Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater – Review

51LlOUzjzYL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe end of the search for Glendower is here. All that Gansey and his friends have been  searching for will reveal itself. Will they get their one favor? Will the prophecy about Blue and her true love come to pass? What will become of Cabeswater? More importantly who will everyone be after this adventure is over?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4

The character development in this series was fantastic. I fell in love with Ronan, Adam, Gansey, Blue and Noah in the first book. The way they grew throughout the story was great. They all started out as pretty simple people but they gained more and more depth throughout the story.

This series is a character story. There is mystery, adventure and romance but none of those trump the character’s journeys. Each one of them find themselves throughout this hunt for Glendower. They all find their strengths and weakness. They learn who they are as individuals and as a group.

I think one of my favorite parts of this story was how each one of them learned that they can be individuals as well as a member of this friendship group. I think that was most evident in Adam. He was so desperate to be his own person he pushed people away. He thought any help was only going to make him feel weaker. We saw him learn how he can stand on his own two feet, as with his power over Cabeswater but he also needed the support of his friends. They were what kept him grounded and whole.

Gansey’s growth was interesting because we saw  how in the beginning it was all about him finding Glendower and taking care of his friends. As the story moved forward we saw him question his long time need to find the sleeping king. We saw him come to terms with the fact that he can’t live his friends lives. He had to let them make their own choices. He can support them but he can’t force them to be anyone they are not.

Ronan as my favorite throughout the series. He was so rough at the start but we learned quickly why he was that way. He slowly began to open up and let others help him. I liked seeing him getting control over his dream power and seeing him use it help. I am eager to see how he continues to grow in his own trilogy.

Blue was great as well. She was separate in the start of the series. She was the odd one out and she pretended to be okay with that. I enjoyed watching her open up, accept who she was and find people who accepted her. She gained more confidence and it was great to see that journey.

I also loved the slow burn romance in this book. I spoke about Gansey’s and Blue’s in the last review. It continued to spark in this one. Again there was no huge revelation or anything, it was just as if it was another character. It grew and we saw it become part of who they were as characters. It was natural and gentle and I liked that.

The other romance in this story (which I won’t mention to avoid spoilers) was great as well. It was built up over time and again so subtle yet powerful. There was no hesitation about it either. It was accepted and taken forward. It felt as if it was always meant to happen and I loved it.

What I was just okay with

I am not sure what I thought about the ending itself. It was very tough to follow and for me it left me wondering what exactly happened. I got the main points of it but it felt vague. I liked it because it fit the story. The story itself was vague and not detail heavy.

I had a bit of an issue with it just because I was expecting a bit more. I wanted a few more answers form the ending. I got some but not as many as I initially wanted. I think I would have been more upset over it if it wasn’t for the way all the character turned out.

I mentioned in my review for the first book that if I didn’t love the characters so much I probably would have disliked the plot. That same thought goes for the ending as well. I was satisfied with where everyone ended up. I didn’t get held up on the ending as much as I am sure I would have in a different book with different characters.

What I Wished was Different_

My only major issue with this book was Henry. What was the point of him exactly? The talk he has with Gansey could have happened with anyone. He appears, becomes fast friends with Gansey and that is it.

His robobee invention helped but I am sure there could have been a different way of dealing with that problem. Or Henry himself could have been introduced earlier in the series. I liked him but he felt unneeded. I think if we had gotten him earlier he could have grown like everyone else and that would have been interesting to see.

Also we kind of lost the women of Fox Way in this story. I wanted a more satisfying resolution to them. I liked their involvement in the other books but I think they got pushed to the side of the ending. I think they could have been utilized and made the ending a bit more dynamic.

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads. I found it a great end to the characters. I do wish the plot ending was a bit tighter.

Copy of What I was just okay with

“It’s not always running away…..to leave.” (pg. 79)

“It was easier to tell hero from villain when the stakes were only life and death. Everything is between gets harder.” (pg. 121)

“If you can’t be unafraid…..be afraid and happy.” (pg. 210)

“I stopped asking how. I just did it. The head is too wise. The heart is all fine.” (pg. 338)

Origin- Dan Brown – Review

OriginLangdon is called to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain for a special presentation by a former student and good friend of his, Edmond Kirsch. A presentation that is heralded to change the way the world thinks. It promises to answer the questions, “Where did we come from?” and “Where are we going?”.

Before he can make his announcement Edmond is killed. It is  up to Langdon and the museum director Ambra to find a way to release the presentation to the world. They are not alone though, there are those who will stop at nothing to make sure the revelations of this presentation never see the light of day.

