Adventures and Friends

Adventures and Friends

I work at a bookstore, i read way too much and buy books faster than i can read them. I'm an actress and a huge nerd. 

Review
4 Stars
Living Dead Girl
Living Dead Girl - Elizabeth Scott

tl;dr |✭✭✭✭✩| This book is disturbing. It most definitely will trigger someone, and its very hard to read. But it was written well, and I think the story is an important one.


Description: Alice was taken by Ray when she was 10. But Alice isn't her real name, it was given to her. And it was the name of the girl that came before her. Now that Alice is getting older, and no longer looks like the child she was when she was abducted by Ray, she knows her time is short lived. So when Ray asks her to help him find a new girl, Alice knows she has to do everything just right or he'll kill her


This book. Oh man. I started this book on my commute to work and got a little over half way through the story. I cant lie, I was really glad when I had to stop reading to get off the bus and go into work.


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Don't get me wrong. This story is engaging. Its well written. But it is brutal. It is real, and it is absolutely terrifying. The important thing this story brings to attention, and even addresses through Alice (her thoughts), is the problem of victim shaming. It happens far too often, particularly to women, but really it happens to anyone who becomes a victim. People who don't understand how someone could "let themselves" be threatened, beat, and raped. People don't understand why its so hard to stand up and fight back, and to escape such a horrific setting and treatment. Even Alice addresses this at one point. She talks about how she used to think it was as easy as just leaving, but she learned through Ray that it wasn't as easy as that.


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This story isn't full on graphic in the depiction of what happens to Alice, what Ray does to her. But it most definitely does not "fade to black" either. You very clearly, as the reader, know what she is going through without it being written in an overly explicit or eroticized way. It makes it way more horrific, and far more real. And I think thats where the power in this story lies. Its horrible to have to picture what happens, but when an author glosses over it... you can kind of forget. Or you can kind of, pretend its not as bad as it is. But in this story, you're forced to see what Alice is put through. You don't get to look away unless you stop reading the book.


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This book definitely isn't for everyone. Its disturbing and will stay with you for a long time. But I think its important to read, so you can understand the life of the victim. How they survive what they go through day to day, and why they aren't able to simply fight back and leave. It will also be a huge trigger for some people. And for those people, I would give extreme caution before heading forward with this book.

Review
5 Stars
The Book Thief
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

tl;dr - | ✭✭✭✭✭ | I must say, I loved this story. I loved the writing style, I loved the characters, I loved the narrative, I loved the little excerpts. I loved it all. 


Description (from goodreads)It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.


Oh my goodness. This book. This book is a slow, gentle story. And don't mistake me when I say it is gentle - it is set during world war II. The content of the book is not gentle, but the pacing is. The pacing is like a calm river on a sunny day, gently sweeping you along. At first it doesn't seem to be going very quickly, but as it carries you on you realize its flowing much faster than you had originally thought. You've been swept up and carried away without knowing it. 


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Gosh. So, the narrative. It was so brilliantly done. Death narrates the story, and it was just perfect. This story could not have been told any other way. This story would not have been right had anyone else told it. Death was exhausted, hopefully, but a little melancholy, and the perfect narrator. He gave the story a bit of gravity, and giving sneak peeks into the ending of the characters was brilliant. You knew what was going to happen, but it didn't make it any less painful. And maybe knowing what was going to happen made you really appreciate the characters more while he was telling the story. I'm not sure, but it was so well done. 


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The characters. How can you not love the ridiculous flirt Rudy? Liesel and her love of books? Hansi and his kindness, his gentle soul? Rosa and her firm forceful insults masking love? Max, poor sweet jewish Max. The characters were wonderful. I can't even think of how to talk about these characters. But I absolutely adored them all. Even in the beginning, thinking "mehhh I don't think I really like this one character...", as the story goes on they come to grow on me.


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It was, of course, difficult at times to read about the events of WWII. Knowing how Max was treated before coming to the Hubermann's residence. The way people had to act, whether they believed it or not. The constant Hiel Hitlers, the vicious treatment between people that was not only a product of the time, but of the society that had been forged by the Nazi party ideals. But it wasn't a constant barrage of vicious treatment. I think the portrayal of the time was done well, without being overbearing or underwhelming. You definitely don't want to underplay the events, but too much darkness and it may be too hard to finish the story at all. Zusak, in my opinion, gives just enough darkness, just enough harsh history to make it real without making it overwhelming. 


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I would say this is a must read for everyone. So, so good.

Review
3 Stars
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage: A novel
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage: A novel - Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel

tl;dr - | ✭✭✭✩✩ | This was my first Murakami book, and it was ok. Just a slow moving human story, which I listened to as an audio book. I absolutely love the cover, but I'm not sure that this story will be memorable months down the line. 


Description - Tsukuru Tazaki has forever felt colorless, especially compared to his four close friends from high school who all had colorful names and personalities to match. But unfortunately, he hasn't seen or heard from those friends in 16 years. When Tsukuru's girlfriend suggest he reconnect to see where things went wrong, and thus begin a healing cycle for himself, Tsukuru goes back to visit his old friends to find out why he was cut out of the group. Through his personal journey, he also reflects upon another friend from college whom he lost touch with. It is the story of healing, friendship, and self-acceptance. 


So, when I was at work and saw this book with a seriously awesome cover, I didn't know Harui Murakami was an author who had been around for quite a while, and an author that some people absolutely adore. I mean, I can't get over how much I love this cover. I was (and still am) seriously considering buying the book just because the cover was so awesome. And at that point, I hadn't read any of his stories, let alone that one. I know, I have a serious problem when it comes to buying books. 



