Book Review

Book Review: Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Science fiction
Length: 336 pages
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

THE AUDIO BOOKS ARE AMAZING.

I love how quick to listen (and I’m sure read) these books are. The full cast brings all of these characters to life and makes it a very enjoyable read.

This story is so trippy! It’s a sci-fi and dystopian kinda book. Waking Gods starts 10 years after the first book and now that we have the layout of the giants and aliens it makes this book a lot more engaging. There’s so much technical mojo about genetics, and science in general that can be a lot to listen to. Once that’s all understood, it makes the story even wilder. I didn’t see the reasoning about why the aliens were on Earth and thought it was awesome.

I have really connected with all of these characters and was DEVASTATED to lose a few of them. Listening to their stories and getting to know them on many levels really forged my connections with them. I’m invested and cheering in their corner.

The action is top notch and with the unique style it’s written in (multiple dossiers that are interviews, new casts, etc.) makes things that much more intense. I feel like I’m listening to a movie as characters witness the full scale devastation these aliens robots were causing around the world. This totally rattled me and I hope there’s nothing actually like this out there. Because NOOOOPE.

Overall audience notes:

  • Science fiction
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: torture, physical, giants machines committing mass murder
  • Trigger warnings: suicide ideation, mentions of off-screen rape, torture

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Book Review

Book Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction +fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push the earth and the otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve daily mysteries in New Fiddleham, New England—like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why the undead are appearing around town.

At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, Jenny Cavanaugh, begins to give way. But before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

The epic conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series features wry humor and a cast of unforgettable characters facing off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever.

READ EVERY LAST DANG PAGE OF THIS BOOK.

Or you might feel like throwing it across the room. Like me. Then I read it all. Then I got the ending I was demanding from my bookish soul.

This was a great finale! Definitely the best book of the series by far.

I loved watching all of the story lines come together. Seeing all of the characters align. It all was beautifully woven and closed the ending as it should be. I wasn’t left with questions or concerns. I closed the book at peace. That’s a good ending. There was even a double crossing betrayer that I had no idea was coming. It was a twist that added an edge.

ABIGAIL AND CHARLIE ARE SO DANG CUTE. Absolutely precious. This was the first time I wish they had some more screen time. I was smitten with Charlie and their interactions. They were a great, simple, no drama relationship that added the touch of romance to round out this series.

Jackaby and Abigail are once again a dynamic duo. Jenny became team member number three and I loved having her around more! The banter and dynamics between everyone always make me smile and really appreciate their friendships. I was so happy that Jackaby got the ending he deserved. It made a lot of sense and I figured it would have to move in that direction to bring closure.

This is one of those books that handles the addition of literally every magical creature from fairytales and folklore well. They’re SO MANY CREATURES. I love learning more about them and the way they each added their own touch.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction/fantasy/paranormal mystery
  • Language: one word (witch)
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: knives, magic, swords, murder, animal attacks, vampire attacks, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 409 pages
Author: Josie Silver
Publisher: Broadyway Books
Expected Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic… and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

INFINITELY BETTER AS IT WENT ON.

So close.

This was another so close to DNF. I have unfortunately hit a streak of these, but luckily I am still giving them a chance! I started this as an audio book while owning a copy. I did NOT like the audio. I have no concrete reasons, couldn’t connect with the narrator, hated the MC and there was too much language for me to listen comfortably.

So I turned it off and instead tried reading the book. I read it over a month in short spans when I didn’t have to pick up my next book immediately. Did this help? YUP. Game changer.

Laurie really annoyed me at first with her inability to chill about Jack. I couldn’t handle the crazed enthusiasm to find this ONE GUY after seeing him ONE TIME. Then her continual pining for him while he was dating her best friend really bothered me.

Finally, finally. Laurie grew up a bit. Accepted the fate in her hands at present and went about her life. They all did. And from there I saw a growth in friendships, relationships, work, family, many areas! It was terribly difficult to watch the struggles, pain, and hardships that these three had to fight through. The story really blossomed and I was falling hard for Laurie, Jack, and Sarah.