What I Loved_-4

I liked the character of Winston. I enjoyed the way the AI seemed so human. I forgot more than once that he wasn’t a real person. I enjoyed the play between him and Langdon. I thought it was an interesting touch to the story.

I wanted to see him involved more. I felt like there was potential for Winston to play a much bigger part in this story. I did like the reveal at the end that involved him, that was a fun twist. Though it wasn’t an unexpected one.

I also found the “Where did we come from?” question’s answer interesting. I have heard theories about that question and this was a different take on it. I felt like this could have been the whole presentation and that would have been perfectly fine. I thought it provided enough shock value to move the story and justify the other events of the book. It tied into the region theme well.

What I was just okay with

(Spoiler for the presentation at the end of the story.)

I wasn’t thrilled with the second part of the presentation. The answer to the question of “Where are we going?” was very anticlimactic. I saw that coming from a mile away.  How many times have we heard that technology is going to consume us and destroy human life as we know it? Probably about a 1000. It is on the TV all the time. There are always new studies about it. We hear numerous doctors talking about the danger of screen time. There was nothing new or astounding about this revelation.

He used a computer to run a simulation about the timeline of this takeover. Anyone could do that without a computer. It takes half a minute to see where technology is going. I was not shocked at all by this aspect.

I didn’t understand why people were scared by it in the story. Is this world different then our own? Have they also not read the studies or heard the news stories? Do they not live with the people who are constantly talking about how much worse this generation is because of technology? (Something I firmly believe is over-exaggerated).
Why is this new information? Why did it affect the world at all?

If I had seen that presentation the first part would have intrigued me. I would have probably shut off the announcement at the second part. I have heard it, not going to change anything and moving on.

I also kind of understood why Langdon wanted to get Edmond’s presentation out the world. He was a good friend and he trusted the man. But I still wondered why he didn’t at least preview it before posting it to the world. Edmond was killed because of it. Don’t you think you may want to know what you are responsible for letting out to the general public? He could have been calling for the extermination of a race and Langdon would have had to bear the guilt of hurting people. I just thought it was odd to see him trust the man so much.

What I Wished was Different_
I have read all the Langdon series books. I loved Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code. I thought both of those were different. They were fast paced, had intriguing plots and fascinating ties into history and art. This one has little to none of that.

I read Da Vinci Code because of the tie into art. I loved how there were hints and symbols in famous paintings. I actually was in Italy and France and found some of the pieces mentioned. I thought it was fascinating to see the different interpretations of these famous paintings and sculptures.

This one had a little history about places in Spain and William Blake but nothing significant and nothing that tied the plot together. None of the happenings truly hinged on the clues in history or literature or art. All of it felt very surface level. It felt flat compared to what I have read from him before.

I wanted the fast pace as well. I am used to seeing Langdon and his companion running around searching for clues. They always have someone on their tale and always are just lucky enough to escape. They go around whole countries and many times across other countries. They are always running.

This one felt like they were barely running. There never felt like there any real threat to them. Even when they encountered the main villain, it was a short fight with no satisfying resolution. It all felt too easy.

This books was also way too long. You could have cut about 2/3 of it out . There was so much repetition that it started driving me insane. We did not need to be told who someone was ten times. We are literally told that Monica Martin is the PR Coordinator for the palace every time she appears. After the fourth time I was getting angry. I know who she is, you told me already. There is no reason to repeat it over and over and over again. You have to trust the reader to pay attention. There is no reason to repeat details unless they are going to drive the plot forward somehow.

I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads. I finished it because I just wanted to get to the end. I hoped it would get better but it never did. I hope that Dan Brown gets out of this form like writing he has fallen into and one day gives us a completely new and different story.

Copy of What I was just okay with

“Well, science and religion are not competitors, they’re two different languages trying to tell the same story. There’s room in the world for both.” (pg. 14)  ( I think if this had been more central to the plot the story would have been so much better.)

“But uncertainty is always a precursor to sweeping change; transformation is always preceded by upheaval and fear. I urge you to place your faith in human capacity for creativity and love, because these two forces, when combined, possess the power to illuminate any darkness.” (pg. 412).

“Sometimes all you have to do is shift your perspective to see someone else’s truth.” (pg. 437)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Review – Maggie Stiefvater

8145FVLP+mL

Blue has found somewhere to belong. She has found friends that mean everything to her. They are getting closer and closer to find Glendower and waking him up. They are on the verge of making the ultimate discovery. There are just a few things in the way such as mysterious sleeping king’s daughters and a missing mother. Can Blue and her friends find a balance and end their hunt once and for all without losing themselves in the process?

