BABY BOOK REVIEW: SWORD AND VERSE

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SUMMARY (goodreads):

Raisa was only a child when she was kidnapped and enslaved in Qilara. Forced to serve in the palace of the King, she’s endured hunger, abuse, and the harrowing fear of discovery. Everyone knows that Raisa is Arnath, but not that she is a Learned One, a part of an Arnath group educated in higher order symbols. In Qilara, this language is so fiercely protected that only the King, the Prince, and Tutors are allowed to know it. So when the current Tutor-in-training is executed for sharing the guarded language with slaves and Raisa is chosen to replace her, Raisa knows that, although she may have a privileged position among slaves, any slipup could mean death.

That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the Resistance could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved, an honorable man she knows wants to help the slaves.

Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.

And Raisa is the one holding the key.

BABY REVIEW:

What a disappointment. I had high hopes for Sword and Verse. The author created a new language just for her book! If you can create a language, you MUST be able to use it, right?

Wrong.

I think she spent a little too much time on linguistics and not enough on her plot. Let me put a disclaimer that I skimmed a LOT of this book, but this was what I got from it:

BEWARE: SPOILERS AHEAD

 

 

Page 20: Raisa is already raised from lowest slave level to Tutor-in-training: training WITH the prince. Yeah, sure. And she avoided execution somehow, which was also unclear. Then there were the names and the places- an info dump if there ever was one. Raisa was the most normal name of any of them. I’m all for creativity, but please don’t give me 15 crazy names of people, places and things in the first 20 pages that I’m supposed to remember.

Page 30: She and the prince, who have never spoken before, ARE IN LOVE. Kissing ALL THE TIME.

Page 50: They sneak off to the library to have sex, and continue to do so several times throughout the book, even after the prince is betrothed to another girl, who’s super nice. Did I mention that she’s fifteen? But she was 14 when this love affair got started, and she barely breaks 16 by the time you actually get to the plot? Unrestrained teenage hormones are obviously a key factor in pushing this plot.

The rest (because after I spent 50 pages flipping through shivers and coos and the laughable idea that the ONLY PRINCE could sneak off so easily, for so long): There’s some kind of revolution, but Raisa is only concerned with how long it is before the prince gets married to the other girl- who is SUPER NICE, as far as I can tell. But it doesn’t seem to matter, because they still sneak off together anyway. Raisa only joins (begrudgingly) when people- important people- get kidnapped. And then there’s hardly any action, just some planning and suddenly, BAM. Raisa is the ruler of the whole place, some kind of priestess that can consult with an oracle and all sorts of random stuff like that. Good grief! A language rebellion wasn’t enough? It’s frustrating because I thought this would be in the vein of The Pledge, by Kimberly Derting, which was a great book about language and class separation. Maybe that was my mistake. But I certainly expected more than this.

I am very, very disappointed in this one. Insta-love, 8000 random characters, NO real action that I could find, and a very sketchy way of trying to have a happy ending. It would have been much more satisfying if there had been any true sacrifice from ANYONE in this book.

WHAT TO WATCH (more spoilers)

There was the bad romance, of course. Lots of not-so-innuendo about what they were doing and how. That permeated the book.

There was some violence, though not nearly as much as expected when you see the word sword in the title and a picture of it on the cover. Isn’t it supposed to be a revolution?

As far as drugs and drinking go, I couldn’t tell you, because I didn’t get that deep into it, to catch those details. The same goes for language, though I think I can safely say that since the author created a language, the curing wouldn’t be what we normally see.

The resolution of the whole affair seemed to rely on her suddenly becoming the magical priestess, something I am so not on board with. Can’t have a happy ending? THAT’S FINE. Don’t add some random plot element at the end so that everything can be hunky-dory.

This book was not for me. I thought it was awful, and yet, it was so hyped! Maybe I’ll write a post up about hype- because this is happening more and more. It’s a travesty, especially when people pre-order books based on some contrived excitement. A synopsis does not a good book make.

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BOOK REVIEW: NEVER FADE

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Okay! Finished book two of The Darkest Minds (with only a day to spare for A Series a Month) and I’m going to throw up a quick review before I get cracking on book 3, In the Afterlight.

