This book was so muchmore than just a really long pep talk about getting rid of your stuff. It's full ofgreat ideas aboutever Short and Sweet Version
This book was so much more than just a really long pep talk about getting rid of your stuff. It's full of great ideas about everything from paperwork to kitchen cabinets to basements. Peter takes the overwhelming task of organizing your entire house and breaks it down into manageable steps with a process to easily maintain and it keep it that way.
Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
I love how personal and customizable this book is. Instead of diving right into a lecture on why you should organize your stuff, Peter Walsh starts out in a surprising way. He has you take a quiz about what you want in your ideal home (there's also a hilarious quiz about how much of a hoarder you are). I had a blast making a long list of what my dream home would be like. My list was full of things like: colorful, smells nice, clean, can find things easily, and relaxing. Because of this approach, it made me more open to the ideas he had. Now I had this image in my head of what I wanted and I knew this process was going to get it for me. Plus, who doesn't love quizzes about themselves?
I loved this whole book. I took 10 pages of notes. I've recommended it to everyone I know. But I'll share the things that resonated the most with me.
Organizing isn't really about the "stuff." Like most people in my generation, I had grandparents who lived during the Great Depression and stuff was hoarded for good reason. This was passed down to my parents and it was instilled in me. But unlike the time of my grandparents when even hoarding everything you could find still left you wanting, hoarding now creates an excess of stuff that is ultimately making me unhappy. The amount of stuff you had used to be limited by money but since everything is much cheaper now, it has to have a different limit. That limit has to be the size of your house. Until reading this book, I hadn't realized that I even was hoarding. I like minimalism. I don't like knick-knacks. But when he pointed out that we can't keep adding to our stuff without ever subtracting, I realized that I buy and buy but never get rid of anything.
Even though this was something I knew, I still liked his discussion about value vs. cost. Cost and value aren't the same thing. Just because something was expensive doesn't mean it is adding value to your home. See also the broken $2000 TV sitting in my basement that no longer works. Maybe we could fix it someday but most likely not. Maybe the TV example is too obvious. But what about the expensive bike I hardly ride? Or the books taking up room on my shelf that I don't like?
Peter says that most people make quick decisions about where things go the day they move in and never change it. They never question if things function where they are or make thoughtful decisions about where to put things. He's so right! I did that! I think this is most true in the kitchen. It's the first thing I set up because I ... um....food and I just hurried and shoved things in cabinets. Then I got so used to where things were that even changing one drawer was annoying. I've rearranged my kitchen a few times since reading this and it is so annoying to open three drawers before you remember where something actually is. I thought I needed more furniture in my kitchen, but after decluttering and rearranging I realized I didn't.
The room function chart in this book is simple yet genius. He just asks you to go through each room and ask what it's current function is, what it's ideal function is, who uses it, and what needs to leave the room. For some reason I never looked at my rooms this simply and logically. I transformed my mud room because of this chart. I have a closet in there as well as coat hooks on the wall. Since I didn't need the closet for coats, it seemed obvious that I would use the closet as a broom closet. But when I went through the functions of the mudroom I realized I wanted it to be a place to grab everything you need before leaving and put everything back when you come in the door. Having my brooms in there didn't make sense especially when all the diaper bags, church bags, school bags, library bags, and work bags were on the bench/floor/everywhere and you couldn't move in there. It was only obvious after going through this chart that I should stick all those bags in that closet. My mudroom is gorgeous and clutter free now. (I stuck all my brooms in my laundry room in case you're wondering.)
He goes through common problems for each room in the house. Having stories about how people struggled with a certain area and then fixed it made me feel normal. I loved the stories from people's lives because even though they didn't always apply to me, they did give me ideas about what to do with each of my rooms.
I know that all organizing books essentially say the same thing, but I loved Peter Walsh's approach. It's personal yet logical and easy to use. He's funny, likable, and has great ideas. I could tell he was passionate about what he does and it rubbed off on me a little bit. It's made me motivated to get rid of stuff and I'm much happier because of it.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a literary bookthat is full of witty, intelligent humor. The voice of the teenage girl, Bee, who narrates this book is dWhere'd You Go, Bernadette is a literary book that is full of witty, intelligent humor. The voice of the teenage girl, Bee, who narrates this book is delightful and sarcastic especially about some of the crappy things that happen to her. I love the humor of the unpopularity of Bee's dad working at Microsoft where they are "acronym-happy (pg. 123)." Bee has a sweet personality, too. She is collecting letters, emails, transcripts, and blog posts in this journal that she is writing about where her mother went. I ADORE the blog post that Bee puts in the book that is 500 words long and literally all the post says is that it's going to rain. Ah to love something that much that you could write 500 words about the smallest detail.
The writing is amazing in this book. I don't think there is a single cliche thing said in the entire book. There's a scene where people freeze as they stare at an argument. But does she just say that they froze? No. She describes them as this:
Nobody had moved. Some hands were frozen in midair, in the middle of doing a fold. It looked like a wax museum diorama of an origami presentation.
- Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette pg 275
I love it. This was an example of the ultimate show not tell with everything from the unique structure of emails, faxes, and letters, to the writing itself. Where'd You Go, Bernadette was very entertaining and full of personality.
The crazy small community that this story is set in was hilarious and it kind of reminded me of the small town charm and quirkiness of Gilmore Girls. This book was full of interesting characters. Literally all of them exaggerate. We get to see different perspectives and how each character tends to bend the story a little in their favor to make themselves the victim.
I learned so much from the character of Bernadette. She showed me that creativity is sometimes found within extreme limits. I admired her ability to use her interpersonal skills to help her thrive in the male dominated professions of architecture. Remember to embrace your talents - even the weird ones - and use them to do something you love that no one else can do. I also loved the theme of Bernadette getting lost literally and figuratively in motherhood which I found very relatable. Even though Bernadette doesn't say this particular quote, I think it describes motherhood perfectly.
I felt so alone in this world, and so loved at the same time.
- Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette pg. 199
Overall, it was a impeccably written and hilarious story full of fascinating characters that taught me a lot about embracing your talents - even the weird ones.
Content warning: some strong language - about a dozen or more f-words....more
Quiet changed how I view introverts and made me realize how many biases there are against theThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Quiet changed how I view introverts and made me realize how many biases there are against them. Our society values people who are outgoing and people who are shy are considered to have some sort of flaw even though that is their natural personality. I had never thought about or even realized how our society values a very "narrow range of personality styles. (pg. 3)" As an introverted person, I didn't think I would have any biases against people who are labeled as shy. Was I wrong. Many shy people are encouraged to be social and change which gives them a feeling that something is wrong with them instead of them just having a different personality.
Introversion— along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness— is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 4)
My favorite thing about this book was how it showed that introverts have strengths just by being who they naturally are. An example she used was Rosa Parks who was "shy and courageous (pg. 2)." Susan Cain points out that the Civil Rights movement wouldn't have gotten started if Rosa Parks had been an outgoing and loud person. It succeeded because she was a quiet, well respected person and the fact that she stood up for herself gained more attention because it was easier for people to realize the huge injustice of it since she was acting against her personality.
