Crooked Kingdom, I wanted to love you. I really, really did.
Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy is one of my topRead more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!
Crooked Kingdom, I wanted to love you. I really, really did.
Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy is one of my top five favorite series of all time. In fact, it may be my favorite series, period. When I read Six of Crows earlier this year I was amazed that I didn't love it. I found incredibly slow and didn't come to love the characters like so many others seemed to. I thought that Crooked Kingdom might be just what I needed to love this series so I bought it on release day and immediately started reading... and I finally finished it 16 days later (embarrassingly) after switching to the audiobook halfway through. This is obviously just not the series for me.
Crooked Kingdom picks up right after the explosive ending of Six of Crows. Inej has been taken hostage and Kaz has been busy devising a plan to get her back and even the score. He is forever trying to break down Pekka Rollins "brick by brick" to get vengeance for his brother and each scheme is more incredible than the last. That's basically what this book is - Kaz's scheming. He makes a plan, they carry out the plan, it works or doesn't. Rinse and repeat. That is to say I found it a bit repetitive.
Despite the fact that this book (and the one before it) is 85% character building, I never grew to love the characters. Although it seems everyone else in the world is in love with Kaz Brekker, I'm left wondering where he gets his reputation for being ruthless when he never actually does anything especially terrible. It's somewhat disappointing for a character with the nickname "Dirty Hands." Inej was kind of sweet, I guess, and Nina was interesting. I enjoyed Jesper and Wylan enough and if I had to pick a favorite it might be Matthias, but honestly any of them could have died and I wouldn't have been terribly upset about it, as horrible as that may be. I'm just incredibly disappointed to not have connected with characters who everyone else apparently adores.
I also still never found the romance. Sure, a couple characters kissed once or twice, but for the most part I am baffled. I constantly see other people squeeing over how sweet and adorable the romance is, how perfect the characters are together. What is everyone else reading? I'm still wondering what I missed and hoping someone can point me towards the swoony romance.
The plot of Crooked Kingdom was interesting, but it was just so tedious. It dragged on forever. It's actually weird. I liked it enough while I was reading it, but I just couldn't find the motivation to keep picking it up each day. (Hence, why I switched to audio.) I read somewhere that this duology was originally supposed to be one book and I think I would've found that much more enjoyable since it would've been more fast paced.
One thing I did really enjoy was seeing some old faces from the original Grisha Trilogy. The cast of characters in the back of the book had me really hopeful for more but I was happy with what I got. I did find Kaz's backstory to be interesting and I liked the revenge plot, but there was never much doubt how things would end up so I didn't feel incredibly invested. I did like how Wylan's story played out though. That was perhaps my favorite bit of the story itself.
Obviously, it's incredibly disappointing not to love a series by the author of what is arguably my favorite series of all time. The Six of Crows duology won't be going on my favorites shelf and I doubt I'll read it again, but I will definitely still read anything this author writes ever. If you loved Six of Crows, you'll probably love this one too! If you didn't, I wouldn't recommend this one because it's really more of the same.
I decided to read Sleeping Giants on a whim when a friend mentioned that it sounded interRead more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!
I decided to read Sleeping Giants on a whim when a friend mentioned that it sounded interesting. I'd never heard of this book, being outside of my normal circle of YA, and I wasn't a fan of World War Z or The Martian. However... I am a huge fan of conspiracy theories as well as Ancient Aliens (which I had a hunch this might be related to), so I decided to grab the audiobook when I had the chance!
Sleeping Giants is told in the form of interviews and journal entries, which makes for a really unique reading experience. Listening to the audiobook was a fantastic idea because I got to hear this as if I was sitting in on the actual interviews as they happened. Many, many characters make appearances in this book. Some become important and some fade into the background quickly, but each one has something relevant to add. It's honestly such a weirdly written book that it's hard to connect with any one character, but at the same time I felt incredibly invested in each of their stories and outcomes. The one person who ties them all together is the man conducting the interviews, who we never do learn much about. He reminded me a lot of the Smoking Man from The X-Files, only even more mysterious.
