It's like 1984 meets My Side of the Mountain. I took my time reading this book and when I sat back and thought about it, I realized that it was becausIt's like 1984 meets My Side of the Mountain. I took my time reading this book and when I sat back and thought about it, I realized that it was because the writing was just so beautiful. It felt like I was reading poetry. Ally was so good at unfolding the story. Every time I learned something new about the characters or the world, I just ended up with more questions. The biggest question was: "Is everything really what it seems? What's REALLY going on?" One of my favorite things was how much the title had to do with the story. The word "Crossed" weaved itself beautifully in and out of every aspect of the book and I found myself analyzing it and thinking many deep thoughts. It was so much more deep and thought provoking than I thought it would be. The story leaves you hanging and eager to read the next one, but not in a huge cliff-hanger way. I'm going to go think about this story some more....Oh, and the love triangle was one of the best and truly honest ones that I've read.
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.
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.
Cruel Beauty was a very dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast that had an unexpected mix ofThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Cruel Beauty was a very dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast that had an unexpected mix of Greek Mythology. The story opens on a very stiff and formal life for the main character Nyx like a dark version of Downton Abbey. Then we get a nice, long lecture on How This World Works that I found hard to get through.
I was entertained by the story but I really didn't like the cop-out device of Nyx having "no choice" to create these dramatic situations. Nyx is engaged to a demon since birth because her father made a bargain and now she has no choice but to marry him. This bothers me for two reason. 1. It takes away the self-sacrifice element of Beauty and the Beast that I love but, more importantly, think was the main point of the fairy tale. 2. Her dad is an idiot. And 3 -- okay apparently there are more than reasons why this bothers me -- she doesn't "have" to do anything. It made the main character seem very passive about her life. She was very negative and spiteful all the time. I didn't like her all that much, which is fine, but if she's going to be unlikable then at least make me understand why she did things. I never understood why she did things.
I did like the quest of trying to find the demon's name which was one of the few elements remaining from the original fairy tale. The castle was a wonderful adventure full of strange rooms like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
I won't spoil the ending, but I didn't like it. I felt like the ending did not have anything to do with what they had been doing for almost the whole novel. I felt like we spent the whole novel doing one thing and she suddenly decides to change course and last minute do something very drastic. And as the books comes to a close, I felt like the characters were so completely different that they weren't even the same characters anymore. They felt like strangers and I didn't care all that much what happened to them.
Overall, it was too dark of a fairy tale retelling with poor world building and unlikable characters that just wasn't for me even though I did like the Greek Mythology element of the story. Content warning: quite a bit of dark innuendo (that is thankfully not very graphic) about a girl trying to seduce a demon which I found mildly disturbing....more
Short and Sweet:Even if you don't like horror, pick up this beautifully written children's boThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Short and Sweet: Even if you don't like horror, pick up this beautifully written children's book about bravery, boredom, and getting everything you want. Turns out, getting everything you want isn't as great as you'd think. The Jessica Thinks Too Much Version Coraline is horror light. All the creepy richness of a regular horror novel but with a light, happy ending instead. In all honesty, this book was the max amount of horror I could handle. The horror parts of the novel involved things like going in dark basements and you KNOW something is down there. There were gross parts involving bats and moving spider-egg-sac-things. Does she have to touch it? OH YES SHE DOES. The thing she needs is inside it (of course). This story is about bravery, which I obviously do not possess. I would not do any of the things Coraline did, especially touch the creepy egg-sac-thingy. As Neil Gaiman puts it, Coraline has "scared many adults and fewer children." (Coraline 10th Anniversary Edition, Q&A with Neil Gaiman)
There's also a general feeling of something being off, something not quite right. I think it's mostly from his word choice when he uses similes. And they are gross.
The flat had walls the color of old milk.
- Neil Gaiman, Coraline 10th Anniversary Edition (p. 129)
There was a tiny doubt inside her, like a maggot in an apple core.
- Neil Gaiman, Coraline 10th Anniversary Edition (p. 75)
Why use "off-white" when "old milk" induces dry heaving?
The thing about Neil Gaiman is that he really nails childhood. He gets how kids work and how they think.
There was also a well. On the first day Coraline’s family moved in, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible made a point of telling Coraline how dangerous the well was, and they warned her to be sure she kept away from it. So Coraline set off to explore for it, so that she knew where it was, to keep away from it properly.
Because seriously - what kid that was told there was something dangerous nearby wouldn't do exactly that?
This parent gets points for a) not screaming at his kid for bugging him all the time about being bored and b) for coming up with the most tedious, time consuming game possible. I'm stealing this game for my kids to play tomorrow. "Where did you get this idea, mommy?" "A horror novel. You'll love it. Have fun."