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4.jpg

Blue and Gansey’s growing relationship was one of my favorite aspect of this story. It is very subtle. There are no huge declarations of love or feelings. It is explored in a simple easy way throughout the story.

I am used to YA stories where the romance is overwhelming in the story. The characters are constantly thinking about each other. They are obsessing about if they should or should not end up together. You begin to wonder how they function thinking about anything or anyone else. For me, it always feels a bit unrealistic.

Here we saw how they became a couple without ever having this huge moment about it. It felt more real to me. They both know that their relationship can cause issues but there is no denying the way they found comfort in one another. I loved the way Gansey would anticipate the calls from Blue. We didn’t need him to go on and on about how important those calls were. We saw it and felt it right beside him.

I think this way of allowing the romance to grow organically let us concentrate on the rest of the stories and characters. It kept Blue and Gansey’s romance from taking over the story.

I also thought the addition of Gwenllian was fun. She was a good way to keep the plot moving and giving us more connection to the Glendower story. She is hilarious and I liked the way she talked about the world around her. I thought she gave the story and interesting perspective.

What I was just okay with.jpg
I still enjoyed the character growth throughout the story. I liked seeing Adam come into himself and Ronan begin to find a purpose for his dreaming. I thought we started to see what Gansey wanted an how he felt about the world. I was still invested in them as much as before but I started to wonder if the plot was going anywhere.

I still felt like we were heading somewhere but the story didn’t quite know where. Characters were thrown in hoping to almost distract us from the fact that things weren’t moving anywhere. The hunt for Glendower was still on but I almost wondered why it mattered at this point. I was just expecting for the plot itself to solidify a bit more in this second to last book.

What I Wished was Different_.jpg
Malory’s character seemed to have no point for the story. He came to visit and I expected him to really push the plot forward. I almost expected him to have some huge connection to Glendower himself and for his revelation to throw Gansey into turmoil. I wanted him to mean something to the story.

Instead he came, gave a bit of new information and then just hung out for the rest of the story. What he revealed he could have revealed over the phone. His insights into the ley line wasn’t anything we didn’t already know. I forgot he was even in the story for most of it. When he left at the end I didn’t care. He was jus there for another person to talk to, it felt.

I gave this installment 3 out of 4 stars. I liked how it continued the growth of the characters. I just wished that I felt more connected to the plot and that some of the characters had a real purpose.

Copy of What I was just okay with

“Lonesome means a state of being apart. Of being other. Alone-some.” (pg. 28)

“It was so impossible to live life backward.” (pg. 115)

“How unfair she’d been to assume love and money would preclude pain and hardship.” (pg. 242)

 

 

Down the TBR Hole #4

Time for the fourth look through my TBR shelf! Isaw this tag on on Howling Libraries  It was originally created by Lost in a Story and seems like a good way to go through some of my TBR on Goodreads and see what is there and what I can get rid of or push me to start reading. 
Links will be  on the titles for the books Goodreads page. (I am going to do ten for this round of this tag).

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!

Current TBR – 252

51tajP0KpLL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_18131._UY200_.jpg355669671pRWaBDICL-2

 

Timescape – Gregory Benfrod
I don’t remember where this one came from. I think this may be another book that was my dad’s. It seems like an interesting concept.
Decision: Keep

A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
This is one of those books I have always wanted to read. I know I have it on my physical shelf so I will get to it before the summer for sure!
Decision: Keep 

The Tomb of Hercules – Andy McDermott
I bought this one a long time ago. I love this adventure stories where they are looking for some object that is from legends. This still sounds interesting so I will remember it.
Decisions: Keep

Prodigal Son – Dean Koontz
I heard about this a while back. I have also read a lot of mixed reviews about this one. I haven’t found myself ever thinking about it recently so I am just going to take all of them off the list.
Decision: Remove

259800151poC-iABzL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_-2921474111304

Iron Angel – Alan Campell
I have this one on my physical shelves as well. I keep seeing it and the summary is interesting. I like the idea of the angels and demons.
Decision: Keep 

Emperor (Time’s Tapestry #1) – Stephen Baxter
I have zero recollection of this one. Plot seems basic and not all that interesting.
Decision: Remove

Map of Bones and Black Order – James Rollins
I put these together because they are the same series and same author. I adore James Rollins Sigma Force series. There are the first two. I started the series part way through, for whatever reason. So one day I will go back and read these.
Decision: Keep 

Fear Nothing – Dean Koontz
Again a book I know I own. Though the plot doesn’t sound interesting anymore. I’ll have to take it off my regular shelf too (more room for other books!)
Decision: Remove