Here are a few of the strengths that an introverted person naturally has:
Function well without sleep (pg. 3)
Good at negotiating because their mild-mannered disposition allows them to take strong/aggressive positions and be accepted more easily (pg. 8)
Think before they speak or act (pg. 8, 168)
Prepare more for speeches and negotiations (pg. 8)
Asks lots of questions and listens intently to answers that leads to strong negotiation skills (pg. 8)
Work slowly and deliberately (pg. 11)
Ability to focus intently on one task and high abilities of concentration (pg. 11)
Relatively immune to the temptation of wealth or fame (pg. 11)
Able to delay gratification (pg. 163)
Don't give up easily (pg. 168)
Leadership style that wins people over (pg. 197)
Work independently which can lead to innovation (pg. 74)
I loved hearing the definition of an introverted person that wasn't framed in a negative way compared to an extroverted person. An introverted person enjoys less stimulation which is why they tend to like things like reading. They recharge by being alone while extroverted people recharge by socializing. All introverted people are not necessarily shy. I really liked Susan's illustration of how shyness and introversion were two different things.
Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.
- Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 12)
There's a quiz in the book to see which end of the spectrum of introversion/extroversion you fall on. She states several times that no one is completely extroverted or introverted. I did get 15/20 on the test which means I fall heavily on the introverted side. So this book felt very relevant to me. But even if you don't feel like an introverted person, this book has so much value because it's pretty much guaranteed that you know or are related to someone introverted and it can help you understand and relate to them.
One epiphany I had about myself was learning that some introverted people are sensitive. There's a study in the book about babies who had personality assessments when they were babies and again when they had grown up. They found the babies who were sensitive, who cried at loud noises and bad smells more easily turned out to be mellow, introverted adults. The babies who were easy going and didn't react much to new things grew up to be more outgoing. It seems like it should be the other way around, but it makes sense. If an introverted baby is overwhelmed by stimulation, they choose to be around less stimulation as they become adults. I immediately called my mom when I read this study because I will never live down the stories of being the baby who was scared of the orange rug every time I sat on it, the lamp from just looking at it, and my aunt's braces when she smiled. And when Susan Cain is talking about sensitivity she is using the psychological term.
Many introverts are also “highly sensitive,” which sounds poetic, but is actually a technical term in psychology. If you are a sensitive sort, then you’re more apt than the average person to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or a well-turned phrase or an act of extraordinary kindness. You may be quicker than others to feel sickened by violence and ugliness, and you likely have a very strong conscience.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 14)
It’s as if, like Eleanor Roosevelt, they can’t help but feel what others feel.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 138)
I wasn't expecting this book to help me think about what I really want to do with my life. Introverts are more likely to ignore their own preferences for career choices. The author talks about her career choice as a lawyer and even though she was good at it, she didn't enjoy or even want to do it. She listed three steps to finding out what you love to do.
First, think back to what you loved to do when you were a child. (pg. 218)
Second, pay attention to the work you gravitate to. (pg. 218)
Finally, pay attention to what you envy. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire. (pg. 218)
When I went through these steps I realized that I love reading and reviewing books. Go figure after studying music and then finance in college that I would eventually come back to reading which I have loved doing since elementary school. Blogging about books has been such a great outlet and way for me to write which I also loved doing. I had to giggle when I came across this quote because my husband can't believe some of the things I post on my blog for the world to see sometimes.
Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read...
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 63)
If being introverted is so great, why isn't it valued in our society? There's an entire chapter that talks about the shift in American culture to over-emphasize the value of extroverted people that led to a devaluing of introverted people. It was very interesting. It involves industrial change, work force changes, and even parenting changes. She compares other cultures to America's (like China) and shows how their value of extroversion is not as strong or even the opposite and how that affects their culture. The biggest thing that contributed to extroversion being over-valued has to do with the business world. Loud, fast talking people are seen as leaders even if it negatively affects others. Harvard Business School teaches that true leaders have quick and assertive answers which might have led to many of the financial crises since the slow and cautious decision makers were mostly dismissed. There was a study in the book that questioned whether extroverted people are always the best leaders. It turns out they are excellent leaders if their employees are very passive, but in a work environment where the employees are more proactive an introverted leader is actually more efficient at utilizing the knowledge and experience of their employees.
You would think that as an introverted person it would be easy to parent an introverted child. That's not necessarily true and I enjoyed the parenting tips in the book. I need to remember that my child is just sensitive to things that are new in general and not to label him as shy or anti-social.
I feel like I know myself a little better after reading Quiet. I can recognize now when I’m feeling overwhelmed from stimulation and I make it a point to take time to myself to read or spend time on my own. It’s made me a lot happier. I also have been standing up for myself more, but in my own way by asking lots of questions and not being afraid to speak my mind just because I’m not a loud person. It also made me realize the social pressures I had been putting on myself and my kids. I always felt guilty for not having “enough” play dates and social time. And by “enough” I mean daily play dates. I realize now that the pace of a few times a week makes both my and my kids happy. I don’t feel pressure to have them constantly doing something with other kids anymore. Most of all it helped me realize that I am not an anti-social person. Now that I'm aware that going out with lots of friends or to parties will drain me, I make time to wind down afterwards and I no longer turn down social invitations since I understand my personality better. I feel like for me, this book accomplished what Susan Cain wanted it to.
If there is only one insight you take away from this book, though, I hope it’s a newfound sense of entitlement to be yourself.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 16)
Overall, Quiet shifted my perspective on what it means to be introverted and I learned a lot about myself in the process. I highly recommend this book.
Is it cheesy to say The Power of Habit changed my life? Well it has. I finished this book yesterday and today I decided to change one of my bad habitsIs it cheesy to say The Power of Habit changed my life? Well it has. I finished this book yesterday and today I decided to change one of my bad habits that I've had my whole life. Using the steps in the book I quickly found out that my bad habit was a distraction for me from my stress and within three hours I learned that I had no clue how to deal with my stress. It was funny because I discovered something about myself that I hadn't realized before. I'm better at dealing with large, life changing stress than I am about dealing with the small everyday stresses of life like a cluttered house and dirty dishes.
I used my bad habit to distract myself all day long and suppress my stress and anxiety so I didn't have to think about the things that were bothering me. I completely broke down within four hours and called my husband in tears telling him I just didn't know what to do. How DO people deal with stress? I talked it out instead. Some of the stresses we came up with plans to change and some seemed to go away just from talking about them. My husband was a little shocked and saddened when he realized how often I must be stressed (because I do my bad habit all day long). Yeah, I can't believe how much I am stressed out either and I've been running from it too which I'm sure just adds to my stress.
After I talked things out I blogged for an hour which helped me relax and the temptation for my bad habit was gone for the time being. It came back in full force later that day when my son's bus was late. I couldn't find a distraction big enough to stop thinking about all the many, many things that could have gone wrong (my imagination uses it's power for evil sometimes), so I did some serious praying to calm my racing heart. His bus got there 5 minutes later and I survived, though honestly I was a little shaky and it felt like my heart was racing. I've got a lot of work ahead of me to learn good stress management and I'll probably need another book for that. :) I've tried and failed many times to change my bad habit over my life time feeling like I'm worthless or that I'm a bad person or that there was something wrong with me, but I don't feel like that anymore.
