and/or kill him. And the ending was confusing to me. I think it was supposed to be an open ending to draw you into the next book to find out what happened, but I just didn't get it. I'm not sure I even know fully what happened. I'm on the fence about whether I'm going to pick up the next book in the series.
Overall, it was a creative paranormal story with strong and interesting characters, but the conflict was just too weak to keep my interest.
Content Warning: strong language. The f-word shows up about 15-20 times....more
Reading Zombies vs. Unicorns taught me that short stories and I don't get along. At all. Or mThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Reading Zombies vs. Unicorns taught me that short stories and I don't get along. At all. Or maybe reading too many short stories in a row is bad for my mental health. It took me a long time to get the characters and the world straight in my mind (and that applies when I read anything) so by the time I've finally figured it out for each of these the story was over! Because they were short! It was very frustrating and made me feel like I wasn't making much progress. It took me an insane 6 weeks (!) to read all these short stories even counting the fact that I skipped or skimmed most of the zombie stories. Lesson learned - I will take short stories one at a time and then move on to something longer. Never again will I read so many in a row. I think my brain melted.
That being said, I did enjoy seeing some of my favorite authors do interesting things with the short story format. Short stories have the ability to be a little more edgy since they don't last too long. Something that would tire you in a novel is fascinating in a short story. I loved the unique mythologies and origin stories that the authors came up with for the zombies and unicorns.
Here's my thoughts on a few of the short stories that stood out to me.
The Highest Justice by Garth Nix was a zombie story that had a setup similar to Twilight. This boy loves this other boy but he also wants to eat him. I didn't finish this one because I found it too vulgar and gross for my taste with a cheesy villain on top.
I adored Purity Test by Naomi Novik. It played on the stereotypes of unicorn stories. The unicorn was male and snarky yet pretty and had a modern New York accent. It just got better and funnier from there with fun pop culture references which I love! 10 points to this short story for the Harry Potter reference!
Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson was the only zombie story I liked in this entire collection. It was hilarious and unexpected. THAT was definitely an origin story for zombies that I have never heard before.
My favorite story in the entire bunch was The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn By Diana Peterfreund. I think it was perfect for this collection because it had a zombie element to it because the unicorns were dangerous.
Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare was probably the most boring and unmemorable story of the bunch. There was a castle somewhere in the story. Maybe. That's all I remember.
There was commentary at the beginning of each story between Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier "arguing" about which team was better. I found every thing that Justine (Team Zombie) said to be tedious and annoying. I didn't connect with her humor at all.
Overall, this was a fun collection of unique spins on zombies and unicorns but you might find yourself skipping the other stories if you are more partial to one team or the other. I was Team Unicorn, you could say, and I didn't enjoy most of the zombie stories. Also, I might have enjoyed these stories more if I had taken breaks from it instead of reading them all in a row.
Content Rating: High, for strong language, violence (some of which was kind of disturbing) and one mention of partial nudity.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is like Mary Poppins for creepy children. Or likeThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is like Mary Poppins for creepy children. Or like an orphanage for superheroes but their powers aren't always useful. They are just peculiar, which I thought was a good name for them.
The beginning starts out very eerie. I jumped a few times at loud noises when I was reading this at night. Why did my husband have to have a cold while I was reading this? GOSH. Every sneeze from him gave me a heart attack. The story kind of amped up how creepy the photos were. I've seen photos with glowing eyes before, but the story somehow made them a little more freaky.
There's a haunted house and other horror elements, but then the story suddenly takes a turn into familiar paranormal territory and it wasn't that scary to me anymore (except for that photo towards the end with staples in it. That one freaks me out). I ended up liking the kids even though they are a little bizarre.
I could tell the author, Ransom Riggs, got a collection of strange vintage photographs and imagined a story that would explain what was happening in all the photographs and somehow weave them all together. It gave the story a slight contrived feeling, but mostly I felt like it was a really creative idea. The plot slowed down a few times, but overall it had a nice leisurely pace to it. I mean, it's a horror story and taking things slow adds to the atmosphere but sometimes it felt like nothing was happening and I wanted to move on.
Overall, it was a good story told in a creative way with vintage photographs that starts out mildly scary but mellows out as it goes along. Content warning: a handful of swear words and some mildly gory scenes....more
The Actor and the Housewife was an emotional journey full of Shannon’s usual charm and wit. IThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The Actor and the Housewife was an emotional journey full of Shannon’s usual charm and wit. It explored really well the idea of whether a men and a women can be “just friends.” I got to live out the fantasy vicarioulsy of “What if you met your ultimate Hollywood crush” and it was a lot of fun. I loved this witty and sweet story that had some heartbreak in it, too. And ahhhh the culture of the ’90s. Becky, the housewife was very relatable to me. Yes, I am a Mormon housewife and her life sounds a lot like mine (except I don’t make pies), but it was more than that. She’s not ashamed to be a little cliche and she never apologizes for who she is which made her very likable. Becky is able to build a relationship with the actor, Felix, even though they are almost complete opposites. The real chemistry of the relationship between the actor and the housewife comes from the fact that they don’t try to change each other and they respect each other. Their banter is so funny. Honestly, the relationship felt awkward sometimes, but I could really see it happening. It did make me wonder if actors do have “real” friends. One of my favorite scenes was Becky struggling to deal with her crazy kids and the actor just being in awe. It was nice to see her life through his eyes.
Now to what I didn’t like. Basically, the ending.
The Spoiler-Free Version
I really wanted it to end differently. Though I can appreciate the fact that the way it did end was very non-cliche and supported the point that the story was trying to make, it left me feeling let down to the point that I kind of wondered what the point of the whole story was. My disappointment is more than just not getting my way. I felt like it hadn’t really gone anywhere. Neither of the characters had changed or progressed very much.
The Spoiler Version
Click the spoiler tag below.
(view spoiler)[I really, really wanted them to get together at the end. The fact that they didn’t meant that their relationship stayed the same through the whole story leaving me to wonder what the point was. My disappointment is more than just not getting my way. They are friends through the whole novel and the fact that they remained that way makes a statement that you can be just friends but at the same time neither of them really changed or progressed at all. It made me fee like the story didn’t go anywhere. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, it was an entertaining, witty story and the perfect beach read while I was on vacation. It was pure escapist fun even if I was disappointed with the ending.
Cate of the Lost Colony is about a girl who is banished to the new world by a jealous queen. This is the kind of entertaining historical fiction thatCate of the Lost Colony is about a girl who is banished to the new world by a jealous queen. This is the kind of entertaining historical fiction that also happens teaches you a little something about history. There is a huge cast of characters in this book, most of whom existed in real life. The main characters really shined even though the minor characters often got mixed up in my mind (thank goodness for the awesome character list at the beginning). The main characters Cate, Manteo, and Sir Walter Ralegh all narrate this story. I found the voices of each of the narrators so distinct and beautiful that I could tell within a paragraph or two who was talking even though it wasn’t labeled. Through each of the narrators we get to see the new world from different perspectives. Cate shows us life as a colonist. Manteo shows us the major changes that the Native Amercians went through. Sir Walter Ralegh, who is an historical figure, shows us the glory and wealth people dreamed of finding in America.
I loved the summary at the end of the book that explained what was fiction and what wasn’t. It was surprising how much of the story was actually not that far from reality. I read this at the perfect time of year. Who knew that a novel about pilgrims would be such a page-turner? The writing was authentic and wonderful. The romance was amazing. No instant love or cliches to be found.
Overall, it was a great historical romance that had me hooked until the last page.