Author Archives: BrittneyRz

The ABC Challenge (B)

I saw this challenge over on A Book. A Thought. I liked the idea of going through my shelves and thinking about some of the books that stick out in my mind. I have fun going through my shelves and picking out books. I found some that I want to reread soon.

Memorable Titles that Start with “B”

Beneath the Sugar SkySeanan McGuire – This was probably my favorite of this series so far. It was a fun, twisting story that I felt connected me best to the characters.

Blind Faith – Ben Eaton – I bought this when I was in London years ago. I remember it being about following a government without thinking for yourself. I need to read it again now and see how it relates to our time.

Because You Love to Hate MeVarious Authors- This was an interesting short story collection. It told stories from villain’s POV. Victoria Schwab has one about death that is just fantastic.

The Book ThiefMarkus Zusak – This is a classic and it is as good as the reviews have said. It heart-breaking but in the best way possible.

Books Starting with “B” on my TBR

What are your opinions on some of these books? Any that you love?

Realm of the Reaper (Everworld #4) – K.A. Applegate – Mini-Review

519Q8QTAMYL._SX276_BO1,204,203,200_I am going to do a mini-review for the rest of these books. I have looked at things like the writing and the plot progression in depth before and I think at this point there is nothing too new to say about any of it. I want to concentrate some of these reviews on the development of the characters. This is where this series excels and I am curious how I see their progression now. I don’t think I need to do a longer review with these anymore, because it will just get repetitive.

This is Jalil’s book. I was having trouble remembering what Jalil’s story was. I knew some of David’s, April’s and Christopher’s but I couldn’t for the life of me remember what Jalil was doing in the story.

I forgot that Jalil has OCD. We see it from the first pages. He is enslaved to his mind and he hates it. He can’t fight it and he doesn’t let anyone know what it does to him. In Everworld though he is free. Senna gave him that freedom which makes him appreciate her but also hate her.

I most curious about how his story grows. Jalil is very logical. He loves science and everything has to have an explanation. He is trapped in his own mind in the real world so he uses knowledge to control everything else around him. He is going to change, take on the idea that things are different in this world and that is okay.

I still like watching Jalil try to make sense of this new world he is in. He is slowly realizing that magic is real here. That science is not the same. I am want to see how he begins to rethink his two worlds. One he is trapped in a disease he can’t free himself from. In another world he is free of that disease but he has many more dangers to fight. I think he whole story is going to revolve around this fight and I am eager to see how it comes out.

This book also introduced Hel which is who I thought abbot when I was reading Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology book. I remembered she was in this book and I wanted to see how she compared. I really like how close these books are to the real stories and how Applegate makes them her own as well.

Four Star

Vengeful – V.E. Schwab – Review

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Being an EO sounds great in theory. You get awesome powers and can do anything that you want. But you have to die in the process. You have to experience you breath stopping, your heart beat going silent. You wake up and then have to live with those memories. What if your death is caused by someone else? How do you live day to day with that memory in your head? What if revenge is all that you want and need? Can you be stopped? Should you be stopped?

(This is a review for a second book in a series. There will may be spoilers from the first book.)

 

 

What I Loved_-4

I have been waiting for this book since it was announced. I love V.E. Schwab, she is one of my favorite authors. I liked the first one because of how it concentrates on anti-heroes. Victor and Eli are not good people, they destroy what is around them and enjoy watching the world burn. Yet you are drawn to them, you understand them. I was curious how their story could and would continue.

This book picks up five years after Vicious. We see the results of Sydney bringing Victor back from the dead. We learn that bringing people back from the dead doesn’t always goes as planned. I enjoyed Victor’s journey throughout this book. He is desperate to find a way to save himself. As he dies over and over again he looks for anyone who can save him.

It was interesting because Victor is still his selfish self. His first concern is about how to save himself. He wants to live and he wants to survive. Though there is this small piece of him that really cares about Sydney. This is his saving grace. We see him trying to find a way to save himself without harming her.