It is critical to understand that self-control doesn't fail because the person cannot muster the needed resources. Instead it fails because the effort seems too great for the payoff.
-Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit (Footnote 5.6)
I can tell you for a fact that my habit is going to be just as hard to change as it's always been but I have faith now that I can do it. And that faith is something I've never had before. Also, if you have any stress management books I would be very much interested in them. :)
I flew right through this book. It is truly fascinating how our brain works. Our brain is literally designed to make everything it can a habit to save energy and resources. Once you figure out how it works you can "program" your brain to do anything without even thinking about it. I highlighted the heck out of this book.
Here are some of my favorite things I highlighted while reading:
Habits never disappear. You can replace the bad habits but without faith in God or the belief that you can in fact change, old habits can come back.
If you want to change a habit, use the same cue, provide the same reward but get a new routine.
It's interesting how new habits form. Toothbrushing was from an ad campaign.
Pick a reward you crave. That's the key to lasting habits.
While I am still working on changing my bad habit, I did successfully create a new habit. Exercising. I hate exercising. I always have. To be honest I STILL hate exercising but I do it regularly now. Why? I used the tools in this book. My cue is my son going to preschool. It's at the recreation center so I wear my workout clothes when I drop him off and just walk around the indoor track the whole time he is in school and pick him up when I'm done. I can get two miles in about an hour. There's an old guy that teases me when he passes me. Whatever. My 28 minute mile is an awesome pace. My reward is what keeps me doing this. I listen to audiobooks which I look forward to. Exercise is boring to me but audiobooks make the time fly by. I crave my alone time and listening to good books. I would be sad now if I didn't exercise.
I had a friend ask me (after I told her about how much I loved this book) what the basic steps were for changing a habit, so here they are:
Identify the routine
Experiment with rewards (try different routines that give different rewards)
Isolate the cue (Location, Time, Emotional State, Other People, Immediately Preceding Action)
Have a plan
In handy infographic form if you'd like :)
Overall, this was a self help book that truly changed my life and I think everyone should read it.
Content warning: two uses of strong language (n word and f word)....more
I loved Let the Storm Break as much as the first book, Let the Sky Fall. I flew through thisThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I loved Let the Storm Break as much as the first book, Let the Sky Fall. I flew through this whole book so fast that I hardly took any notes. Being that immersed in a story is a lot of fun but it makes for crappy reviews. I'm going to try to think of more to say than "asdjfkl it's so awesome go read it."
Vane is such a great character and I love his sense of humor. He's cracking jokes about Legolas that no one gets and I love it. He has this sarcasm and blunt honesty that make him so much fun to read about. Vane feels like a realistic teen. He's got this immature streak that I find so funny.
So there are "relationship issues" like there are in many second novels that have romance. But I thought it was very well done because it was more about each of them working out their own things and not just trying to tear apart the relationship that was just made for the sake of conflict. I hope that makes sense without spoiling it.
The power of the winds coming from their songs that only sylphs can sing is one of my favorite things about the world building in this series. It's just beautiful and simple.
One of the things I did not like about the first book was the lack of an interesting villain motivation. This book shed some more light on the villain. The villain just got upgraded from "I want to take over the world for no reason" to "Mad Scientist" and I found it very interesting.
Overall, this book has great romance, funny and realistic characters, and a beautifully simple world.
Content warning: kissing scenes and a few immature jokes about things like farts and boobs....more
As dark and epic as Days of Blood & Starlight was, I found it surprisingly funny. I especThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
As dark and epic as Days of Blood & Starlight was, I found it surprisingly funny. I especially loved the Monty Python references. While Daughter of Smoke & Bone was more of a love story, this sequel was more a story about war. The author does an excellent job of showing how pointless war is.
Mercy, she had discovered, made mad alchemy: a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate.
- Laini Taylor, Days of Blood & Starlight pg 205
I thought I would lose interest in this book since the romance wasn't as prominent, but I care so much about the unique and interesting characters that I couldn't put this one down. This is one of those books where I did nothing all day but read and my house was a complete mess by the time I was done.
The only way I can think of to describe the writing is "intelligent." There are witty references and Laini Taylor can play with my expectations like a violin. And like I said - the writing is just so funny.
Well, Karou wanted to retort, with all the gravity and maturity she could muster. Duh.
-Laini Taylor, Days of Blood & Starlight, pg 45
Karou, the main character, grows so much in this book. You can see the small steps of her becoming an adult. Karou learns about forgivness to herself and others, seeing the big picture, and not blaming herself for everything. The huge amount of character growth like this is one of the reasons I love to read Young Adult. Laini brings up a lot of interesting questions about Akiva, too. The book brings up his past, his people, and hints at what role they might play in the next book.
Overall, I loved this beautiful and intelligent sequel as much as the first book in this series. It's a great look at how pointless war really is.
Content warning: an attempted rape scene, frequent language, violence that was sometimes kind of graphic....more
Spoiler free even if you haven't read the first book in this series.
The Crown of Embers reminded me a lot of Indiana Jones. There was a religious quest, skeletons turning to dust, and hidden artifacts. We get to journey through the ocean this time instead of the desert and it was a lot of fun. This was a great second novel in a series.
In the last book, we saw Elisa grow as a person who gained confidence in herself. Elisa continues to grow as a character but this time it's about finding the power from within herself. I liked watching her learn that just because she is young, she shouldn't let people walk all over her or dismiss her. She has to learn one of the biggest lessons we all learn when we grow up - that we have to decide what is best for our own future instead of letting people decide for us.
She has not always wanted what is best for me. She has always wanted what she thinks is best for me. And she has never hesitated to work around me or anyone else to accomplish it.
- Rae Carson, The Crown of Embers (Kindle Locations 4037-4039).
Religion continues as a theme in this book. Elisa is slightly irked when she constantly meets people telling her what "God's will" is which I found amusing but also very truthful. Religion is part of the clash of the different cultures in the story. How do you end a war that's been going on forever between cultures that don't understand each other? I thought that was such a relevant question and I enjoyed the exploration of the answer to that and what part ignorance can play.
I have a theory. I don't think it's a spoiler since it's never answered and it's left up to your imagination. Elisa's people were supposedly brought from a dying world into the world where Crown of Embers is set. I couldn't help but think that maybe the dying world referred to was actually our world. I have one quote to support this theory. The quote sounds very similar to the bible which is what spawned this theory in the first place.
“I swear my life and service unto you. I swear to protect you and to honor you. I am yours to command in all things. For as long as I live, your people shall be my people, your ways my ways, your God my God.”
-Rae Carson, The Crown of Embers (Kindle Locations 3653-3655)
What do you think? Did you have any theories about this book?
Overall, it was a great adventure novel about a girl who learns to find power within herself that I couldn't put down.