There isn't much in the way of filler in this book because of the format and I really loved that! I wouldn't say the pace is necessarily fast, but there isn't much time wasted either. I loved following along as each new piece of the robot was uncovered and assembled and found myself on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen when it was complete!
My favorite part about this book is obviously the conspiracy! I love, love reading about conspiracy theories no matter how good or bad they actually are and Sleeping Giants has a good one! I'm honestly not sure why this was marketed as World War Z meets The Martian, to be honest. If I was the publisher I'd probably have thrown X-Files in there somewhere, although maybe that's just not what's "in" right now. Regardless, that's the vibe I got from this one. Although the pace isn't breakneck, I always wanted to know a little bit more. I wanted to know what the robot was, where it came from, what it was intended for, and I had a hard time turning the audiobook off when I needed to. This story is fascinating! Sleeping Giants is also loaded with twists, turns, and revelations!
Sleeping Giants was wrapped up well enough without a huge cliffhanger, then there was the epilogue which completely blew my mind and now I'm trying (and failing) to wait patiently for Waking Gods, which comes out in like a million years April 2017. Like I said, the pace was very steady and I'm not sure I would've made it through this book if I'd read the physical copy, but the cast who performed the audiobook made it come to life! Sylvain Neuvel has done an incredible job of putting together a story that's entirely unique and may produce mildly obsessive behavior. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of sci-fi or conspiracy theories!
If you're a regular reader of my reviews, I know what you're thinking. "Tracy, what is this? You don't readRead more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!
If you're a regular reader of my reviews, I know what you're thinking. "Tracy, what is this? You don't read contemporary." And yeah, you're right, I usually don't. My contemporary reads are few and far between. I came across If I Was Your Girl while reading reviews for Beast (review to come). This author had reviewed that book and I was intrigued, so when I had the chance to get the audiobook through my library I took it!
If I Was Your Girl is about Amanda, a trans girl who has relocated to live with her dad after having issues with her last school after her transition. Her plan is to keep her head down to make it through senior year, graduate, and move to New York where she's sure she'll be accepted. Unfortunately her plan got a little derailed, and by a guy, no less! (It happens to the best of us.) I loved Amanda! She's a very relatable character, the kind of girl who somehow manages to get along with everyone. Literally. She's friends with the class-skipping stoner and the girl who goes to church three times a week.
Her love interest, Grant, falls for her without knowing that she used to be Andrew and I loved their relationship! There was such a contrast between how simple it was on his end, just getting to know her, and how complicated it was for Amanda, who was often unsure of whether she should open up to him about her past. I really enjoyed watching them slowly get to know each other while Amanda let her guard down a little bit at a time. I will admit that the romance was kind of insta-lovey, but that's okay because it honestly wasn't the main focus of the story.
So yes, the characters are awesome, but so is this story! I think this is an incredibly important book because it's one of the first books of its kind in the YA genre and perhaps the first book about a transgender teen girl written by a transgender woman. In the midst of all the diversity discussion lately, I'm glad that this book exists and I really hope that we see more like it in the industry. I appreciated being able to experience what Amanda went through, seeing how it might be for a trans teen in America. I think Meredith Russo did a fantastic job of writing Amanda in a way that made it easy to step into her shoes and see things from her perspective.
My main issue with If I Was Your Girl is that it is somewhat unrealistic. The acceptance she found in small town Tennessee was amazing and heartwarming! But I do have a hard time believing that everything would be quite that smooth in Bible Belt USA, having been raised there. Still, I've seen people say ask, "Why shouldn't a trans girl get a happily ever after?" and I have to agree. I'd like to think of this book as a portrayal of the way things should be.
If I Was Your Girl was a really good read! I enjoyed it for the most part, although there were times when the story dragged and I got a bit bored (yay for audiobooks!). I really loved Amanda and her romance with Grant, even though it was much... sweeter(?) than what I'm used to reading. Like I said, contemporary is not my genre but I still enjoyed this book a lot! I'd definitely recommend If I Was Your Girl to anyone who loves contemporary romance or are on the hunt for good LGBT fiction. ...more
I will admit that historical fiction is not my go to genre... especially not WWII historical fiction. I reaRead more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!
