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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

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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 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 Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzie Lee – Review

518zN4ZSZiL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Monty is a rich aristocrat. He sets off on a tour of the continent with his best friend Percy and his sister, Felicity. He is ready to see the world and have an adventure. He is eager to spend a year closer to Percy, his secret crush. He has plans, all which go to hell when he steals something that makes them a target. Their tour becomes a run for their lives adventure. Along the way Monty learns a few things about himself, life and love.

What I loved:
This book was fun. It was fast paced and full of adventure. Once it got moving, it flew right by. Things never quite slowed down, which made it a quick read. I like when there is little time to sit around. Sometimes in these stories there can be a point in the middle where the characters meander around trying to figure out what to do. Not true here. They moved from one point to another.

Monty was a great character. I knew from page one that I was going to love him. His attitude was hilarious and I loved how it was juxtaposed to who he was SUPPOSED to be. He was raised with money and prestige but he was the playboy who wanted none of it. He just wants to have fun and the way he talks and jokes makes that obvious. I liked his sense of humor and his sarcasm. I love a good sarcastic character and Monty met that.

Monty was an interesting character because we saw how flawed he was from the very beginning. Monty was trying to escape the abusive home he found himself in. He was trying to find his own place. He had no say in his life and we watch him find a way to gain control over things.

Monty grew in a very obvious way in this story. He started off as a seemingly selfish character. He doesn’t seem to care about anyone else, other than Percy. We learn quickly that that is just a facade he puts up. He KNOWS his is flawed and I loved that. I loved how self aware his character was. That can be hard to write sometimes.

I also really liked his relationship with Percy. I thought this would be a book where the love interest was oblivious for much of the book. It turned out not to be true. We saw that the interest was there from the start but Monty’s character had to grow to make it work. I felt that it was much more real that way. It made it feel less stale and not cliche, which was nice.

I also thought the discussions around sexuality, race and women’s rights was interesting. This time period made it easy to talk about those issues. I liked how Lee was able to make connections that felt real to our time here and now. The talk about Monty not being able to not be attracted to men was poignant and important. Same with some of the realizations about race relations. I liked how it was all integrated into the story without making it feel like it didn’t belong there and was only to make a statement.

What I just okay with:

I enjoyed the overall plot. It was interesting and different. It was not what I expected but I was able to suspend disbelief about aspects without too much issue. The only real issue I had was with how convenient things were for the group.

There was no wrong turns or dead ends. They ended up right where they needed to be right away. If they needed information it was right there. There was no challenge to the plot. Things just worked out exactly as they needed them to.

Sometimes there are too many obstacles for a group. It can seem like no matter what they are never going to get where they need to go. This went the opposite direction and left little in the way. It was almost as if they just kept walking to each new plot point without an issue. I wanted a bit more challenge for them.

What I wished was different:

I loved Percy’s character but I felt like much of the time he was just there as Monty’s love interest. He was Monty’s foil and I do like that he played off Monty’s character. I just wished we knew more about him. We got a handful of details but not really enough to flesh him out.

I wanted to feel a greater connection to him. I think without Monty I wouldn’t have cared that much about Percy.

I gave this one four out of five stars on Goodreads. It was fun and thrilling, had some great characters and great lines. I just wish it had a bit more detail to some of the characters and storyline.

Quotes:

“Perhaps this is what the Grand Tour is meant to do – show me the way other people live, in lives that are not like my own. It’s a strange feeling, realizing that other people you don’t know have their own full lives that don’t touch yours.” (pg. 168)

“It is meant to symbolize that things can be more beautiful for having been broken.” (pg. 184).

“Which still doesn’t entirely make sense to me- perhaps it can’t.” (pg. 396) (End of a very interesting discussion on race and race relations).

“It was never a barrier until I knew, so it’s not something wrong with him.” (pg. 423). (Interesting discussion on medical issues and handicaps and the view people have about them.)

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.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli – Review

914DeALdMcLSimon is a normal kid. He has good friends, a great family and he seems to enjoy school. There is just one thing, he has been keeping a big secret. He is gay. Only an email pen pal, one of the few people he feels like he can truly open up to, knows. Through twist and turns Simon not only comes out but learns  about himself, his friends and family. And in the end learns love is a beautiful thing.
What I loved:
I don’t even know where to start with this book. I have about four other books I should be writing a review for but I have decided this one has to come first. I want to write a review for this book because I have to talk about how much I loved it!