Anyways. I listened to this audio book, and the reader had a very gentle hum of a voice. Its a voice that could definitely lull you into a relaxed state, if not to sleep. I thought he did pretty well narrating the story. Though, I will say that most of the audiobooks I've listened to have been either classics or YA, so all the sudden hearing about erect penises while I'm shelving at work totally threw me off. Anyways. 



But yeah. So, I'm not sure if I like the way Murakami writes about women. And I'm not sure if its a cultural thing, or if I just haven't read enough fiction written by men lately, or if I've just had SO many books with female protagonists that I've become unfamiliar with the way a male protagonist perceives women. But there were little things that bothered me. That also could be something that stuck out more when hearing the book, rather than had I actually read it myself. 



Anyways. This story was just a human story. There wasn't really anything flashy, not really anything supernatural except for a story about death and dying told by one of Tsukuru's college friends, and if you're really into those kinds of stories then you'll enjoy this book. It was kind of slow, didn't really have any suspense, but the curiosity of why Tsukuru's friends cut him out of their group of friends definitely keeps you reading to the end. It was good, but I doubt it will stay in my memory long term. 

Review
5 Stars
Heir of Fire
Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas

tl;dr - | ✭✭✭✭½ | OH MY GOODNESS! Ms. Maas, this series is brilliant. It is wonderful, and I love every moment I am immersed in these books! I really enjoyed this book, and it has made me long for the next book even more than I already was!


Description Celaena has been sent off Wendlyn thanks to Chaol and the horrendous King, and she knows the answers she needs to avenge her friend lie somewhere in this land. So when a mysterious soldier comes to collect her, Celaena knows she must go with him to get the answers she needs. Meanwhile, Chaol and Dorian remain in the castle, trying to figure out how to stay alive and figure out what exactly the King is up to. A darkness is overtaking the mountains and the forests, and Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian must figure out how to keep it from destroying everything they know and love. 


Oh man oh man oh man. 


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I was so excited for this book, and while it was most definitely there to set up the rest of the series, I was not disappointed. You can definitely feel it, while reading this book, that this story is made to set up some incredibly important plot points and set up some very important developments for the rest of the series. But it was still rather enjoyable (overall) to read. You've got three different point of views essentially in this book - you have Celaena off across the sea learning about herself and her heritage. You've got Chaol in the castle, getting ready to fulfill his word to his father and head home while also trying to figure out how to protect Dorian and figure out what Aedion is up to. And then you have poor, sweet Dorian, who is trying to figure out how to master his magic and keep it hidden so his father won't kill him. We also meet a new character, Manon Blackbeak. I'll get to her in her own section.


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So, Celaena's story. I felt like her's was kind of the slowest story,  but it was also one of the most important. She goes through so much growth in this book, its amazing. As I mentioned, a mysterious, gruff soldier comes to collect Celaena. His name is Rowan, and he is quite the peach. Yes, that was partly sarcasm and partly serious, because I really came to adore his character. He's so gruff, quiet, and infuriatingly calm. But as we get to know him, we also see that he is scarred, broken, and caring. And he's wonderful. Their play was so great, so much fun banter. I can't lie, I had a moment of panic - oh dear god please don't let him become ANOTHER love interest. I really did worry about that. Because at moments, it seemed like it was starting to go that way, but in a restrained way. And I honestly didn't know what Maas would do. But, not to worry, she didn't let me down. Rowan and Celaena become my biggest brotp of the series, tied with the brotp between Dorian and Chaol. 


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So now lets talk about... Chaol. 


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I LOVE CHAOL SO MUCH. I just needed to get that out. CHAOLENA FOREVER. So, Chaol is trying to extend his stay in the castle, as he is not quite ready to head to his home and fulfill his deal with his father. He finds the perfect excuse when Aedion Ashryver is summoned to court by the King. He is one of the King's most brutal commanders and someone Chaol deeply distrusts. Chaol tells his father he needs time to come up with a suitable replacement, so his father gives him a month. He uses that time to figure out what Aedion is up to, and make sure that Aedion won't make Dorian's life a living hell once Chaol leaves. His struggle with keeping his word, his honor, and wanting to do what is best for both Dorian and Celaena was great to see. I kind of liked the play between Aedion and Chaol too, it was an interesting dynamic. 


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Dorian. Sweet, kind Dorian. Poor Dorian is feeling so alone and isolated. Celaena has left, and Chaol is busy getting ready to leave and has distanced himself from Dorian. That was hard, because you see through Chaol how much he cares for Dorian and is trying to protect him, but then you see how much Dorian is suffering and how lonely he is because of that purposeful neglect. So when Dorian finds a friend in a healer girl, I was kind of really happy about it. She was so sweet and accepting of Dorian. It was nice to see him have someone he could trust and be with. And I can't lie, one of the last chapters... My heart was thudding... When the King called everyone together.... oh my gosh. I can't say anything, but when you read it you'll understand. 


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And now for the deadly Manon. When I was reading this book, I knew that Manon was going to have an important part. But sometimes, I didn't want to read her chapters. I wanted Chaol and Celaena back together, and I wanted more chapters of them together, so when Manon came around I would kind of have that feeling like... I will read this because I have to but I desperately wish it was Chaolena. But I actually came to really enjoy Manon's character. She was tough, deadly, and intriguing. Her measured ferocity, her intuition, she was a very interesting character to read. I am really looking forward to her story throughout the rest of the series, because I don't think she is going to be what everyone expects her to be. 