Content warning: a mildly detailed scene of a girl observing herself naked....more
This is storytelling at it's best. Right from page one, the circus is brought to life by talking to you, the reader, as if you were actually there.
This is storytelling at it's best. Right from page one, the circus is brought to life by talking to you, the reader, as if you were actually there.
"What kind of circus is only open at night?" people ask. ... You are amongst them, of course. Your curiosity got the better of you....
-Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus pg 3
Nothing in this story was random - not even the objects on the desk. Everything meant something in this complex story and it was a joy to watch it all come together in such great ways. The dialogue is funny and witty which reminded me of Downton Abbey since they are set in similar time periods. I absolutely loved the writing. There is such gorgeous and vivid imagery. And I found this character description particularly charming:
August turns out to be a pleasant, heavyset fellow and Bailey's first impression is that he resembles his house: a squat sort of building with a porch wrapping around the front, warm and welcoming.
-Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus pg 332
The romance in this book was exquisite. The girl is abused. The boy is neglected. One is taught by experience and the other by books. I loved watching how they connect. They balance each other in a way that makes them be so much more when they are together than when they are apart. This is a story about how love is more powerful than fighting. The circus becomes an amazing symbol of their love. The ending was so perfect. There was love and loss - anything else would have been a crime against the story.
I loved the twist on magic. It was mystical, dreamlike, and mysterious but at the same time there was a feeling that magic could be learned by everyone if you could really see the world without judgement. And the reason that magic has slowly disappeared is because there are no more secrets anymore. The idea of the magic contained in secrets made me think about if The Night Circus had a modern setting, it wouldn't have had the same mystery and thrill to it. The existence of twitter alone would have completely ruined the excitement and magic of the circus. It made me realize that there really is magic in secrets.
The characters were a delight. I loved the stage magician that could do real magic. There's a boy that runs away to the circus and somehow it's not cliche. And that same boy dreams of being a princess in a fairy tale that gets whisked away from his problems. I found that so completely endearing. I wanted to be one of the reveurs that follow the circus like addicted fangirls.
Overall, this was a magical and unique love story that delighted me from start to finish.
Sink me if I didn't just adore this most excellent retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel. I do sThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Sink me if I didn't just adore this most excellent retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel. I do say the lovely author pulled off the futuristic and sci-fi world just splendidly. Alas, I admit that the politics were a little confusing at first, but I got them straightened out in my head soon enough and it was definitely much easier to understand than the politics of the first book. And oh such lovely politics they were! What a glorious exploration of the deep-rooted problems of sexism and inequality. It gave me so many things to ponder and the author represented the issues very well. You won't find a combination of dystopian, romance, science-fiction, and retelling in such a fashionable way as it is in Across a Star-Swept Sea.
But seriously. I loved this book. The role of the Scarlet Pimpernel, who is called the Wild Poppy in this book, is a woman instead of a man like in the original. I really enjoyed the gender reversals in the story. The pace felt faster than the first book, For Darkness Shows the Stars. At first, Across a Star-Swept Sea felt like a companion novel until the very cool tie-in at the end. I would even say that I liked this book more than the first in the series which is saying a lot - I loved that book, too.
The romance was just superb. They have such a complicated relationship and I'm still impressed how well Diana Peterfreund pulled it off. I say! Bravo!!
What more can I say other than this book had so much heart. The fashion, the flakey Persis, the extravagant parties were entertaining but it never sacrificed being meaningful at the same time. This is my favorite quote from the book that I think sums up the story in a beautiful way.
Because I know from experience that sometimes it’s only the young ones who are crazy enough to change the world.
- Diana Peterfreund, Across a Star-Swept Sea pg 166
Overall, an excellent science-fiction/dystopian/romance that I could not put down. Content warning: a few kissing scenes....more
Ready Player One was like Willy Wonka meets a virtual reality video game and 1980's culture.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Ready Player One was like Willy Wonka meets a virtual reality video game and 1980's culture. It was a blast to read. The dystopian setting in the near future was not something I was expecting. I felt like it was a way to add a little depth to a story that a lot of people might dismiss as frivolous since it's about video games. It made me really think about how we are using our Earth and the energy on it without becoming preachy. The virtual reality felt like science-fiction but the dystopian world felt real enough that I walked away from this book wondering what we should do to conserve energy. I loved the idea that an energy crisis would make cheap entertainment rise in demand. It reminded me of the huge rise in demand of movies during the Great Depression. Also the 25 cent price of the virtual reality game invoked the 80's vibe again of a video arcade.
I love books full of pop culture references. I love to look them all up and then write about them in a blog post but there were so many movies, music, TV shows, books, authors, video games, and comics from the 1980's mentioned that I would have to rewrite the book to blog about all the things referenced in the story. Even though I was a young kid in the 80's and not a teen, I still knew some of the 80's references like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And I definitely geeked out at all of the Star Wars references - especially the strike team waiting for a shield to go down. Since there are so many cultural references in the book, if you don't know at least a few of them I could see that it might feel kind of tedious. At the same time, the author, Ernest Cline, takes the time to adequately explain cultural references that apply to the story of the novel. He doesn't just assume that you should obviously know all of these things. I just think references tend to be a little more fun when you know what they are. It's also really fun to learn things from references - for example I didn't know that Cosmos originally came out in the 80's.
This quest for an easter egg is completely addicting. It blends the virtual reality with the real world since the consequences of one start to bleed into the others and the lines between them start to blur. I clean my house while listening to audiobooks and I would find excuses to do some more laundry and dishes so I could listen a little bit longer. Very unlike me.
Ready Player One is an example of a book that the author just put their heart and soul into. You could research the massive amounts of references that were in this book, but even then it wouldn't be the same. I could tell the author had a love for everything 80's and vintage just like the main characters. Research could not bring that much detail and care.
The characterization was so unique in this book. Since most of the characters are avatars of themselves, we get to know their personalities inside and out before we see what they look like in the real world. I felt my biases challenged a little bit when their personalities and their looks were separated. The characters were complex, interesting, and the best sign of all - I wish I knew them in real life.
Narrator Rating: 4 Stars
Wil Wheaten did a great job narrating. He read at just the right pace. His voice seemed to suit this sci-fi story very well. The voice inflections he used just immersed me in the story even more. It was also kind of hilarious for him to read a pop culture reference about himself.
Overall, you don't have to be a video game nerd to enjoy this complex dystopian with great characters and massive amounts of really fun 1980's references.
Content warning: discussion of masturbation. The f-word is used about half a dozen times throughout the book....more
To watch Downton Abbey is to watch a way of life slowly die with an epic story and it kind of reminds me of Gone with the Wind. The best part of the TTo watch Downton Abbey is to watch a way of life slowly die with an epic story and it kind of reminds me of Gone with the Wind. The best part of the TV show is the personal look into the servants’ and nobilities’ lives from the early 1900s and how they interacted with each other. You really feel transported to the time period and all the characters are interesting and likable yet flawed. Like any loyal fan would, I bought this book because it had the words “Downton Abbey” on it. I figured I would love it. I did and I got more than I expected.