“Then explore the flat,” suggested her father. “Look— here’s a piece of paper and a pen. Count all the doors and windows. List everything blue. Mount an expedition to discover the hot water tank. And leave me alone to work.”
- Neil Gaiman, Coraline 10th Anniversary Edition (p. 9)
And now for the random deep thought of the day from a cat.
“Cats don’t have names,” it said. “No?” said Coraline. “No,” said the cat. “Now, you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.”
- Neil Gaiman, Coraline 10th Anniversary Edition (p. 43)
Like, WOW. I'm not exaggerating. It's kind of deep. Without labels, do we really know who we are?
One of my favorite things about this book is when Coraline decides she doesn't like this creepy, alternate reality that she found because it turns out - getting everything you want? Not so great.
Coraline sighed. “You really don’t understand, do you?” she said. “I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn’t mean anything. What then?”
- Neil Gaiman, Coraline 10th Anniversary Edition (pp. 144-145)
It's true though, isn't it? As a parent, I don't give my kids everything they want on purpose because I know it would make them unhappy. It's sad that I don't have this problem as an adult because what I want gets longer by the hour. But kids? What they want is food made exactly their way and their parents to pay attention to them all day long. At least, that's what Coraline wants. And that's it. How beautiful is childhood that complete happiness is so simple....more
Everything in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a fascinating juxtaposition of the grotesque and the sublime – the speech, the characters, the setting. IEverything in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a fascinating juxtaposition of the grotesque and the sublime – the speech, the characters, the setting. I felt like the whole point of the story was to show that architecture was the only good thing that came from the Middle Ages so for heaven’s sake, don’t tear those buildings down! We could never build something like that again! This book saved the Notre Dame Cathedral by giving people a reason to care about it and showing how Gothic architecture was beautiful even though it was different (which is a theme in the novel that applies to the characters as well). Victor Hugo likes lists that are very, very long full of even longer names and I found myself falling asleep a lot in the first half of the book. Then suddenly I get hit over the head by this steamy, passionate, action-packed, gruesomely violent second half of the novel complete with forbidden love. Didn’t see that coming. I found it surprisingly modern in that there are a lot elements in this story that are popular in novels, especially young adult ones, today. Though I can’t help but think that the girl would have been turned on by the whole forbidden/creepy love thing if it had been written today instead of her being horrified by it. And can I just say how shocked I was when he used the word “vampire” AND talked about Nicolas Flamel? There was some great sarcastic humor in here that had me smiling. This was Hugo’s first novel after writing plays and it reads like one. There are lots of action scenes and he writes an excellent mob. He almost makes me want to grab a pitchfork. I walked away from this book thinking about what beauty and love really are.
Above World was an interesting mix of mythological creatures and our modern world of technology. You’ll find mermaids and computers in one breath. I wAbove World was an interesting mix of mythological creatures and our modern world of technology. You’ll find mermaids and computers in one breath. I was pleasantly surprised by the dystopian undertone to it all that gave it some wonderful depth. In this fascinating world that Jenn has built, there are several cultures based on mythological creatures that descended from humans when there wasn’t room left on the earth for them to live. These new cultures live in the sea and the sky and other places that humans couldn’t live. Some little details from our current world are mixed into the story which gives it a post-apocalyptic feeling and it also lets you see our world in a different way. My favorite example of this was Hoku talking about his “magic” plate but he says it used to be called “magnets.” You come across several fascinating cultures on the journey and they were so creative and distinct. Curiosity about this world is what kept me reading. I liked this book overall, but the writing felt stiff and the story was a little over-told if that makes sense. The writing just didn’t flow well and it didn’t pull me in. The ending has some closure, but there’s a lot left to tell and a lot of the world is still unexplored. It was an enjoyable read and I think kids will especially like this story.
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.
The first thing that caught my attention about Halflings was the beautiful, visual writing. It reminded me of The Mortal Instrument series but more reThe first thing that caught my attention about Halflings was the beautiful, visual writing. It reminded me of The Mortal Instrument series but more religious since it talked about heaven, hell and God (but not in a preachy way). Peter Pan felt like an inspiration for some aspects of the book, especially the Halfling characters. Peter Pan is one of my favorite books and I loved the way it influenced this story. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the term “Halflings” because it invoked this image in my head of short, hairy boys. And then when I learned that these Halflings are supposed to protect the main character, Nikki, it invoked a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves image in my head. But it’s not like that at all, I promise. Heather Burch’s Halflings are really half human, half angel. I enjoyed the characters. They were interesting and complex and I thought the heroine was very unique. The romance was adorable and I even liked the love triangle – it was well done. The author builds an interesting world full of mystery and sets you up for a great series to come. Heather doesn’t point out who the villan is, but I have an idea and if I’m right, the villan would be one of the most unique and interesting ones that I’ve come across. The ending left me full of questions and eager to read more.
