Short and Sweet Version The Secret Keeper was a unique murder mystery about Laurel delving into her mother's past to find out why her lovely mother m Short and Sweet Version The Secret Keeper was a unique murder mystery about Laurel delving into her mother's past to find out why her lovely mother murdered someone with a cake knife (Happy birthday! Let's cut the cake! Where's the knife? Uh.....we lost it.). This historical fiction story set during the Blitz in World War II will make you ask the question, "Did MY parents murder someone with a cake knife? How much do I really know about my parent's past?" Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
The Secret Keeper is unique among murder mysteries because we know right at the beginning who was killed and who did the killing but we don't know why. (Full disclosure - I am a wuss and have not actually read that many murder mysteries so I can't say this is 100% true).
A young girl named Laurel witnesses her mother murder someone. The rest of the story is about Laurel trying to figure out why her loving, sweet mother would commit murder. Here's why this murder mystery worked so well for me. For Laurel to figure out why her mother would do that, she had to dig into her mother's past. On this journey of digging, Laurel is bugged by the fact that not only does she not know very much about her mother's past but the fact that she had never realized before how little she knew.
Children don't require of their parents a past, and they find something faintly unbelievable, almost embarrassing, in parental claims to a prior existence.
-Kate Morton, The Secret Keeper pg 26
I have the same mystery to solve as Laurel even though my parents haven't murdered anyone with a cake knife (that I know of). How much do I know about my parent's lives before they were parents? Could I tell their story from start to finish? Probably not. This story inspired me to fix that and learn more about them.
The plot goes back and forth between the past and the present. It worked so well for this story because it kept me turning the pages so I could connect all the dots in the story. I wanted to know how this girl Dolly grew up to be Laurel's mother because they seemed so different. Dolly must have gone through something crazy and major to become the grown-up Dorothy. [spoiler]PLOT TWIST! They actually ARE different people. Laurel's mother, whose real name is Vivien, stole Dolly's identity (who was killed in a bombing) so she could start a new life away from her abusive husband. Such an awesome, clever twist. Well done.[/spoiler] I wanted to know why Laurel's mother was grateful for a second chance. "Because people who'd led dull and blameless lives did not give thanks for second chances. (pg 109)" And it was so fascinating to read about Laurel's internal conflict as she's learning more and more things about her mother's past that disappoint her but she can't help still loving her.
We had so much fun discussing Dolly's character in book club because she was crazy. Dolly had this weird obsession with her friend Vivien. You think Dolly's normal until this scene where Vivian clearly doesn't know who Dolly even is. They were only friends in Dolly's head and it blew my mind. It showed some great character writing that the author, Kate Morton, could write character motivation so well that it took me so long to notice that Dolly was obsessive and narcissistic.
The writing is good with little sprinkles of British humor. Dolly works for an old lady who reminded me of Lady Grantham on Downton Abbey because she longs for the good old days of proper lady's maids. The old lady is described as "marinating in the bitter juices of abandonment for the better part of three decades. (pg 132)" Kind of sounds like Lady Grantham, too, right?
No, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart do not just switch lines. But, I'm not going to lie - a lot of the book is copied andShort and Sweet Version
No, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart do not just switch lines. But, I'm not going to lie - a lot of the book is copied and pasted. Little details are different like Beau opening the door for Edythe and Edythe smiling all the time. Seriously, why is she smiling all the time? You got something stuck in your teeth, Edythe? A dead boyfriend maybe? Kidding. She doesn't eat Beau.
Beau makes a few moves on Edythe that Freaks. Her. Out. And totally made me laugh. Edythe doesn't come across as dangerous making it lose a lot of the tension that Twilight is known for. Still, I got sucked in enough to finish it then promptly flip it over and read Twilight again. Life and Death is like sugary, waxy American chocolate and Twilight is like fine, Belgian chocolate that melts as soon as you eat it. I mean, it's all chocolate and I'll eat it all, thank you. But Twilight is just better.
There are 40 extra pages of content that Twilight fans will want to read at least once. If you want to know all the changes but don't want to read the whole thing, check out the Jessica Thinks Too Much Version!
Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
(view spoiler)[ What's different in Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined?
Want to know all the juicy details of what's the same and what's different? Did Beau (male version of Bella) take ballet as a kid? Does he go dress shopping before he gets attacked by a gang?? If you're curious about that and more then you've come to the right place.
First things first. They go corsage shopping in Port Angeles instead of dress shopping. After that, they go to the movies. Beau is late for the movie, of course, because he's being attacked by a gang. The gang seems to be doing illegal drugs when he walks by and they think he's a cop. This new element of thinking he is a cop is so briefly foreshadowed that I totally missed it and found it confusing. The gang thinks Beau is a cop because they have a brief encounter at the airport and they see him with his dad, Charlie, who's in uniform (I had to go back a few chapters to read that again and wondered why it had to be in there at all). The gang pulls a gun on him until a sexy girl vampire shows up in a silver Volvo to save the day. Beau jumps in the car. Edythe (female version of Edward) steps out of the car and I was like, "Oh! Oh! They are going down!!" I wanted bullets flying everywhere and body throwing...I'm not sure where that came from. I'm not a violent person. But sadly she doesn't kick their butt. She just gets back in the car. *cue anti-climatic trumpet*
As for the ballet studio, the "huntress" still lures Beau there. The ballet studio is where his mom would teach lessons and he would go with her so it still has a personal connection to him. LET'S DISCUSS THE END SHALL WE You'll have to click this spoiler link, of course. Beau gets beat up much worse at the ballet studio. He's trying not to scream, but he ends up vomiting from the pain. He gets more broken bones and has a hard time breathing. It was kind of intense to read.
I can't believe she changed the ending! It was a total surprise. Basically, Edythe gets there too late to save Beau. Edythe will either kill him trying to suck out the vampire venom or he'll survive as a vampire. Edythe asks him to choose and he chooses vampire. As he's changing into a vampire, we get a huge info dump of all the background stories and vampire rules that we learn in the other 3 books of the series. The big difference is the background stories we all known are still gender swapped - even the Volturi. And it was pretty cool.
I liked the way the opening quote from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea tied into the end. Beau is kind of forced into a destiny as a vampire. He doesn't mind after a while because it's everything he ever wanted. That's the same thing that happens in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The main character is a prisoner and can't leave but after a while he wouldn't leave even if he could because seeing the ocean in a secret submarine is like a dream come true.
The best moment in the new ending is when Beau and Edythe discuss how things could have been different. Beau talks about how he wishes he could have had a better goodbye with his parents. Unlike Bella, he has to live with the last thing he told Charlie which was cruel. Beau fantasizes how they could have graduated high school together and had a big wedding before he left his parents for good. Edythe jokes about how that just wasn't possible. I enjoyed the irony of that. It also made me realize that as much criticism as Bella gets for being "passive," she worked hard to get everything she wanted despite Edward telling her it wouldn't work. Maybe Bella fought for what she wanted in a passive, introverted way, but she still fought. And won.
And ohmygosh if you've read this book you have to tell me what you thought of the end!! I'm dying to hear other opinions! It was so interesting to read. Different. Unexpected. AH! Call Me Beaufort
Beau's full name is actually Beaufort. Beaufort is the only name I can think of that is worse than Beau. Beau didn't change a lot from Bella. He faints at blood but justifies it medically to reduce his embarrassment.
