Book Review

Book Review: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + mythology
Length: 377 pages
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: June 28th, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAITED THIS LONG TO READ THIS.

This was so good I didn’t even bother taking notes for it (like I do with most reviews) because I didn’t want to stop reading to make a note of anything major.

It’s simple. It was a great more youthful read.

I love Percy and Annabeth. I already know they’re endgame and I am so here for this development. It was cute because I felt like they were twelve, but never so immature that I was distracted by it. The way Riordan presented them made them seem like characters you could love and understand. I felt they were relatable in many ways.

There were a lot of twists and turns and the action kept continually flowing (not to mention the funny chapter titles). I was actually a bit surprised when it came out who was the current bad guy. I didn’t see it coming, which is always a nice break. I thought the gods were fun and found it whimsical to picture Poseidon in a Hawaiian shirt and Zeus in a suit.

Don’t take this short review as a bad thing, it was a highly enjoyable read that kept me interested and intrigued for book two.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult (leaning towards middle-grade) fantasy + mythology
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: never gory or overly detailed, knives physical, fire

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Book Review

Book Review: The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Adult fantasy romance
Length: Audiobook (to come out as a print book, expected to be 354 pages)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Audible Originals, LLC
Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What if you fell in love with the one person you’d sworn to destroy? 

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil – and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara’s homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom. 

But as she infiltrates her new home – a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas – and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. 

Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

MY NEW FAVORITE BOOK.

No really, I’m serious.

Without a doubt this is my new favorite new adult fantasy romance (ACOMAF holds the TRUE #1 spot, but this is what I’m going to obsessing over for awhile).

First, the ANGST between these two had me melting. I LIVE FOR ANGSTY ROMANCE. It’s an enemies to lovers trope with the crux being a marriage because of a treaty. These two have never seen each other and know very little (and incorrect) information about each other. And it creates this amazing vibe between these two. Lara and Aren that I am here for. ALL DAY LONG. This romance is slow building, tender, and intense.

This world-building was so cool too. We only got highlights of the two main kingdoms (Lara’s home, Maridrina & Arn’s home, Ithicana). But Ithicana is one of the neater fantasy locations I’ve read about. It has this huge bridge running through it, it’s made of islands. We have killer sharks and snakes roaming the sea and lands. SO COOL.

I knew the ending was out to destroy me. You could feel it in the air. And it did. Ugh, heart ripped out, knowing it had to happen to create book two. Am I happy about it? NOPE. Do I understand? Sure sure. I am even more excited for book two because reunion scene? Oh heeeeck yes.

Trust me. If you have any inkling about this book, read it. It is currently only on Audible but is releases as a physical book in August. I thought the Audible version was great though! I was enraptured by it and had no problems keeping up.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult fantasy romance
  • Language: some strong language + occasional crude language
  • Romance: an almost love scene (somewhat detailed), kisses, explicit love scenes
  • Violence: arrows, war, ship battles, shark attacks, snake bites, murder, poison , knives

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Book Review

Book Review: The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer #2) by Elizabeth May

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 458 pages
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: June 21st, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Everything she loved is gone.

Trapped. Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the fae portal she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes in an alien world of mirrors, magic, and deception—a prisoner of the evil fae Lonnrach, who has a desperate and deadly plan for his new captive.

Tortured. Time after agonizing time Lonnrach steals Aileana’s memories, searching for knowledge to save his world. Just when she’s about to lose all hope, Aileana is rescued by an unexpected ally and returns home, only to confront a terrifying truth. The city of Edinburgh is now an unrecognizable wasteland. And Aileana knows the devastation is all her fault.

Transformed. The few human survivors are living in an underground colony, in an uneasy truce with a remnant of the fae. It is a fragile alliance, but an even greater danger awaits: the human and fae worlds may disappear forever. Only Aileana can save both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing so might be her life…

The Falconer – ☆☆☆☆

HAD ITS MOMENTS.