I think the best way to describe The Forgotten Locket was melodramatic. Meaning that it feltThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I think the best way to describe The Forgotten Locket was melodramatic. Meaning that it felt so dramatic that I was disconnected from it. It was more entertaining when I read it in my head with a super dramatic voice.
I was honestly kind of bored while reading this. Abby is rescued from her problems too quickly so they didn't seem that dire to me. It was also painfully obvious how things would resolve since the really big threats were taken away too fast. There seemed to be no rules and if there were rules they quickly found ways to "break" them to do the "impossible." So everything seemed possible and it made it feel like there were no problems because there will always be a magical solution. Not only that but EVERY problem was completely solved with a very nice bow on top.
I hated that most of the world building was unexplained. "Impossible" things happen (though since the rules are extremely loose a better word than impossible would be "new"). And the explanation for events was mostly "who knows just cuz." That was the answer more often than I allow for a story to be interesting. This world kind of feels like it was made up as it went along. And I could have driven a DeLorean through all those plot holes in the way time travel worked.
I felt like I didn't have to think or imagine for this whole book. This whole series.
And oh the romance. It was nice I guess to read about a guy who always stood by his girl and did the right thing but it was highly unrealistic. They never fought. Ever. Except maybe about who loved the other person more. Gag.
I know one star is a harsh rating and I usually only give it for books that I didn't finish, but I really should have put this one down and walked away. I knew exactly what was going to happen so the only reason I finished is because of my need not to quit on books. I know a lot of people liked this series but it was really not for me.
Overall, poor world building and an extremely predictable ending really dragged this story down.
Wow that conclusion had plot holes so big I could drive my delorean through it. (Get it? From back to the future?)...more
Take the beautiful, imaginary world of Neverland and make it a literal place where everything is messy and covered in dirt and that is the uninterestiTake the beautiful, imaginary world of Neverland and make it a literal place where everything is messy and covered in dirt and that is the uninteresting world where Tiger Lily is set. I didn't think it was possible to make Neverland so completely boring. A few magical elements remain like fairies and mermaids but they felt very flat and unoriginal. There's also a poorly explained excuse for why some people get old and some people don't. If you're curious the reason some people don't get old is because it just happens when something important happens in your life for no logical reason whatsoever.
The plot felt very been there done that in the way that Avatar was. It's kind of a tired plot line to have new people come and mess everything up for the indigenous people. I also felt like there was nothing new or interesting added to this retelling of Peter Pan. I personally like my retellings to have new twists otherwise what is the point of the retelling? I'm not really sure what the overall conflict even was. It felt like the plot just kind of dragged along with an ending that kind of baffled me. Honestly, the whole book felt a little preachy. There were a few cute scenes between Peter Pan and Tiger Lily but not enough to make me really love this book.
The writing was good though it wasn't my favorite. The word choice stood out to me sometimes and felt a little awkward here and there like it was trying too hard to be poetic or something, but there were a few quotes I really liked. Like this one:
“I’m not myself,” [Tiger Lily] offered, guilty. . . .
“You can never say that. You’re just a piece of yourself right now that you don’t like.”
-Jodi Lynn Anderson, Tiger Lily (p. 69)
My favorite character by far was Smee who sadly shows up in the book only a few times. The rest of the characters I had a hard time connecting with, especially Tiger Lily and the very strange decision she makes at the end of the book. I honestly found it hard to tell some of the characters apart.
Overall, I did not enjoy the world building in this book at all. It had a tired plot line with a cast of characters that I ended up not caring much about.
Harken was like X-men meets National Treasure. Very creative. I liked the suspenseful plot with a supernatural twist. The writing had a nice voice toHarken was like X-men meets National Treasure. Very creative. I liked the suspenseful plot with a supernatural twist. The writing had a nice voice to it. It was funny and witty. I really enjoyed the quest that Michael goes on for the truth. The way Michael had to figure out and follow obscure clues all over the place is what reminded me of National Treasure and I thought it was a lot of fun. And the conflict was great. The author was not afraid to suggest the worst that could happen…and then make it happen. I liked how the conspiracy theory was unique and kind of epic. I thought all the characters had great, fleshed-out personalities but my favorite was Michael’s little sister Alli. Oh Alli, you are the cutest fake princess-eating zombie ever. Michael has a great relationship with her that was adorable to read.
My only complaint about this book was that I felt like I was walking knee-deep through a lot of details and words that didn’t need to be there. For as much action and plot as this book had in it, I was surprised at how I felt bogged down while I was reading it sometimes. It got to the point that I dreaded going into a new room because that is when the author tended to info-dump the most. Does it really matter how many skylights there are in the big airplane hanger with 5 silver cars?