By the end, the story had wrapped around my heart and held it in a tight grip as the movie-like ending rolled on the page. IT WAS SO PRECIOUS. And while cheesy was exactly what this book called for and made me hand over four stars. Why four? I personally could not handle the unnecessary use of language. It was flagrant, out of place and I didn’t like it. Also, since it took so long for me to go give this story a chance I knocked it down a bit.

If you’re like me and curious about this book, I would definitely give a try! Reese Witherspoon picked this book for a reason!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction romance
  • Language: a lot of strong language
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, love scenes (ranging from fade-to-black to mildly descriptive)
  • Violence: car wreck, physical, emotional
  • Trigger warnings: cheating (by way of kisses), cheating (emotionally attached to someone while with someone else, yes, I do count this as a form of cheating)

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Book Review

Book Review: When the World Didn’t End: Poems by Caroline Kaufman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult poetry
Length: 192 pages
Author: Caroline Kaufman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Expected Release Date: August 20th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Teen Instagram sensation and author of Light Filters In @poeticpoison returns with a second collection of short, powerful poems about love, forgiveness, self-discovery, and what it’s like living after a hard-fought battle with depression, in the vein of poetry collections like Milk and Honey and the princess saves herself in this one.

Thank you to BookSparks and their Fall Reading Challenge Campaign for a gifted copy. All thoughts are my own!

WOW. I NEED TO READ MORE POETRY.

This made me realize that I’m really missing out on poetry books. I generally don’t pick them up. Not because I don’t like poetry, it’s just not what I first think of. Clearly, I need to add a few more into rotation.

As someone who personally struggles with depression, I felt a lot of these poems. I was able to connect with Kaufman’s powerful words and meanings. Words matter y’all.

“I am a book
with the pages all worn.

the cover is tearing,
the ink is fading,

but I swear I’m worth the read.”

This is a shorter review because the poetry book itself is less than 200 pages, but trust me, there is a lot of substance within those pages. I read it in one sitting because I was entranced by the vulnerability and rawness of her words.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult poetry
  • Language: a few words
  • Trigger warnings: There is an author’s note in the beginning of the book mentioning that some of the poems include themes of: mental illness, suicidal ideation, self-harm, disordered eating, and sexual assault

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Traits I Love

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

This was kind of a hard topic for me this week. I know when I love or hate a character, but truthfully, I don’t think a lot into specific traits I appreciate about them. I started thinking about some of my favs and tried to break down why I really love them. It led me to a couple of key characteristics that make a great character.

Hope y’all are having a great October so far!

As usual, these are in no particular order.

Decisive

Goodness gracious. What makes me annoyed more than anything is watching a character run around in inner monologue circles of trying to figure out what to do next. MAKE A CHOICE ALREADY PLEASE.


Wit/Sass/Snark

Any of the above in any amount. I like a character that I find so snarky that I laugh at their conversations (in a good way). They make me smile and it seriously ups the banter game on all accounts.


Brave

I love a character acknowledging that yes, they may be frightened, but that also, they do the dang thing.


Able to communicate

Ugh. Don’t even get me started when it is GLARINGLY obvious that a character could have had one tiny conversation with another and it would have solved EVERYONE’S problems. Talk to each other y’all. It doesn’t add intrigue by hiding secret after secret.


Lover

If you’ve been on my page before, it might be a bit obvious that I love love. Add a bit of romance to any story and I’m practically sold. I love when a character loves another. Whether that’s a friendship or relationship. I love the passion they exhibit.


Open to change

It’s cool if you’re a bit stubborn, but resisting every tiny thing will immediately turn me off. I love seeing someone who may stumble a bit, but realizes the necessity of change. Whether it’s to a plan, goal, or something in between. Change is our only constant.


A good friend

Don’t be that guy. LOVE YOUR FRIENDS. They are supporting you and a character should do the same in return. Mistakes may be made yes, but I love when they understand and change the error of their ways to really become someone that can lift others up too.