SUMMARY:

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

THOUGHTS:

WARNING: Spoilers from book one MAY be included in this

Unfortunately, I felt a lot of disconnect with this second book (you can read my review of The Darkest Minds here) and felt it fell kind of flat. Maybe it’s because I was really tired last night trying to power through it, or maybe it was the book, I’m not really sure right now. But I stayed up pretty late getting it done, and maybe that’s why I just wasn’t feeling it.

I will say this- I’m really starting to love Vida. She’s brash and bold and all edges, but I know there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye. I’m reaaaaally shipping her with a certain character who shall remain nameless so no one yells at me for spoiling anything. BUT YOU KNOW WHO IT IS.

I think this review is less of a review than a confused rambling- I’m not sure where I’m going with it. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember a lot of what happened, and it seemed like a lot of things were really anti-climactic, like the fight with Mason and them seeing the Slip Kid. I expected just a little bit more, so the disappointment was just a little bit more sharp.

But I did like it. I thought it was very well done, especially writing-wise. Although I personally skimmed some of the random details and setting, I know a lot of people really love that. I’m more of a sparse reader- I like to get right to the action, and that gets me in trouble sometimes because I’m a huge skimmer.

So I guess I was kind of on the fence with this one, but since I loooooove Cole and Vida (no, he’s not the aforementioned person that needs to remain nameless) I’m definitely going to read book 3. I did like Never Fade, but I think I wasn’t in the right mood to really enjoy it this time. I just hope I can get the series all done before tomorrow night!

Yeah, right

A SERIES A MONTH REVIEW: THE DARKEST MINDS

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I finally finished my first book for the Series challenge! I’m almost positive I’m not going to finish the whole series before the month is over, but I’ve been doing pretty good reading this month, at least. I finish my TBR book for January, which is exciting, and I’m going to have the house to myself this weekend, so that could be promising for some serious reading! But anyway, I wanted to throw up a review of The Darkest Minds, the first book of Alexandra Bracken’s series of the same name.

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SUMMARY

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.’

THOUGHTS

Okay! I finally read The Darkest Minds, and it only took me three years to do it. Three cheers! Well, I’m happy, anyway. So, I gave it 4 stars for mainly this reason: I thought it was a great book, really chunky and interesting (I binged it in a day), but I was really confused through a lot of it. I couldn’t figure out why she was so upset about  being what she was. I thought it was really cool, and an advantage, but about halfway through the book when you find out what her powers did, I understood. But I didn’t quite get it at the beginning. Also, the action sequences came hard and fast, which I would usually love, but since my brain was still trying to figure out what Ruby’s deal was, I ended up being confused even more. Of course, I was also sick, and that could have contributed to it. 

In any case, I did really like this book, especially when I got everything straight in my head. I loved the slow-burn romance (I am NOT happy about the ending), I loved the secondary characters- Zu especially- and I didn’t predict much of what happened. There were some things that you could kind of see coming, but I’m not one for trying to figure out a book before I read it- I just let the book carry me along, for the most part, unless it’s super obvious. So I liked that part of it. I thought all the character development, especially Ruby’s, was really good, and I can’t wait to see where Alexandra takes her in Never Fade, book two. 

WHAT TO WATCH

That was another bonus for this book- it was exciting, fun, had a romance, but there was nothing to make it inappropriate for younger teens. Aside from some violence (which was never graphic) this book was clean and appropriate for everyone. I would recommend it even for younger teens who are looking for a thicker book that tackle.

So there it it! Book one is done, now on to book two!

#RockMyTBR: NOWHERE BUT HERE

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So, this will be another unconventional review- one for the #RockMyTBR challenge, hosted by Sarah! I’ve completed my first book (actually, it’s been about a week now) and I’m proud of that feat! The first book I decided to read was….*drumroll*

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Well. I’m glad I got through it, in anticipation of Walk the Edge, which releases on March 29th of this year (I’m pretty sure). While I still plan on reading that one, I’m afraid Nowhere But Here didn’t do much for me- not as much as Take Me On, which remains my favorite of McGarry’s books. Here’s my quick review, as posted previously on Goodreads, for all you lovelies waiting to see my reaction!

THOUGHTS

Finally made it through this chunky little baby! Not sure what my thoughts are yet- definitely a little slow in places, and I can’t wait for (hopefully) more information on Chevy and Violet. Emily got on my nerves more than I usually tolerate, and there were some weird personality morphs it seemed like, but I’ll have to ponder it more.