"I have a weak vasovagal system," I muttered. "It's just a neurally medicated syncope."
- pg 77
He royally sucks at sports. My reaction to that surprised me. I read this book to see how it challenges my gender bias. Do I have a gender bias? Turns out, a little bit. Girls wouldn't stage a snowball fight! Beau shouldn't suck so bad at sports! Honestly, his crappy sports skills came across as pathetic. Like all guys should be good at sports? It's definitely not true and I was surprised that I assumed that. Bella gets a lot of judgement for cooking for her dad. But when Beau does it? It's kind of endearing. Beau also cleans a lot, but it's kind of an OCD thing because he puts all the cleaning supplies in alphabetical order.
Little details changed and it made more of a difference than I thought it would. Beau is a gentleman. He opens the door for Edythe and carries her books. He doesn't let it bother him that she's stronger. I kind of liked Beau. Beau is more of a physical being than Bella, if you know what I mean ;). He flat out asks about sex instead of skirting around it. He tries to kiss Edythe a few times and she cringes and puts her hand up. I know she was reacting to trying not to eat him, but it came across as him having deathly bad breath or something. It made me laugh a little. That's How You Spell Edythe?
Edythe felt like she changed the most. Edythe responds a little more to people's thoughts than Edward did. Edythe never came across as dangerous to me. Even when she stops the van, I only saw her as interesting and mysterious - not dangerous. Removing the feeling of constant danger reduced the sexual tension that Twilight is known for. But that's partly my fault, too. Apparently I'm biased that women aren't dangerous. Another reason I didn't think of Edythe as dangerous was because she seemed to smile a lot. Seriously, why is she smiling all the time? You got something stuck in your teeth, Edythe? A dead boyfriend maybe? Kidding. She doesn't eat Beau. While Edward does smile, it came across as condescending while Edythe smiling came across as sweet. The one change that did make Edythe seem scary was the description of her during the dream Beau has right after he finds out she's a vampire. She has pointed teeth, sharp nails and a menacing vibe.
Edythe by far has the best line in the book. She buys Beau dinner and when he protests she says:
"Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles."
- pg 135
I know not everyone sucks at keeping characters straight like I do, but just in case, here's the gender swapped names for reference.
Alice - Archie Jasper - Jessamine Rosalie - Royal Carlisle - Carine Esme - Earnest Emmett - Eleanor Edward - Edythe Bella - Beaufort
I loved the sarcastic writing. The author experiments with formatting words on the page which I thought was cool. The world waShort and Sweet Version
I loved the sarcastic writing. The author experiments with formatting words on the page which I thought was cool. The world was fascinating and felt new, but the plot slowed down in the middle because the world building kind of took over at that point. It has a lovely ending and wonderful characters. This book is perfect for fans of unique and creative fantasy worlds.
Magonia has such wonderful, sarcastic writing. It's dripping sarcasm like an ice cream cone on a hot day that oozes it's fattening sarcastic goodness all over your fingers. Most of the sarcasm comes from the main character, Aza. Aza is understandably jaded about an incurable disease she's had since birth that makes it extremely difficult for her to breath. She hates when people are trying to "fix" her life like she hasn't tried everything. In this quote, she's describing one of the things that people are sometimes saying to her.
Sometimes also what-about-faith-healers-what-about-herbs-what-about-crystals-what-about-yoga? Have you tried yoga, Aza, I mean have you, because it helped this friend of a friend who was supposedly dying but didn't, due to downward dog?
The sarcasm worked so well because it was balanced out with reality. Since Aza is always on the verge of dying, the family copes with the constant threat of her death by having pre-written apologies to each other so they can all be on the same page in case she does actually die. What she labeled these apologies is beyond hilarious.
My mom has a written apology from me for the entire category of brutal sarcasm. [My brother] has one entitled Excessive Bitchiness, Hogging of Parental Attention by Repeatedly Being Sick Unto Death but Not Actually Dying, and Variant Category: Theft of Clothing.
The one to my dad runs more along the lines of Things I Wasn't Very Interested In, Parts 1-36
I love how funny but real this is at the same time. I loved that she would be sorry for how sarcastic she was to her mom, for the neglect she unintentionally caused her brother, and for ignoring her dad about at least 36 things. SO funny! But also very touching as well.
The strong voice that Magonia is written in also made it a little difficult to read. Maybe an audiobook would help with that. Aza had a very disjointed thought process at the beginning. She seemed to jump randomly from one thought to the next. In real life, most people have thought processes that jump around a lot, too. The problem about reading someone else's jumpy thought process is that it doesn't make sense to me. On just one page she talked about how she got her name, the alphabet, E.T., bullets, and how her day sucked. Like WOW. Maybe they connect in her mind, but they did not connect at all in my mind. I had to slow down and re-read a lot just to get a handle on what she was even saying.
Despite the flaws, I really, really loved the writing. Maybe it's because Aza's voice sounds disturbingly like the sarcastic voice I have in my head (which I keep to myself because I generally like people). I just connected with her as a character. Aza loves random facts. I do too! I'm kind of a fan.
Something unique and creative about Magonia was how it experimented with formatting text. I can't say that I loved it or anything, but it was interesting. The author had empty brackets with no words in a few places. In the context of the story, it represented the way there are some things words just can't express. Like love.
Another experimental thing in the writing I liked was about Aza's best friend, Jason. Jason likes to recite pi when he's nervous. There are huge strings of numbers in the book sometimes. It worked and I found it endearing. The longer the number, the more freaked out he was. He also loved to read very obscure and ancient books like Kepler's Dream: With the Full Text and Notes of Omnium, Sive Astronomia Lunaris which is basically a scientific novel defending Copernican theory that is dressed up as fantasy so the author wouldn't get his head chopped off. I don't know about you, but the fact that Jason reads such interesting books made him interesting to me, too.
The one thing I couldn't stop thinking about Aza and Jason's relationship was, "A bird may love a fish, signore, but where will they live?" which is from the movie Ever After. It describes the dilemma of their relationship so perfectly.
The world of Magonia comes from an ancient myth from the 1st century that tries to explain the weather. The myth says that sailors traveled in ships in the clouds and would cause storms so they could steal crops and feed themselves. That's a very straight forward way to describe it. Here's how Jason would describe the world of Magnolia:
"It's some kind of Peter Pan plus E.T. hybrid."
I loved that Magonia was based on an actual legend that no one has really heard of before. It added this magical authenticity to the world that's hard to describe.
As much as I loved the fascinating mythology and the fantasy world, it was relied on a little too much to keep my interest in the story. By about 70% through the book, the plot starting slowing down a lot. Most of the middle of the book is spent world building and by this point, I was no longer dazzled by the world. The world is really cool. You can't deny that. And the writing was sadly starting to lose the sarcastic voice it had started with. I felt strangely disconnected. I think the biggest reason I stopped being invested in the story was because once Aza enters the fantasy world of Magonia, it's unclear what she WANTS. Does she want to stay in Magonia? Does she want to go back to earth? Does she want to help with this mission of dubious morals? Does she love her best friend Jason or not? For most of the book, I didn't know the answer to these questions mostly because it doesn't spend much time with Aza's thoughts at all. If I didn't get to know these answers, I would have really liked Aza to explore those questions a little bit. It's realistic to have the main character be undecided when they are thrown into a strange new world, but her indecision went on for too long. If she doesn't want something, there's no conflict left. And no conflict means boring. A fantastic world can't replace a good conflict. At the beginning, the conflict was great. She was always dying and she didn't want to die. Seems like a lame conflict but it really worked because I liked the character and the way she viewed the world.