4643841DvyInpLaL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_

The Last Templar – Raymond Khoury
I believe my mom read this and highly recommended it. I still like the adventure plot line.
Decision: Keep

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
I have meant to read this for ages. I have tried countless times. I just don’t think it is ever going to happen.
Decision: Remove

Removed: 4
Kept: 6
Current TBR – 244 (this number doesn’t quite reflect the above numbers because I removed all the Frankenstein series books, I had a few of the series listed)

 

 

 

Love, Simon – Movie Review

59de56d04dfe8.jpgI have been wanting to see the movie “Love, Simon,” since I finished the book. I adored the book and you can read my review about it here. This review is going to be more about the difference I noticed between the movie and the book and what I thought about them.

I am not going to get into the cultural significance of the movie much, mostly because as a straight person I don’t think I am the right person to talk about that. Though I will state that my brother, who is gay, adored the movie and stated that he wished it had been around when he was younger to help him understand his sexuality better.

I thought this was a fantastic adaptation of the book. I noticed minor changes but I none that took away from the story. The main story, Simon building a connection with Blue and his coming out journey remained the same. We still saw the struggles he went through, the emotional journey was very much the same which was great. I don’t think anything significant was left out or changed. It still ended up being a heartfelt story that made me just as happy at the end as the book the did.

One of the main difference I noticed was the way I felt about Martin in the movie. In the book I wrote him off, honestly really hated him. I couldn’t find any relatable or redeeming qualities about him. I despised him for blackmailing Simon and hated how he outed Simon. Even his apology in the book fell flat for me.

The movie version of Martin I found a little bit more understandable. The fact that we spent more time with him and saw him as a geeky, awkward guy who was just trying to get a girl to like him made him a bit more human for me. The whole homecoming scene really made me sympathize with him. I felt bad for him, I saw him as someone with the need to fit in and feeling like he wasn’t enough. Whereas in the book I felt like we didn’t get any of that.

That is not to say that what he did to Simon still didn’t seriously piss me off. I just didn’t hate him as much. I think there was a significant line in the movie that didn’t stand out as much for some reason in the book. Martin states that he didn’t think it was a big deal (him outing Simon) and that people still did stuff (be homophobic) like that after Simon is humiliated.

Again this may have been just because of the visual element but I think this made me realize how much of a teenager in a bubble Martin is. There are plenty of people who don’t realize how homophobic and cruel the world can be. They see their circle and think everyone is similar to them. They don’t think that anyone could be hurtful because they don’t know anyone like that. Martin was hurting and humiliated and he took revenge without thinking.

None of that in any way excuses his behavior but I felt like the movie made me understand his character better and despise him a little bit less.

rs_1024x759-180315120056-1024-love-simon-movie-long-overdueOne of the other differences in the movie that I liked was how we went through a small list of people to find Blue. I liked how they hinted at someone and then had them writing the emails. It kept you guessing. It also made you feel a deeper connection to Simon. You felt his elation when he thought he had figured it out and then felt that harsh disappointment when something showed him how wrong he was. I thought that was done well and made the story move along well for the movie.

Another thing I liked was his mom’s speech to him. I loved the way she talked about him holding his breath for years and finally being able to breathe and exhale out. I thought it summed up the whole idea really well and showed her support and her own struggle with trying to find out how to help him. I thought that was a great addition to the story.

I did love the reveal at the end. I knew who Blue was and had read that it was the same as the book yet I still felt nervous watching that scene. I was anxious and felt my heart beating waiting for him to appear.

I liked that it was a more public reveal as well. In the book no one else is around when his finds out who Blue is where as in the movie it is almost a whole school thing. We see the school and the people he feared telling he was gay be so supportive and excited for him. It was nice to feel that connection and joy.

I am someone who will almost always love a book more than a movie but I thought this was a great adaptation. It changed some elements and cut others (such as my favorite scene at the end of the book when they go on their first “date.”) but in the end they kept the story true to its original purpose and gave us a sweet, romance with a gay main character and a happy ending.

I highly recommend the movie if you enjoyed the book, you definitely will not be disappointed.

March Wrap-Up

1280px-Stipula_fountain_penMy reading life wasn’t quite as extensive as I wanted it to be this month. I had planned to finish the Raven Cycle series but ended up getting sick. I wish that had meant more time to read but since I couldn’t see that made reading a bit difficult. I did get through three of the four books and should have the last one finished within the first few days of April. I am still 3 books ahead of my Goodreads challenge of reading 40 books this year, so I’m satisfied with this month’s progress.