Update (added 3 days later):

Upon reflection, what really stands out to me about this book is how sexualized it was. It seemed like every two sentences one character or the other was thinking about various physical characteristics of the other person, and not in a ‘hey, he/she is pretty’ way. A ‘I want that person naked’ way. It got tiresome quickly, and it didn’t stop. Although it was by no means insta-love, it almost seemed like they got carried away by their physical wants and then decided to be in love after the fact. I know McGarry always writes romance, but this one was definitely the most romance-dependent- which is saying a lot. For a 500 page book, I thought there would be a lot more substance, especially as it was so hyped. I was really hoping for more of a blowout with the rival motorcycle gang, etc. On another note, the language was atrocious. I know most people don’t mind, and yeah, they’re a motorcycle gang, but Oz said it himself ‘We aren’t thugs.’ Anyhow, it was seriously chock full of f-bombs, which made more of an impression than a lot of the other parts of the book.

When you get right down to it, the underlying plot was really interesting- the secrets about Emily’s past and how everyone seems to have their own agenda really was what kept me going. But the romance was pretty off to me, maybe because I didn’t really like Emily or Oz all that much. I’ll still read Walk the Edge, because McGarry usually makes me happy, but this one was more of a miss than a hit for me.

WHAT TO WATCH

I think I would rate this one for older teens and up, although I won’t be recommending it for more reasons than one. As mentioned, there was a lot of foul language, a lot of not-so-innuendos, and all this hot and heavy hate-love-hate-love stuff that got pretty tiring after 500 pages. Maybe it’s just been too long since I read a McGarry book, but this one seemed more adult than the others. But obviously these are my opinions, and it’s all up to you.

Overall, I only give this one 2 stars. It wasn’t a strong start to the series for me, but my loyalty to the author (as well as my intense interest in a few select characters) will keep me reading.

IN ANY EVENT

Make sure you follow me on TWITTERbecause I’ll be giving away my hardcover copy of Nowhere But Here a little bit close to the release date of Walk the Edge! 

 

AUDIO REVIEW: ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

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SUMMARY:

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

MY THOUGHTS:

Okay. I’m going to be brief about this. I listened to the audio, and first things are first: I loved the narrator’s voice and the way that, even though he was only one person, he brought each character to life. I loved, too, Frank Volkheimer. The entire time. I loved the strains of piano that concluded the reading, and the way each piece of seemingly random information clicked into place as you reached the climax. I can see why it took Doerr ten years to write this novel, and I can see why it won the Pulitzer- the writing was so elegant and the words wrapped around you like old friends or a worn favorite blanket. When I tried to read it, I got lost in those same words, but hearing them let me concentrate on the cadence and the tone rather than how to pronounce them.

What I did not love:
I became difficult, at times, to decipher who, what time period, what place each chapter took on, because there were so many, and there were few indicators. Reading would have been better for this, I think. I ended up spending a lot of time with my mind occupied in figuring out what had happened the last time we were with this character, in that place, in what time.

The convergence of Werner and Marie-Laure left something to be desired. You spend this entire book waiting, waiting for them to meet, and once they do….it’s only for a moment. I suppose that is meant to mimic the lives of real people, how one person or so many tiny coincidences can lead up to a single moment, and that can be beautiful, but in a book, it made everything I had wanted so badly to happen so fleeting and so lacking.

I also was frustrated by the ending. Like many adult books I have read, this seemed like a book written just for me- and then the other shoe drops. For me, with the limited scope of adult books I have picked up, be they critically acclaimed, award winners, or what have you, they seem to be the unhappy endings of an open-ended YA novel. Adult books seem to be written by the realists of the world, even when their imaginations have sparked beautiful worlds and legends and tales. All the Light We Cannot See was one of these. A lush, rich climax that left me excited to keep listening was replaced, not by an aching, open end, or a vague epilogue, but the harsh reality of life, the drudgery of the middle-aged left after the war and the hollowness that enclosed them. And maybe that’s beautiful to some people, maybe they like to read about the real lives of people, but I didn’t want my time to be so spent. It troubles me that now, I can’t even imagine a world where Werner and Marie-Laure even know each other, let alone where they are happy and bold and strong.

Obviously I had a few issues with this book. But Volkheimer, the rich historical details, and the beautiful writing made this book worth my time. I will give it four stars, simply because of those three things.