Overall, I thought it had a really creative plot and wonderful characters, but it got slowed down by being over-detailed sometimes.
The Urban Hunters is like The Jungle Book set in Aboriginal Australia. When I saw the subtitle, “Billy’s Gotta Find Some Girls,” I knew I had to readThe Urban Hunters is like The Jungle Book set in Aboriginal Australia. When I saw the subtitle, “Billy’s Gotta Find Some Girls,” I knew I had to read it. I was pulled in from the first page by how vivid and visual the writing was. I was immersed in an entirely new and fascinating culture that was shocking, sad, beautiful and amazing. He dedicates this book to his nieces and nephews who “stared wide-eyed as I told them about Billy and Amber’s adventures” and I felt exactly the same way. I’ve never read anything like it. I was grossed out one minute, laughing out loud the next, and completely shocked by the sad and heart-breaking things that can happen to the Aboriginal people. I was a little stunned by how graphic some of it was (think rotting, maggott filled kangaroo type stuff), but I loved this book. Gary Taaffe did an excellent job of entertaining me and at the same time educating me on a different people and their way of life.
In Book 2, Tribal Scarring, it gets a little more serious than Book 1, Four Small Stones. I missed the light-hearted humor of the Book 1. Still, it was a nice contrast to see the dangers of living in the bush in Australia. I definitely felt some culture shock as I was reading about Billy and the rituals he goes through to become a man. The writing was intense and so well done. The author doesn’t spell everything out for you. He lets you discover this new culture on your own which I liked.
In Book 3, Walkabout, Billy goes into the “whitefella” culture for the first time and his culture shock is charming, honest and amusing. I loved the Australian lingo throughout the book. Some of the words I’d never heard before, but it wasn’t too difficult to figure out, like when he slides his “sunnies” (I’d call them sunglasses) to the top of his head. It helped me really get a feel for the culture. The story starts off a bit slow, but picks up with some more great gross-out hunting scenes that I loved from Book 1, but this time there are cute puppies. The humor had me laughing out loud in places, but mostly I felt myself smiling a lot at how innocent Billy is despite being able to hunt and live off of the land on his own at such a young age. Billy is a juxtaposition of seasoned warrior and innocent child that makes him incredibly easy to like. Overall, it was such a fun and entertaining adventure story.
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
The Gleaning is about a witch and warlock who are supposed to be enemies instead of lovers. Lily and Logan have been raised to fight each other to keeThe Gleaning is about a witch and warlock who are supposed to be enemies instead of lovers. Lily and Logan have been raised to fight each other to keep a balance between their light and dark magic. I loved how this was action-packed right from the start. It picks up right where the last one left off. We get to know the characters a lot more in this book which is something I felt like was missing from the first book. I loved Logan’s back story and I felt it added a lot to his character. The romance in this book was just plain adorable.
I liked the long flashback scene that goes back to the 1800s. Even though it distracted me a little from the plot since I couldn’t see at first how the two were related, I thought it was very entertaining to read. The flashback reminded me a lot of Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare because of the dashing, romantic characters and the setting from the past.
I loved the choices in this book. As you are reading along, you get to make choices as to where you think the plot should go. Both choices had a lot of scenes that were similar even though the plot moves in two directions. I loved them both, but I have a personal favorite (choice 1 if you are wondering!). It was an addicting read with some delightful Alice and Wonderland references. I thought this was a great addition to witch mythology.
This book felt like Harry Potter goes YA. I found some similarities to Harry Potter like the term "You Know Who," and a a restricted library. I likedThis book felt like Harry Potter goes YA. I found some similarities to Harry Potter like the term "You Know Who," and a a restricted library. I liked the magic. Women, or witch's, magic involves beauty, flowers, healing and nature. The men, or warlocks, are their enemies and have "opposite" powers though it doesn't go into a lot of detail what those powers are. It mentions mind reading powers and potions. The kind of stuff Snape would like. The conflict of having men and women being enemies from a curse was pretty cool. This isn't an average ebook - it has choices in it. It's not quite like choose your own adventure because the story line will end up in the same place. There are two choices in the story and when I went back and read the other choice, they eventually meet up at the same place in the story but it flesh's out the characters and their relationships a little more. If I were reading this again, I would probably read both choices and then move on. The characters were okay. They didn't seem very fleshed out, but they didn't bother me either. My favorite part of this book was the really cool conflict and the background behind it. Can't wait to read the next one. Or you could call it Romeo + Juliet meets witches and magic....more
I loved the glossary in this book. I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. The author, Gary, talks about how there’s a “rule” in writing that yoI loved the glossary in this book. I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. The author, Gary, talks about how there’s a “rule” in writing that you shouldn’t use colloquialisms and you should change the spelling to suit whatever country you’re selling it in. Gary says the heck with that because he thinks readers are smart – give them a glossary so they can learn and be entertained. I agree 100% (why didn’t Harry Potter do this!). The Australian flavor of this book is immensely entertaining. As a non-Australian, it’s pretty easy to follow the slang throughout the story after briefly reading through the glossary. (And even if you don’t read the glossary, the important words are explained in the story so you won’t be lost.)