I am also proud of myself with the way I have managed to create a more routine posting schedule. I also have gotten a bit better at doing outside writing and fitting it into my schedule. Being sick threw me off but work has calmed down a bit so hopefully my short story and novel writing schedule should get better as well.


Books I read:

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza – Shaun David Hutchinson – One of my favorite authors. It was a fun read and raised some interesting questions as his others have done.51zb1Ggd5VL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_
The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater
The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Maggie Stiefvater – I am loving this series and am eager to see how it ends.

Blog Posts:

The Great Library Series – Rachel Caine
Down the TBR Hole #3 
The Hearts We Sold – Emily Lloyd-Jones
Yes, That’s Right, I Wrote a Book!
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza – Shaun David Hutchinson
The 20 Questions Book Tag
The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater
The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

Movies:
Love, Simon – I have a review of the movie compared to the book coming up. I really enjoyed the movie. It was fun, poignant and a sweet romance.

How was your March? What was your favorite read? Movie? Or TV show

The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2) – Maggie Stiefvater- Review

17347389-2.jpg(This is a review for the second book in the Raven Cycle series and thus there will be minor spoilers for the first book in the series).

The ley line is awake. Finding Glendower and waking him up has become a task that is tangible. Blue has stepped outside her bubble and seen that there is much more to the world then she previously thought. Adam is finding out that living on your own, being wholly independent and finding your strength is not always the easiest task. Gansey’s goal is set and he is more determined than ever to achieve it. And Ronan has a secret, one that he has to learn to control or else all their work will have been for nothing.

 

What I loved:

This was 100% Ronan’s book. I wouldn’t say that any of the other books in the series are focused on one specific person as much as this one was on Ronan. We learn more about his past, we learn about his dream ability and we see him learning about himself.

Ronan is my absolute favorite type of character. He is the type that seems tough and hard on the outside. He seems like someone I would write off right away as a jerk but once you get to know him you see how soft and sweet he is on the inside. He has the biggest heart, he just doesn’t know how to show that heart to anyone. He is dealing with some intense pain and his way of dealing is to push people away with harsh words and actions.

I loved seeing him be vulnerable. I loved see him try to find a way to use his power for good. I also liked seeing him stand away from Kavinsky, a fellow dreamer. We got to see a path that Ronan could have gone down. He could have become someone who just dreamt everything and didn’t care. Fallen in drugs and alcohol and just given up.

Instead Ronan is someone who found friends, people who care about him and he has held onto them with every last ounce of muscle that he possesses. I loved in this book his journey of realizing the difference between what he can do and what he should do.

I also really liked the take on dreaming and Ronan’s power. I have not read a book before with this exact set up. Ronan can dream up something and bring it out of his dreams. Throughout the story we learn just how much of his life was actually dreamt up. This was an interesting look and gave this story a more fantastical feel. We now wonder what is actually real, who is real and does it actually matter in the end.

Again the pace with this one was pretty slow and meandering. I didn’t feel like we got a whole lot about the plot but I was so enthralled by Ronan and learning what he could do that I didn’t really care as much about the fact that the story still seems to have only taken a few baby steps forward.

What I was just okay with:

I have begun to sense a theme with these books, there is a ton of character development and then at the end we get a big push of action. Something happens and people fight and we have a handful of chapters that are super fast paced. It feels like we were on a nice car ride through the country and all of sudden realize we have to rush home and slam our foot on the gas.

I enjoyed the ending of this one. I enjoyed what we learned but I also wish that maybe some of this action as spread out a bit more throughout the story. We don’t have to have a few chapters hitting us over the head with action just to meander out again.

I also noticed that some characters seem to be introduced as antagonists only to be taken down at the end. I had an idea of who we were going to up against for the rest of the series but we do seem to be given people to dislike and then they are dealt with in the last few chapters. It kind of makes understanding the true stakes a bit trickier

What I wished was different:

Noah’s character is still one that I am not sure what to do with. I like him being around, I like the fact that he is a ghost. I think it is an interesting twist and I liked how no one really seems to care that much that he is a ghost. But he doesn’t seem to be doing anything for the story at this point.

He is there to let them know how the ley line’s power is holding up and that seems to be all. I kind of wish we were getting to know him better or had a better idea  of what his overall purpose to the story will be.

I gave this installment 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I enjoyed learning more about Ronan and his abilities and I like where I think the story is going. I just wish we knew more about Noah and that things were paced a bit better.

