Category Archives: fantasy

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)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Review – Maggie Stiefvater

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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)

 

 

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).

The Great Library Series – Rachel Caine – Review

the-great-libraryThe Great Library of Alexandria was not destroyed, instead it flourished and became the prime location for all knowledge. All books and writings are housed in the Great Library. All knowledge comes from the Great Library.

Jess Brightwell is the son of a smuggler. In this society owning an original copy of a book is illegal. You own Blanks that are preloaded with books. Jess’s family makes their living off smuggling these original books for the wealthy.

In order to get closer to the library and become an assist to his family Jess is trained to enter into the Library’s services. He quickly learns how much control the library has. When his friend makes a mistake and invents something that could undermine everything the Library stands for, Jess and his friends have choices to make. Do they stay loyal to a broken system or do they join forces with those trying to tear down all that they have known?

Note: This review is for the first 3 books in this series. The fourth book will be published in July. Because of that fact there may be minor spoilers for the second and third book in the series.

20643052What I loved:

The characters are what won this book for me. Thomas, Wolf and Sanit in particular.

Wolfe and Santi were my favorites. They are the most complex characters. I felt like there is so much more to them both. There is a history to Wolfe and his love/hate relationship with the Library. His relationship with his mother is complicated. His relationship with Sanit grounds him. I felt the biggest connection to Wolfe.

Wolfe has a duty to perform. He loves books. He adores knowledge but he is stuck. He is trapped in a system that will kill him if he tries to do anything to hurt it. He wants to fix things but his love for Santi makes him unable to do what needs to be done.

I liked this turmoil. I enjoyed reading how he oscillated between his feelings of duty and his heart. I also really liked how this translated to his relationship with the core group. He feels this fatherly attachment to them that grew throughout the books. I enjoyed him showing his more caring side. I hope in the next book we see more of that and see how he starts to fight for himself instead of being afraid.

Thomas was another great character. Thomas is the epitome of nice guy. He has a big smile that everyone loves. He is always looking on the positive side of situation. He love of books and knowledge is huge and can be felt by every character.

Thomas was the ray of positivity that was needed throughout the story. Even with everything he goes through, he still holds onto hope. I loved hearing him talk. His enthusiasm was infectious. I want to just hug him and keep him safe.

I do hope that in the next book his bravery continues to grow. I want to see him become even more independent and make some difficult choices.

I enjoyed the pace of the plot for much of the first and third books. That pacing disappears in the second book, which I will get into more in below. The pace is quick and things just keep happening. They move and never have time to really think or reflect on what has happened to them.

This pace I think helps keep a lot of the characters separated. There are about seven main characters in this series and sometimes that can become hard to keep track of. But since they are in constant motion, all doing something at all times it was pretty easy to keep them  in their own places. None of them get bogged down or felt like they are pointless.

I also enjoyed the diversity in this story. Those training  for the library are all from different countries. Our core group is made up of a number of nationalities, cultures and religions. It is always nice to have a broad group of people who work together without focusing on their differences.

61IfHANsOGL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_What I was just okay with:
Jess is our narrator and our main protagonist. Unfortunately I felt like we don’t get much about him until the third book. I felt like he was very surface level for much of the first two books. I knew that he was confused about his place in the world and that he was falling for Morgan. That was about it.

It wasn’t until the third book that was saw how cunning and clever he could be. In that book we saw how well he understands the fight they are in. I wasn’t surprised by the choices he made. He made choices that would help them in the war and not keep his friends. I am eager to see how this progresses throughout the rest of the series. I think there is potential for Jess and I hope that is realized.

I wish that the technology of Mirroring and Blanks was explained better. I can’t quite explain how it works. It was vaguely explained and kind of left as a just go with it idea. I like the idea but I wish I understood how it worked better. It might have helped me feel more connected to the rest of the plot.

30956356What I wished was different:
The first book did a good job at setting up the world and introducing us to the characters.  I got a good feel for where the story was going from that book. I also had a good idea of who our characters were and where they were going. I expected that to be elaborated on in the second book.

Instead the second book felt like it was going in circles. The whole point was to rescue Thomas which they did early in the story. After that it felt like they had no idea where to go or what to do. We went from one location, did nothing and moved to another location and did nothing. They kept running around until they got to the end and ended up in Philadelphia. I felt like the whole point of the book was to get them there.