We get to see more of Billy and Amber’s adventures in Budgie Smugglers. Billy is a boy from the Australian bush and Amber is a city girl that Billy meets. This book was just as laugh out loud funny as the first three books in this series. It was charming yet brutally honest and raw at the same time. The contrast between the two is so interesting. Like Billy talking about eating kangaroo pups and Amber being horrified by it. Then Billy explained it was to keep his grandfather fat so he can stay warm in the extreme conditions of living in the bush. See! They ate baby kangaroos and it’s disturbing and cute at the same time. And there were just enough gross-out scenes to make you squeal. Billy roasting a cat in a straight-forward way made me squirm. It was awesome. No way would I ever want to see Billy cook something, but I love reading about it in all it’s gory detailed glory. Billy slowly learning about girls and falling in love for the first time in his innocent way was just plain adorable. I can’t get enough of these characters and their adventures.
I'm trying to read more books from my to-read list and I happened to see Harold and the Purple Crayon at the library. It was on my to-read list only bI'm trying to read more books from my to-read list and I happened to see Harold and the Purple Crayon at the library. It was on my to-read list only because it was mentioned on Gilmore Girls. But my 4 year-old son saw it and wanted to read it with me. So we read it together and he enjoyed it a lot. Which of course means we read it about 5 more times. It is an adorable, creative book with a cute message about imagination and finding home. My review is probably longer than the book itself, but I really wanted to feature it on my blog because the day after I read this book to my son, I found a huge stack of drawings, all in purple, and they are clearly inspired by the book. It was touching to me that a book would stick with him that much. So I decided to share all the drawings he did that I could find. You'll notice in a lot of the drawings that there are two people. The other person is his older brother who he considers his best friend.
Before I start my review, I want to make it clear that I only read 25 pages of this book (and it took me 5 days to even get that far because it wasn’tBefore I start my review, I want to make it clear that I only read 25 pages of this book (and it took me 5 days to even get that far because it wasn’t keeping my interest). I also want to make it clear that in my life I have not finished about 6 books and this is one of them.
The book starts off with a death at the beginning. Then we get to see a lot of the characters reacting to this death in very different ways which could be interesting, I guess. It does take a long time for the news to even spread. Quite frankly the characters are boring, vanilla and not all that original. There is no plot to speak of. If there is no interesting plot or unique characters, what is supposed to keep me reading this book? I know – it says J.K. Rowling on the cover. I think that does this book a huge disservice. J.K. Rowling is not even her real name. Mrs. Rowling does not have a middle name in real life. I feel like the only reason the publisher put the same pen name that graces the Harry Potter books on this book is so people like me who LOVE Harry Potter will buy it. They are different genres – they NEED different pen names. But that’s just my small opinion. I’m having a hard time reconciling the person who wrote the fun, quirky, complex and immensely entertaining children’s book with the person who wrote this very adult book. They don’t even seem like the same person to me. I wrote as an update while reading this that this book is kind of ruining Harry Potter for me. If I finished this book, I might not look at Harry Potter the same again.
I tried to plow through the zero plot and boring characters, but I found myself not enjoying the writing, either. The writing wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find it immensely interesting either. I heard this was supposed to be funny. I guess I didn’t get far enough to see the funny parts. But there are characters who are married named Barry and Mary. Maybe that was supposed to be funny? Overall, this book was just not for me. J.K. Rowling rocks and I will love her forever. Whatever else she writes, I will read. Sadly, I just had to skip this one. The massive amounts of vulgarity and constant talk of sex was a huge turn-off for me.
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 Witch of Duva is a beautifully written fairy tale that feels close toThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The Short Version
The Witch of Duva is a beautifully written fairy tale that feels close to our own fairy tales but it messes with your expectations by twisting the story around in new ways. This prequel novella reminded me of Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. The Witch of Duva, like Tales of Beedle the Bard, is a fairy tale set in the same world that doesn't necessarily advance the story but functions to flesh out the world and add a little more magic to it. I couldn't find more of a connection between The Witch of Duva and Shadow and Bone other than they are both set in the same world. I actually prefer this kind of novella to one that tells some back story of a character. I feel like the fairy tale is something fun that lets me stay in that world a little longer. When I've read novellas that try to continue the narrative, I found myself bored. This fairy tale was beautiful and engaging and I highly recommend it.
The Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
There were just too many awesome and juicy details that I couldn't skip discussing them. I will talk about the details of the book and the foreshadowing that I saw, but I won't tell how it ends.
The Witch of Duva reminds me of Hansel and Gretel. Like Hansel and Gretel, there is a witch in the woods that eats girls. Nadya, the main character, talks about how her mother becomes sick and the only thing that comforts her is sweet cakes from Karina. I love the theme of food in this fairy tale - especially sweet food - that ties it into our fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. One theory of why the girls go missing is that they smell food in the forrest and wander off.
I can see hints now of what happens at the end now that I'm reading it again. It describes the girls as "full-grown girls near old enough to marry." There's lots of misdirection to Karina since we are seeing the events through Nadya's eyes and she automatically doesn't like Karina trying to replace her mother.
Karina sends Nadya into the forrest to find the rabbit traps and Nadya follows the white stones that mark the path that were left by her brother, Havel. I'm geeking out over all the Hansel and Gretel references!! Nadya gets lost because the stones get covered in snow. I like how this changes the Hansel and Gretel version to fit into the Russian-like setting of Ravka.
Hungry, Nadya finds a house that smells like cooking sugar. The old woman that lives in the house feeds her. I love how Nadya even mentions that she feels like she's just being fattened up to be eaten later. But this is where the twists come in. The witch's house becomes a safe place for Nadya instead of the other way around. The witch helps people and even hides Nadya so rumors don't start that she kidnaps children. Haha! Oops too late.
I loved the elements that came from other fairy tales, too. There was a reference to the Gingerbread Man story. But again it's different than I thought it would be. The witch also asks Nadya all the time what she wants that reminded me a little of the original Beauty and the Beast.
I had a blast reading the fairy tale. I loved analyzing it and thinking about it and just getting lost in the world.
Why are we so quick to villainize women? The thing that made me think the most about this story was how easy we are to attach sinister motives to women when their outward actions show mostly kindness. It only takes one or two harsh things for us to immediately hate a woman when men do much worse things and it often gets looked over. What do you think?
Content warning: there is a suggestive scene that is very brief and very mildly detailed....more
I really struggled with The Chaos of Stars. I adore Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series, but this felt likesomeone found a Egyptian mythology textbooI really struggled with The Chaos of Stars. I adore Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series, but this felt like someone found a Egyptian mythology textbook and stuck in a teenage girl. I mean, I liked the mythology stories and I did learn a little bit about them, but it did not feel updated or interpreted in any way. The Egyptian myths are completely unchanged all the way down to the god's appearances. Because of that I felt like I was reading an explanation of mythology instead of a modern narrative.
The dysfunction of what the gods would be like as a family was kind of amusing. At the same time, since the gods looked the same as they do in their mythological stories, it was really hard for me to imagine them actually sitting around the breakfast table. The plot jumped around a lot since the story would go from memories, mythology stories at the beginning of each chapter, and bad dreams the main character, Isadora, would have. The conflict through the story depends a lot on dark dreams that she has and it was not enough to keep my interest. Without a good conflict the story really started to drag.
The writing is very much the funny and quirky stuff that I remember from Paranormalcy. I could see Kiersten's writing style come through. Sadly, the writing came across as very fluffy and superficial since I didn't find any depth to the story to balance out all the quirk. I really wanted something bittersweet or sad to help me really connect with the story like there was in Paranormalcy.
All the swear words had been replaced with "floods" and "chaos" which were used a lot and it started to get on my nerves towards the end. Not that there needed to be swearing, but a bigger variety of words would have been nice.
The romance was cute but cheesy. Their connection was very dependent on fate and their love being written in the stars etc. Still, there were a few moments that I said, "Awwww." I found the characters hard to connect to and visualize. It was hardest for me to connect with Isadora because I really didn't get why she had an issue with her mother. It was hard for me to visualize the setting, too. I've even been to Balboa Park a few times. I love it there and I still couldn't picture what it looked like from the descriptions. At least, I'm pretty sure it was set in Balboa Park...
Overall, it was mostly cliche, predictable, and very convenient, too. I felt relieved that it had ended and I could move on to something else.