However, I did enjoy the ending. I liked her epiphany that the Magonians were scared of humans because they have to wear huge helmets with tubes so they can breath in Magonia. This epiphany helps her get what she wants which we FINALLY learn is going back to earth to be with her family and Jason.
Short and Sweet Version Slow-burning romance. Fun, modern retelling of Greek myths. Epic, cliff-hanger ending. Twists. Famous rock star father so Short and Sweet Version Slow-burning romance. Fun, modern retelling of Greek myths. Epic, cliff-hanger ending. Twists. Famous rock star father sold your soul. All the things you need for the perfect novel to lose yourself in for a while. Jessica Thinks Too Much Version (view spoiler)[
The parental dynamics in the book are refreshing. There are no clueless, barely existent parents that act unrealistically. Oh no. The parents in this book CAUSE the problems by selling their children's souls. That understandably gives Daphne, the main character, some trust issues. Daphne's dad, Joe, made a deal with the devil and deeply regrets it. I liked Joe because he genuinely tries to become a better person. One of the most tender and emotional moments is when they finally mend their relationship.
I liked the pace of Daphne and Haden's relationship. It was beautiful, deep, and slow-burning. Since they hadn't just gotten together and made out really fast in the first book, their relationship still had somewhere to go in this book. I didn't feel like their relationship was being artificially sabotaged for "reasons." Daphne not admitting her love for Haden was heart-breaking but it I bought it. She says that it's because the future is in uproar and I guess that's true, but with her character I felt like it had more to do with her trust and abandonment issues from her dad. She has a plan for the future and a guy is not supposed to be in it because she wants to be independent. I was biting my nails because I could totally understand where she was coming from but I know she's going to realize the error of her ways but will it be too late?!?!
My favorite twist at the end - and there were a lot of them so don't worry I won't tell them all - was finding out that her uncle is Cupid/Eros. I really didn't see it coming, but then it made me smile when I thought about the fact that he loves Valentine's Day and works at a flower shop. Maybe that's a little obvious foreshadowing, but I was so focused on her mom being Demeter that I forgot to think about who her uncle would be. I also probably let it slide a little since I love Valentine's Day and I'm in the minority like he was. Anyway. His arrows were awesome! Who knew Cupid could kick butt! He was like a guy Katniss with arrows of evil and love. Such an unexpectedly cool character.
The cliffhanger. All I have to say is that if book 3 wasn't happening I would be extremely upset. Angry. That's quite the mess they got into by the end. I loved how Daphne kind of mirrored Orpheus's story but the genders were swapped. The Persephone myth was woven in as well with a little reference to Cupid and Psyche. So much awesome mythology to geek out over and I loved it!
This exciting fantasy adventure stars a fascinating heroine who is a mix of sarcasm, humor, Cinderella, and deadly assassin. TShort and Sweet Version
This exciting fantasy adventure stars a fascinating heroine who is a mix of sarcasm, humor, Cinderella, and deadly assassin. The romance was a love triangle, but I thought it was well written. Other than too many exclamation points in the writing for my taste, I loved this book.
Throne of Glass has a fantastic main character named Celaena. Her strong opinion mixed with her sarcasm and a little condescension made her so funny and likable and just awesome. Even though she is a notorious assassin, she's also not afraid to be feminine which I found refreshing.
Random question - I was confused about the "Adarlan's Assassin" title. Did she kill people FOR Adarlan or IN Adarlan? I know there are prequels to this series and I'll bet it answers that little detail. I've heard good things about the prequel stories so I'm probably going to read them. But if you happen to know the answer to that little detail, I'd be very grateful.
Throne of Glass started out as a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella but Sarah J. Maas changed it after asking herself, "What if [Cinderella] was an assassin who had just tried to kill the prince?" The questions she asked herself after that helped shape it into an original story with only slight references to Cinderella.
To anyone that has issues with the realisticness of a woman being an assassin, I would like to point out that women already posses a lot of the skills required to be an assassin. I think my favorite example is Kaltain staring Celaena down with a "keenness that would make any assassin proud. (pg 75)" Being underestimated is also another huge advantage that women have. Celaena is underestimated about her assassin skills all the time and she uses it to her advantage.
As much as I adore Celaena's sarcasm and humor, she can only get away with it because of her vulnerable moments where she discusses her childhood which was full of abuse and tragedy. I found myself noticing that Celaena used her sarcasm the most when she was telling tragic stories from her past. It helped me connect with her character more when I realized that she was probably being overly sarcastic to cope with the pain she still felt.
Celaena is definitely brave, but she's not perfect either. If she was perfect I would hate her. I like her flawed the way she is. In the castle that Celaena is living in, there is something or someone going around killing people. Celaena is usually very confident and brave, but she starts to have doubts about being able to kill this particular monster. As she hurries up the stairs in the dark, she says to herself, "Not that the thought of something wicked dwelling in the castle scared her or anything. (pg 194)" That made me laugh. She's brave but maybe not that brave. I felt like I could connect with her a little more after that.
Despite being a little afraid, Celaena is trying to figure out who/what is killing people. Her only clues are disemboweled, dead bodies with weird symbols around them like it's the Da Vinci Code High-Fantasy Edition. Celaena learns that the symbols mean this monster has been released from the Chamber of Secrets land of the dead, so she gets all Hermione at the library to figure out how to kill it. This story keyboard smashed all my geek buttons at the same time.
As Celaena is chasing after this monster, two guys are chasing after her. Kidding! Honestly, it's not that bad. There are two guys that she develops relationships with. I feel like it is my duty, as a book reviewer, to tell you that there is a love triangle. I know this plot element can really bug people, but it doesn't bother me that much if the romance is a subplot like it is in this book. I really enjoyed the romance in this book. Neither of the guys is perfect and they both have a unique connection with her. Now I can't choose. As far as love triangles go, it's a very well written one. Captain Westfall annoys her too much for them not to have some romance later on. And the Prince is just so darn charming but a little vulnerable at the same time that you can't help but like him, too.
The Prince perfectly matches Celaena's sarcasm. When Celaena is having her period, she tells the prince to go away because she feels like dying. He tells he that no one should die alone and makes up a a sarcastic and slightly suggestive story to entertain her in her "final moments." By the way, how cool is the casual reference to a period? I liked the honesty, but I liked even more the men's reactions. The captain freaks out and runs away. The prince comes to tease her.
The prince was clever, charming, and persuasive. I liked that he intuitively knew to appeal to Celaena's competitive side to get her to join the assassin competition on his behalf. I found it so interesting that the prince embodied the romanticism that a traditional princess has. He insists on marrying for love, which Celaena finds old-fashioned and unrealistic. He also believes in being polite and kind. And he thinks incredibly gorgeous and romantic things like this about Celaena:
He couldn't banish her heart-wrenching music from his mind, even when he burned his mother's list of eligible maidens, even when he read a book long into the night, even when he finally fell asleep.