This was more than a behind-the-scenes look at the actors and the locations. Jessica Fellowes takes history and facts from a time period that is kind of overlooked and just makes that time period come alive. You get to go on a journey to see how essentially Jane Austen’s time became the world we live in now. She made me care about where the term “weekend” came from and why the Dowager Countess was so baffled by it.
Here are a few of the fascinating morsels that I learned:
*The whole family will come down for breakfast except the lady because married women get breakfast in bed daily. (Breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day anyone?! Now I feel ripped off because it was just something they got EVERY DAY. I’m seriously doubting that our modern world is “better.”)
*You get to see the beginning of things that have survived to modern times like cornflakes from America. Country Houses were being torn down left and right after WWI until The Victoria and Albert Museum had an exhibition called “The Destruction of the English Country House” that saved them. (That sounds like the most boring exhibit ever but now I’m depressed that I missed it.)
*Cora’s back story is from a trend during that time of American women coming to England and marrying English lords. Cora was based on woman in real life named Lady Curzon from the book “To Marry and English Lord.” (Okay, I have to admit that I did not notice Cora was American until I read this book.)
I adored reading all the history and the real life inspriations for the show. The pictures are beautiful. The actors give insight into their characters. You get to read about everything from clothing, family, and society to war and change. It’s a look into an era that is really the beginning of our modern world and the death of a way of life that had been around for a very long time. This book was the perfect companion to my favorite show.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a beautiful, bittersweet, and refreshing fantasy novel. I fouThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a beautiful, bittersweet, and refreshing fantasy novel. I found the plot, world, and characters to be far from cliche. The story was bold and I could tell that the author, Rae Carson, didn't shy away from doing what the story needed. I only give five stars to books that keep me guessing and wow me with the ending and Girl of Fire and Thorns definitely did that. It had a great story arc and a nice, satisfying ending. The setting was beautiful. It was like someone put the languages of Spanish and French in a jar and mixed it up for the naming things and then set it all in a beautiful Middle Eastern location.
The plot had lots of intrigue. I had a tons of questions, lots of theories, but no obvious answers. Just the way I like it. As soon as I had a few theories of what I thought was going to happen, the plot would go in a new, interesting direction and I would, of course, be totally wrong. It's just so much fun to read a book like that! More young adult novels should have a love story like this one. I found it to be realistic. There was no obvious love interest or instant chemistry. The pacing of the events in the novel were perfect. It never felt rushed or dragged to me.
Elisa was a unique main character. She deals with sexism, a forced marriage, being judged because she is overweight, and being hunted because she is the "chosen one". She goes through quite the emotional and physical transformation because of the difficult and sad things that she experiences. Elisa was such an appealing main character because I could see her potential and I couldn't wait to see if she ever realized it.
A theme throughout the book was faith and religion. One of Elisa's strengths is her faith in God and in herself. I liked how the author showed that religion can bring strength to people, can be used to manipulate others, and can be twisted to fit people's own ideas of how the world should be. It was thought provoking to me on how religion is viewed and used in our own lives.
I just have to talk to someone about the ending, so if you've read it already click the spoiler link. It's a major spoiler though so don't click if you're going to read it. (view spoiler)[I was quite shocked that both love interests in the love triangle actually died. That's one resolution to a love triangle that I haven't read yet! It was quite heartbreaking, actually and it really affected Elisa. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, it was intriguing, beautiful, unpredictable fantasy novel with a beautiful setting and a main character that I was rooting for.
Content warning: some violence and a few swear words.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
My favorite thing about Let the Sky Fall was the romance. It was the perfect, non-cheesy, reaThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
My favorite thing about Let the Sky Fall was the romance. It was the perfect, non-cheesy, realistic, and interesting romance that I've been waiting for.
I was a little disappointed at first that the guy had a destiny and powers and whatnot. I really wanted him to be a regular guy that gets rescued by a powerful girl for a change. But the story grew into so much more than that. And it turned out to be better than I thought it would. I loved the world set up around sylphs because it hasn't been done very much. Unlike a lot of fantasy books that I've read, Shannon Messenger went into a lot of specifics and details about how exactly they controled the wind and it was fascinating to read.
I predicted one of the twists from almost the beginning, but the twist went much farther than I thought it would so I still enjoyed it.
This has one of the best dual POVs that I've ever read. Each voice was very distinct and I never wondered once who was telling me the story. Vane had this snarky sarcasm that I loved. Vane has this endearing honesty about how some of his romantic moves just plain don't work out, like they would in real life. Audra is a warrior and very serious with a lot of guilt and responsibility that she carries around that made it easy for met to relate to her. And their romance just worked.
One of my big worries about this story was the villain's motivation. Nothing ruins a story like a bad guy who wants to destroy everything because his favorite basketball team sucks or something. Even though the villain's motiviation wasn't all that original, I could see it and it made sense within the story. It was enough at least to have me on board with the story.
There were a few cliche lines, but other than that I enjoyed the writing. This was a rare YA story where the adults were present and acted like normal people. They were quite hilarious actually at embarassing their son just by being their worrying, caring selves.
Vane acts like an actual guy. A lot of the paranormal romance I read tends to be a girl's fantasy of a guy and it's not at all realistic. Vane really makes this story. He was a great, intersting and well-rounded character that told the story in such a fun way.
Overall, it was an excellent paranormal romance that had the best duel perspective writing that I've ever read in a young adult novel.
Princess Academy is just plain beautiful writing. The tone was bittersweet and slightly formal, which I loved. At the same time, it felt very much likPrincess Academy is just plain beautiful writing. The tone was bittersweet and slightly formal, which I loved. At the same time, it felt very much like a young girl narrating. I can see why this was a Newbery Honor book. I really don't know how she managed to do that. The descriptions of the characters immediately created an image in my head and aren't just a list of facts about them.
"Enrik!" Miri jogged to the trader she had dealt with for the past two years. He was lank and pale, and the way he looked down his thin nose at her reminded Miri of a bird that had gone too long without a grub.
-Shannon Hale, Princess Academy pg 24.
There are a lot of characters in this book. There were so many that I had to write a list of them to keep track! Each character comes with a distinct and interesting personality. Not all the girls at the Academy are nice. And their teacher, Olana, is like the offspring of Effie Trinket and Severus Snape. She was very entertaining and one of my favorite characters.
There is the barest hint of magic that shows the power of memories. I was not expecting magic in this book, and although there isn't much of it, it is delightful and fascinating.
The ending is quite the intense. I was glued to the book as these young girls showed true bravery.
Shannon Hale continues to amaze me at her ability to have a different style in each of her books. I was pleasantly surprised by this book - it was not the light and fluffy read I thought it would be, but I could still see it appealing to kids.
Overall, it was a beautifully written book about bravery and friendship with the lightest touch of magic that kids will love (and adults probably will, too).
The world in Pivot Point seems like the kind of world that Lois Lowry would write about. It seems contemporary but there is a small paranormal twist tThe world in Pivot Point seems like the kind of world that Lois Lowry would write about. It seems contemporary but there is a small paranormal twist to the whole thing. And by paranormal I mean “real” paranormal mind powers and not like werewolves and vampires and crap like that. Everyone has mental abilities and powers in the small world Addie lives in.