I like how Schwab is able to make us care about these characters even though they are not good people. All of them kill at one point or another. They destroy lives yet I wanted them all to win. She does a great job and giving us a sympathetic side to them, giving us something to latch onto and relate to. Victor wants to keep Sydney safe. He wants her to not turn into him.

The new characters Marcella and June are two people who have been broken down and are now standing on their own two feet. Marcella was treated like a side piece. She was nothing but a figure to admire and use. After she rises again she takes her power back. She is no longer weak but a strong woman you can’t fight or deny. She is easy to relate to.

Once we see how she was treated, especially at a certain party scene you want her to win. You want her to kill and destroy those who hurt her. You want her to show that she can be just as strong as any of the men. I didn’t despise her. She was a woman wronged and she found a way to make things right for herself.

I loved June, she is my new favorite character. June is mysterious and I want to know everything there is to know about her. She has a past were don’t quite know. She was killed, but we don’t know how. She is a shape shifter who refuses to use her real face. I want to know why? I want to know what destroy her self image. I need to know why she is hiding.

Even though she is hiding though she still is strong. She is able to stand on her own two feet and she doesn’t let anyone tell her who she is. She can be anyone and she can take on any form. She is hiding but she is also showing the world who she can be. I want a whole book about her.

What I was just okay with
I had this same issue with Vicious, the end was quite quick. I felt like the book was setting up this huge fight. There were so many players and we saw them setting up so many elements. But the end fight was done quite quickly. I pictured a sort of cinematic fight, with all the people going after one another. In the end we got a quick fight with a definite end. I just wanted a bit more.

What I Wished was Different_
There was nothing that threw me out of the book. I loved the characters. I was impressed how much I felt connected to these despicable people. I thought the plot kept things moving.

I have this book five stars because I adored the characters so much. The end fight left me wanting more but the end it self left room for more and I hope to see these characters again.
Five Star

Copy of What I was just okay with
“Eyes were fickle. Minds were weak.” – pg. 57

“But there was, it turned out, a crucial difference between destroying things and destroying people.” (pg. 132)

“‘What does normal look like?'” (pg. 165)

“Men ahead of their time were always, by definition, outside of it.” (pg. 215)

“How many men would she have to turn to dust before one took her seriously?” (pg. 266)

“People can see an awful lot, and believe none of it.” (pg. 275)

“Every end may be a new beginning, but every beginning had to end.” (pg. 460)

Down the TBR Hole #10

I am close to a month since the last one of these. I am almost done with my current book but not sure when I will have time to get the review out. So I figured I would do another addition of this one in the meantime.

This was originally created by Lost in a Story .
It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 or 15 or 20, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

Dress Codes for Small Town – Courtney C. Stevens – A book exploring sexual fluidity while also questioning how to understand what you want despite the labels laid on you? Yes, please.
Decision: Keep

The Bookseller  – Cynthia Swanson – I love the idea of not knowing what reality is real.
Decision: Keep

Love is the Higher Law – David Levithan – I do love David Levithan’s books. This one seems super emotional so it will be one I have to be in the mood for, but I do want to get to it eventually.
Decision: Keep

Of Breakable Things – A. Lynden Rolland – I like the idea of choosing to stay in the spirit world instead of coming back to life.
Decision: Keep

The Lantern’s Ember – Colleen Houck – Love the idea of a deal with the devil and a defiant woman who won’t listen.
Decision: Keep


The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly – Whispering books. I am in.
Decision: Keep

If You Could Be Mine – Sara Farizan – Wow, this seems intense. Two women in love in a country that could end in their death if found out. A decision to change sexes to be together? I am extremely interested.
Decision:Keep

Nothing is Strange – Mike Russell – It seems alright but nothing really pulls me in.
Decision: Remove 

The Culling – Steven dos Santos – Sounds a lot like the Hunger Games
Decision: Remove 

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy – Nova Jacobs– A mystery that is kind of vague and generic sounding but there is also something pulling me in. I’ll leave it on for now.
Decision: Keep 

Keep – 8
Remove – 2

Didn’t do the best job clearing anything out this time but I was reminded of some books that I want to move up my list!