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 149
Isn't that just beautiful and romantic?
This next quote is a conversation that Celaena and the prince have and I think it shows the princes romanticism and Celaena's realism. I also think it makes them a good couple.
"What's the point in having a mind if you don't use it to make judgements?" [said Celaena]
"What's the point in having a heart if you don't use it to spare others from the harsh judgements of your mind?" [said the prince]
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 231
As much as I like Celaena, I agree more with the prince. I try daily to have more empathy and not judge others.
Captain Chaol Westfall is attractive in his own way. He's logical, loyal, and down to earth. The captain also has a swash-buckling side to him that Celaena makes fun of, to my delight.
Chaol tossed his cape on top of hers, his toned body flexing through the dark threads of his shirt. He drew his sword. "On your guard!" He moved into defensive position, and Celaena looked at him dully.
Who do you think you are? What sort of person says "On your guard"?
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 81
I have only one small complaint about Throne of Glass. Exclamation points do not belong in prose. Just saying. It made the writing feel cheesy. Here's an example:
How lovely it was to hear a voice like her own--cool and articulate--even if he was a nasty brute!
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 3
If the exclamation point had been left out it would have come across as delightfully sarcastic. The eclamation point makes it just so dramatic!! You know!!! It sounds like Jim Carrey is stuck in my head!!!!
Here's another one! In the prose! I only marked it because it irked me. Irked me, I tell you!
Celaena would not make a fool out of him!
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 133
Here's another example of the generous use of exclamation points! This is Celaena's hilarious description of the prince!
Princes are not supposed to be handsome! They're sniveling, stupid, repulsive creatures! This one ... this ... How unfair of him to be royal and beautiful.
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 8
I know I'm starting to sound like Elaine Benes from Seinfeld criticizing someone's use of an exclamation point, but it did pull me out of the flow of the story more than once. Although, to be fair, the exclamation points work better in the last quote since this is a thought in her head instead of in the prose. Still, they were used a lot throughout the book and the story didn't need so many exclamation points.
I think the only way to write a fair review of this book is to mock it light-heartedly in a way I hope Celaena would approve of. I loved this book. It was so much fun. But the exclatamtion points need to go. *deep, tragic sigh* *hand over heart* *moment of silence for the dead exclamation points*
I'm sorry. I'll stop talking about exclamation points now.
One thing I enjoyed about the narration was when it moved to different points of view. It didn't do it a lot - just enough to be interesting. It told the story from the Prince's view, the Captain's view, and Celaena's view. And it was well written so I could tell whose head I was in without ever getting confused. Most of the story was from Celaena's view, but it added a lot to the story - especially the romance - when we got to see little snippets from the Prince or the Captain.
Throne of Glass had a fun, adventurous plot that I really enjoyed ... except for the ending. As Celaena continues the quest of finding out who is killing people she starts to think that it's Nehemiah, who is her best friend. I know from too much reading of books that I should not believe this. I'm hoping for a cool reveal of who is controlling the beast that kills people and it sadly turns out to be the most cliche choice. I was kind of disappointed. Was anyone else disappointed when they found out it was Cain controlling the monster? I wanted a third, unexpected person to be controlling the monster besides Nehemiah or Cain so I could bask in the author's foreshadowing genius. I guess I can't expect that to happen all the time. But it would have been nice.
I loved the fresh and different take on magic in this book. Celaena briefly mentions being able to see fairies as a child. The day she first killed someone was the day they left her. This quote talks about how there used to be magic in this world but it left on it's own.
But even though the king had banned magic, most knew the truth: within a month of his proclamation, magic had completely and utterly disappeared of its own accord. Perhaps it had realized what horrors were coming.
-Sarah J. Mass, Throne of Glass pg 31
This little snippet causes so many questions that I know I will devour this series until I find out where magic went. Why did it leave? When is it coming back? WHAT IF IT NEVER COMES BACK? I found the idea of magic suddenly leaving one day so interesting.
Also, unimportant detail (but what am I if not a noticer of unimportant details), the main characters are 18 and 22 which are technically adults. Just curious why it's not an adult book. Not judging or anything. They probably made it a young adult book because young adult books are awesome and this is an awesome book. But still, it did make me wonder what "makes" a young adult book. Does the age of the main character matter when it comes to labeling it young adult or not? I'd love to hear your thoughts. (hide spoiler)]...more
In the Heart of the Sea is an addicting read mostly because I was horrified and had to know what happened next. This story honestly sounds made up buIn the Heart of the Sea is an addicting read mostly because I was horrified and had to know what happened next. This story honestly sounds made up but it is not. As nail biting as the story itself was, it was written like a historical textbook. I know this story happened a long time ago, but using "perhaps" a lot dragged the story down. He uses lots of dates and what feels like info-dumping of historical details that don't seem relevant to the story. Some information felt like showing off how much research he did. Right whales, sperm whales - I learned a lot about whales.
I enjoyed the clever similarities in the history pointed out by the author that I might not have otherwise noticed. For example, the female dominated society in Nantucket from all the missing whalers is similar to the female dominated society of the whales. The whaleship Essex slowly died and sunk just like the whales they hunted did.
Speaking of whales, the description of hunting and killing the whales was very graphic. You don't have to be an animal lover to find the way that they hunted these whales extremely sad. It was also very disturbing to read about the cannibalism and insanity among the sailors that came from being lost so long at sea. Journaling at sea helped the Captain maintain his sanity, but not everyone was so lucky. I thought it was interesting how much journaling can help people cope with tragedy.
Overall, it was fascinating to see the historical story that inspired Moby Dick that I knew nothing about before reading this book....more
An epic romance on par with Gone With the Wind that features a feisty female lead. It made for a great discussion in my book Short and Sweet Version
An epic romance on par with Gone With the Wind that features a feisty female lead. It made for a great discussion in my book club since it brought up social and women's issues. The western setting and the journal-style story telling made it an unforgettable read.
These is My Words is an epic western romance starring a wonderful and strong female lead named Sarah. She reminded me a lot of Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind. But I have to say as much as I like Scarlett, I think Sarah has a few things that Scarlett was lacking. Sarah is genuinely kind but never loses her blunt, humorous honesty. When she saves a man who had gotten seriously injured by his horse near her ranch, she says this:
I lifted his head and took away the rags and gave him a pillow. I can make another pillow, I thought, and if he is going to die in my bed he may as well be comfortable.
-Nancy E. Turner, These Is My Words pg 136
I liked Sarah's gumption and the fact that she stood up for herself. She can defend herself in times of physical danger (which in the wild west, there were a lot) but she also stands up for what she wants, what she thinks, and what she believes. One of my favorite things that Sarah says is the most awesome string of cursing I've ever read. I need to remember this line the next time I'm mad.
Low down dirty ornery rotten skunk of a cussed mule-headed soldier!