Addie is faced with a choice of continuing to live where everyone has mental abilities or living in the “normal” world. You get to see each of the choices play out in alternating chapters. It was absolutely fascinating to read.
This whole book was written with a lot of personality. I liked the dictionary definitions at the beginning of each chapter. They were funny, witty and gave clues to which reality the chapter was about. I’m convinced that Kasie West is a genius. She doesn’t just tell two completely different versions of the future – she intertwines them in very clever ways. I couldn’t put this book down all the way until the perfect, heart-wrenching ending.
The characters were all very well done. Her best friend, Laila, is snarky but likable. And Addie is my definition of a hero – brave, honest, and willing to sacrifice to keep the ones she loves safe.
Do not read this book alone – you will want someone to talk to after you are done with it. Witty, perfect, awesome – a must read. My only complaint – I have to wait for book two.
The story was more grown up in this second installment of the Princess Academy. Palace of Stone deals with more issues that usually involve adults likThe story was more grown up in this second installment of the Princess Academy. Palace of Stone deals with more issues that usually involve adults like marriage and revolution. What made this revolution story unique was that it was started by a girl who could see both sides. Most of the revolution stories I've read have been about the little guys trying to overthrow those in power like Les Miserables and The Hunger Games. It was interesting to wonder how she was going to work this revolution out with one foot in each world.
I loved getting to see all of these wonderful characters again. Miri is very easy to relate to. I liked Peder, but I would have smacked him over the head if he had been in the same room as me at the end.
I loved learning more about the history of Mount Eskel. The world of the lowlands was fun to explore. It seemed colorful and a little magical and it reminded me of the world from the Disney movie, Tangled.
I liked how the magic was expanded on in this book. It answered a few questions I had about the importance of linder, the stone that is quarried on Mount Eskel, and if there was more to it. There is and it was fun to discover!
Princess Academy could easily stand on it's own, yet you can see how the happy ending from the first book might not work out and last. That made it even more fun to read this sequel.
Overall, it was a unique view on revolution that expands on the magic and the world that kids and adults would love.
Insurgent picked up right where Divergent left off which made it nice to read them one after the other. Divergent was good and set up the world reallyInsurgent picked up right where Divergent left off which made it nice to read them one after the other. Divergent was good and set up the world really well, but I liked the conflict in Insurgent much better. The factions are so interesting and we get to learn more about the factions Amity and Candor. I love how the factions are this weird combination of a gang, an entire culture of dress and style, mannerisms and education training for a job. The books only skim the surface of all there is to know of this complex and detailed world. This is one of those worlds where they could write an encyclopedia about it and you’d still want to know more. The writing style was much better in this book. I didn’t notice the word “I” glaring at me so much.
Tris doesn’t always make good decisions. In fact, she makes some really, really bad decisions but I felt like I understood her so well that I got why she did the things she did even if it’s not what I would do. My favorite thing about Insurgent was how well the author messed with your expectations of who is good and who is not. And it’s not based just on who Tris likes. I kind of saw the twist at the end coming, but it still gave me chills when I read it. This was a fast read and I couldn’t put it down. It left me with some deep thoughts about how easily your virtues can become a vice if you’re not careful. I loved the complex idea and story arc. It was an intense, action packed ride that had me saying “Wow” when I closed the book.
The tone that I adored from the first book is back. The opening line, which I loved, just sets the tone so well.
“It is by going down into the abyss thThe tone that I adored from the first book is back. The opening line, which I loved, just sets the tone so well.
“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” – Joseph Campbell
Nikki is going on an adventure to get something back that she lost in the underworld called the Everneath. It took me a minute to get reoriented in the world again, but I slipped back in easily after a few pages even without rereading the first book. I positively flew through this book in one sitting. The journey through the underworld and the task she wanted to complete felt impossible the whole time and kept me just glued to the pages. The layers of the underworld that she travels through were different in a chilling and alien way. This is one of those books where the foreshadowing was spot on. I thought I was all smart and I knew everything that was going to happen. Then the bombshell of an ending hits and I’m still in awe. Brodi even put the clues in there of what was going to happen at the end and I missed them all. It gives me chills just thinking about it. I feel like she deserves a round of applause for that ending.
Cole is a sexy, modern, teen version of Hades. He’s likeable yet sneaky and dark and I can’t ever totally trust him. My only complaint about the whole book was a few things that were taken too literally. The “kicking” element of the story was just a little to literal and weird for me.
Overall, don’t miss this stunning retelling of Persephone and Hades.
First of all, I loved finding all the similarities between For Darkness Shows the Stars and Persuasion. The book stands really well on it’s own if youFirst of all, I loved finding all the similarities between For Darkness Shows the Stars and Persuasion. The book stands really well on it’s own if you don’t want to read Persuasion, but I had a lot of fun recognizing the familiar characters. For Darkness Shows the Stars is set in a post-apocalyptic world, but when the world eventually recovers and we finally come full circle, it is eerily similar to Jane Austen’s time. For Darkness Shows the Stars was a more faithful re-telling than I thought it would be which I loved. I was a little confused with some of the terms at first (like the term “Post” for a class of people) but it gets explained later on. The history of how the world was destroyed is also revealed, but it takes a few chapters. I found the moral dilemma in the book of whether technology is good or bad completely fascinating. I would never have thought that a Jane Austen sci-fi re-telling would work, but it totally does. I loved this unique story and it is one that will definitely stick with me.
The action starts right from the beginning. There is no time wasted to get straight to this plot full of twists and turns that kept me surprised. I liThe action starts right from the beginning. There is no time wasted to get straight to this plot full of twists and turns that kept me surprised. I like to try and predict what is going to happen, but in this book I honestly had no clue. It was so much fun!
The story from Shadow and Bone was much more complex than I remember. There were a lot of layers, events, and characters that were referred to in Siege and Storm that were a little fuzzy to me. It wasn’t so bad that I was lost, but I definitely want to read all three in a row when the last book comes out. There is so much detail and layers going on that I want to get it all!
I love Alina and Mal. They tease each other like best friends but it’s easy to see how their relationship has grown into more. Mal is a lovely gentleman. But their relationship goes through quite the wringer in this book. There are outside forces trying to tear them apart. There are secrets between each other that they might not be able to recover from. Usually, one person hiding something really bugs me because it’s so obvious and easy to fix. But this time I kind of got it. The good and bad that happened to their relationship was so touching to me.
The new characters were so interesting. They come to life so fast and easily. Alina is spunky and daring. She cares about other people. My favorite thing about her character and her quest is that there are no easy answers. There’s not a clear path to what is right or wrong. A lot of the things she does are not completely good but it’s hard to say that they were completely evil. Part of the reason I am dying to read book 3 is because I want to see if she really is on the right path even though she had to do things that felt wrong to her.
I got a few Harry Potter vibes from some details in the book. There’s an old, common book with clues and myths that seem to come to life. The Darkling turns into a seductive kind of Voldemort. I mean, if Voldemort was in any way sexy he would be the Darkling.