Quotes:

“All of us have secrets in our lives. We’re keepers, or kept-from, players or played. Secrets and cockroaches – that’s what will be left at the end of it all.” (pg. 1)

“If you never saw the stars, candles were enough.” (pg. 60)

“Time’s circular, chicken. We use the same parts of it over and over. Some of us more than others.” (pg. 340)

 

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater- Review

51zb1Ggd5VL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Blue has been told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. She has made a resolution to never kiss any boy, especially not one of those Raven Boys. Raven Boys represent everything she hates; privilege they take for granted, power they don’t know what to do with and just plain arrogance.

That is until she actually meets some of these Raven Boys. It’s interesting how your opinion of people can change once you get to know them. She is pulled into a world that she thought she understood. She learns there is more beneath the surface of these boys. She joins them on a  quest for magic and power and learns there are always more secrets to uncover.

What I loved:

I don’t usually comment directly on a writing style. I will mention it if there is an issue that I had but usually the writing style itself doesn’t stand out to me. I always feel it is more about the world created and the way the words make the images and story come alive versus exactly the way they are used. I know people fall in love with books because of the writing style alone but I have never been that kind of reader.

This book is one of the few books that I find myself reading not only for the story but for the writing style. I read a review that mention how Stiefvater is very precise with her writing. She doesn’t mince words and everything written has a use. I wholeheartedly agree with that review.

The writing invokes images that are bright and alive. She makes comparisons that are unique and new. Nothing about her writing feels like I have read it before. I read all the time, I am never NOT reading a book. This is one of the first times I felt like I have not read something like this before. I couldn’t find writing like this in another book. It is precise and it creates images with little effort. It pulls you along word by word. It is smooth and fulfilling no matter what the paragraph is about.

I realized by the end of this first book that this is a character series. It was interesting because by the end of the book I didn’t quite realize how little actually happened in this story. I was so enthralled by Gansey, Noah, Ronan, Adam and Blue that it didn’t matter that the story didn’t move very far.

This was an introduction to each of the main characters. Gansey is someone who is rich, knows he is rich, likes being rich but doesn’t quiet understand how to use his money in a proper way. He is someone who thinks that handing out money shouldn’t insult or hurt others. He just wants to help but he doesn’t quite understand at this point that money doesn’t always make things better. He has a great heart but he has trouble showing that full heart to the world without his money being part of that gesture.

Adam is someone who is desperately trying to find his own place in the world. He grew up in an abusive home. He never had any true self-worth. He works day and night to prove that he is as worthy as everyone else around him. Adam doesn’t want any type of charity or pity. He doesn’t want help because he thinks that help makes him weak. I am eager to see him realize that help means someone cares, something he hasn’t truly seen in his life until now.

Ronan is my favorite type of character. Ronan is a tough character to write. He is tough and abrasive on the outside. He could have come off as someone we shouldn’t care about and should put off as the jerk friend. Stiefvater does a great job at showing his true, soft side early. We see his tragic past and realize where his anger and hurt comes from. We see why he has a wall up and as I read the series I am loving seeing that wall start to crumble.

Blue was hard to get a grasp on in this book. She is kind of in the middle for most of the story. Everything seems to play out around her. She is the grounding effect for most of the characters. In this book she didn’t seem to have much of her own character. I could tell she is someone who is struggling to find her own place, much like Adam. She is learning that what is on the outside rarely represents what is on the true inside of someone.

Noah was the enigma in this book. I tried for most of the story to figure out his story and was shocked when I learned who he truly was. I like his addition but I am hoping to see more from him in the other books (though as I am on the third book his character hasn’t evolved much).

I enjoyed getting to know each of these characters and picked up the second book right away because I wanted to be in their world again. I wanted to see them live their lives. I am not as invested in the plot line as I am in their lives.

What I was just okay with:

I enjoy books that provide multiple POVs. I think it really helps to full tell a story like this one. You can’t get close to a number of characters if you only ever see the story from one set of eyes. I did have trouble though discerning who we were supposed to be following sometimes.

A chapter would start and it would be about a page to a page and a half before I knew who exactly we were following. It didn’t completely throw me out of the story but I did find myself having to skim the lines again to put what I had just read in the right context.

What I wished was different:

I didn’t initially pick up this story because the summary seemed very generic. It seemed like a simple love story, a bit of mystery but nothing overly exciting or anything I hadn’t seen before. The summaries of these books do not do this series justice. I don’t know who wrote them or approved them but they did not do the best job at letting you know what type of book you would be reading.

The whole true love’s kiss aspect is an extremely minor part of the series (I am almost down with the third book and it has gotten about a chapter’s worth of coverage total). It is more about these boys and Blue finding out who they are set against this back drop of find the ley line and the sleeping king.