I honestly think we could have combined the second and third book into one. I think it would have made the pace better, and not felt like the second book got stuck. The third book set up the war coming and the sides everyone is on. You could literally have cut out 3/4 of the second book, added in 1/2 of the third and had a great book.

I am curious how the next book goes. I hope it really pushes us to a conclusion. I think there are supposed to be five ultimately in this series. I hope the fourth book doesn’t come out as a repeat of the second book.

Overall I gave this series between 3 and 4 stars out on Goodreads. I love the premise. I love the way knowledge is good and evil. I like the idea  of the Great Library still existing. I love a number of the characters. I just wish the plot was a bit tighter.

Quotes:

“A life is worth more than a book” (pg. 35, Ink and Bone) ( I wish this had been more central to the earlier plots. I hope it becomes so in the later books)

“The Library might have brought the wisdom of ages into the lives of the common folk; it might have kept humankind from falling into the darkness of ignorance and despair and superstition. But that didn’t mean the hands of those in charge were clean.” (pg. 97, Ink and Bone)

“Because revolution rarely comes from those in charge.” (pg. 74, Paper and Fire)

“This is the graveyard where they buried our future.” (pg. 308, Paper and Fire).

“It was a hard truth that right now, they didn’t need to be purely good. They needed to be capable for anything.” (pg. 278, Ash and Quill)

The Everything Box – Richard Kadrey – Review

25989974In 2000 B.C. an angel is set to end the world. He reaches into his pocket only to find the device is gone. The world won’t be ending on that day.

Fast forward to 2015 and we meet Coop. He is a pretty decent thief, except for he has been caught. He is facing jail or working with special client to retrieve a mysterious box. In the process of trying to find the box he becomes entangled with the Department of Peculiar Science. They tell him the box is not just a trinket container, it is a doomsday box. It will destroy the world. Coop is set on finding it, and meets just about everyone else who is out to get the box as well. No one is qualified for this search and things start falling apart more and more as time goes on. It becomes pretty plain that starting the apocalypse is not an easy task.

What I liked:
This book was just plain fun. The humor was great, the running around in circles was entertaining. I love a book that is just pure fun. It felt like a sitcom to me. One person would get the box and then lose it to someone else. Each time we were introduced a new cast of characters that were more ridiculous then the last group. I laughed over and over again as I read this story.

The characters were also so much fun. Coop’s sarcasm was on point. I love a good sarcastic character. Coop had an attitude and it fit well with the story. It wasn’t out of place. It helped extend the humor of the book.

I enjoyed the “cults” as well. I loved how they were introduced as these groups who were demon worshippers but then held bake sales. This juxtaposition between the two ideas was great. It fit right in with the ridiculous feeling of the story. They were all bumbling idiots and you would never picture them being able to summon a demon or end the world.

Sometimes you need a book that is just ridiculous. It doesn’t teach you any lessons or make you rethink the world. It is just fun. You just read it to laugh and feel relaxed from the rest of the world.

What I just was okay with:
While I highly enjoyed the back and forth pace of the book I do wish there had been just a bit more to the plot. The entire point of the plot was to run around trying to get this box, lose it and meet another group that was after it. I think by the middle if somehow the groups had banded together or there had been another revelation it would have elevated the plot a bit more. I like things a bit more complicated.

This story literally made use of every type of magic you could imagine. Not only were there demons and angels, but you had wizards, werewolves and vampires. Then there were ghosts and magic spells on top of all of that. While this was fun, I felt like it was a lot at one time. It was like throwing everything in and seeing what happened. The story might have benefitted from picking only a handful of magical elements and focusing on those.

What I wished was different:

I can’t think of anything that was outright annoying or that I disliked. This wasn’t a complicated, life altering tale but it was fun and that is exactly what I wanted from it.

I gave this four stars on Goodreads. It is not going to change your life. It is going to provide an escape from life. It is fun and has great humor. Life won’t change but it will lighten the mood for a bit.

Link on Goodreads and Amazon.

They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera – Review

1487621303004What would you do if you knew today was your last day to live? You will die before the day is over, there is no way around your fate. Would you live the life you always wanted to live? Would you open yourself up to a complete stranger? They Both Die at the End explores this idea through a bittersweet tale that will make you smile and cry at the same time.