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 106
There is nothing more witty or tough than a pioneer woman. As much as I admire Sarah, I think deep down if I lived in pioneer times I would act more like her sister-in-law who screamed at tarantula spiders and fainted when they circumcised cattle. Sarah just calmly flicked the tarantula out the window and wouldn't kill it because they eat bugs. I would have killed it. Or burned the house down when I didn't have the guts to actually kill it. Anyway. One of my favorite parts in the story was when Sarah went to the bank to deposit her money. This was the banker's reaction to her:
...he had the gall to sniff in my face and tell me to let my husband handle my money and not trouble myself with the confusion of it all.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 301
Sexist pig. When she tells the banker that she doesn't want to leave her five hundred dollars with someone who finds money "confusing" he suddenly becomes much more accommodating when his eyes light up with dollar signs about that huge amount of money. Then Sarah puts him in his place when she finds out the pitiful interest rate they offer and tells him how she can make much more money by raising cattle or making soap. Then she says this little gem of a line:
In case that's confusing to you, Mister, it's called profit. Thank you for your time, and good day.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 302
Sarah's awesome. Don't miss out on her story because of the writing. It's written in a journal style which was hard to read sometimes if I'm being honest. There's very little dialogue and the journal style is hard to get into since I'm being told how things are instead of being able to imagine them and live them myself. The other thing about journals is the dates, which I most often skipped over and didn't bother reading. My friend who listened to the audiobook was able to point out when Sarah had stopped writing for years at a time that I hadn't even noticed. So the dates were a little important to the story but they were so boring to read. It's just a drawback of the journal style I guess. The grammar is also intentionally bad to give it an authentic western feel which it pulls off pretty well. Still, the poor grammar is difficult to read and I'm glad to say that the grammar improves as the story goes along because Sarah becomes more and more educated. Sarah writes with a western accent and she uses terms that we are no longer familiar with. The grammar, the journal style, and the unfamiliar accent and terms all made it hard to get into at first. This isn't an easy read for sure but it was a great story that stuck with me. Once I got into it, I was hooked.
The women and social issues that this story brought up made for a good book club discussion. As a group, we were surprised at how similar the problems that Sarah faced were to our own. There are the judgmental, gossiping neighbors that she feels judge and watch her every move. There's the day when Sarah's husband asks her to do something and she totally lays into him because she has had enough. I do that and I don't even have half the problems that a pioneer woman did.
One thing that was drastically different from our own problems was how common death and war were. Children experienced the death of family members quite often. I thought this was a beautiful quote about how children deal with grief.
Children just cannot be sad too long, it is not in them, as children mourn in little bits here and there like patchwork in their lives.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 95
Living in the west was dangerous. Sarah always had a gun with her. She had it with her all the time because she had to use it all the time to defend herself. I even got to the point that I was suspicious of everyone Sarah met. Every time she met someone new I was like, DOES SHE HAVE HER GUN? WHERE IS HER GUN? WHO IS THIS GUY?
I loved the small details about culture that I got to learn and think about. I found the way they built houses fascinating. When Sarah marries Jimmy, he builds a large porch so they can easily expand their house by just adding some walls. Jimmy had her stand in the kitchen so he could build counters exactly her height. I found the idea of a husband custom building a house just for his wife so charming. What a labor of love.
Most of the things I need in my life are relatively cheap and easy to come by. It's nice to have a reminder that that wasn't always the case. Pioneers had to completely use up everything. Nothing went to waste, not even old children's clothes. Sarah receives some old children's clothes and decides to turn them into a rug. The way she describes what the rug means to her makes me want to value the things I have a little more.
I am making a rag rug with scraps the Maldonados gave me from all their children's old worn out clothes. I told them what a happy rug it would be as it carries all the children's laughter with it, and Mrs. Maldonado cried and hugged me and made me eat two huge tamales.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 108
As much as I love the main character and the culture, this book is through and through a romance that will appeal to people who love Gone With The Wind. It's got an epic time period, a sharp, independent woman, and eventually true love after a few divorces. If Scarlett O'Hara lived in the west, her story would have been a lot like These Is My Words.
The romance starts with trading books for horses. Sarah Prine, the main character, finds a treasure hoard of books on her trek west and she needs horses to haul them. She runs off to Captain Elliot for help, who teases her in the most adorable way. He offers to help if she gives up two of the books. This is Sarah's reaction to his offer.
"To give that man a book was more than I could stand, but if it meant to have all the others, I just had to do it."
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 45
Aw. Such cute teasing for me to read, but I would have been mad just like Sarah if those were really my books. I loved how the captain watches her reaction to each book he picks up. She agrees too quickly to the sermon book and so he puts it back down. Of course he finds the book she wants the most and takes it.
The captain and Sarah part ways and she ends up marrying someone named Jimmy. All epic romance needs something truly tragic and Sarah's marriage with Jimmy definitely was. When on his death bed Jimmy confesses to loving his old sweetheart and not Sarah, his wife, it broke my heart. But that event led to one of my favorite parts about the romance with Captain Elliot. When Captain Elliot finds her a while later and tries to date her she emphatically tells him she doesn't want to date anyone ever again. Her emotional outburst leads her to tears. Sarah's young daughter, April, naturally thinks that her mom is crying because she has an "owey." This is the captain's reaction, which I loved.
He was drilling a hole in my head with his eyes, but he said to April, Yes, honey. Mama's got owey. Straight through the heart, I'd reckon.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 147
What I love about his reaction is that he understands her. You can tell that he knows she's been treated badly and he works so hard to show her how much he loves her. And when he proposes to her and says, "I want to be married to you just like you are, spitfire and all. (pg 214)" you can just tell that he loves her the way she is. That's what true love is to me and I couldn't put down this book because of it. Can true love exist in marriages where each spouse depends on the other for survival? This was an interesting question that my book club brought up. Someone pointed out that in the west where you needed someone to tend the farm and you needed someone just as much to cook the food and make clothes, did a lot of the marriages come about because of need and not because of love? I bet a lot of marriages came about because of that. Then there's the fact that there weren't a lot of options to pick from. You get who you get and you don't throw a fit. I think even in marriages where they married because they more or less had to, that they found true love in a different way. In fact, since they depended on each other so much it can develop a special bond that is unique and deep. What do you think?
Content Warning - there are a few rape scenes in this novel. they are not overly graphic, but some people might find them disturbing.
The fantasy world that Snow Like Ashes is set in is the best and worst thing about this book.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The fantasy world that Snow Like Ashes is set in is the best and worst thing about this book. The idea of seasons being a kingdom is pretty cool. Some kingdoms have one season all the time and some kingdoms have all four seasons every year. The Season Kingdoms and the "Rhythm" Kingdoms don't like each other. That's a lot of kingdoms and weather to keep track of, which is where the love/hate relationship comes in. The world is interesting and complex but difficult to figure out which made the narrative prone to info dumping at times. Thankfully, the kingdoms and their cities had obvious names to help me out. I liked the play on the names of calendar months for the capital cities - Jannuari, Abril, Oktuber, and Juli. But going for the obvious made it feel a little cliche. The people in the Autumn Kingdom had a Native American ethnicity. The people of the Winter Kingdom had all white hair and blue eyes. It's fun and cheesy at the same time and I still can not figure out how I feel about it.