I know that romance is a draw, especially in the YA genre, but I felt like that was a cop out for this series. I would never have read this series if I hadn’t read reviews stating how much deeper the story was.

I gave this series 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I am in love with the characters and am eager to see them continue to grow and find their true selves. I am interested in where the magic plot line goes but in the end I am more concerned where each character ends up.

 

Quotes:
“A realization that even if you had discovered the future, it really didn’t change how you lived in the present.” (pg. 2)

“Rags to riches isn’t a story anyone wants to hear until it’s done.” (pg. 131)

“They were always walking away from him. But he never seemed able to walk away from them” (pg. 351)

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza – Shaun David Hutchinson – Review

35297386Elena is a loner. She has one best friend. She is the product of a virgin birth, there is science behind it, just look it up. She has a secret crush on a girl she has never spoken to. Then things come crashing down around her. She witnesses her crush being shot, desperate to help she listens to the voices and heals her. Not a mark is left behind.

Then things really start to go crazy. The voices tell her the world is ending and it is up to her to save everyone. Elena is left wondering if it is okay to make such a monumental decision for herself let alone the whole world.

 

 

What I loved:

Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my favorite authors. I fell in love with We Are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe. I quickly learned that he is an author who puts depth and life into his stories. I always feel uplifted and enlightened whenever I read his books and this one was no different.

One of the things I liked most about this book was that it followed a different formula that the other two. Both We are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe had subtle magic to them. No one else but the main characters knew about the supernatural elements of what was going on. The supernatural elements were real for just the main characters.

In this one, the magic was right out there in the open. Everyone found out about Elena quickly and they believed her. She didn’t hide that she could heal people. Everyone knew what was going on, even if they didn’t know the finer points. I liked this element. Sometimes an author can get into a routine and books can feel the same, even if the message is different. Having everyone know about Elena made this book feel fresh and new.

I also loved the nods to the characters in We are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe. I love that we are still in this same universe. The characters are thrown in a natural way. If you haven’t read the other two you wouldn’t know they were significant. They serve their purpose in the story but it is a fun easter egg for the reader as well.

The message of this book was about choices. Who has the right to make choices for others? What does making a choice mean? Choices are good and bad and that is okay. You can’t hide from choices because you are afraid of the consequences. Choices rule our lives and we have to find a way to make use of that.

I loved how we saw the idea of choice reflected in each of the characters. We saw how choices affected them,  and those around them.  I liked that we got the different angle of choices. Some understood the importance while others were as scared as Elena. I enjoyed this round look at the idea and how many different opinions are attached to the idea of making choices.

I enjoyed Elena’s journey. I liked how she was always going back and forth. She didn’t know what to do and that felt real. Just like Henry in We are the Ants, it felt natural to have this constant questioning of her decision. I felt a deep connection to her because of that. As an indecisive person, I could relate to her plight. I would also have a serious issue trying to figure out what was right and if “right” even existed in this situation.

As always Hutchinson provides a very diverse cast without feeling forced. Sometimes you can tell that diverse characters are included just to be diverse. All the characters in this book felt real and there for a reason. They weren’t there just to represent a culture or sexuality, there was no preaching about them. They were there because that who the story was about, period.

What I was just okay with:

While I loved the story I didn’t feel as connected to Elena as I have to past main characters. I also felt like some of the  side characters weren’t as developed and deep as his side characters have been before. Not that it was bad, I just am used to a certain level from his other books. I still loved the story and the characters, I just noticed that I didn’t feel as connected to them as I have to his other characters in the past.

I actually liked Javi’s story arc the best. At first his character seems shallow and I thought I was going to detest him. I learned quickly that he was a seriously complicated young man. He was a teenager who was fighting what was around him. He showed how kids are being told one thing by friends, one thing by parents and one thing by society. I thought it was a great representation of how we forget what these kids are going through sometimes.

What I wished was different:

I can’t think of anything that really took me out of the story. The pace as good, the characters were alive and whole and it left me thinking.

Shaun David Hutchinson has a great way of taking a “fantasy” story and making it feel relevant to our everyday lives. I enjoy his take on life and the way his stories make me think. I gave this one four out of five stars on Goodreads. It is not my favorite of his but still a great read all the same.

Quotes:

“It’s easy to allow the world to collapse down to our own stories. To see ourselves at the central figure in the only story worth knowing and forget that every person we encounter is living their own, is the center of their own universe.” (pg. 12)

“Sometimes a person can believe a thing so hard that not even beating them over the head with facts will change their mind.” (pg. 42)

“We were each living our own story, and while some, like Mama, were fighting to change the narrative, others struggled to escape the circumstances of their past and the specter of their future, while a few had given up completely.” (pg. 47)

“Who got to determine the baseline for what was normal and what wasn’t, and who appointed them to make that decision?” (pg. 89) ( love this quote!)