Mateo and Rufus have both received their Death-Cast call. They will die within the next 24 hours. Mateo becomes trapped by fear in his apartment, afraid to take a step outside and truly live for his last day. While Rufus, a foster child, has lost himself in grief and survivors guilt after surviving the car crash that killed his family. He has no idea who he is anymore but he is determined to live his last day as the person he always wanted to be and not as the one other’s have started to see him as.

They both turn to the Last Friend App to find someone to live their last hours with. Together they extract their real selves from one another. Mateo puts fear aside and truly lives. Rufus lets go of his guilt and shows his true soft and loving side that got lost in the tragedy. They find not only friendship but love and a connection with one another on their last day.

What I loved:

Adam Silvera is the king of emotion. He knows how to invoke that tightness in the chest and that sting of tears in the eye. He knows how to create heartache from sadness and a bittersweet pull as well. He is among a handful of authors who make me fall into my emotions. It is rare I feel so connected to a set of characters. I desperately wanted this to end differently.

Mateo and Rufus were so well written. It is difficult to create round and dynamic characters with only one day of time to work with. Both of these characters start off one way and do a complete turn around by the end. In less than 24 hours Silvera manages to bring both of these boys out of hiding and put them into the lives they were always meant to live.

Mateo is lost and scared. He is a little obsessive. He is scared to experience life. He has no support system life, his mother having died giving birth to him and his dad in a coma.He would have stayed inside, letting his last day slip away.

Instead he uses the Last Friend App to find someone to spend the day with. He wanted to truly live but he doesn’t know that in this last day he will end up living the life he always dreamed of living.

Watching Mateo open up and be purely happy was sweet and heart wrenching at the same time. I felt a rock on my heart knowing he couldn’t get to truly live with this new side of himself. I imagined him making it though the day and becoming this full and whole person.

I felt connected to Mateo. I have always had a fear of taking risks and experiencing the world. His fear hit close to home for me. I have recently walked outside my fears and the feeling is freeing and exhilarating. I wanted Mateo to feel that full experience and see how awesome life can be.

Rufus is lost in his grief. He survived a crash that killed his family. He doesn’t know what to do with himself. He lashes out and hurts other without meaning to. He is lost and scared, much like Mateo.

Watching him push off that guilt and live with Mateo was exhilarating. He showed Mateo that he was a kind soul. He was able to show that he was someone to be loved. His transformation was satisfying. I wanted him to be able to show the world who he truly was. Knowing he wouldn’t leave that impression with everyone was hard to read.

I also really enjoyed the short snippets from other lives that we saw in the story. Each one had some small connection to Rufus and Mateo. Not all the connections ended well but it was this glimpse at how connected everyone in life is. No one exists in a vacuum. We touch lives in some way everyday.

I thought this was a nice touch to alleviate some of the pain and sorrow that clouded the story. The idea that we got to take a step away from the story for a moment and recollect and see that life went on for the people was a good way to ease some of the heavier emotions in this story.

What I was just okay with:

The only thing I was sort of only okay was the concept of Death-Cast itself.  There is no explanation of how it works, which bugged me for the beginning of the story. I found myself asking questions about it but once I got into the story I realized it didn’t matter how it worked. Death-Cast wasn’t the main element of the story, it was the vehicle by which these boys were able to change. The story was about two boys connecting and living while discovering love and was not about the technology itself.

What I wished was different:

I honestly wouldn’t change anything in this tory. I read it in 3 days. There was nothing that help me back or anything that I couldn’t manage to get past. Even the insta-love aspect didn’t hold me back because of the finite time line that we were working inside of.

 

I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads. If you want a story about living life to its fullest, young love and finding your true self you will love They Both Die at the End.

 

Quotes:

“It’s just the fear of disappointing others or making a fool of myself always wins.” (pg.109)

“I may not be able to cure cancer or end world hunger, but small kindnesses go a long way.” (pg. 126)

“Entire lives aren’t lessons, but there are lessons in lives.” ( pg. 334)

Mask of Shadows – Linsey Miller – Review

29960675How far will you go for revenge? Would you enter a contest where the only way out was to win or die? Would you be able to kill other contestants in order to reach the position that will allow you to avenge your family?

These are questions that Sal has to ponder when they find a flyer for auditions to become Opal, part of The Left Hand of The Queen. Sal is a street thief who has spent the last few years just trying to survive. They know that becoming The Left Hand will allow them access to those who destroyed their life. Sal enters into the auditions and learns that revenge is not as simple as they first thought.