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So yes. I am loving this series, so SO much. I cannot wait for the next book! I feel like I need it right now!! But, at least Sarah's new book, A Court of Thorns and Roses comes out in spring or summer of this next year! 

Review
5 Stars
These Broken Stars
These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

tl;dr - | ✭✭✭✭✭ | I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. I downloaded it as an audio book from my library, and I ended up becoming so engrossed and in love with this story, its ridiculous. So. Good. 


Description - Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen happen to have a chance meeting upon the Icarus - a gigantic spaceliner and living habitat for some of the wealthiest people in the universe. But regardless of Lilac's interest in Tarver, she knows she must drive him away or her father will, so she treats him with contempt. Suddenly, the Icarus is crashing and Lilac and Tarver end up in an ejector pod together, somehow surviving and crash-landing on the strange planet below them. At first, they seem to be alone. Tarver's training as a soldier comes in handy keeping them alive and going in the right direction to try and send a signal out for help. But then Lilac starts hearing whispers, and she wonders if they are as alone as they seem to be. Can Lilac and Tarver get to safety and figure out what exactly is haunting them through the forest, whispering to Lilac? And can they do that without killing each other? 


Boy oh boy. This book. I seriously wasn't sure about it when I first picked it up. People compared it to Titanic in space (I'm quite certain thats a Doctor Who episode) meets Romeo and Juliet set in a survival story. The cover also makes it seem like its going to be a super sic-fi spacey book. Please know this, it is more of a survival story on the planet that it is a book about living in space. I saw some reviews that were negative because they were expecting it to be a book set in space, but it ended up being set on a planet not all that different from an abandoned Earth. I couldn't remember what it was about when I started it, so I didn't have any expectations about the setting of the plot. 



But yes. So the readers of this audiobook were fantastic. We had a guy narrating Tarver's chapters, and a girl reading Lilac's chapters, and the in-between interrogations were read by Tarver and another gentlemen. I liked Lilac's reader a little better than Tarver's, but they were both very good and had me completely pulled in and captivated. I can't tell you how terrible it is when the reader of an audiobook makes me dislike a book that I would have enjoyed had I read it instead. 



Anyways. So, like I said. This story is more about the survival aspect than it is about the life abroad the Icarus. I enjoyed it. Tarver's experience in the military made him more than capable to keep them alive in the wild, and it was amusing seeing Lilac's frustration at being so awful at surviving the wild. She doesn't have any experience with it, and she wasn't instantly good at it. It was real, and it was wonderful. And I loved that she hated how helpless she was. Being the spoiled princess she comes off as at times, she could have easily sat back and took it as a vacation into the wild and let Tarver take care of everything. But she didn't want to rely on him, she didn't want to be helpless, and she didn't want him to think she was useless. She fought to prove her worth, and the longer they were on the planet and she observed what Tarver did to start fires or find adequate shelter, she definitely proved herself to be more than a pretty spoiled lady. Her character growth was enormous and such a treat to watch progress. 




Tarver didn't seem to go through as much of a character development, but he was still fun to watch. His snark is so much fun. And he has an interesting back story too. The love story aspect of this grows at a good pace as well. There isn't any insta-love going on which is great. And when they finally got together - 



And then there is an event that happens, it totally and completely shocked me. I couldn't believe they went where they did, and I couldn't believe what happened. I just. I was in a state of shock for pretty much the rest of the book, and then when the end happened I didn't know what they would do. I mean, they already blew my mind earlier in the story.... they could've easily gone the heartbreaking route again. But thats all I can say without giving away any massive spoilers. 

Review
1 Stars
Paper Towns
Paper Towns - John Green

tl;dr - | ✭½✩✩✩ | I got this as an audiobook from my library. And I hated it. I didn't really like the reader, and I did not like the story. At all. A far cry from the wonderful story that was The Fault in Our Stars


Description (from goodreads): Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life — dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge — he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues — and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.


So, like I said. I did the audiobook. And maybe it was actually hearing the misogynistic term "honey boney" used by Q's disgusting friend instead of just reading it that was too much for me. Its used frequently, its obnoxious and disgusting and i HATE that his friend thinks its "cool". Ugh. It drove me crazy. 



Anyways. Quentin is basically obsessed with Margo Roth Spiegelman the entire book. And this book kind of felt like the movie 500 Days of Summer. Where people will mistakenly take a boy's obsession for love, and how romantic blah blah blah. But its not. It is not only not romantic, but it is not charming, it is not endearing, it is not fun to read about. Its annoying, and Q obviously has built up this ridiculous idea of Margo, and this obsessive need to say her entire name as if he is chanting it (hey, if you chant Margo Roth Spiegelman three times in front of a mirror, she will magically love you and want you to have sex with her). UGH.  






Then it seems like John Green tries to address this fact when Q starts obsessing over a Whitman poem that Margo left behind for him as a clue. At one point he states something about how, you build up the idea of a person and it is never the same as what the person actually is. And how thats a bad thing, and he's done it with creating the idea of Margo. But he doesn't stop creating this vision of perfect Margo, he continues create a faux-Margo, he just changes his idea of her. Its annoying. I was sick of his full blown, ridiculous obsession. I really was. The only character I actually liked in this book was his friend Marcus "Radar" Lincoln. He was a nerd, and he was funny, and he was the only character I actually liked or cared about. And he wasn't in it nearly enough. Sigh. 



I was really quite disappointed. I don't think I would have liked it any better had I read it (vs listening to it), because the story just bugged me. The characters bugged me. I absolutely loved The Fault In Our Stars, so I was hoping to enjoy this book too. I did not. I will eventually get to Looking for Alaska, and hopefully I will enjoy it more than I enjoyed this book.