“No one’s innocent, Elena. Not even the Cedric Diggory’s of the world.” (pg. 217) (This was a fantastic discussion that actually made me look at certain characters from Harry Potter differently. I adored this passage because of how enlightening it was!)

“Guess what happens when you don’t make a choice?
“What?”
“Nothing. Maybe you don’t fuck anything up, but nothing gets better either.” (pg. 314) (Sums up the message of this story and how important it is for everyone to realize how important making a choice can be. They are scary but they are necessary).

“We can’t make choices for others.” (pg. 351)

The Hearts We Sold – Emily Lloyd-Jones – Review

34538054Need a new house? Want an old lover back in your arms? Want to become a singer or actor? Need money, a good grade or new car? Simple, make a deal with a demon and you can have whatever you want. Of course, there is a catch. You will be asked to give up your arm, leg, hand or if you are really unlucky your heart.

Dee is a teenager whose life is complicated. She goes to a private school that is her safe place. Here she is safe from her alcoholic parents and her emotionally abusive father. Here she can try to find her way in life. Then she finds out her scholarship is ending and she is left with no choice but to make a deal. She has to stay in school and thus she gives up her heart.

She loses her heart for a short period of time and learns what is means to exist without it. She learns that something more is going on with those she joins called the “heartless.”. She also meets a strange boy who she finds stealing what has already been taken from her. In the end Dee has to find what courage means and what she wants out of life.

What I loved:

Dee was a great character. She was much deeper than I originally thought she would be. I had no idea what this story was truly going to be about. I thought it would be more about learning to love without a heart and what that could mean. In the end it was about Dee finding courage in herself.

Dee is a character that has been stepped on and downtrodden for a long time. Her father is emotionally abusive and she hides at her school. She wants her mom to help her but her mom has taken to alcohol to help her deal with their reality. In the end Dee has to find her own courage. She has to find a way to stand on her own two feet. I liked the progression of her journey.

Dee becomes stronger in a very real way. She faces the trials around herself and she finds how she can fight. She starts unsure of herself and then starts to find that her opinion matters.

I also really liked James’s character. At first her seemed like a punk and I thought he was going to be a one-note character. Early though we realize there is something else to him. He has his own issues and wants. His character didn’t grow as much as evolve. I started with one opinion of him and ended with a completely different thought about him. I felt his journey was more of an evolution for the reader than for his character specifically.

I also loved the ending. I won’t go into detail as to not spoil it, but it was the ending the book deserved. Too many times these YA love stories can have a neat and unrealistic ending. This book ended as it should have ended. It felt right and left things in a encouraging place.

What I was just okay with:

All of the “heartless” characters, literally have no heart. They can’t feel their heats. It is gone but I felt like we didn’t see any real consequences of that. Dee talked about not feeling her heartbeat and not hearing it in her ears. Nothing more though. There was little to no discussion what is meant to live without a heart.

The story was more about the demon’s mission and why he created heartless when no one else would. I liked the story but I wished we could have had more about what living without a heart meant. Do you feel love the same? Is that a brain thing or does that come from the physical heart? Can you die in the normal sense of the word? Are you actually living if your heart isn’t beating? These are things I wished we would have explored more in the story.

What I wished was different:

I enjoyed the story but some of the writing threw me out of the story. The writing was very repetitive at times. The author would state that Dee was sending a text message, give us the body of the text and then end the paragraph with, “she texted.” We know she texted, she was just texting!

Or there was a part later in the book where we are told Dee has a backpack on. Then we are told that same thing about four more times throughout the next few paragraphs. The backpack never moved or did anything, it was just in her character description over and over again.

Description is good but there is no need to say the same thing over and over again. You have to trust the readers to pay attention and pick up on what is happening with a character. If an object moves and becomes important than mentioning it again is fine. If she gets interrupted while texting and then goes back to texting mentioning it again is fine. But if nothing changes, then it throws the reader out of the story. I felt myself getting a bit irritated at times because of this element.

 

The story was fast paced with a well-paced love story. The story came to a satisfying conclusion. I had fun reading it and I was glad it came in the book subscription box. In the end I gave it 3.5 stars on Goodreads.

Quotes:

“You get what you asked for.” – pg. 46

“….I like to think that I was the one who made the choices that brought me to this moment.” (pg. 128)

“I just want to matter.” (pg. 162).

%d bloggers like this: