Book Review

Review: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Boys in the Boat

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: YA+, no language, no violence
Length: 416 pages
Author: Daniel James Brown
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.

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A HEARTWARMING BOOK.

My star rating may not reflect the fact that I truly did enjoy this book. There was some fundamental things for me personally that caused me to lower the rating.

The not so good juju first. The author writes really beautiful prose. I truly could picture exactly what it was like in the 30’s. This was also an issue for me. There was so so so much description and side-winding that I found myself skimming quickly to get to the actual story.

This caused me to get frustrated occasionally wanting to continue the story, but having to fly through things and I think a lot of the extra fluff could have been removed. I didn’t need such exact descriptions of a town, or a boat to get the whole picture. I would’ve liked more history on the boys (rather than just Joe) though I do realize that may be because he was the longest living of the group. There could be limitations I am not aware of.

What I did love was the story itself. It was heartfelt and Brown did a lot of research to make this book what it is. They’re multiple sides to the tale as he mostly writes from Joe’s angle, but also describes what is happening in Germany and with other team members / coaches, etc. He builds a unique sphere of realizing so many other things are happening in the world, while the world is also heading towards a war, all without each other acknowledging the moves.

Joe’s story is one of heartbreak, and ultimately finding himself whole again through rowing. I was just as angry as Joyce (his love) hearing what he had to go through at such a young age and the unfairness of his world.

I was riveted reading the paragraphs of the races. On the edge of my seat (even when you know who wins) because the author scripts it, that well. Those boys rowing together were the best portions, and the epilogue referring to the fact they met every 10 years to do it again? Oh, my heart. The bond this team had to accomplish what they did is powerful.

Overall audience notes:
— A clean book that younger to older audiences would enjoy
— No language
— Descriptions of war-time Germany

Uncategorized

September Reading Wrap-up!

A good month for books was had.

September was such a fun month for reading! I finished the last book in ToG, prepping for Kingdom of Ash in October. I was able to read a few off of my TBR and actually narrow it down a bit (okay, maybe I also added more books than read, but I tried!).

I changed my blog name and am almost to 50 followers! This has been such a fun passion project for me and I’m loving getting to know you through comments, so keep ’em coming.

Fall started and it’s my absolute favorite season. So here’s to curling up with a good book, a glass of hot chocolate, and listening to the rain fall.

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What I read this month…

My favorite book this month: The Girl in the Tower

My least favorite book this month: Sapphire Blue

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Have you read any of these? Which ones did you like best? Let me know in the comments!

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CROPPED

Book Review

ARC Review: Evenfall (Shadowfire #1) by Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos

Evenfall

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, language, some violence, kissing scenes
Author: Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos
Publisher: Boris Kos
Expected Release Date: October 30th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A monster does not deserve the intimacy of a name

As if waking up in an unfamiliar world isn’t enough of a surprise, Ember gains a new title to her name. Savior.

Hunted by the Crescent Prince and his lethal shadows, she accepts a young Mage’s help to navigate the land of blood magic and its many illusions. But where Ada sees the good in her power, Ember discovers something else.

An icy darkness, designed to take lives, not save them.

The only thing worse than not being able to rely on her senses—or the reality she had once believed to be true—is knowing that she cannot trust her heart. Especially as it seems to draw her to the one person in whose hands she can never fall…

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*Note: I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Boris Kos, for the opportunity to read Evenfall. Publication date, etc. subject to change.

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A TALE OF TWO BOOKS.

I was truly contemplating putting this book down through the first half. I felt like I was reading about Ada’s story rather than Ember’s and Ember was some kind of narrator for the entire saga.

Ember wasn’t doing anything for herself and was following Ada around agreeing to everything she said and not forming her own opinions about the plans to defeat the Crescent Prince. I was annoyed to no end about how everyone kept calling Ember a savior, the One, etc., but she herself had NO IDEA what anyone was talking about!!?

It was missing dialogue as well. I was tired of being in Ember’s head (since aforementioned, she wasn’t doing anything worthy of my time) and wished there was more time spent on conversation with others.

Then, I got to the half way point.

Then, I met Mordecai.

Then, things got SOOO much better. I mean really, I thought I was reading a different book altogether.

Ember grew a backbone (for the most part) and Mordecai gave me the answers I was craving. I finally had a world mostly built and understood the plot more deeply. At this point, my connection with Ember and Mordecai started to form.

The relationship borders on instant, but thankfully, some time is taken for true emotion to form. The push and pull is fun and gives more edge to Ember and humanity to Mordecai.

The story became increasingly darker. I enjoyed every second of nefarious characters showing some twisted benevolence.

Left on a cliffhanger at the end I’m not sure what to think. I really want more. I want the next story and to continue in this world. Truth be told, there needs to be more world AND character building. It took til literally the closing chapters to know how Ember showed up in a different world in the first place. That’s why I struggled to like her as a character. I wanted to understand her decisions more and hope to get more of her history (parentage, friendships, etc.) so I can really get behind her as a heroine. Same goes for all characters. The book is on the shorter side so not as much time was put into character back-stories. I have hope that the second book will deliver and fill in the hand-full of plot holes.

I had originally intended giving this book a two star rating, then three, but chose to go with four because the second half drew me in too well not to be acknowledged. I’ve been entranced enough by the Crescent Prince to need more of him.

Last note, this book was a total cover request. Merwild does AMAZING artwork and I’ve been a fan for awhile. This cover is absolutely gorgeous.

Overall audience notes:

— Young adult fantasy
— Language, often not necessary and sometimes jarring (to me personally)
— Deep kisses / make-outs, no love scenes, everything on the tasteful spectrum
— Language involving a sexual assault (Ember has a flashback)
— Minor violence; use of blood is spoken of a lot because that’s how the world’s magic is used

CROPPED

Book Talk

Name Change!

AT LAST.

I have a name I actually like and can get behind.

I really didn’t like Book Reviews On the Run. I originally intended to combine my loves of reading and running into a blog, but the more I played with it the more I liked keeping it as a book based blog only.

Then I had an epiphany last night! My last name (Goodey) provides a much more clever name. So there ya go.

I’m excited for this change and to really work on flourishing my blog. Thank you to my followers!

Happy reading!

–C.R. Goodey

Book Review

Review: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

Girl in the Tower

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction fantasy, a little language, some violence, some kisses and lewd commentary
Length: 363 pages
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: December 5th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

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OH THE ADVENTURE.

I read the first book in this series over a year ago and remembered enjoying it, but thinking, WHOA that was a lot of story. The Girl in the Tower exceeded my expectations for a middle novel. I was able to be even more immersed in the story because I understood the characters and plot much better after The Bear and the Nightingale.

Vasya is a strong heroine. Not letting her life be put into a box of marriage or a convent, she rides out for her own adventure. And what wanderlust she found! The prose and descriptions of vast Russia are beautiful. Arden interweaves world building and commentary so well you get swept away.

One of the few things I didn’t love was how much everything was Vasya’s fault. This death, that destruction, etc. She could’ve used a break, bless her heart. Vasilii the Brave is a heroine and deserved more praise under her guise.

The love tale woven throughout makes me giddy too. I look forward to more of Morozko and Vasya in the next book. This book isn’t heavy on the love either, and for a reader, I think that can sway them on way or another. I really appreciated the way it was set up. It stands apart from some novels too focused on the love. Vasya has so much loyalty and love for her family. It’s what makes the love with Morozko all the more sincere and tender.

Multiple POV helps you gain an understanding from many different characters. Vasya, Olya, and Sasha are a few on the group who get a momentary narrative. I always love when an author can handle so many characters at once because it enhances the story from all sides.

Can I almost mention MY LOVE FOR SOLOVEY? I want a magical horse that speaks to me. His fierce protection over Vasya gives me all the heart eyes.

I love the historical fiction aspect. Arden has degrees in Russian and tells the history and uses the aspects of names, times, and places to create a magic filled fantasy.

Overall audience notes:

  • A young adult fantasy book that could easily be enjoyed be an older audience
  • Sparse language, did not detract from the story
  • No love scenes, some kissing scenes (all safe for work)
  • Some lewd commentary about rape, and wanting to sleep with others
  • Some violence with minor gore
Book Review

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, no language, some love/kiss things, some violence
Length: 448 pages
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bay
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

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LOVE TRIANGLE ALERT.

*sigh*

I climbed up real high on my soap box tonight to say that I truly can’t stand love triangles. They’re very few situations where I thought it worked out enough that it didn’t bother me, but most of the time I’m too distracted by the wishy-washy heroine who can make up her mind on dying for her country, but not about what boy she likes.

With that in place the rest of the story remained a struggle for me. I didn’t quite understand where the Little Red Riding Hood tale fell into place either. Rachelle wearing a red cloak and prancing through the forest were about as LRRH as it got.

The world-building was neat. I did like that and felt the time spent there was well done. There was enough to understand the politics of the game, but not so much I began skimming.

The two love interests are fine. I actually liked Eric a lot more. He was cruel, deadly, and twisted. Which always makes for a good, dark book. Armand was lack-luster and was horrible at putting any of his own plans together. He was dragged from one scenario to the next without stopping to ask if it was the best idea.

The layout changed from her first book. The extra story was put at the end of chapters so you actually noticed it, and actually understood where it was supposed to be in regards to the current plot line. This is definitely an upgrade.

Everything fell flat in the end for me. It was dark, but eroded as the book went on. At least she finally chose someone, I guess.

Overall audience notes:

A young adult fantasy book with no language. The one love “scene” is super glossed over that you barely notice it. No descriptions or anything of that nature. Some violence, lightly gory.

Book Review

Review: Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu

Wildcard

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult, very little language, some violence, a love scene
Length: 341 pages
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam
Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

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MIXED EMOTIONS.

This book is good, it is, but the author has let me down yet again with the ending.

[*side note: The ending to the Legend series was fine, but I thought it could have been a lot more satisfying. The Young Elites ending also left something to desire for me, so upon reading her third series I’m once again feeling let down.]

I wanted more. More about Hideo, about Sasuke, the Phoenix Riders, everyone. I think an epilogue would have been beneficial and would have satisfied my craving.

My main issue was Emika is so bland. She jumps from the Blackcoats, to the Riders, to Hideo, doing whatever they ask and not really following her own ideas. The action is there and intense, but because she lacks independence it runs dry.

The love story leaves you wanting more. It even says in the description that Emika has to take down the man she loves. I DON’T EVEN SEE WHERE THERE IS LOVE. They are barely in the book together, the one love scene is nice and all…and totally expected. A little extra fluff for the plot to give us what we thought we wanted. My heart was way more invested in Roshan and Tremaine’s story than Emika and Hideo’s.

Speaking of side characters, I missed them too. I missed the Phoenix Riders. Their presence is small and forced. Their dynamic was so fun in Warcross! It would have been nice to see them really all together.

I do appreciate we got all of Sasuke’s story. And that Jax was included. She was a great addition to the book. The plot focuses on Zero’s story and was fascinating for a sci-fi novel! The twist grabbed me and had me reconsidering my opinion on all things data based. That was different and great to read.

A young adult sci-fi novel. There is a few swear words and some violence. Discussion of suicide (no details). The love scene is glossed and small.