(Note since Sal is genderfluid and uses he/she/they pronouns based on how they are dressed I will be using they to refer to them throughout this review to avoid misgendering them at any point.)

What I enjoyed the most:

One of the things that caught my attention about this book when I first heard about it was the fact that the main character is genderfluid. I have read a few books where a side character is genderfluid but never one where the main character was. I have also not heard of genderfluid characters in a fantasy novel. I was interested to see how this story was going to be done.

Now I do want to state that I am not genderfluid and I don’t know anyone who is so my opinions are based off the research I have done. I did read some reviews of this book by genderfluid reviewers who approve of Sal and the way they were represented.

The society in this world seemed very accepting. When Sal first meets the rest of The Left Hand they state how they are to be addressed. They base their pronouns off what they are wearing, if they are wearing more feminine clothes they use she, if they are wearing more masculine type clothes they are he and if their clothes don’t fall into either category they use they. Once their pronouns are explained it is accepted. No one argues with them or try to fight them about who they are.

There was one moment where they were purposely misgendered and it was done by a character to argue against Sal. The character did it to put Sal down and argue against them staying in the competition. This character was quickly corrected and reminded to respect who Sal was. But that was the only time that Sal’s gender was discussed in any negative fashion.

There were also a variety of sexualities in this story. One character is bisexual, one is implied to be asexual and another is gay. There are also a number of POC as well. I liked the diversity in this book and how it was just accepted. This wasn’t about accepting people for their sexuality or color, it was about these auditioners trying to become The Left Hand for a variety of reasons. In the end it mattered what they could do not how they identified or who they were attracted to.

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the use of masks. Everyone auditioning was given a mask with a number and that was who they became until the end. The three other Left Hands had their own masks and no one got to see their real faces. This was an important part of this story.

The masks kept identities secret. We didn’t get to know who anyone truly was. It didn’t matter. What mattered was what they could do. Could they kill without thought? Could they do what was necessary to become an assassin? Could they remove who they once were and take up this new position in life?

Sal puts on their mask and they become twenty-three. They become someone who is out to do whatever is necessary to become Opal. They can’t let anyone get in their way. But even though this is mainly about a competition to kill the competition there are soft sides to the characters. I liked that feel. I was glad to see lighter moments, moments where care was shown. I think without these moments the story would have been hard to relate to. I found who I would root for and who mattered. If it was all about death, it would have been easy to write everyone off including Sal.

What I okay with:

One of my favorite parts of a story is the dialogue. I feel like through the dialogue I connect to the characters. I can learn if they are humorous, deep or intellectual. I can learn if they are more sarcastic or serious or if they hide behind words. I had a bit of trouble with the dialogue in this story. I felt like it was stilted and clunky. There were times that I wondered what the point of a conversation was or where it was going. Sometimes it felt like conversations just ended for no reason. I wish the dialogue was a bit more precise and relatable.

I also had a bit of trouble with the world building. It wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t feel part of the story but it was enough that I never felt set in the story. I felt like we were fed pieces only when necessary creating more of a jigsaw puzzle image. I had trouble figuring out how things connected.

I wished we had gotten a bit more history. There is a timeline in the back of the book about how they land was created. I wish that had been peppered throughout the story instead. It wasn’t until I read that that I felt like I understood how certain pieces fit together but by that point I was done with the book. I think putting those pieces in the story would have helped me feel more grounded.

What I would change:

Characters are what keep me reading a story. They are the reason I feel connected to a tale. If a character is flat or undeveloped I find myself struggling to finish a book. Unfortunately for this story I felt little connection to Sal.

Sal is a thief who lost their whole family and is out to avenge them. That is about all I know about Sal. I wanted to know more about their connection to their family. I wanted to know more about their homeland. I wanted to know if they felt wanted or needed in their home if they were on the outside. I wanted more history about Sal.

I think if we had gotten some flashbacks to Sal’s life before we would have a better way of understanding their choices during the story. Sal has potential to be a deep character. I think making Sal a deeper character would have made this more than a simple revenge story.

 

In the end I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads. I liked the pace, it was fast and never felt dull or slow. I just wish we had gotten a bit more about the world and a bit more about Sal.

Quotes:

“Most everyone wanted me to pick one, make addressing me easier to them by denying myself. I was already dressing so they could get it right. The least they could do was try. I didn’t see why I had to choose.” (pg. 79).

 

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