WHAT TO WATCH:

(SPOILERS) This is an adult book, so there were a few instances to look out for. With regard to violence, this was probably the most prevalent, since it is set in wartime. There were a few gruesome descriptions of deaths, and the training for Hitler’s army of youths is brutal. Werner is trained with regard to triangulating radio signals, only for his comrades to go in and kill the broadcasters.

There are also some sexually explicit jokes made by one of the soldiers in Werner’s company, and his younger sister, her guardian, and a few of her friends are raped by Russian soldiers.

The same man who makes explicit jokes also uses some foul language in a few instances, but the scenes with that person are not frequent.

 

So tell me what you thought of this Pulitzer! It wasn’t really my type of book, but I know it is well-loved by many. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all soon!

REVIEW: THE MASKED TRUTH

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SUMMARY: 

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

MY THOUGHTS:

PLOT: Mrmgh. Eh. Sigh. I didn’t reread the summary when I picked this one up. My interpretation (aka what I remembered) was that it was one of the kids, picking off the others one by one, you never know who you can trust.

Nope. From the start you know who the dangerous ones are, and then it’s just a lot of running and hiding and running and people being absolute idiots. And then it’s just a lot of self-doubt and wandering around a hospital and that’s where I stopped. So I guess this is more of a baby book review, because I skimmed just about the last 50 pages. I guess the end was kind of a surprise? But not…really? Honestly, there were about a hundred pages that were really interesting, and then I just…wasn’t feeling it. It was too fast a climb in action that led to too fast a fall in action.

CHARACTERS: I hoped a lot from these characters. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t connect with them, and I wanted a lot more. From Max and his schizophrenia, I wanted more hallucination, more of that unreliable narrator, instead of thinking it MIGHT be unreliable, but probably not really. I understand that it’s much more realistic this way, but I would have loved more drama from him.

As for Riley, I just…couldn’t get behind her trauma. The survivor’s remorse and the PTSD, once again, I realize were crafted for the realism, but I wanted…more. More than just her calling herself a coward every five paragraphs.

As for secondary characters, I really liked Sloane after the entire incident. Brash and confident, she was just my kind of character. I did think Armstrong did a great job writing an interesting and varied group of characters. (even if a lot of them did bite the dust).

Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a thriller, or contemporary, or…I don’t know. This one just didn’t strike me, but maybe I’ll revisit it when I know that’s what mood I’m in.

WHAT TO WATCH:

Violence. This one was pretty graphic, too, lots of descriptions and shooting and fighting and just…violence. So this one is definitely not for young or sensitive readers.

What did you think of The Masked Truth? I heard a lot of great things about it, and I want some reasons to try it again someday!

BOOK REVIEW: SHADOW AND BONE

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SUMMARY

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

MY THOUGHTS

PLOT: Okay, the first time I picked up this book, I put it down almost immediately. A few months ago, I think I just wasn’t in the mood for it.  This time, with some helpful prodding from Brianna Shrum (who is excellent) I enjoyed it much more. I think this is the only love triangle that I’ve been on board with, and I’m actually excited to read more- I’m feeling the Darkling love SO MUCH and despite that, I love Mal, too. The plot is kind of weird and was a little slow at first, which may have contributed to my lack of enthusiasm. This time, however, I pushed through, and I didn’t regret it. I enjoyed the pacing, although the ending seemed a little bit off and I wish I had been more invested in it. I will definitely be finishing the series, though, because I think this could turn out being a really great series (and I would like to have these three under my belt before I start Six of Crows so I’m familiar with the universe).

CHARACTERS: Point number one, and perhaps the most important point, is that the way Bardugo wrote the Darkling is 100% perfection. You never know whether he is hero of villain (okay, you pretty much know, but you don’t care) his motives are vague, his morality is entirely questionable and you just. don’t. care. I understand now why many, many people choose the Darkling as their #1 book boyfriend- although he isn’t mine (yet) he’s climbing right up the list with those quartz eyes. However, it’ll be tough to beat the Caliph of Khorasan- Khalid’s tiger eyes and also vague morality are well established in my heart.

The reason I didn’t give this book five stars is Alina, our heroine. Although by the end of the book she had changed and had become something different- someone better- for much of the book I skimmed her thoughts unless they had to do with the Darkling. Her inferiority complex is something I just couldn’t understand, and couldn’t enjoy reading. I would have preferred if she came into her own sooner, and we got to see more of her powerful side. As it was, each change was sudden, abrupt, and almost a little bit confusing when it came to the final pages of the book. I do look forward to seeing where Bardugo goes with this character, though, because I think she could be pretty great once she gets used to being powerful.