Book Tag: It’s Finally Fall

It is officially Fall, though the weather is having a terrible time making up its mind if it wants to actually feel like Fall or not. I do enjoy Fall.  I like the changing colors and the curling up in a big sweater and reading. What I don’t like is that it means Winter is on its way and I despise Winter. I hate being cold and I hate snow. But I will enjoy Fall while it lasts!

Thank you to Alyssa Grace over on Serendipitous Reads for tagging me to do this fun tag! Make sure to check out her awesome blog!

Apparently this stared on Booktube but Alyssa did hers as blog post and so will I since I also do not have Youtube channel.

1. In the fall, the air is crisp and clear – Name a book with a vivid setting

29939230For this one I am going to have to go with the multiple London’s from The Shades of Magic of Series by Victoria Schwab. The different versions of London are so unique and vivid. Red, White, Grey and Black London are places I could see in my mind’s eye without much effort.

Nature is beautiful…but also dying – Name a book that is beautifully written, but also deal s with heavy topics like loss or grief

9781616956776 More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

I adore that book, it so beautifully written. You are wrapped up in this world and these characters but it is absolutely heartbreaking. It deals so many heavy topics that you will definitely need to go watch a comedy afterwards to heal your heart.

Fall is back to school season – Share a non-fiction that taught you something new

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Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
This book taught me exactly what it means to be an Introvert. I knew the term but didn’t understand what it truly meant. After reading this book I felt more confident in myself and became okay with being an Introvert.

In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with people we love – Name a fiction family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of

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This is simple, the trio from Harry Potter. While their lives are super dangerous I would love nothing more than to hang out with Harry, Ron and Hermione for just a day.

The colorful leaves are piling up on the ground – Show us a pile of fall-colored spines

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Fall is the perfect time for storytelling by the fireside – Share a book wherein somebody is telling a story

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We are the Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson
Our protagonist tells us the story of when he was given a chance to save the planet. We are taken on his journey to decide if life is really worth living and if it is, what makes it so.

The nights are getting darker – Share a dark, creepy read

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Heartshaped Box – Joe Hill

I don’t read creepy books often because I don’t like to be scared. This was quite creepy. More than once I had to put it down and find something else because I was scared.

The days are getting colder – Name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day

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Little Ellie Clause – James Manos
This is more a winter read but it is one of the most heartwarming books I have ever read. It is about an orphan girl who is adopted by Santa and the journey she goes on to save her birth parents and find her faith in life. It is just so sweet and one of my favorite holiday reads.

Fall returns every year – Name an old favorite that you’d like return to soon

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The Giver – Lois Lowry

This is one of my favorite books and I haven’t read it in a few years. It is just one of those books that always hits home and sits with me. It is also one that I see with different eyes as I get older and older. I just adore it.

Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights – Share your favorite cozy reading accessories

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A warm blanket, my couch and my kitty, all I need for a good reading night!
This was a fun way to dive into the Fall season. I am tagging anyone who wants a way to kick off Fall!

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley – Shaun David Hutchinson- Review

the-five-stages-of-andrew-brawley

Andrew should be dead. He was supposed to die in the accident that took his parents and little sister. He now hides in the hospital where they died. He is intent on evading Death, who is after him. That is until the night a boy his age comes through the door. Now he must save Rusty. But how do you save someone else when you have no idea how to save yourself?

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4
The characters in this story were compelling. Andrew was interesting because he acted beyond his age. He was able to take care of himself in the hospital. He was smart and clever enough to hide from the authorities. He wasn’t afraid of being alone. He showed wisdom beyond his age.

Normally this would throw me off. I would wonder how a child could manage all this, even a teenager. But it is well established that this kid has been through a trauma that allows him to grow up fast. We see that what happened to his family threw him into a whole new world. One where he had to learn to sink or swim.

I also really liked Rusty. This wasn’t his story per se but it felt like his story as much as Andrew’s. We learn what happened to him and why. The details that Andrew gets give us a clear picture of what is going on.

I also really liked that Rusty connected to Andrew so quickly. He saw a kindred spirit in this lost boy. Both of them were lost kids who needed someone to understand them. They saw that in each other and connected over it.

The addition of the comic Andrew was working on was great. I really liked being able to see and read the comic. I think something would have been lost without that addition. I don’t think just describing it would have been able to give the whole picture. With the periodic looks at the comic I felt the connection to the story as a whole. I liked the mix of these types of story telling to give one full story.

What I was just okay with
I felt like there were some stories missing. Each of the characters had a tale of their own and you got hints of them from everyone but never the full story of anyone. I wanted to know more about all of them. There was definitely something missing from Father Mike’s story as well as Aimee’s story.

I found myself anticipating what was coming for them and was disappointed when we didn’t learn what was going on. I could discern most of it but I didn’t want to guess at it. I wanted to know that these people all had problems just like Andrew. I think each of them revealing their secrets would have helped Andrew grow and find his way.

What I Wished was Different_
I adore Shaun David Hutchinson’s other books. I know this was written before those and you can see him finding his way as a writer. While this book is great it is very heavy handed with its message.

You didn’t have to guess at the message even a little bit. There was no room for interpretation in the message. It was plain and written out over and over again for you. I am used to his much more subtle way of telling you something in his later books.

I think that if I read this book first before the other ones I wouldn’t have had an issue with this way of telling the message of the story. But I know what he can do and am glad to see how he grew as a writer. You can see he found his groove with We are the ants and it is great to see.

 

I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads. While I enjoyed it it was missing the punch that his later books have.

Copy of What I was just okay with

“It begins there because it’s important to know that a superhero with no past began as a man with no future.” (pg. 8)

“Maybe hell is seeing the lost loved painted over the faces of the strangers we meet.” (pg. 58)

“Maybe our beliefs decide our fate after death.” (pg. 99)

“No one unravels all of life’s many mysteries. They grow older and become better liars.” (pg. 123)

 

September Wrap Up

September was an odd month for me. This is the last month that I had a bunch of things planned for the weekends. I had a wedding out of state, a clambake, work events and just random things. This weekend was supposed to be the busiest of them all with a visit from a friend but decisions were made that changed those plans.

I didn’t write nearly has many posts as I would have liked to mostly because I was so busy. But I did find myself writing more after work and realizing that I am not as tired anymore which is nice.

As for reading I hit my Goodreads goal this month! I have officially surpassed my 40 book goal! I have three months left this year and I am curious to see how far I go above that total before 2019 hits!

I also went on a bit of a book buying spree. Initially I ordered from Amazon, but after they yet again lost a package, I decided to go with ordering from Target. October will be a another buying binge because I know of a handful of books coming out that I cannot wait to read.

Books I read:


Enter the Enchanted (Everworld #3) – K.A. Applegate – I am really enjoying this reread.

Circe – Madeline Miller – This was a such a great book. Love the look at a character I knew next to nothing about. I bought Song of Achilles and I cannot wait to read it!

Hamilton: The Revolution – Lin-Manual Miranda, Jeremey McCarter – This gave me a whole new appreciation of this musical.

Aaru: Halls of Hel (The Aaru Cycle #2) – David Meredith – I was sent this for a review and it was interesting. Good look at the dark side of a utopian tech society.

Posts for this month:

Obsidio – The Illuminae Files #3 – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review
Enter the Enchanted (Everworld #3) – K.A. Applegate
Circe – Madeline Miller – Review
The Great American Read List
Down the TBR hole #9
The ABC Challenge (A)
Hamilton: The Revolution – Lin-Manual Miranda and Jeremey McCarter
The Burn, Rewrite, Reread Tag (Take 2)
Aaru -Hall of Hel – David Meredith – Review

Books I bought:

Shows I watched:

british-baking-show

I started watching the Great British Baking Show on Netflix. This is the oddest show to me because everyone is just so nice and quiet and pleasant to each other. I am used to competition shows with yelling and disasters and dragging everything out. Instead this is just calm and fun to watch!