I have heard about this book for ages. I keep seeing recommendations on blogs and Twitter. Some of my favorite authors love this book and I have meant to read it. I just keep getting distracted (It is always like, “Oh yeah, I’ll read that one. OOooo look that new pretty one.” Its bad.). I finally picked it up at Target with a gift card and I am so glad I did. This book lives up to everything I have heard about it and it has become one of my all time favorites.

First up lets talk about how this book left me literally feeling high and giddy at the end. I have read books with great endings before. I have read books that leave me feeling drunk on them. I have not read a book that has made me as happy as this book did. I was grinning so hard my face hurt at the end.

This book felt like a fairytale to me. It wasn’t unbelievable, just that happy, perfect, loving feeling that fairytales leave behind. That feeling of hope and joy you feel when you finish a fairytale. I felt all of that with this book.

I jokingly said when I finished, that I felt in love because of how strong and real the emotions were in this book. I raced through it because I felt like I was on the rollercoaster ride with Simon. I was impressed with how spot on this book felt, with how real and alive it was. I am not emotional so for a book to pull out a strong emotion like, pure joy, from me is impressive.

Let’s move onto the characters. Simon was great. At first he felt one note, I felt like I knew his character but as the story progressed I saw his growth and change. I liked how his emails with Blue helped him learn aspects about himself. This was one of the strongest parts of this story. The way the two of them were able pull revelations out about themselves and each other was fantastic. Simon grew and he grew in exactly the way he needed to grow.

Simon’s reflections on his sexuality were great. I liked that he wasn’t ashamed. He was just trying to find a way to make a declaration when he didn’t understand why he had to. I loved his point about how it doesn’t make sense that not everyone has to come out. I agree with him that straight people should have to make a big deal about their sexuality and revealing it like the LGBTQIA+ community always has to do, or on the flip side  no one has to make a big deal about it (what I hope the future holds one day).  The reflections on that idea hit home for me. It made sense and they way he talked about it was perfect.

I also liked the progression of how he came out. It wasn’t ideal and it wasn’t the way it should have happened. We saw him go through a gambit of emotions about how it happened and come to a conclusion about how to handle it. It felt true to life. The one scene where he is yelling at someone was done perfectly. I was angry and upset and wanted to cry just like Simon. What he states is exactly right about the situation.

Simon’s family was great as well. I think I liked them because they reminded me so much of my own family. They are goofy and have inside jokes. His parents wanted to just know him and watch him grow and not miss anything. It made me smile because I could relate to everything they said and did.

The mystery about Blue was captivating. I read the book and raced through it because I had to know who Blue was. I thought I knew once or twice. I did end up guessing right but I liked that mystery element. I liked that we got subtle clues and if we paid attention we could see the revelation. I do want to reread it one day and see if I could pick on some things.

The end where we learn who Blue was, was exactly what I wanted. The connection that was formed was true and it came from the emails. We saw that their conversations mattered. Nothing was made up. Nothing was done on a sly manner. They bared their souls, and grew even if they didn’t meet face to face for a while. It showed that email and text conversations can form a true connection between people.

I have an issue with people who think that because of the internet and phones we have no ability to connect with other people anymore. This book shows how untrue that can be. If you open yourself up and write what you really think, you can build a bond. A bond is not only built face to face.  A bond is built through honesty and sharing who you truly are with someone. That is what ultimately matters.

We saw this in this book. Blue and Simon connected. They grew as a pair of friends and then more, all through email. When they met that spark was there, that connection was true and alive. They were able to move forward because the groundwork was already put down. It was heartwarming to read.

What I was just okay with:

I think the only thing I could think of that drew me up short was that some details weren’t mentioned right away. Like Simon has glasses and I didn’t realize that until about 3/4 of the way through the book. He has to put in contacts and I had to then reimagine him. I don’t like having to change how I see a character that I have been reading for pages.

It wasn’t enough to throw me out of the story but it did stop me short a few times. I just had to readjust and I wasn’t prepared for that.

What I wished was different:

Nothing. I can’t think of one thing I had a true problem with. As If you couldn’t tell by my gushing above.
I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads and it deserved everyone. If you want a sweet, coming of age, coming out and falling in love story, this is perfect. If you want a happy ending with pure giddy joy, this is perfect. I can’t wait until the Leah on the Offbeat comes out.

Links: Goodreads  & Amazon

Quotes:
“It’s like they have this idea of me, and whenever I step outside of that, it blows their minds.” (pg. 54)

“But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again. (pg. 56) (Has to be one of my favorite parts of this book.)

“Being secure in your masculinity isn’t the same as being straight.” (pg. 65)

“Why is straight the default?” (pg. 146)

“It is definitely annoying that straight (and white for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don’t fit that mold.” (pg. 147). (This whole chapter of conversations is so important).

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