I will admit that historical fiction is not my go to genre... especially not WWII historical fiction. I read Salt To the Sea by Ruta Sepetys earlier this year and came away having learned a lot of history and also with a fantastic story that I really hadn't expected. Despite the content of either book being outside of my comfort zone, I decided to give her another try with Between Shades of Gray. I'm so glad I did!
This is the story of Lina, a teenager in Lithuania who is suddenly ripped from her home one night alongside her mother and brother without any explanation. She is separated from her father and does not know where he is or why her family has been taken. The three of them are thrown into a train car alongside many other Lithuanians who have also been arrested for unknown reasons. While aboard the train she meets many people, but the most important is Andrius, who becomes very close to her and her brother throughout their journey.
The characters in this book were amazing. I loved Lina and her family, I loved Andrius and his mother, and I loved most of the other secondary characters introduced. Lina was incredibly strong for being such a young girl, almost to the point of being reckless, but it was easy to sympathize with her decisions. I felt for Lina's mother so much as she tried to make the best decisions for her children in such dire circumstances. Although romance is far from the main focus of this story, I loved the relationship between Andrius and Lina. The evolution of their friendship (and sometimes not-friendship) was believable and heart-wrenching at times. I could really feel how much they depended on each other during their time in the camps.
Although the characters are incredibly written, Between Shades of Gray is not an easy book to read. This is a book about a family in Soviet work camps. The trials the characters in this book face are difficult and uncomfortable to read about. But even with all of the terrible events that Between Shades of Gray covers, there are glimpses of goodness, not only in Lina and the other prisoners, but occasionally in those around them. It's nice to think that even in a time of great tragedy, there is good in the world. Ruta Sepetys also knows how to create an atmosphere that feels real. The writing is immersive, sometimes uncomfortably so, but it helped me to connect with the story and the characters on a level that a lesser writer wouldn't have been able to accomplish.
My major complaint about Between Shades of Gray is that it moved very, very slowly. I think that perhaps this works with the story because a big point in the book is that time does move slowly for Lina. Still, I did find myself wishing that things would move along a time or two, especially early on. I also didn't love the way the book ended (a bit abruptly), although I did like the information presented in the epilogue.
Overall, Between Shades of Gray was a really good read! I'm not sure what everyone else was taught in school, but this is one area that my curriculum blazed through at lightening speed and, like with Salt To the Sea, I feel like I came away knowing a lot more about a historical period than I did going in. I did have a couple of issues with this book, but not enough to detract much from my reading experience. If you're a fan of historical fiction, I recommend giving this a try! ...more
When I stumbled upon Stalking Jack the Ripper at ALA earlier this year, I really had no idRead more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!
When I stumbled upon Stalking Jack the Ripper at ALA earlier this year, I really had no idea what it was. I saw that it was presented by James Patterson and I thought it sounded interesting enough, even if mystery isn't my favorite genre. When I got home and realized it was a highly anticipated September YA release I was really excited to get to read it! To be honest, I kind of wish I had never gotten on board the hype train because this didn't live up to my high expectations.
The main character of this story is Audrey Rose, a girl who is more interested in dissecting corpses than attending tea parties, much to her family's dismay. She is not a bad character, but for some reason I just could not connect with Audrey quite as much as I wish had. I did feel like the author did a great job of showing her as a product of her time, while also making her strong and independent. The main issue I had with Audrey Rose is that she tries so hard to show how independent she is that she is actually reckless on a regular basis. I love strong female characters, but I have a really hard time with foolish ones and that is how she came off on a couple occasions, which was pointed out by other characters.