Reliable

If a character tells someone they’re going to do something, please do it. That’s all I’m asking.


Emotional

And I don’t mean that ridiculous drama filled emotional kind (though that does have its place and can work well too!), but more the fact that I LOVE when a character has emotions. Especially those tough book boyfriend types. Shed a few tears, actually care about a situation/someone? YES ALL DAY.


Confident/Bold

I know this may take a bit while reading for a character to hit this spot. And that’s okay! I love a great character arc. When by the end, they are who they are and own it. YES. When they can be confident in themselves and their situation? YES.

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Book Review

Book Review: Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1) by Crystal Smith

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 373 pages
Author: Crystal Smith
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 12th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

I’M NOT SURE WHERE TO START.

This was nothing new in the world of young adult fantasy. That’s not generally an issue because I know it must be crazy hard to be completely new. My issue here was that the story didn’t anything else to help me ignore the fact I had seen this all before.

What I did like is how dark it actually kinda turned out to be. Holy wow there was a lot of people murdered in this book. It followed the story line well and only two people weren’t actually dead which is pretty solid considering almost everyone never actually dies (it’s okay to kill characters off sometimes guys, I stand by this).

It was a pretty short book (under 400 pages) and everything happened SO DANG FAST. I felt like I was running while reading this. I really wanted some slow down moments where we got to know characters on a deeper level that helps me form bonds with them. I was on the cusp of hitting that with a few and wanted MORE.

All of the twists were so well telegraphed I saw them from a mile away. No, scratch that, 10 miles away. From the moment they walked onto the screen I knew what was going to happen eventually. It was probably the biggest factor in bringing down the rating. I wanted more intrigue and confusion. Instead, all of the big moments were announcing themselves as bright as humanly possible.

Did I ship the relationship? Yes. Could have used an extra dose of enemies to lovers but nonetheless, it’s sweet and I like where it’s going. I did not understand the point of throwing out the first guy within the first quarter of the book (you’ll understand if you read it). Since I didn’t know anyone that well it made shrug and roll my eyes.

My evil characters are luckily, pretty dang evil. So I’m here for that. I want to see what they do next because it’ll definitely be interesting. This book ended in a way that made things seem like *the end,* but it turns out there’s more. We’ll see what happens next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses and confessions of love
  • Violence: blood magic, poison, knives, murder (better detailed in triggers)
  • Trigger warnings: murder of an animal (pretty gruesome and detailed), murder of a pregnant woman (baby does survive), other detailed and gory murders, attempted sexual assault and a suicide (a mother does it to save her son)

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Book Review

Book Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary mystery
Length: 416 pages
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. 

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

UNFORTUNATELY. I WAS BORED.

The entire time y’all. I kept reading thinking things were going to amp up, and they never did. And I know it’s a series, but I was more annoyed that I felt like I got ZERO answers than wanting to read the second book. I even had a bookish friend who told me what happens in book two because I really didn’t want to read it (though I will say, it does seem moderately more interesting in case you want to pick it up).

It took til about 200 pages (halfway-ish) for anything to happen. I was way more interested in the flashbacks where the original murder had taken place than I was with Stevie at school. Most of the story focused on being in school and meeting other students (which were all trying way too hard).

The original story was interesting and I wanted that to play a bigger role in the present timeline. That really drove the story for me.

I hated most of the side characters other than Nate and Janelle. This group of three were building a solid friendship and I was enjoying seeing that dynamic. They were supporting each other and being kind when Stevie made some bad choices acting as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes (not on board with her going through people’s things).

I did NOT GET THE RELATIONSHIP WITH DANIEL. It came out of literally nowhere. Luckily, not in an instant-love kinda way, but just a flat-out, wait all of a sudden we’re making out kinda way. I did become a fan of Daniel towards the end of the story though. He was probably my favorite character.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary mystery
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a make-out
  • Violence: multiple descriptions of murder

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