I’m still happy with this series overall and want to read the next book, this was a pretty typical second book. I felt the first half could have been added to the first book and the second half added to the beginning of the third.

The first half was dedicated to an escape plot line that dragged on way too long. I personally don’t enjoy drawn out escapes. Get in, get the item/person, get out. That’s how I see it. When our person was finally rescued I knew we were getting into the good stuff.

Somewhere between our hunts and our kills and our kisses, he left his mark on my bones.

The second half had a looooot of Kiaran. YES. I love this couple. He is the perfect brooding fae male that I love reading about in books. Mix him with Aielana’s stubborn self and they were a couple I was totally behind. I loved all of the tender and tough moments between them. I am finishing this series for them.

We find out SO MUCH about Kiaran and his sister, Aithinne. It’s in a bit of an info-dump maneuver, but it was still fantastic to get all of their history. I felt like I understood them on a much deeper level and it made the plot make more sense as well. I got all of the details I needed to actually care what happens.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, very little detailed fade to black scene
  • Violence: magic, physical, knives, torture
  • Trigger warnings: self-harm via pressing nails into skin until bleeding

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Book Review

Book Review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies of a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Non-fiction
Length: 339 pages
Author: John Carreyrou
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Release Date: May 21st, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of a multibillion-dollar startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end in the face of pressure and threats from the CEO and her lawyers.

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

For years, Holmes had been misleading investors, FDA officials, and her own employees. When Carreyrou, working at The Wall Street Journal, got a tip from a former Theranos employee and started asking questions, both Carreyrou and the Journal were threatened with lawsuits. Undaunted, the newspaper ran the first of dozens of Theranos articles in late 2015. By early 2017, the company’s value was zero and Holmes faced potential legal action from the government and her investors. Here is the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a disturbing cautionary tale set amid the bold promises and gold-rush frenzy of Silicon Valley. 

MY MIND CAN’T COMPREHEND.

Y’ALL. I finished this book and my jaw was still dropped. I have a hard time fathoming how people can be this self-involved in making money to never apologize. Never fully realize that they were messing with people’s lives. And absolutely refusing to accept help and take the opportunities to turn around their company.

It was fascinating reading about account after account of people becoming disillusioned with Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. There was no way anything they were doing was right. While I thought the technology sounded unique and promising, everything after that was torture to read. Honestly (and especially because I read enough fantasy and sci-fi) this device sounded something straight out of a sci-fi book. An awesome futuristic idea but nothing that is possible at this time.

Holmes and Balwani were malicious, destructive and incredibly hard to deal with. I felt so bad for all of these employess who wanted to make an honest living (okay, most of them, some of them clearly didn’t mind being involved). It was oddly fascinating watching Holmes work her magic on everyone around her. Garnering money, adding people to her board, and convincing everyone around her she, and Theranos, was the real deal.

I loved the way the book was put together and thought that Carreyrou (the original Wall Street Journal reporter when this story broke) kept to the facts. He worked hard to make sure he had the facts correct and that he wanted to proceed to help those who had used the faulty technology. The only portions I had a hard time reading were about the actual chemical breakdown of the machines. Since I personally don’t have a chemical background it was hard for me to understand the exact pieces of this, but I do like that this is included because it helps explain everything they were trying to do and how they were actually doing it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Non-fiction about business
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Trigger warnings: details on how someone committed suicide

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Book Review

Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult historical fiction + mystery
Length: 326 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

THOMAS CRESSWELL IS MY NEW FAVORITE.

Okay, this was new. I haven’t read a book quite like this with the take on someone trying to catch a historical serial killer. WHAT FUN RIGHT? Mostly.

My biggest issue, that curbed my rating significantly was how easy it was to know who the murderer was. I truly picked them out from the moment they walked onto the page. Since he ended up because Jack, I was downtrodden and it made it hard for me to keep picking up the book.