Mal was a great character, and I do love him- he’s my kind of guy, and in any other book, I would adore him. But in this book, he’s competing with the Darkling, and that’s pretty much impossible. I understand this love triangle, though, because there’s an impossible pull toward the Darkling, and to me he’s just a fictional character. To Alina, he’s flesh and blood and smoking hot. So I totally get this LT, even though it hurts.

In all honesty, Genya the Tailor was my favorite character. Much like Despina from The Wrath and the Dawn, Genya is the servant who is much more, with a plucky determination, beauty, and flair all her own. I loved her flash and the way she acted- and I truly hope I see her in future books.

OVERALL: I’ll give this four stars, because Alina was so frustrating and the ending seemed a little bit rushed to me. But I did love many aspects of this book, and can’t wait to see more.

WHAT TO WATCH:

There are some pretty heated kiss scenes, but nothing too untoward happens. There are some hints to what the king does to servants he finds attractive, but nothing is detailed and the reader is left to draw conclusions on their own. They drink something called kvas, which seems to be some sort of alcohol, but no one is getting obviously drunk or acting crazy. Violence is the only issue- there are some scenes that are a little gory, and I wouldn’t want younger readers exposed to descriptions of the volcra, monsters in the Fold. I do wonder, though, what causes the Grisha’s powers- it never really tells you whether it’s just elemental or genetic mutation or if it’s magic. That’s something I’ll have to keep a lookout for.

REVIEW: ILLUMINAE

SUMMARY

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

THOUGHTS

This is just going to be a bunch of gifs, because what can you really say about a book this good?

So then, I’m sitting there, nearing the end of the book, and I kid you not- for the last 150 pages or so, this was my expression:

But then, just as all was winding down, the final blow was delivered, leaving me feeling like

So that’s that. Illuminae one of the (if not THE) best book I’ve read all year. Go read it now. You won’t regret it.

BABY BOOK REVIEW: COURT OF FIVES

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JUST LET ME SLEEP

So, I’ve been reading more lately. And I’m trying to catch up on a few reviews, and this one is the latest. Now, I was really excited for this book, especially because it came in a dry spell of releases I wanted. Once again, I found myself disappointed. This book is HUGE. Not, Game of Thrones huge, but for a YA novel, it was a monster. Therefore, I expected even more.

WHAT I ACTUALLY GOT

First of all, there were immediately way too many characters and way too much filler. I understand that you’ll have that sometimes with a large family scene, but Jane Austen’s Elizabeth had four sisters, and it never felt flat or boring to read scenes where they all conversed. There was too much information and backstory being poured into that first few pages/chapters, and even when I got to the Fives race, my attention waned. And the characters didn’t spark anything in me- they were all irritating, and I didn’t feel like they would get any better. I didn’t get through the Fives race- and that was why I stopped. When I couldn’t even get through the event the book seemed to be named for, or the preliminary trials for it (I really don’t remember) I decided that I had better things to read. I’d give it 1.5 stars, maybe two because it may have gotten better and the world-building had some solid elements, but I didn’t stick around to find out more.

BABY BOOK REVIEW : NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES

SUMMARY

Never date your best friend.

Always be original.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never dye your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the cliches, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

THOUGHTS

I liked the premise, I liked the characters….but then I didn’t. It seems to linger too long on the in-between stages, with more focus on Dave- poor, conflicted Dave- getting to know another girl, and less of what I expected- a long list of Nevers, a cute best-friend romance, and a happy ending. Isn’t that what the summary implies? A story that’s almost cliche in itself, maybe akin to Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Asher, a perfect story about how love can change you, one that makes your heart happy and leaves you excited for what’s next for the main characters? But this was not that book. This was a book for cynics of longtime love, maybe more realistic in nature, maybe more for those who have little faith in relationships, but not for those who want to escape the realistic drudgery of high school and the routines that every high school person goes through.

The ending is less than satisfactory (okay, yes, I flipped to the end to see if it was worth continuing) and DNFed at about 120 pages in. This book wasn’t for me, and I wish I could have liked it, but it just didn’t do anything for me. The love triangle was unexpected and kind of frustrating (mostly because I had no emotional investment and I hate love triangles) but it was an applaudable effort, and I can’t find any fault with the writing, just the execution.