I absolutely loved Thomas, the Sherlockian love interest. I found him to be charmingly awkward and perhaps a little clueless at times, while also being totally brilliant. I did enjoy their romance although I wish it had been touched on a little more instead of the constant bickering and creeping around to spy on each other. The author has said that there will be more of a focus on romance in future books, so we have that to look forward to! Audrey's uncle, brother, and father were also interesting characters who I always wanted to know more about and never quite felt like I could get a good read on.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the feeling that I was never 100% sure who the big bad was. There were times I was pretty sure (and I was actually right in the end after a wrong guess early on) but I was never sure enough to tell anyone else what my hunch was! That's how good the mystery is written! The reveal of who Jack the Ripper actually was fun, inasmuch as I finally got to see if I was right! Unfortunately, the way the reveal was actually, well, revealed was kind of a let down. The action was not quite enough to hold my attention and everything, including the twist, just kind of came at a snail's pace, not enough to get me really excited about any of it.
I will give it to Kerri - she knows how to create a world and an atmosphere that feels both historical and unsettling. Although I had issues with other parts of the book, the world building was phenomenal! The addition of old photos (some gruesome, some strange, and some not-so-strange) made things interesting and helped to set the mood. I will say that based on the hype I've been hearing, I expected this book to be much more creepy. Maybe I've been desensitized by the number of horror books I've read but, while I did feel a little uneasy at times, I never felt truly creeped out.
Overall this book was just okay for me. I think if I hadn't gone in expecting to be totally blown away by an incredibly creepy mystery, I may have enjoyed it a little more. I felt like Stalking Jack the Ripper was a decent mystery with an interesting historical setting. I feel bad for not loving this one as much as everyone else seems to, but I came away feeling pretty "meh" about the whole experience. I would definitely recommend this for mystery fans though because it did keep me guessing!...more
I must live under a rock because somehow I made it two and a half years after the releaseRead more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!
I must live under a rock because somehow I made it two and a half years after the release of Gone Girl without seeing a single spoiler. I picked this book up when I got a chance to listen to the audio and expected to be totally blown away by it. Although I didn't know what it was about, I did know that everyone was obsessed with it for awhile and that there was supposed to be a huge twist! The hype was real with this one.
Just in case you also live under a rock, this book is about a woman who goes missing and whose husband does not exactly look innocent in the midst of the search for her. Amy is a New York native who has been dragged to a small town with her husband, Nick, somewhat against her will. Their marriage has been bumpy for awhile and neither of them are as happy as they used to be. Then she disappears.
This story is told from the perspectives of both Nick and Amy, part of it using flashbacks from Amy's diary. From the beginning there's doubt about whether or not Nick is innocent in the disappearance (because it's always the husband) and both narrators are pretty unreliable. Throughout this book I wasn't entirely clear what I felt for the characters. It was obvious who the author was setting me up to sympathize with, but I didn't care for either Nick or Amy at any time during this story. Both irritated me in different ways from page one, but I'm thinking that might have been intentional. Still, it's hard for me to enjoy a book completely when I can't connect to the characters at all.
The most important part of Gone Girl is the story, though. Or at least, that's what I expected to be totally wowed by. I most enjoyed the investigation and trying to figure out what all of the clues meant. Maybe it's because I knew that there was a huge twist coming, but I wasn't that shocked when it actually did come. I can't say I predicted it exactly, but I also kind of saw it coming, even if I wasn't sure what IT was. There were times when I was surprised, but overall I expected a lot more from a book that I only know about BECAUSE it's supposed to be completely mind blowing.
My biggest letdown with Gone Girl was the pacing. I understand the need for flashbacks and I liked the way the story was structured in different parts, but it was incredibly slow. If I hadn't been listening to the audio, I may have given up early on. Both Nick and Amy slowly meander through their narratives discussing minute details of their lives way too often. I don't know why, but I expected a much more quickly paced story with more surprising twists and turns and I definitely wanted at least one character to connect to.
Overall, Gone Girl was just okay for me. I know that a lot of people LOVED it, but unfortunately I just don't think this is the book for me. I did enjoy the story, but I had enough problems with it that I just can't call it a good read.
When it was first announced that the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be published as a book, I was really skeptical. Not only because I don't usually read scripts, but also because the script was not written by Rowling herself. (Rather, it was "based on an original story" by J.K. Rowling.) When it came right down to it, though, I knew I had to have a copy of the eight installment of Harry's story. So I grabbed my Ravenclaw robe and my wand and headed to the midnight release party. Over the next few hours I binge read all 320 pages and... well, now I have feelings.