In Walkabout, Billy goes into the “whitefella” culture for the first time and his culture shock is charming, honest and amusing. I loved the AustraliaIn Walkabout, Billy goes into the “whitefella” culture for the first time and his culture shock is charming, honest and amusing. I loved the Australian lingo throughout the book. Some of the words I’d never heard before, but it wasn’t too difficult to figure out, like when he slides his “sunnies” (I’d call them sunglasses) to the top of his head. It helped me really get a feel for the culture. The story starts off a bit slow, but picks up with some more great gross-out hunting scenes that I loved from the first book but this time there are cute puppies. The humor had me laughing out loud in places, but mostly I felt myself smiling a lot at how innocent Billy is despite being able to hunt and live off of the land on his own at such a young age. Billy is a juxtaposition of seasoned warrior and innocent child that makes him incredibly easy to like. It was such a fun and entertaining adventure story.
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
Anna and the French Kiss was a cute teen romance withdelightful writing. There was lots of drThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Anna and the French Kiss was a cute teen romance with delightful writing. There was lots of drama which is very realistic to what teen relationships are really like. So what are teen relationships really like? Hint: they lack communication and have lots of drama. The couple in this book fights a lot which I found kind of funny and adorable. The thing that kept me from completely loving this book was I felt like there was a little too much drama. It gave me mild anxiety while reading it.
I couldn't get enough of the cast of characters. Anna's father is a an author who is more or less Nicholas Sparks but with the personality of Gilderoy Lockhart - complete with fake white smile, purple shirt, and hair that blows dramatically in the wind. Anna is sent to a boarding school in Paris that has "suspiciously fresh (pg 21)" food. That made me laugh since American schools have food that looks suspiciously not like food at all. Anna has a best friend who loves obscure words and I think she needs to be my best friend, too.
My favorite thing about this book was that Anna wanted to be a professional movie critic so she wrote a movie review blog. She didn't want to be a director or a screen writer. I loved the way she described what it's like to write a movie review.
"Why do you need to practice [writing movie reviews]? It's not like it's hard or something." [said Dave.]
"Yeah? I'd like to see you write a six-hundred-word review about one. 'I liked it. It was cool. There were explosions.'" [Anna said.]
- Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss pg 122
I relate to her so much! It IS hard to write reviews. I want to be just like Anna but a professional book reviewer. I also found that quote ironic since I knew I was going to review this book the way Anna reviews movies.
I really enjoyed the writing in Anna and the French Kiss. The dialogue is fun. We get to know Anna's backstory when touring her room and looking at interesting photos. Here is an example of some awesome writing right here.
Bin after bin of macarons in every flavor and color imaginable. ... And then I notice cinnamon and hazelnut praline, and I just want to die right there. Crawl over the counter and crunch my fingers through their delicate crusts and lick out the fragrant fillings until I can no longer breathe.
- Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss, pg 158
Overall, it was a cute teen romance with great characters. I just wish there had been less drama.
Content warning: strong language (about 3 or 4 f-words) and teen drinking (although it isn't glamorized)...more
Don't get me wrong - I can relate a lot to Bella in this book. Oddly enough, my first break-up felt the same way. Her bitterness especially about howDon't get me wrong - I can relate a lot to Bella in this book. Oddly enough, my first break-up felt the same way. Her bitterness especially about how love gives someone the power to break you gets to me. But this book drags. There isn't much plot and even the conversations seem to take forever. Just spit it out already! And I don't like Jake. I know. Shoot me now. Jake is nice and he is the kind of guy I would have been friends with in high school, but I don't find him attractive. The whole book makes me feel anxious. And sad. And depressed. That being said, New Moon is my favorite movie so far. The pace was a lot better and it was just beautiful to look at. If the pace were faster I think I would like this book a lot more. The reason I love this book is that it makes you FEEL. Every time I read it, I just feel such gut-wrenching sadness. I know Bella is over-dramatic sometimes, but at the same time who hasn't felt the same way as she has? It's hard to judge her if you've ever had your heart broken. Even though you know it's not realistic, you feel like your world has fallen apart and you'll never be the same again. Stephenie is still sarcastic. Not often, but it's still there. Watch for it and it'll make you smile.
The first thing that The Secret Diamond Sisters reminded me of was the song Royals by Lorde. The idea of criticizing the insanely rich but wanting to live that life at the same time was really present in The Secret Diamond Sisters. My favorite of the three sisters was Courtney who was ambitious, hard working, and really wanted to go to an Ivy League school. When she finds out that her dad is a billionaire, she resents it a little and feels like all her hard work at coffee shops was worthless. I thought it was a wonderful and honest reaction. Although I think it's easy to imagine that having lots of money suddenly would be fabulous (and one of her other sisters does feel this way), Courtney's reaction really stuck with me.
There wasn't really an overall conflict in the story. It goes from one drama to the next and focuses more on the characters and their relationships with people than a strong plot. Not that that's a bad thing, but I do wish there had been a little more driving the story. It's implied that there are secrets the sisters need to find out and even though we do find out a few, I was honestly expecting a little more about their past and some mystery to find out more to move the story forward. The things that happen to the sisters are interesting and I did find it entertaining, but the story just kind of ends with no real resolution.
I thought all of the characters, especially the sisters, were very well-rounded and interesting. My only complaint was that they seemed to act too adult for teenagers. They drank a lot like it wasn't illegal or like it didn't even really have consequences, they went to night clubs etc. Maybe that's how it really is in Las Vegas with everything focused on being an adult, but I still found it kind of weird.
Overall, if you like a story with lots of scandal and drama with interesting characters then this one is for you. Content warning: a lot of teen drinking, language, and a make-out scene that turns inappropriate....more
After reading the acknowledgementsby the author, I could see the Into the Woods inspiration.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
After reading the acknowledgements by the author, I could see the Into the Woods inspiration. Stray follows the sappy fairy tale stereotype and gives it a darker undertone especially about it's control towards women. If you kept Cinderella almost the same but made it slightly darker with forbidden magic you might have something like Stray.
This fairy tale was all about controlling women and how they aren't valued in this world even though they are technically powerful. I know it was supposed to be a satire but sometimes it was difficult to read about the extreme rules for them all towards the goal of getting married. The girls act ridiculous and when one of them eats before going to a ball I couldn't get the image of Scarlet O'Hara reluctantly stuffing her face and wondering why you have to be so ridiculous just to catch a husband.
The world building just wasn't very strong. While I liked the plot, it felt hard to imagine the world because it was a little confusing. The biggest problem for me, though, was the question of why these girls would even put up with all these crazy restrictions or where they came from in the first place. That thought pulled me out of the story a lot because it was never really answered very well.
The writing was ok for the most part. A few cheesy lines here and there with the cliche "breath she didn't know she was holding." I'm so glad she figured it out in time or she might have died. And my favorite "Suddenly" was in there more than I prefer. But it had some good writing too. Just not terribly consistent. I liked the characters and their relationships. The villain gives speeches about having fun with the poor, powerless protagonist and it made me roll my eyes.
I didn't like the beginning. It throws me into an action scene right away but I'm not sure why I should care yet. I'm not a fan of when authors do that.
And to be very, very nitpicky - she doesn't use the term "artless" like I'm used to Jane Austen using it and it irked me.
Overall, it was a different take on fairy tales that had an interesting plot but the world building wasn't my favorite....more
When I heard this was a Cinderella re-telling with a cyborg sci-fi twist I thought the idea was weird. However, when I started reading it, I went fromWhen I heard this was a Cinderella re-telling with a cyborg sci-fi twist I thought the idea was weird. However, when I started reading it, I went from scratching my head at the idea of it to being awed by her creativity. It was like Cinderella meets Star Wars (the high-quality originals, not the prequels). Let’s be honest – the mixing of traditional and sci-fi is what made Star Wars great and Cinder does just that by mixing fairy tales with a futuristic world. The Cinderella elements are very loose making the story unpredictable because just when I thought I knew what was going to happen something crazy would happen instead. And just when I thought we had left the path of Cinderella, she would unexpectedly bring the fairy tale elements back. And then when you think it can’t get any better, she layers it with end-of-the-world type stuff and a mutated human race. MIND BLOWN. The world she created was unique and even though it was sci-fi, it wasn’t to the Star Trek extreme. The futuristic world had a lot in common with our world which I loved. This was one of those books where I was still reading it at 2 am with bloodshot eyes even though my kids would be awake in four hours – but I couldn’t stop reading! Despite Cinder being a cyborg, she was incredibly easy to relate to. And the love story with the Prince felt like a real relationship and not mooning over the cutest guy in town. Even if you don’t like sci-fi, pick up this book and watch the pages fly by – you won’t be able to stop turning them.
I had a hard time rating this book. I kept going back and forth between four and five stars. I loved the whole book but the very ending kind of fizzled out in a “To be continued…” way that reminded me of that one Jerry Seinfeld joke. HECK YES I’ll be reading the next one to find out what happens next, but I wish the ending had more closure to it.
Tribal Scarring is the second short story in the Urban Hunters series and it was a little more serious than the first book, Four Small Stones. I misseTribal Scarring is the second short story in the Urban Hunters series and it was a little more serious than the first book, Four Small Stones. I missed the light-hearted humor of the first one. Still, it was a nice contrast to see the dangers of living in the bush in Australia. I definitely felt some culture shock as I was reading about Billy and the rituals he goes through to become a man. The writing was intense and so well done. The author doesn’t spell everything out for you. He lets you discover this new culture on your own which I liked. I can’t wait to see what Billy’s next adventure is! Also, I’d like to know what a yabby is. :)