Review
5 Stars
A Spark Unseen
A Spark Unseen - Sharon Cameron

tl;dr | ✭✭✭✭✭ | I must say, I loved this book just as much as the first. Ok, maybe not quite as much as the first, but I still definitely enjoyed this book and thought it was fantastic. A must read if you read the first book. 


Description: Katharine is woken up in the middle of the night by a strange sound outside her bedroom door. She realizes the men have come for her uncle, she kicks into gear and realizes she must do something as neither her, nor her uncle, are safe in Stranwyne. She decides to go to her grandmother's home in Paris, where she can also look for the enigmatic Lane who left almost two years ago to complete some unfinished business. The search for Lane is as difficult as Katharine feared, and while she seeks Lane she becomes embroiled in a nefarious political intrigue and surrounded by people she doesn't know if she can trust. 


Katharine is back!! HURRAY! So excited. SO. Katharine has been living in Stranwyne for almost two years, during which time Lane has been gone. Even when told otherwise, Katharine knows Lane is still alive and refuses to believe anyone who says he is dead. I love her for that determination. Even though she knows its not logical, she still believes it to be true. 


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So after the break in, when Katharine realizes she can no longer stay in Stranwyne, she heads to Paris. Where we then meet some new interesting characters, including the rouge and flirty Frenchman Henri, Mrs. Hardcastle - an infamous gossip and acquaintance of Katharine's Aunt Alice, among others. It was lovely meeting these new characters, and the struggles with all of them. Who can she trust, if any of them? I loved that Paris was the setting as well, but then - I'm biased since I spent my time studying abroad in Paris. 


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But yes. I thought this book was great, and did not suffer the way many sequels do. I loved the characters and the character development, especially in Uncle Tully. I just realized - I didn't talk enough about Uncle Tully in the other review! So I shall rectify that now. 


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Uncle Tully was such a wonderful character. No doubt seen as insane in the 1800s, Uncle Tully exhibits sign of autism or perhaps Aspergers syndrome. Something many people today still have a hard time understanding fully. The fact that Katharine is able to not only effectively communicate with him, but also able to help him improve his ability to wait patiently - among other things, is absolutely wonderful. ("Yes little niece, I counted to eleven though you told me to count to ten, and I almost counted to twelve!" ... not really a direct quote but one paraphrased from memory. ha) Katharine is gentle and kind with him, and her love for her Uncle and her ability to understand his needs helps him grow so much as a character and within his disorder. And this is one of the best relationships I've seen in a book. Its so wonderful and so well done. 


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So yes. I loved this series. I tweeted Sharon Cameron to ask if she would write more in the series, and she said at the moment there weren't any plans to expand the books but you never know. So, hopefully someday we'll get more adventures with Katharine, Lane, and Uncle Tully, but if not the series ended on a good note that it doesn't feel like it ended on a cliffhanger, or an unfulfilled note. But yes. Read these!!

Review
3 Stars
Asylum
Asylum - Madeleine Roux

tl;dr - | ✭✭½✩✩ | This book was ok. I didn't find it particularly scary, and I definitely don't understand why its going to be a series and not just a single book. Perhaps had it been just a single book, it would be a bit better. I don't know, but I won't be reading the next book. I listened to this as an audiobook.


Description (from Goodreads) For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane. As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.


So, this was only my second foray into the world of horror books. I love horror movies, and scary stories, and so I figured I should really check out more horror novels. Yeah... this book wasn't scary to me. Don't get me wrong, I have kind of a ridiculously high tolerance for all things scary. But I can usually recognize when a thing is in fact creepy and would scare someone who hasn't spent as much time in the world of creepy as I have. This book... I don't think it would be all that scary to someone who gets scared easily. 



Anyways. So Dan goes off to this summer camp thing that is basically like, a trial summer college course. Each week they choose new topics and go to those college classes and basically get a feel for what college will be like. Though it sounds like there wasn't enough stress when choosing classes, because let me tell you - that was always an issues at my college. Anyways. Dan meets Abby and is instantly smitten, and jealous when Abby calls over her friend Jordan who, it turns out, is gay. Gotta have a token gay character or a token minority. Just wouldn't be right if you didn't. Anyways. Jordan just seems to be a cliche gayboy, kind of mean but not really and full of sassy comebacks and gay quips. I don't know, I didn't really like his character. 



Abby... was the artsy type. I had to think about that. Abby the character is kind of forgettable, but her story isn't. Which is weird. I remember her story quite well - she goes into the locked office with Dan and Jordan and sees a picture of this creepy little girl who was lobotomized (or something) and is haunted by the image. Other stuff happens, but that would be spoiler material. But basically, thats all I really could remember. She doesn't really seem to have much of a personality... I'm not sure. She was completely forgettable. Most of the characters were, really. 



And Dan. Weirdo loaner Dan. Because of course Dan is a lone wolf type. And then he gets bunked with an odd duck of a roommate. I was really confused about that part actually, because I could never remember his roommates name. And his roommate goes from like some super smart Sheldon Cooper-esque character, to all the sudden being a pushup obsessed meat head who spends all his time at the gym. So that was really confusing. And I guess should've represented something being wrong with him? But I don't know, he wasn't really fleshed out and Dan didn't really like hanging out with him once he found Abby and Jordan. 