There are pirates. I love pirates.
One of my favorite things about the first book was the beautiful imagery. And we get more of it in this book. A dragon in the cold sea. A sailing ship that flies. I love this unique world and how alive it is. I want to save it just as much as Alina.
I liked picking out the little things that remind me of Russian culture – the samovar clattering on the floor, the divide between peasants and aristocrats, and the saints as an important part of their religion. The guns in the story give it this modern twist to a world that feels epic and mythical.
Overall, it was epic, tragic, full of love and sacrifice, power and death set in a mythical world that you won’t forget.
At the beginning, there wasn’t much going on. The book starts off with some very graphic and disturbing disasters and I was worried that it was goingAt the beginning, there wasn’t much going on. The book starts off with some very graphic and disturbing disasters and I was worried that it was going to be overly realistic and not at all entertaining. That was thankfully not true. The point when I got to know all the characters was when I really started to fall in love with this book. There was such a colorful cast of characters that clashed together in fun ways. It made me laugh out loud even though there were truly terrifying things going on. Seriously. Like, the world is ending and I’m laughing me head off. I even read a few passages to my husband between laughs because he wanted to know what was so dang funny. But don’t get me wrong – even though there are some very funny moments, there were also some very touching moments that really got to me, especially the ones with the little kids.
The plot took some turns and surprises that I really enjoyed. The realism was one of the very best parts of the book. Her attention to the details had me so invested in the story and made it hard for me to stop thinking about the book when I was done. She did an amazing job of balancing humor, fear, and empathy while making all of the characters amazingly realistic. I’m absolutely convinced that Max is in existence somewhere on this earth. The writing was so enjoyable. It was succinct, visual, fast-paced and a lot of fun to read. Grab this book. I flew right through it in a day. I absolutely couldn’t put it down.
The Curly Girl Handbook is all about how to properly take care of naturally curly or wavy hair. I found some great insights while reading the first chThe Curly Girl Handbook is all about how to properly take care of naturally curly or wavy hair. I found some great insights while reading the first chapter like the preference for straight hair is a subtle form of racism and that 65% of women have curly hair. Yet most hair products are made for women with straight hair and thousands of hair straighteners are sold every year. I felt a big shift in attitude as I was reading about my own curly hair and how I should accept my hair (and ultimately me) for who I am and stop trying to change myself. I related a lot to the stories of women throughout the book that felt different and ugly. There’s a quiz at the beginning of the book to help you find out if you need a paradigm shift in your life. I answered yes to half of the questions. I didn’t think it would be that many. I answered yes to things like almost always being unhappy with the way my hair looks, having constant frizz, and blow-drying my hair then not washing it for a week. I dog-eared so many pages of this library book and referred to it so much that I went ahead and bought it. I refer a lot to the homemade hair product recipes and I want to try them all. So far, I’ve only made the Lavender Water to spritz your hair to recurl it and I love it.
The book helps you identify your curl type and the specific hair-care routine that goes along with it. I have wavy hair! I have always wanted wavy hair like Megan Fox and I have wished for the longest time to find some way to harness my pretty waves. I’m going to grow my hair out again and I’m feeling more pretty and confident every day. I thought it was so funny how she describes hair stylists straightening girl’s hair for a special occasion and then curling it with a curling iron. That’s how my hair was done for my wedding!
The writing is kind of cheesy. The author sticks in the words “curl” “mane” and “hair” in lots of places that they don’t belong. And there was a lot of focus on long curly hair – not a lot of extra tips for short curly hair. But other than that I love this book. I’ve stuck to this hair-care method for 4 months now. I love that I don’t have to worry so much about my hair. It’s looking better and better every day.
The before picture was taken in May 2012. The after picture was taken 4 months later in September 2012. I took a lot more photos and kept daily updates on tumblr if you want to see them. It took a lot of time and some adjustment to get it like this!
The thing I get asked the most is what products I use. The book is pretty specific about it’s requirements for shampoo, conditioner and gel.
*No brushing. I go through my hair with my fingers while it has conditioner in while I’m showering instead of brushing. *Use a t-shirt instead of a towel to dry my hair. A towel will catch and pull your curls apart and make it frizzy and dry. *No shampoo. I used conditioner instead of shampoo for a month. I use sulfate free shampoo now because my hair type does well with it. *Use gobs of conditioner. Curly hair is dry and that’s why it will frizz out – it’s trying to get moisture. Use lots of conditioner to moisturize it and your hair will be curly instead of frizzy. *Use the right products. I use alcohol free gel in my hair, silicone-free conditioner and sulfate-free shampoo.
If you have naturally curly hair, you need to read this book!
If Jane Austen could write about scandalous things (in a proper manner of course) like highwaymen robbing you etc. then it would have come out like EdIf Jane Austen could write about scandalous things (in a proper manner of course) like highwaymen robbing you etc. then it would have come out like Edenbrooke. The author, Julianne Donaldson, did a good job of making a Regency romance a little more modern. The characters, settings, and manners were are all Regency but the plot had a more modern, quick pace which was really fun. While the writing was in the Regency style, it still felt modern because of mentions of vomiting a "revolting stomach" and ugly men with spittle. The ugly guy with the spittle was half amusing and half disgusting.
I don't usually like romance, but this one was really good. I was not expecting it to be such a page turner. The main characters had great chemistry with each other. I adored the characters figuring out who they are as an individual and how that fits into finding romance. That theme shows up in one of my favorite quotes from the novel.
I have discovered happiness in being true to who I am. I hope you will give that idea some consideration.
- Julianne Donaldson, Edenbrooke: A Proper Romance Chapter 11
Overall, it was a charming romance that focused on the connection between characters with a modern, fast-paced plot that kept me turning the pages....more
Shadow and Bone was like walking through a version of Tolstoy’s Russia that was filled with magic. So many little details reminded me of Tolstoy likeShadow and Bone was like walking through a version of Tolstoy’s Russia that was filled with magic. So many little details reminded me of Tolstoy like the mention of saints, troikas, samovars, peasants, and even the names. The world building was incredible with details being revealed naturally throughout the story and even mentioned more than once so you wouldn’t get confused. Leigh took a culture from our world and tweaked it just enough to turn it into a rich fantasy world. She’s genius, I tell you!
The Grisha were a new and interesting mythology that reminded me a little of druids. They were unique and refreshing. They wore beautiful Russian-type robes and they had different classes of magic over certain elements like earth, air, and water. Throughout the book there was such beautiful imagery, like a boat sailing across the sand. The story line was unpredictable and fascinating. The prologue starts out with the main character Alina’s childhood which I found very charming. I loved the theme throughout of how powerful knowledge is. There were circumstances that stayed exactly the same, but Alina’s new knowledge would change everything. And to top all of that off, there are two very dashing and romantic leads that left me breathless. Do you like dark and mysterious or loyal and charming? I’ll have one of each, thanks!
This was a new and exhilarating take on high fantasy. It was unlike anything I have ever read before.