October will be a  fun month for TV for me because just about all my shows are back. I am particularly interested to see what Walking Dead does with Rick’s last episodes. Going to end up as whole different show hopefully.

What was your September like? Favorite book of this month?

Aaru – Hall of Hel – David Meredith – Review

(I have been provided a copy of this book by the author for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own).

40963425.jpgKoren is a young celebrity and her life is falling apart. She thinks that her refuge is Aaru where her sister Rose now lives. But is Aaru as perfect as it looks? What is life when you will never grow old, where everything will remain perfect forever? What happens when a secret is found and that secret begins to take a part this utopia? Who will save them all now?

 

 

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4

I have say this was a great follow up to the last book. Most of the story felt seamless and continued the tale really well. I liked that this one got dark but with a message overtone that wasn’t overtly obvious.

I really liked the depiction of Koren’s life. We all know that being a celebrity is not as glamorous as it seems. This book did a good job at showing what that kind of attention can do to someone as young as Koren.

In this book we saw how broken she was and how broken her family had become. Her father is an alcoholic, her mother is only concerned about her image and Koren is being forced to grow up way too quickly. This was shown really well. It wasn’t a lecture about the dangers of having children in a spotlight; it was showing the pieces falling apart until they were nothing but a crumbled bits of rubble.

I also found the character of Hel extremely interesting. She is a combination of multiple people. (Though I am not a 100% certain why that is). I liked watching her come to find her voice and herself. She has two sides of herself, represented well by depicting her as Hel from Norse mythology.

She is constantly trying to determine which side of herself to follow. Does she given into her darker side or does she stand with her better half? She is the perfect one to “liberate’ those who are stuck in quarantine. She felt like a leader character. She was oppressed and she knows what it means to fight for true freedom.

I was a bit worried at first when the topic of mental health was brought up, worried it was going to be talked about in a negative manner. Instead we get this revolution type feel. We see Hel fighting to free these people. We see that she knows that being mentally ill is not a thing that makes you a monster. You don’t have to be locked away. I liked this message and I liked how she became their leader. Granted she went a bit too far into the darker side but I am interested to see how that progresses in the future of the story.

I also liked Rose’s storyline. She is trying to figure out what her purpose is now. What is your purpose when you can create anything and be anything? What do you strive for? What does life mean then? If you don’t have to work for anything what is the point? I am hoping we see her find some type of purpose in the last book.

What I was just okay with
I had a little bit of trouble with the timeline of this story. I thought for a bit that the parts with Hel and her creation were happening in a completely different timeline. Then I realized they were happening at the same time. But I was confused as to when that whole process started.

I think alot of confusion came from the fact that I didn’t know that this was where the Magic Man was going with his plan. I didn’t quite understand his purpose before and I am still vague on him. I think the timeline would have felt more stable if I had known this was the end game the whole time.

I also wanted to know more about Simon/Atem. There is something there about him. He doesn’t go from someone who fights to help the mentally ill to working with a pervert to get back into the system. If he wanted to save people I felt like this was the last way to do it. I really want to know more about him and what happened in his life.

What I Wished was Different_

There were two things that really threw me out of this story. The first was the sexual elements. I was really uncomfortable with the Magic Man lusting after Koren in the first book in this book it was worse. I felt like these elements were not needed. He could have needed her brain for his creation but the sexual element was not necessary. I felt like that was there to make us hate him which we already did. Those parts just made it hard for me to read.

I also didn’t like the creation of Frenir. I get the Norse mythology parallels but I didn’t like the idea of making a mentally ill person into an animal. I have a real issue with the message the send. Just become someone is disturbed doesn’t mean they are an animal. That image bothered me.

 

I ended up giving this book 3 stars on Goodreads. I liked the way the story progressed just certain elements made me uncomfortable.

Copy of What I was just okay with
“Not having anything to complain about and being happy aren’t the same thing.” (pg. 107)

The Burn, Rewrite and Reread Tag (Take 2)

I did this post a long time ago and was just going through some of my past posts and thought it would be fun to do it again. I am not sure where this started, I know I saw it on Booktube a few times. If you know the creator, please let me know!

The Rules
-Randomly choose 3 books.(You can use the ‘Random’ option on your Goodreads read shelf.)
-For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread.
-Repeat until you completed three rounds.


Reread – I read Hell awhile ago.  I remember it being funny while also having some interesting commentary. I need to pick it up again and read it with a reviewing eye.

Rewrite– I really liked Winter. I think there were some elements of the end I would like to adjust and connect pieces better. I know that I had trouble with Scarlet’s story, so I think I would rewrite those portions.

Burn – I would burn Origin. I really disliked that book. It was slow moving, it built up to nothing and went nowhere.

Reread- I would reread Unlikley Friendships. This was just an adorable book!

Rewrite – This was hard because I think both of the other books could benefit from a rewrite. I think though I would choose The Magicians Land. These books had potential they just needed to connect to each other better.

Burn– I actually loved Twilight when I first read it, but it has not aged well with me.

Reread – I would reread The Lucifer Effect. It was a fascinating look at how good people do bad things. I love looking into the human mind and I was enthralled by this one.

Rewrite -While I loved The Cursed Child and thought it was interesting there are definitely parts that could be rewritten. I mean there are just pieces that don’t make sense timeline wise.

Burn – I guess that leaves me with burning The Bad Beginning. I loved the start of this series but for me it devolved into nonsense that I just could not enjoy by the end.

What do you think of my choices? What book would you reread, rewrite or burn?

Hamilton -The Revolution – Lin-Manual Miranda and Jermey McCarter

26200563.jpgI am not going to review this like one of my usual reviews. I am just going to do a quick take on what I thought about it and how it helped enhance the musical. (And also made me want to see it again!)

I had no idea this book existed until my brother’s boyfriend bought it for him for his birthday. He bought it before we saw the musical and as soon as the curtain fell, I knew I had to read this. I adored the play, thought it was enthralling, new and a pure work of genius.

This book goes into how the whole thing came about and the process that was taken to create this work of art. I loved how the book dove into certain sections which then related back to a song or a handful of songs. This way of tying it all together was perfect. You felt like you were there in the process.

I have a new appreciation for some of the songs, an appreciation I didn’t have before. I now understand the thought process and time that went into each song; the lyrics, the composition and the drafting process. It amazed me how many drafts there were, how it was constantly changing up until the last minute.

I also really liked how it reflected on the history of hip-hop and how the musical has opened up a new avenue for this type of music on broadway. I am not the biggest fan of hip-hop but the way these songs tell the story and connect you to the story are fantastic. Reading about the influences and how Lin-Manual Miranda used his favorites to help build this work, was great.

I also really enjoyed the way this reflected on the life of not only Hamilton but Burr. When I saw the production I came away realizing this was not just a story about Hamilton’s life but about everyone who touched his life. This book shed even more light on Burr and his tragic story. I do not see him as a villain, just a lost man.

The notes next to the songs were great. I read through the songs I have nearly memorized and learned so much about how they were created. While I am didn’t follow all the musical talk, I still understood the impact of certain elements.

Lin’s commentary was also witty and fun. You can feel his personality shine through. I loved the jokes and there were even a few Harry Potter references which were great.

All in all this book gave me an even greater appreciation for this musical. I knew it was a tough thing to write. I knew he took years to complete it but this showed just how much time, effort and thought went into this project. It just shows that sometimes things take years to complete but if you work at it and work hard, in the end it will all be worth it.

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