But yeah. The pacing on this story was a little slow, and maybe with the weird pictures to accompany the chapters like it has in the book, the audiobook was lacking a little bit because I didn't have those creepy images in front of me to accompany the story. But if you have to rely on cheep tricks like that, then I feel like you're not anywhere near Stephen King's writing level and may never be. (To be fair, I haven't read any Stephen King novels, so I don't know if he has images accompanying his stories, and I'm going on the people I know who have read his books and said they were absolutely terrifying.) So yeah... Overall. I didn't really find this book scary, though it was a little creepy at the end, and it definitely is not a strong enough story with strong enough characters to keep me reading through an entire series. 

Review
3 Stars
Crewel
Crewel - Gennifer Albin

tl;dr |✭✭✭✩✩| This book was... ok. I am undecided if I want to continue the series, and maybe I will if I ever get through my massive stacks of to-read books. I felt as though the author had too many big issues that weren't addressed very well, and I didn't feel like the characters were very deep or fleshed out. 


Description Every girl in Arras wants to be a Spinster. And why wouldn't you, when you get beautiful dresses, the best tech and anti-aging products, glamorous parties, and luxurious living quarters? But Adlice doesn't want to be taken from her family. Her parents know she's special, and have taught her to hide her ability to weave time and matter so the government won't take her to become a Spinster. She worked so hard to fail at her testing, but she made one mistake and it was enough for the Guild to know she was special. And she knew then, that would come for her in the night. 


So, this book. This book, this book, this book. It was an interesting premise, although it took me a little while into the book until I could buy it and figure out what exactly weaving was. In fact, I'm still a little fuzzy on it. We are given multiple explanations, but it felt like every time the explanation was the same, and still very vague. But maybe thats the science part of my brain trying to figure out how that would work. 


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This book tackles a lot of issues. Sexism/misogyny, segregation, homosexuality (briefly), and I felt like there was something else masquerading around in there.... But I can't think of what. I felt that all of these issues were handled poorly. The most interesting characters were the men, and if this book is supposed to be women and the necessity of feminism, it was done very poorly. All the women fight with each other, they're catty, changeable, and gossipy. With the exception of Enora, Adlice's mentor. Men hold all the power, and all the high ranking positions. Women are trained to be teachers, secretaries, maids, or spinsters (basically). Men can be anything they want to be - politicians, CEOs, farmers, fishermen, etc. Gender roles are very tightly controlled. But honestly, if the women act as they do in this book, I can see how this happened. All the women are vapid, shallow, and unambitious. The men are ruthless, fierce, and go after what they want. It was honestly disgusting to read - it drove me crazy and I hated every minute of it. 


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There were segregation laws to enact "purity standards" between girls and boys. But I just don't get the point. I mean, unless we're going to quote 1984 by George Orwell, when Winston realizes that sex is power and people having sex leads to rebellion, I'm not sure what the author was trying to prove. Unless she was trying to make Adlice as awkward and "innocent" as possible when she meets her boys. Because - oh yes - there is of course a love triangle in this book. There's Erik, the blonde, well groomed, Guild puppet. Then there's Jost, the dark mysterious rude guy who treats Adlice with contempt the first moment she meets him. So you know, theres that awesome trope. Oh and just wait until you learn how they know each other, because of course they do. And of course she went there. It wasn't a surprise to me, I called it, but it could be for someone else who isn't paying attention. 


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Anyways. This story was intriguing, just not very well executed in my opinion. Adlice is a sass mouth and constantly fighting and arguing with the higher ups. Which I did love. But she just... she wasn't that bright. She goes in argumentative and brash without any real thought or plan, and it backfires (of course). Which then brings on the guilt, which is dull to read after a while. I wanted to like her much more than I ended up liking her. Sigh. 


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But yeah. If you're looking for a scifi/dystopian easy read, I'd suggest it, though I'd recommend going in with low standards. it was interesting. It honestly felt like it was written as a book adaption of a film/tv show though. There were times where I felt like Albin was trying to describe something that had been shown on screen... But yeah. Thats all i've got. 

Review
5 Stars
A World Without Princes
A World Without Princes - Soman Chainani

tl;dr | ✭✭✭✭✭ | This was a fantastic sequel, a great story and i absolutely loved it. Must read if you liked the first book!!



Description - Sophie and Agatha returned home and have been welcomed back as heroes. Nobody has ever returned once take to the School for Good and Evil. But after a few months of being home, the novelty has worn off and Sophie is upset to no longer be the center of attention. And Agatha... she's not so sure how happy she is to be home after all. She finds herself missing Tedros, and wondering if she did the right thing. When Agatha secretly wishes she had stayed with Tedros, it changes everything. Now, something or someone dark is coming for Sophie, and they won't give up. When the entire town is being threatened, the town elders feel as though there is only one options: give the mysterious threats what they want - Sophie. 


Agatha knows this is her fault, so she goes after Sophie and tries to keep her safe. When they find themselves back at the School for Good and Evil... they find things are very different than when they left. Witches have become princesses, and some princesses have become... ugly. Princes and werewolves are working together. Strange alliances have been made, and something dark is brewing beneath the surface. Can Sophie and Agatha figure out whats really going on before an all out war breaks loose? 



Book two! And it was fantastic! No sequel syndrome here! So. Agatha and Sophie are back, and they are very changed. Agatha is daydreaming about Tedros, and Sophie is dedicated to her friendship with Agatha and proving that she is no longer the witch she became at the school. And that is the entire set up to this book. How the change wrought in these characters affects them so much throughout the book. Sophie's determination to stay good, and not give in to her evil feelings. Agatha's guilt over the feelings she has for Tedros, and her desire for a happy ending with him over her happy ending with her best friend. Its such a fantastic setup for this book. 