The magic system grew on me. I did not like it at first. From a logical standpoint, it seemed completely stupid to have magic reside in an object that can easily be stolen (see also: the entire conflict of this novel). I wanted to tell the whole Winter Kingdom, "Duh. That's obviously a stupid idea." Many, many chapters later it's explained why magic only resides in objects and I changed my mind about not liking it. The nature of evil is portrayed through magic as feeding on itself and being about a choice between good and evil. It was actually pretty interesting. Although, there was one scene at the beginning that seemed like it was supposed to have a lot of shock value but since the rules of magic hadn't been explained yet, I was not impressed.
The writing wasn't the best I've read. It had a few cliche sayings that pulled me out of the story and would sometimes tell me things I had already figured out. Villain motivation is very important to me. This villain fell into the category of wanting more power for no particular reason. That is probably the least interesting motivation that a villain can have. I mean, at least have a reason for all this power. Maybe he's always wanted all the things because he never had the things. Please. Something. I kept wondering through the whole book what it was that he wanted. They just called him "evil" the whole time.
Meira is a strong, spunky female lead. I liked her character and reading about her. She wants to be a soldier, not a princess. As much as I liked Meira though, I loved Theron. I thought he was the best character in the book. He was so far from cliche that I don't think Theron and cliche have ever met. Theron says my favorite quote from the entire book:
"There will always be a THEY in your new life, Meira. THEY make decisions; THEY mold your future. The trick is to find a way to still be YOU through it all."
-Sara Raasch, Snow Like Ashes (Chapter 14)
Overall, this was a good epic fantasy with an interesting world (once I figured it out) full of fun characters but had a few too many cliche moments for me to completely love it.
Content warning: some violence that is mildly graphic...more
After reading the acknowledgements by 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
The Queen of the Big Time reminded me of Gone with the Wind but set in the north instead of tThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The Queen of the Big Time reminded me of Gone with the Wind but set in the north instead of the south. There's a guy that Nella, the main character, pines for but can't have (who is kind of whiney by the way) and she doesn't fully love the one she has until it's too late. And then she returns to Tara...uh, I mean the farm she grew up on.
We had a great discussion in my book club about this one. It was a book that made you want to have more fun and live life instead of working too much because of Nella's reflections on her life and the choices she made. It also had me ponder about our dreams for the future. I couldn't decide if Nella gave up her dream or if she just got a new one. That was something I can really relate to. I still don't know the answer. Did I give up my dream of music or did I just find a new one that I love?
It was touching to read a story about a family and the support and care they have for each other even when they don't always like each other. I find myself enjoying multi-generational stories like these and how they show the changes of generations and their relationships. My one complaint about the novel was the the plot didn't have much going on it felt kind of slow to me.
Narrator Review: 3 Stars
The narrator, Cassandra Campbell, had a pleasant voice. She read a little slow for my taste but speeding up the narration helped with that. I thought she did a great job pronouncing all the Italian names.
Overall, it was a beautiful story about family and the choices we make with our dreams, our love, our work, and the act of trying to balance it all.
Content warning: a fade-to-black sex scene and there wasn't any language that I could remember....more
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
Elusion was a fun adventure but it felt like an introduction to a longer novel instead of theThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Elusion was a fun adventure but it felt like an introduction to a longer novel instead of the first book in a series. I liked that it took the time to set up the world and characters, but I don't like it when the first book in a series doesn't resolve anything at all. I didn't see any story arc that was just for this book. I read this on my kindle and I was expecting to turn the page and see "Part 2" or something like that. I was shocked that it was over in the "That's it?" kind of way. There is a plot twist at the end but I kind of saw it coming. Part of my disappointment of the abrupt ending was that I felt like things had just gotten started and suddenly the book was over.
The world in this novel is very interesting, especially the virtual reality element. It was easy to imagine the "Elusion" or the virtual reality world. It was vivid, interesting, and almost magical. I liked the blending or illusion and reality and the crazy, unexpected things that happened because of it. Virtual reality was presented in a way that I haven't read before. It discussed having technology connected directly to your brain and brought up the themes of addiction. What if technology is physically addicting? At what point does technology start making our life worse rather than better?
The characters were confusing to me. Regan is the main character and she has two "friends" name Josh and Patrick (I say "friends" because they are guys and this is a YA novel so....yeah. I think you know what happens as well as I do). On the one hand, I liked how distinct Josh and Patrick's personalities were. But on the other hand I didn't like that both of them did some majorly untrustworthy things for kind of lame or even unexplained reasons. I liked Regan. She was a sweet, sad, and likable girl though I don't understand how she saw either of the boys as remotely trustworthy.
Overall, it was a fun adventure set in a interesting and magical virtual world but I felt like it was more of an introduction to a longer story than a novel.
Content warning: mild swearing and a few make out scenes...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
Cold Sassy Tree was a great book for book club. It brought up a lot of things to discuss aboThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Cold Sassy Tree was a great book for book club. It brought up a lot of things to discuss about religion, women, and gossip set in early 1900s South. It's always interesting to me to read historical fiction like this and see how women were treated. Women were often blamed for the things that men did. Like Rucker marrying Love even though his wife only died a few weeks ago. You would think that the gossip would be about the insensitive man but it wasn't. It was all about Love and what an awful person she was. Society also largely viewed woman as free or cheap labor. You can clearly see how quickly their society would fall apart without women (Rucker can't even feed himself or wash his clothes) and yet they are treated as second class citizens. That didn't mean women didn't have any power. Love would march for women's right to vote and she was very clever about getting Rucker to do things she wanted by making it seem like it was his idea.
My favorite part of this novel was the discussions about religion that Rucker has with his grandson, Will. They discuss prayer and what you should really be praying for. Rucker believes that God doesn't interfere with whether people live or die. God gave us brains and he expects us to use them. And sometimes bad things happen to good people and what we should really pray for is the strength to get through hard things. I really liked this and the other discussions that Will and Rucker had.
Another thing that was fun to read about was the modern changes coming to this small, southern town. Cars appear for the first time. Some people have phones and some don't. Some people have plumbing and some don't. It was like redneck Downton Abbey.
Cold Sassy Tree shed a fascinating look on gossip. Gossip is focused on the outward appearance of things and disregards the more important internal thoughts and feelings of people. Will points out that there is a difference between "being in mourning" like wearing black etc. and actually mourning. You can see the tragic effects throughout the story when people focus on the outward things people are doing and forget to see them as people.
Narrator Rating: 5 Stars
Even though this is my very first audiobook, I thought the narrator did an excellent job with reading this novel. He had a southern accent that really added to the atmosphere of the book. Also, it was easier to understand the accent when I heard it. The southern accent in the book was spelled phonetically and I found it hard to read. But it was delightful to listen too. I would recommend the audiobook over the book for this novel. I got me here a southern accent before I wus done with this here aud-ee-o-book. Yes um.
Overall, I really liked this look at southern life and the ideas it had about religion.
Content warning: rape scene. It's not very graphic but it was disturbing. There may have been some language but I can't remember....more
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
Dreams of Gods & Monsters was an epic and beautiful finale to one of my new favorite fantThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Dreams of Gods & Monsters was an epic and beautiful finale to one of my new favorite fantasy series. The romance made my heart melt. There was a Star Wars joke about using a Tauntaun to keep warm which I loved. There was more of the blunt, honest humor that I laugh out loud at. Behold my favorite joke ever.