This is how a series should end. You should be glued to the pages and so invested about what is going to happen next to these characters. There shouldThis is how a series should end. You should be glued to the pages and so invested about what is going to happen next to these characters. There should be a twist that shocks you so much you feel like whacking your sleeping husband with your kindle so you have SOMEONE to tell at 3 a.m. even if he has no idea what you are talking about. There should also be some melodrama that makes you roll your eyes but you care about the characters so much that you keep reading anyway. And a little cheesiness never killed anyone (In fact, it tastes darn good on bittersweet sometimes). There should be lots of sweet romantic moments that make you go “awwwww.” And that is how you end a love triangle.
I do have one teensy complaint. I’m happily reading along and then some random letter out of no where appears. Maybe it was an ebook thing, but it was not very obvious when the narrative ended and when these inserted letters began. The letters were also abrupt and strange and it took a while to see what purpose they served.
Clockwork Princess ended exactly how I thought it would….100 pages early. The rest of the ending was fascinating and the epilogue blew me away!!
Before I say goodbye to this series, I’d like to give a shout-out to my favorite characters. I want to hug you, Bridget the cook, singer of depressing rhymes. Will and Jem, my favorite duo who are kind of like Sherlock and Watson if Watson was a little more sarcastic and slightly feminine like Will. And Tessa you reading nerd, you are adorable.
Overall, it was beautiful, bittersweet, but the perfect way to end this series.
A perfect re-telling of the 12 Dancing Princesses. It followed the overall story line of the Grimm’s fairytale, but the details were original and inteA perfect re-telling of the 12 Dancing Princesses. It followed the overall story line of the Grimm’s fairytale, but the details were original and interesting. It was charming the way that you imagine fairy tales should be. It had magic, but at the same time, evil lurks just around the corner. As I was reading, my deja-vous would tickle a little at familiar elements in the story. In my mind, Heather Dixon masterfully took all the best elements of some well-know fairy tales and made them her own. Certain details in the story vaguely reminded me of The Sound of Music, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Princess Bride, Phantom of the Opera, Disney’s Aladdin and even Disney’s Tangled. I challenge you to pick out the little details that come from these amazing stories! Maybe you’ll even see some references I didn’t.
While it was filled with fantasy, the story was really about a family and their relationships. I grew up with sisters so I related a lot to the 12 princesses not being able to stand each other one minute and being inseparable the next. Their struggle to understand their father was so heart-breaking. Heather managed to characterize all 12 princesses and make them feel so real and interesting. Entwined left me surprised as well as all happy and tingly inside.
Juliet Immortal grabbed me from the first page and never let go. It was like The Host by Stephenie Meyer meets the movie Sliding Doors. Such a uniqueJuliet Immortal grabbed me from the first page and never let go. It was like The Host by Stephenie Meyer meets the movie Sliding Doors. Such a unique and strange combination. I never knew what to expect and it was so creative. The writing was rich and complex. Every word counted. The story took everything I knew about my favorite Shakespeare play and turned it on it’s head. I absolutely love it when authors do that. I want something new and amazing from a re-telling and boy, this book was exactly that and more. It had a beautiful sadness to it that most of my favorite stories do. It’s one of those books that I could read over and over because it was so layered. There was also a beautiful mix of the mundane and the extreme that was fascinating to read. And then there’s Romeo. In a weird way, he reminded me of Darth Vader. You know he’s evil to the core and yet you can’t banish the possibility that maybe there is some good left in him. Maybe he could be redeemed. That possibility is what has me dying to read the next book. This was one of those rare books that I can’t get out of my head. I absolutely loved it.
Grave Mercy is historical fiction that reads like the best high fantasy out there. If Tolkien had decided to write about Jason Bourne it might have coGrave Mercy is historical fiction that reads like the best high fantasy out there. If Tolkien had decided to write about Jason Bourne it might have come out something like Grave Mercy. Brittany is a real historical place and Anne, the Duchess of Brittany, is a historical figure. The main character, Ismae, is remarkable. She’s an admirable, tough, lost and likable girl who is desperately trying to follow her heart. She’s very independent and I remember thinking once or twice that she felt like a modern feminist stuck in mediaeval Brittany. All of the characters were wonderfully flawed and I cared so much about them. The writing style was one of my favorite parts of the book. It’s told in the present tense, in a very formal way making it fit the medieval setting but the writing was natural and flowing at the same time. There was even some humor that had me chuckling every now and then. Like the title, the whole book is full of interesting juxtapositions. Robin LaFevers takes your expectations and plays with them very expertly. She surprised me with this story in so many ways. Great intrigue had me flipping the pages like mad. The ending was completely satisfying to me. And the love story was just plain amazing.
I still want to learn more about the mythology and where it came from and if it was based on existing Celtic mythology….it’s one of the coolest and original mythologies I’ve read in a long time.
Everneath is not your typical supernatural YA book. There’s not a vampire, werewolf, or angel in sight. Instead of re-telling Greek mythology, Brodi AEverneath is not your typical supernatural YA book. There’s not a vampire, werewolf, or angel in sight. Instead of re-telling Greek mythology, Brodi Ashotn breaks it down and re-invents it. What you get is a deep, dark, rich, tragic and moving story like nothing I’ve ever read. Flashbacks drive the story along and they beautifully show the contrast of the highs and lows that life can take. Remorse colors everything. It’s about living with your mistakes and making them right. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of looking such a difficult emotion in the face. Everneath made me stop and think about what it means to be human. Hope is such a human emotion. Here I am reading a story where every reason to hope is taken away and yet I couldn’t help it. My hope was sitting there like a little flame that just won’t go out. And then I thought about the feelings that make us human. Taking away pain can take away our humanity. As nice as it would be to live without pain, the emptiness you would feel instead would be so much worse and Nikki’s emptiness felt so terrifying to me. I was crying at the end which I haven’t done since the last Harry Potter. Books don’t make me cry very often. The ending was all about the power and redemption of love. I haven’t read such a beautiful story about true love in a long time.
The first thing that stands out about Midnight in Austenland is the writing. Shannon’s vocabulary choices give it a Jane Austen feel, but it flows soThe first thing that stands out about Midnight in Austenland is the writing. Shannon’s vocabulary choices give it a Jane Austen feel, but it flows so well and is a joy to read. Midnight in Austenland is not really a sequel. The main character is different, the tone is different, but some of the minor characters are the same and, of course, the setting is the same. Midnight in Austenland is loosely based on Northanger Abbey, one of the few Jane Austen books that I haven’t read. (If I had known that, I probably would have read it first so I could compare them.) The witty humor had me laughing out loud and the sarcasm was delightful. There were a few great cultural references that made me think of Gilmore Girls with a longing sigh. My only complaint about the first book was that there wasn’t enough conflict. That is SO not true for this book. The conflict was relatable and authentic. Charlotte, the main character, is so charming in the way that she deals with her trials by using dark, sarcastic humor. The mystery in this book was a lot of fun. All of the characters have something mysterious about them. There’s also a mystery at Pembrook Park that the characters are all trying to solve, but soon it’s hard to tell what is made-up and what is real life. It was an unpredictable, fun, thrilling and adorably romantic page-turner of a book.