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TEDROS! Bad boy Tedros, oh man! The storyline following him and really all the men of the fairy tale world was awesome. This whole story was a treasure. I am struggling to figure out what to talk about without giving away any major spoilers. Ha. But the story was great, same great pacing and same great storytelling by Mr. Chainani. There wasn't ever a time where I felt as though the story was lacking and suffering from second book (sequel) syndrome. There was also an absolutely fantastic moment between Sophie and Tedros, and I really hope it will be important to the next book. This series is set to be a trilogy, and I am completely excited for the next book, which won't be coming out until next summer! Ah!  I cannot wait.

Review
3 Stars
What's Left of Me
What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang

tl;dr - |✭✭✭✩✩| So, I wanted to like this book more than I did. I listened to it on audiobook, and the reader did a fine job. But I just couldn't get that in to the story, and I don't think I'll be continuing the series. 


Description - Eva and Addy have a secret, one that they fight to protect everyday. They live in a world when everyone is born with two distinct and different personalities, but one usually becomes dominant and eventually the weaker personality fades away by the time they're 10. Addy was always the stronger personality. But Eva never went away. When a girl at Addy's school - Hally - befriends them, and tells them her secret - she know's Eva never settled, and Hally can help teach Eva to regain control again. Its a dangerous task, one that Eva desperately wants and Addy is terrified to allow. What if they get locked away, like all the other kids who never settled? Its a dangerous world for a hybrid like Eva and Addy... nobody can know they are a hybrid. 


I think my issue with this book stems from all my years studying psychology. (Boy that makes me sound impressive, like I've studied psychology for decades as an expert. I promise I'm not impressive, and I haven't been studying psychology quite that long). But this book, it was almost like the author once heard of dissociative identity disorder, or psychizophrenia, or some other psychological disorder that results in different voices/personalities and very loosely based a book on that. I mean, its cool! Inspiration comes from everywhere! But I couldn't get behind the idea that two separate and distinct souls lived in tandem in one body. How was there not a constant struggle for power? For the need to fulfill each personalities' needs? A body is such a small place to inhabit for one person, let alone two. 



The characters didn't come across as all tha different to me either. Eva is constantly longing to a chance to use the body, but she's (I guess) the smart one. Meanwhile, Addy has the body but is constantly daydreaming during class and never paying attention. That seems a bit odd to me since she is the one who is in control and has to make sure that nobody ever knows they haven't settled. But I guess if you're going to space out, the middle of math class would be the time to do it. 



Also, Ryan was a weird character. Him being mean to Eva and Addy from the beginning. Hally brings them over because Hally knows they are a hybrid, and Ryan is aware of the reason Hally brings them over, and yet he is rude to them the whole time. Every time. I think his alter is Robby (i really can't remember), and he is considerably nicer. Maybe its supposed to show the contrast between the two boys. I don't know. That just didn't make sense to me. And Hally and her alter didn't really have much of a distinct difference either. 



Addy felt kind of useless to me. She was far too scared to do anything, and she was seriously frustrating as a character because of it. It was very real, but it was still frustrating to read through. Especially later on in the book. I don't want to say much more because I don't want to give away more spoilers than I have, since any more spoilers and you won't have to read the book. Ha. But I just couldn't get into this book. I tried, but I won't be reading the rest of the series. 

Review
4 Stars
Strange and Ever After
Strange and Ever After - Susan Dennard

tl;dr - | ✭✭✭✭✩ | THIS BOOK! Oh my goodness. The ending. Sigh. I enjoyed this book, it was better than the second in my opinion. I loved the setting (Egypt, hurray!), the character development. 


Description - In this finale to the trilogy, Eleanor, Oliver, and the Spirit Hunters are in pursuit of Marcus who is heading to Egypt. Marcus took her brother, her mother, and now Jie and Eleanor knows she must be the one to stop Marcus for good, even if it means using her powers that Daniel and Joseph despise. But that is easier said than done, as Eleanor's old friend Allison has shown up and inserted herself right in the middle of this mess. Not only does Eleanor have to figure out her feelings for Daniel, what she's going to do about Oliver, rescue Jie, but now she must make sure Allison remains safe and ignorant to the events going on as well. The only way to beat Marcus is to face him head on, a battle to the end. 


Oh man. Oh man, oh man. So this is the end to the series. And what an ending it is. Eleanor has become essentially power hungry. She is a very different Eleanor from when the series started. She is willing to do whatever she needs to do defeat Marcus, even it means destroying herself in the process. 


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Her relationships with everyone she knows are straining. She doesn't know how she feels about Daniel or how to interact with him, especially since he doesn't approve of her powers. Joseph is continually disappointed when she uses her powers, and Oliver wants her to use them for his own selfish reasons. She doesn't know how to navigate the waters of these stormy relationships. She is desperate to keep Allison ignorant to details of their journey, but is finding that a harder task than she originally imagined. And Jie! Poor, kidnapped Jie. Forced to wear gowns and her hair all fancy like a true lady... 


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Anyways. This story definitely didn't have the ending I anticipated. Even though it was kind of hinting towards what would happen... There is just kind of a notion that YA can't be ruthless. And the ending was. It was definitely and ending that was so sad and hurt, but - as much as I hate to admit it - it was the right ending. Actions have consequences, and you have to live with them. And this ending follows that. As hard as the ending was, it was a wonderful ending to the series. I really, really enjoyed my time in this world. I've definitely bought the books and will read them again! 

Review
5 Stars
The School for Good and Evil
The School for Good and Evil - Soman Chainani

tl;dr | ✭✭✭✭✭ | This book was a test of sorts for me, to see if I can still get into kids/mg books. And I most definitely can. I love, loved this story. It was fantastic! So well written, great characters, a great take a fairytale setup. Its definitely a new favorite. I would suggest it to everyone.