BUT, I was enjoying the heeeeeck about of Thomas. He is my new favorite and I loved every single moment of his shameless flirting with Audrey Rose. SO STINKIN’ CUTE. I clearly couldn’t get enough of him, and their relationship alone is why I will read book two at some point.

Audrey Rose was a great character herself too. Even in the time period she was a strong, independent woman who was going to make sure every man in her way would give her the time of day. Though she was too blinded to see the answer to her troubles, I loved her dialogue and interactions in general.

The plot itself was fine, but like I previously stated when you immediately know who the killer it, it takes away from everything else. I love historical fictions though. And am really curious where this goes from here. The ending was nicely put together with an opening for the next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + mystery
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: a lot, detailed murders, mentions of cannibalism, detailed violence by knives

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Book Review

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: World War II Historical Ficiton
Length: 502 pages
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. 

WHAT A BOOK.

WOW. This is the one of the best historical fictions about World War 2 that I have ever read. This was utterly amazing. Made me want to cry, throw things, and feel all sorts of emotions. I barely recognized how long the book actually was, it kept me interested and involved the entire time.

We had Catherine, an older woman in NY who falls in love with a man that has a life back in Paris. She spends her wars years hoping that Paul is okay and raising money and items for all those she can. I loved her personality and hope she held onto, until she didn’t. UGH. I hoped for a more complete ending for her, but I also understood. This wasn’t a book for happy endings, but enduring til the end.

Kaisa destroyed me from one end of this book to the other. She was the subject of horrid trials at Ravensbruck. Her story line caused me to struggle the most. I hadn’t heard much history from the women’s concentration camp and I loved the focus this author put on it. I learned so much and yet again had to cope with how awful humanity can be. Watching Kaisa encounter trial after trial brought out so many emotions.

I can hardly talk about Herta, but I’m also glad she was in the book. It was an interesting perspective to have someone who was pro-German during the time period. She made me so angry, but having this unique take compared to the two others balanced the entire story.

These three characters (that were based off of people actually involved in the war) was outstanding and well thought out. I couldn’t put this book down.

Note: this book does not hold back on describing what happened. Please read at your own caution.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction about WW2
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, an almost fade-to-black scene
  • Violence: whips, guns, death by animal mauling, starvation
  • Trigger warnings: rape, sexual assault, mention of self harm, self-harming (by cutting), attempted suicide, child abuse, PTSD, surgical experimentation, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young Adult Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. 

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. 

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

THIS SERIES WILL ONLY GET BETTER.

The author hosted an Instagram read-a-long on her page and I took advantage of reading it during the last month. She posted questions each week and responded to so many of us. It made me really have a lot of appreciation for her as a fan.

Dark Shores is filled with allllll things Roman. A lot of the way the governments are set-up, the world-building and more were drawn from this ancient civilization. It was AWESOME. I am fascinated by all things Roman and loved how this played out. There were wicked senators, ship sailing, gods fighting each other, conquering and a dash of romance.

I am obsessed with Marcus. He was my favorite POV and I wish the book was focused more on him. I love him + his soldiers. They were some of my favorite side characters. I found them funny, endearing and thought they all needed a hug. And I wouldn’t mind giving them said hug.

Teriana was fine, she’s one of my reasons for lowering to four stars. I found her a bit annoying/whiny at times and wasn’t as interested in her chapters. There was lots of talk but she never pulled out any tricks, so I’m curious where that goes during book two. I did enjoy Marcus and Teriana together though. I like the relationship and am waiting for all heck to break loose when things start to spiral.

This had great world-building and I found that it was a lot more creative of a book plot overall than I have read in a hot minute. I couldn’t easily guess what was happening next and that’s always a good sign of a great fantasy. My only other issue with it was that it was a little slow at times. I found myself wanting to scan ahead to dive into the next scene.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: shoot used quite a bit
  • Romance: kiss, a fade to black love scene
  • Violence: ship wreck, torture, hangings, murder involving dismemberment

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