This story picks up 19 years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, right at the same place as the original series' epilogue. Harry and Ginny are married with three children: James, Albus, and Lily. The Cursed Child is entirely about Albus, though. The other two are barely mentioned. Of course, Ron and Hermione are also married with children of their own. When this story begins, Albus and Rose, Ron and Hermione's daughter, are beginning their first year at Hogwarts. The nostalgia is back immediately upon reading this very familiar scene, but from there things advance at a breakneck speed.
There are several new characters in The Cursed Child, but the most important ones are Albus and Scorpius, Draco Malfoy's son, who become fast friends in much the same way as Harry, Ron, and Hermione did in The Sorcerer's Stone. I really enjoyed both these new characters and loved the relationship between the two of them! While Albus struggles with living up to the Potter name throughout this book, Scorpius has terrible rumors to contend with, and their similar trials bring the two unlikely friends closer together. One character I didn't much care for was Rose. I wonder if the writers were trying to throw back to how unlikable Hermione was in the first book when they wrote Rose's character, but she didn't work for me at all.
Old characters obviously have a huge part as well, but it seems as if all of them have become extreme versions of their original characters. For example, Ron is basically the comic relief of the play. There is actually a scene in which Ron, attempting to be threatening, holds his wand facing the wrong way toward a perceived enemy. Hermione is extremely logical, sometimes to the point of being rude. Then there's Harry, the overworked Ministry employee. I'll come right out and say it: I didn't like Harry in this play at all. He was uncharacteristically mean to pretty much everyone. I did love seeing Draco again, though!
I mentioned before that the plot itself moves extremely fast and that was another of my problems with this. I suspect it would work better as a play with more time between scenes, more time for characters to speak lines, etc. Unfortunately, this script is all a lot of us have and I feel that it should work just as well on paper since it's being sold for $30. Instead it felt like a lot of fan service and throwbacks to the original series crammed into a two part play.
Don't get me wrong, the nostalgia was there and it was a fun read at times! I liked getting to see the old gang back together and there were some fun surprises, but there were times I had a hard time accepting that this is canon. There were plot holes and inconsistencies and downright weird bits that seemed totally random. I can't say much about the plot without spoiling it and I definitely think that everyone should go in as spoiler free as I did. Click below if you want to see some of my spoilery complaints:
(view spoiler)[Trolley Witch - What even is this? Never has there been any mention of the Trolley Witch being some kind of 200 year old mystical being with weaponized hands who makes sure kids stay on the train! Whose idea was this because I cannot believe J.K. Rowling did this.
Time turner inconsistencies - This is one I've seen a lot of discussion about around the interwebs and I still don't know what to think. Time turners were a huge part of The Prisoner of Azkaban and I'm having a hard time accepting the way this device is used in the plot of The Cursed Child.
Harry is an asshole - Excuse my French, but who is this Harry? He certainly isn't the character we all came to know and love over the course of seven books and eight films. Harry would not tell his child he wished he wasn't his dad and Harry wouldn't be a jerk to Professor McGonagall.
Voldemort/Bellatrix love child - Um... why? How? WHEN? This is honestly one of the worst plot devices ever. It reads like bad fan fiction and that makes me sad.
No Luna/Neville - Seriously though! Where are they?? There are appearances by almost every other major character in the original series and there's barely a mention of Neville and Luna may as well not exist. (hide spoiler)]
One other thing I need to mention is the setting and there isn't much of it that's new. All the familiar places from the original series are revisited from Hogwarts to the Ministry of Magic to the Forbidden Forest. Obviously, there isn't much room for description in a script, but I had hoped for some new Wizarding World magic to be introduced instead of rehashing every location of the trio's old stomping grounds.
It's not that I hated The Cursed Child. In fact, I actually did enjoy most of my time reading it! But at the end of the day, I expected this to be so much more and, actually, so much less. There was too much crammed into such a short book and much of what was there just seemed like fan service. I am glad that I read it and do think that any Harry Potter fan should read it too, simply because J.K. Rowling signed off on it, but it is definitely not up to par with the previous seven books.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more