Description (from Goodreads)The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?



Oh my goodness!! This story was FANTASTIC! Where to start? Ok the writing style. It was definitely written for a tween reader, so its an easy and fun read. The plot really makes you look at the attributes we assign to not only girls and boys, but also good and evil. Good guys are supposed to be pretty and muscular and strong, good girls are supposed to be primped and perfect and wait expectantly for their prince. Evil guys and girls are supposed to be dirty, ugly, smelly, and friendless. You can't have friends if your a Never, and Evers always have an abundance of friends and animal servants. Thats the general idea at the school for Good and Evil, anyways. You are sorted into a Never (evil) or an Ever (good), and from there you take classes teaching you how to talk to animals (evers), how to uglify yourself (nevers), how to swoon for your prince properly (evers), and how to use evil spells (nevers). Everything you could ever need to know to survive your own fairytale! 




Sophie very much looks like your average fairtyale princess. Long blonde hair, pink dresses, flawless skin. And she tries oh so hard to be good, she's even befriended the town witch's ugly daughter, Agatha. So when Sophie is taken, Agatha isn't about to let Sophie go without a fight. Agatha grabs on and is taken off to the school for Good and Evil, determined to get them both back home. But a mistake surely was made when Sophie ends up in the school for Evil, and Agatha sent to the school for Good. Holy cow, I've basically written up another description haven't I? 



So let me get to the actual review part. I'm sorry. So, Agatha and Sophie. Reading through this book, I feel as though we're supposed to hate Sophie. She's self centered, stubborn, shallow.... but the entire time, I absolutely adore her. I want her to be right, that there was a mixup. I want her to end up in the school for good. But Sophie in the school for Evil is an absolute treat. It really, really is. Agatha, no doubt, is supposed to be the girl we root for. And don't get me wrong, I do like Agatha. She is your typical wallow-y, insecure brooding girl. She thinks she's ugly, so of course she is. But she has a good heart, and she truly cares for Sophie and their friendship and its so sweet. I love their relationship, its such a great dynamic. 



And then theres pretty-boy Tedros. The prince of all princes. The love interest of all love interests. Of course Sophie would instantly want to be with the most handsome of all princes, and of course Agatha finds him infuriatingly annoying. You can't blame her, because like everyone else in the school for good, he treats Agatha poorly because she's ugly, dark, and looks like she should be in the school for Evil. Tedros was definitely an interesting character. The backstory between his mother and father made him a deeper character than I had originally anticipated, and it was enjoyable to see the play between Sophie, Tedros, and Agatha. 



This book had a great plot, great pacing, and was such a refreshing story. It was different, and built this absolutely fantastic world. I absolutely loved every moment of it. 



Review
5 Stars
The Dark Unwinding
The Dark Unwinding - Sharon Cameron

tl;dr | ✭✭✭✭✭ | So I saw this book in my library audio book section and thought I'd give it a try, and I was completely swept away by the story and fell in love with the world and the characters the author created. 


Description Miss Katharine Tullman lives with her aunt Alice, where she is treated poorly and forced to prove her worth to the family. To do so, she takes care of the family's finances. So when the family's inheritance is threatened by rumors of her eccentric uncle squandering away their fortune, Katharine must go to his estate to declare him insane and secure the family fortune. But what Katharine meets when she arrives is not what she expected. Not only does she see the brilliance underneath the eccentricities of the old man, but she learns he has saved a village of 900 people from various workhouses which he employs in the estate he has built up. As Katharine's affection for her uncle grows, she is tasked with trying to figure out what she will do at the end of the month, while struggling with fears of losing her sanity. 


Oh boy, oh boy. I found this book after reading the Something Strange and Deadly series. I wanted another Victorian - era story, so I was searching through my library and came across this book. And I am so glad I did, because I absolutely loved this book. 


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So, first - this isn't really a steampunk book. Its more of a period-piece book. This book wasn't centered around different tech made from steam powered items instead of electrical items, it was set in a Victorian England (though I suppose it could be Georgian England, but I thought it was sometime around the mid to late 1800s....). That being said, this story was absolutely fantastic. Katharine's parents died when she was young, so she was forced to live with her Aunt and young cousin. Her Aunt is a terrible, spiteful person who makes it clear she dislikes Katharine and would turn her out at any sign of trouble. When the chance to leave her horrid aunt comes along, she gladly takes it - even if it means she has to go face her insane uncle and send him to an asylum. 


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The people she meets when she gets there are such fantastic characters. The romance that blooms also feels natural and was so wonderful to watch happen. I loved it. It was so well done. There was also the mysterious element... Katharine's failing sanity. Shortly after arriving to Stranwind (I'm pretty sure I butchered that...), Katharine starts having memory problems. She starts hearing things that nobody else has heard, and seeing odd things. 


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Sharon Cameron does a really fantastic job of world building and character building. I loved all the characters, but I feel like you need to meet them in order and discover them for yourself. This world she builds, the estate that Katharine's uncle sets up, is so fantastic, along with the story that goes behind it. And while Katharine is learning about her uncle, she also learns about her Grandmother who has long since passed away. it was just such a fantastic story. I love it so much. The reader was absolutely fantastic too, hands down one of my favorite audio book narrators. Her and the girl who reads the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger are both so amazing. I really don't know what else to say, but you should read the book :) 

Review
3 Stars
A Darkness Strange and Lovely
A Darkness Strange and Lovely - Susan Dennard

tl;dr - | ✭✭✭✩✩ | This book had a little bit of sequel-syndrome. I enjoyed it, especially the Parisian setting, but overall it wasn't as entertaining to me as the first book. I will definitely continue to the third book, though! Worth a read if you loved the first and want to continue the series. 