Razgut paused as though he were thinking up a reply, and then he farted. Squinching up his face, he did so with effort. The reward was slight in resonance but grand in aroma, and the emperor was not amused.
- Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters pg 367
I'm certainly amused by Razgut. Speaking of Razgut, I kind of wondered when he was going to say "my preeeciousssssss" because he totally reminded me of Gollum. He was pitiful, ugly, scheming and for reasons I don't understand I kind of liked him and felt sorry for him.
The book before this one, Days of Blood & Starlight, was very dark. Dreams of Gods & Monsters did a good job showing that no matter how dark things get, love and mercy matter.
But all he could think, in answer to that, was what Karou had said earlier, about the darkness we do in the name of the dead, and whether it’s what they would want for us.
-Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters pg 264
The writing is beautiful and just sucks you right into the story.
She’d spoken of their happiness as though it were an undeniable fact, no matter what happened— apart from everything else and not subject to it. It was a new idea for him, that happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won— some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it— but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies. Food, weapons, happiness.
-Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters pg 413
As much as I loved this book, I wish it had ended 100 pages sooner than it did. Not because I thought the book was too long but because I felt like the final subplot that took up those last pages was unnecessary. The final subplot goes into the epic territory of Where This World Came From. Honestly, I don't like knowing that much detail because I feel part of the beauty of an amazing fantasy is leaving a little left unanswered especially about the origins of a fantasy world. For example, J.K. Rowling describes a hidden world of witches and wizards but she never attempts in the narrative to explain where the first witch and wizard came from. I think if she had, it would lose a lot of it's magic. Laini Taylor literally answers all the questions and to be fair she did foreshadow this plot in the previous books so it is nice that she didn't just abandon it. But I felt like the story would have worked much better without that final subplot because I felt like the plot really dragged through those last 100 pages.
Overall, it was a very satisfying conclusion to my favorite series but I was not a fan of that final subplot about the origins of the world because I felt it was unnecessary.
Content warning: a few suggestive scenes and some language....more
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
Spoiler free even if you haven't read the first book in this series.
Elisa has been growing and changing throughout the series and The Bitter Kingdom was no exception. She starts to define herself by trying new things and seeing what she likes instead of focusing on comparing herself to others, especially her sister, and coming up short. In fact, she purposefully learns and pursues the things that were hidden from her or that scare her and it made her a fascinating character to read about.
I liked the friendship that developed between Elisa and Storm. He seems to be a very loyal friend but the culture that he grew up in makes him not completely trustworthy. His culture also gives him a very literal personality that I found endearing. One of my favorite quotes from the novel came from Storm when he's explaining the Joyan culture to someone and how it's different from his own.
"Joyans consider it rude to express one's true opinion unless it is unequivocally flattering."
- Rae Carson, The Bitter Kingdom, pg 235
There has been romance throughout the series, but it starts to rival The Princess Bride with the devotion and the kissing scenes that have lots of spark that I know the kid from the Princess Bride movie would definitely want to skip.
The writing had a few cliche moments. I liked the writing from the first two books better. Each book has a journey, but for some reason this one felt a tad bit long. However, the plot was such a fun adventure that reminded me of entering the mines of Moria that it kept my interest very well. There was also a very brief reference to "machine magic" that isn't really expanded on, but it does support my theory that I discussed in my Crown of Embers review that perhaps the Joyan race came from our world.
Overall, it was a fun adventure with epic romance and a main character who is constantly growing and changing into someone I would want to be.
Content warning: mildly graphic violence and a suggestive scene....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
Infinite was the best book in the Newsoul series. I thought it had a great, quick pace whichThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Infinite was the best book in the Newsoul series. I thought it had a great, quick pace which the other two books before this lacked. My favorite thing was getting to see more of the creatures that were just mentioned in the other books. I was hoping that would happen after I finished the book before this one, Asunder. I also loved learning even more about the sylph and the dragons.
Sam has been one of the most boring love interests that I've read in young adult. It makes me sad to say that because I felt like I should be able to relate to him since he's a musician like I am. Sadly, no. Sam and Ana's relationship is perfect and cheesy and therefore boring to me. Until Ana decides to be independent and do something on her own that she thinks is right. Then they (finally!) get in a fight. That at least was interesting. The thing with Sam and the dragons kind of gets explained but kind of doesn't. I didn't understand it all the way but at least it was brought up.
Ana developed into a fascinating hero. The resolution was perfect. The ending was twisty, bittersweet, and satisfying like a nice maple bacon donut. There was only one tiny thing at the end that I wondered about. (view spoiler)[I wanted to know what happened to the dragons! Did they all die? Where did they go? I loved the dragons and I was sad that I don't know what happens to them. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, this was my favorite book out of the series with new creatures and a great resolution though sadly I could just never like Sam.
Content warning: some violence. There might have been a few make out scenes but I don't remember for sure. They weren't very long if there were any!...more
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 like the survival skills in this series. Reading The Orphanage was like watching a survivaThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I like the survival skills in this series. Reading The Orphanage was like watching a survival reality show but it's not quite as gross since I was reading it. I feel like I learn something with every new book in this series. I kind of wonder if I really could cook a rat now after watching billy do it a few times.
Billy has such interesting knowledge that we ignore for the most part. Billy says a few times that raw meat is better for you. I balked at first, but it is true. We don't eat raw meat because of bacteria problems that arose from us not killing and eating our own food right away. Billy also has a charming way of viewing people and their spirits and seeing how they are alike. It makes him easy to like back.
The Orphanage was interrupted a lot with character introductions and setting descriptions which slowed the story down a little for me. The new characters from the orphanage were cute and likable. It was adorable how the kids from the orphanage thought everything in the forest was poisonous but when Billy shows them that it's not, they ran around like crazy eating and eating like all kids do. They raised a lot of interesting questions that I want answered like what happened to the orphanage and how they ended up on their own.
The way the dogs were described as having thoughts and feelings was so cool. It gave them a lot of personality and made them so fun to read about.
Overall, another great survival story with Billy and Amber that had some minor info-dumping but nothing too bad.
Content warning: graphic descriptions of cooking dogs whole and some mild swearing....more
I was not planning on reading this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in this series (Incarnate), but the ending had a lot of burning acid anI was not planning on reading this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in this series (Incarnate), but the ending had a lot of burning acid and death that left a lot of interesting questions so when I saw the second book staring at me at the library with it’s pretty flowers and rainbows, I decided to take it home. Another reason I decided to read this book was because I had a theory and I wanted to see if I was right. I was convinced that newsouls came from animals because that’s the first thing you think of when you think of reincarnation. Turns out I was wrong. Where newsouls really come from is even better. I love it when authors do that. I read this book in 2 days and I couldn’t put it down.
Even though I read book 1 in January, I for the life of me couldn’t remember who Sarit was as well as some of the other minor characters. Sarit is a friend of Ana. She keeps bees. Wait is she a she in this lifetime? That is all I know about Sarit. I still think Sam is boring. I do not like that Sam-I-am. He’s unnaturally perfect and completely predictable. I mean when something completely devastating happens, he just lays in bed moping. Cris was much more interesting. He’s a new character in this book who is flawed, selfless, and has been trying to achieve a dream for lifetimes but he can’t quite get there. I just wanted to hug him.