Description - With her brother dead and her mother in an insane asylum, not to mention the Spirit Hunters leaving for Paris, Eleanor is feeling very alone. Knowing Marcus is out in the world and coming for her, Eleanor makes the decision to follow the Spirit Hunters to Paris. On the steamer she meets the mysterious Oliver who claims to have been friends with her brother. Unsure whether she can trust him, she decides to keep him close and enlist in his aid to help her track down the spirit hunters when she arrives in Paris. Once they arrive, however, they learn the dead are taking over the city. Eleanor must make a decision, one that could affect her relationship with the Spirit Hunters forever. 


So, Eleanor is back. Oh my sweet, sassy Eleanor. The story opens up a few months after the events of the first book (i think?). Her mother has gone crazy with the news that Eleanor's brother died, and Marcus has begun sending threatening message to Eleanor. Knowing she is no longer safe, she flees to Paris to look for the insufferable Daniel, Jie, and Joseph. Hurray for more books set in Paris! This makes me happy, always. 



So, I was really quite wary of Oliver. I didn't know if we could trust him, I didn't know if I liked him, and I certainly didn't like how he would pop up at the worst moments ever (ahem outside the Louvre ahem). And that may have been part of my problem with this book... Oliver became a huge part of it and not really liking him made it frustrating at times. Otherwise I really enjoyed the story - Paris, the mystery behind the dead rising so much in the city, Daniel's... self improvements. One thing that did bother me about Eleanor in this book was how she would constantly face something dark and sinister, but then decide she didn't want to deal with it right then. She would deal with it later. Which of course, causes all kinds of problem. And was really frustrating. Oh, you're blacking out and having memory problems? Nahh, don't tell anyone. Just deal with that later. 



So it was moments like that, plus Eleanor's descent into.... well. I guess darkness, that was frustrating. Her sass became a negative thing in this book at times, and it was sometimes hard to watch her downward spiral. I read this about a month ago, so unfortunately i am having a hard time remembering other specifics as to why I wasn't as impressed with the book. I remember enjoying it, but not liking it as much as the first book. It was still an enjoyable read though.

Review
4 Stars
Something Strange and Deadly
Something Strange and Deadly - Susan Dennard

tl;dr - | ✭✭✭✭✩ | So, I really really enjoyed this book. The zombies, the steampunk, the characters... I loved it. It was such a fun read. I would definitely suggest others read it!


Description - Miss Eleanor Fitt is eagerly awaiting the return of her brother when the dead rise swarm to the train station. Eleanor hides away in the telegraph room, hoping to find word from her brother, when a zombie appears and leaves a letter for her - from her brother. Someone is controlling the dead and have her brother, and since her mother has no interest in anything except marrying Eleanor off to the wealthiest bachelor, Eleanor knows she must do something to bring her brother safely home. She enlists in the help of the Spirit Hunters, who are in town to protect people from the increasing zombie raids. Can she figure out who is behind the zombie attacks and save her brother? Can she deal with the maddening snarky remarks from Daniel, one of the spirit hunters? Can she convince her mother not to marry her off to some random man she has no interest in marry in? 


OH boy! This book. I read it over a month ago, and have been super bad about writing up my reviews so please bear with me as this is going to be kind of vague... I'm sorry :(




Ok. So, one thing that was fine at first but ended up bugging me was the play on her name... Miss Fitt. Misfit. Eleanor talks about how she doesn't feel like she really fits in with all the rules of propriety, that she doesn't fit in with how everyone else behaves and have similar desires. And thats cool, I love a quirky character who likes to break the mold. But at one point I felt it became a little too receptive with her feeling like a misfit and even her name says so. But it was a minor annoyance and not one that took me out of the story too much. 



But Eleanor was a wonderful character to have narrating the story. She cares so deeply for her family, which i thought was wonderful. Especially her relationship with her older brother, and how she will stop at nothing to make sure he is safe. And she's so snarky, I love it! I had to find this quote:



“Whatever mischief you're up to, I'll be there for it. Besides, someone must ensure that you behave like a lady."
I skittered to a stop. "Like a lady? Which is how exactly?" My voice was shrill. He had picked a poor moment to antagonize me.
"Biddable."
"Biddable? Biddable!" Somehow my pitch was even screechier than before. I kicked my bottom high and dipped my chest low-a perfect display of the Grecian bend. "It it's a camel you wish to have,sir,then you are on the wrong continent!”



This part cracked me up! I loved it. I so, SO loved it. And she's just so full of snark and fire, its wonderful! I loved the banter she has with everyone. 



The supporting characters were quite wonderful as well. Clarence is one that I couldn't help but like. Joseph is wonderful, Daniel is infuriating and you can't help but fall for him. Jie is intriguing, but her representation was a little... I don't know. I don't know anything about Asian cultures in the 1800s, so I guess I don't know if the way Jie is portrayed is accurate of the time. But I loved Jie the character, I thought she was so fun. She reminded me a little bit of Vive from The Finishing School & Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. There were just so many characters that I adore.



The story was well paced and well written. It kept me interested the entire time, and the ending... Oh boy the ending. I just can't go there because I don't want to spoil anything. But I loved it, and it sets up the rest of the series perfectly. I would definitely suggest this book, especially if you like The Dark Unwinding, stuff by Gail Carriger, and sassy female protagonists.