The plot is still pretty slow, but I liked the interesting questions that were brought up. Some of them were pretty deep that delve into life, death, fear, and immortality. Ana goes on a quest for answers that is sometimes metaphorical and sometimes more like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s very bittersweet because along this journey Ana starts to realize how different and truly alone she is. She has to deal with constant rejection and trying to build her self-esteem despite what others think about her.
Also, I hope we get to see more of the creatures mentioned like trolls, centaures, phoenixes, and, of course, dragons.
Overall, I thought this was much more addicting to read than the first book. It answered a lot of questions from the first book which, of course, just brought up tons more to be answered in the next book. And it delves into some interesting and deep topics that left me thinking long after I finished.
The thing that really got me to read this book was a) I thought Rory Gilmore read it (she actually read The Fountainhead though) and b) the back of thThe thing that really got me to read this book was a) I thought Rory Gilmore read it (she actually read The Fountainhead though) and b) the back of the book says "This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world—and did." How cool does that sound? Take all the elements you know of in good YA dystopian, and it's grown up in Atlas Shrugged. Plus there's some beautiful romance and a little mystery, too.
The writing is more accessible than I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be a very long, philosophical lecture but it turned out to be an interesting narrative with a strong plot and well-rounded characters that almost jump off the page with life. In the afterward of the book, Ayn believed in sharing her ideas through fiction so people could really see it in action. She uses a lot of irony to show her ideas that was fun to read. Ayn seriously writes the best ironic statements. I also like how she describes people talking. She always gives it an interesting tone and a feeling.
The scary thing about this dystopian book was how close we could be to living in a world like this. There are a few characters that still believe in capitalism, but the rest of the world has moved to extreme socialism. And the arguments of the characters that believe in socialism are things I hear all the time.
"We can't help it if we're up against destructive competition of that kind. Nobody can blame us."
-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged pg.10
Dagny is Rand's vision of capitalism personified. She's tough, doesn't take anyone's crap, she makes decisions based on facts and not feelings and she finds joy in her work. Dagny is a strong heroine who literally stands up to the rest of the world. She doesn't cave to peer pressure and she is never ashamed of what she believes. Her brother Jim is the ultimate cess-pool of humanity. He cares too much about what others think and wants to sacrifice the public good for "the little guys." The socialist characters are often referred to as "looters." Their way of life is dependent on making the strong feel guilty and responsible for the weak. No character embodies this quite like the capitalist Rearden's passive-aggressive wife. The book is constantly contrasting the capitalist and the socialist characters. The capitalists are proactive while the socialists are reactive. The socialists insist on limiting oil production (to help the "little guys"), for example, and then complain that there is a shortage. Sometimes I just wanted to strangle all of them. Finally, the character that I really loved was the yummy and handsome anti-hero, Francisco.
The best part of Ayn's irony is the language she uses. She constantly uses words like love, charity and helping others to describe socialism. The words that she uses to describe capitalism are "selfish, unfeeling, and dog-eat-dog." The capitalist characters are unapologetic about wanting to make money and work. And yet with her use of irony, you start to like the capitalist characters though they are blunt and the socialist characters after a while seem like lazy jerks despite constantly talking about their caring and love for others (which they seem rather prideful about). No matter what language she uses to dress them up, you eventually see them for what they are. After a while you start to realize that communism is nothing more than feeling entitled to what others earn and that's a disturbing thought.
The pace really takes a nose-dive in part 3. Parts 1 and 2 moved along at a good pace, but part 3 was so hard to get through. Usually the end of the book is the most interesting, but for some reason Ayn decides to almost completely remove any conflict at the beginning of Part 3 which made the story drag and then move into an extremely long philosophical lecture before the end of the book. By the end of that long lecture, I felt like I was being beaten over the head with her beliefs. I get it Ayn. I really get it. I'm ready for the story to more on now. Also, the controversy comes into this book towards the end where she insists that you can't be a rational person and believe in God which I don't think is true. After reading her biography, I can see why she believes the things she does and I don't judge her for it, I just don't agree with everything she says.
I'm inclined to think that people who practice self-interest to the extreme are more likely to become Scrooges than like the heroes in her book. While the looters can easily sacrifice the strongest among them, a person only interested in himself can just as easily sacrifice those below him to get what he wants. This is something that she doesn't bring up and kind of skims over. What I got from her philosophy was the value of being more objective in our lives, but I don't think it's a balanced way of life to be objective 100% of the time.
Overall, I liked this book for the plot, characters, and story but I wasn't sold on her philosophy which I disagreed with.
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
I really struggled with The Chaos of Stars. I adore Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series, but this felt like someone found a Egyptian mythology textbI 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.
Another fun short story in the Urban Hunters series. I really liked how we got to learn a little more about Billy and Amber and their personalities. WAnother fun short story in the Urban Hunters series. I really liked how we got to learn a little more about Billy and Amber and their personalities. We get to see their relationship grow in little, adorable ways. But I really struggled with the conflict in this one. It just didn’t feel real to me that an adult, no matter how angry, would actually try to physically harm young kids. I mean it was cool that we got to see Amber and Billy take care of themselves, but if I’m supposed to see this guy as a sympathetic character afterwords, it just didn’t work for me. But way to go girl power for Amber! And there was some great humor at the end.
Overall, there’s some cute moments at the beginning and fun humor at the end, but the conflict just didn’t work for me this time.
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.
Sky on Fire was definitely more intense than the first book in this series and there was a lot less humor. I mean, there was plenty of snark and bitteSky on Fire was definitely more intense than the first book in this series and there was a lot less humor. I mean, there was plenty of snark and bitterness coming from Alex that was kind of funny, but for the most part it was one non-stop nail-biter. It felt like I was really living through the end of the world because of the little practical details like how they could eat with gas masks on, how they would deal with the chemicals in the air etc. And as I’m living this experience with the characters, I’m crossing my fingers that the worst won’t happen. But of course it does like something from your nightmares.
The writing felt like reading a movie script (which I think really worked for this story). The plot is driven a lot by the dialogue of the characters. I love the characters. They have very distinct personalities that makes this story all the more chilling because I really care about all of them – even that bratty girl. Part of what makes this book truly terrifying for me was the fact that the end of the world is being shown through the eyes of kids. Max (who is one of my favorite characters) is a young boy who brings toy cars with him on the road to probable death and is playing with them and making car noises. Like my boys do daily. That little detail brought the story very close to home for me. Don’t cry, don’t cry.
The one thing that didn’t work for me was Josie’s story line. I found it to be too out-of-tune with the world that the author created for me to believe it. What happens to Josie just felt a little too convenient. It’s not a major part of the story line, so it didn’t bother me too much.
The ending felt strange to me. The story felt like it could be finished after this book. There’s really only one storyline left open and I wonder if it’s enough to keep the whole next book going. I’m stil going to read the next one because I’m curious what could happen next. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Emmy!
Overall, this was a book that I couldn’t put down ( I read it in one day). It was intense and chilling with characters that I loved.
I received this book for review from the publisher, Macmillan, in exchange for an honest review. I was not told what to say, I was not paid to write this review and all the opinions expressed are my own. I read an Advanced Reading Copy for this review. ...more