Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Blankets by Craig Thompson

“I wanted a heaven. And I grew up striving for that world-- an eternal world- that would wash away my temporary misery.”

This is an interesting graphic novel in the sense that it is autobiographical. It is the coming-of-age story of Craig Thompson. The novel depicts Craig’s home life with his religious parents, brother, and first love Raina. The story focuses on the desolate conditions of Craig’s life. Between his parents and school, Craig’s life leaves much to be desired. Craig finds solace in Raina though and the two become extremely close. This story is not a happily ever after, instead it is the story of Craig’s life and how he distances himself from his faith and his family.

I really liked how this novel unfolded. It began with Craig’s childhood and sharing a bed with his brother. Then we when to summer camp and meeting Raina. The story was told with Craig as a teen with “flashbacks” to his childhood and other events in his life. I loved how Craig’s childhood was woven into his teenage years and spending time with Raina.

For a graphic novel this novel has won a lot of awards, and it was also the first graphic novel I have read. And I’m not going to lie, the main reason I read this novel was because it is the Booksplosion Book of the Month for December. However, I’m glad I read it. From what I have gathered, this novel is very unique in the realm of graphic novels, it also happens to be quite long at over 600 pages.

The illustrations in this novel were completely black and white, but I think that fit the tone of the novel well. This novel is also definitely for more mature audiences between the content and the illustrations. However, I still really got a sense of the difficulty of Craig’s life and what he had to overcome. This was a really fast read for me. I definitely will be picking up more graphic novels in the future.

✶ ✶ ✶stars 

18 of the Most Anticipated Books of 2015

    1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (May 5)

    2. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith (Feb 10)

    3. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (Aug 28)

    4. The Heir by Kiera Cass (May 5)

    5. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (EDIT on 1/9, now March 2016)
    6. Throne of Glass #4 by Sarah J. Mass (Aug 10)

    7. I Was Here by Gayle Forman (Jan 27)

    8. The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (March 3)

    9. Invaded by Melissa Landers (Feb 3)

    10. Ensnared by A. G. Howard (Jan 6)

    11. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson (Feb 10)

    12. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (May 5)

    13. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Jan 13)

    14. The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (Jan 27)

    15. Stand-Off by Andrew Smith (Aug)

    16. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (April 14)

    17. Firebird #2 by Claudia Gray (Nov)

    18. The White Rose by Amy Ewing (Oct 6)

    Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom

    “And it isn’t a mistake in taste, like believing that the Matrix sequels were as good as the original.”  

    Let me start by just saying that I really like the simplicity of this cover.With the hospital bands on the babies and the black and white with the red "good" and "evil" accents.

    This book is different from what I typically read. However, as a Child Psychology major, it piqued my interest. This book is basically Paul Bloom’s argument about morality in babies. Bloom uses research from other developmental psychologists as well as his own research to show that babies have some sense of morality ingrained at birth.

    This book included many of the studies and arguments that I have encountered in my major classes and it was a nice summary of those ideas. I preferred Bloom’s writing style to some of the textbooks I have encountered about similar topics. Bloom was able to get the information across while also using “normal” language and a bit of humor.

    This book would be good for people interesting in Child Development specifically Cognitive Development and what it means for a child to develop morality and a conscience.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ and 1/2 

    *I received this book from BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review*

    Sunday, December 28, 2014

    The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

    This book took me a long time to get through, but it was well worth it. This book has a lot of new terminology and phrases. The glossary in the back and both the map and the chart of Clairvoyants in the front are extremely useful in this book as you learn about the world of clairvoyants and Rephaim.

    The world Samantha Shannon has created is so unique and well-thought out. I really enjoyed learning all about the different clairvoyants and how the Rephaim fit in with it all.

    The beginning of this book is quite the information dump with new terminology and a lot of background on the Scion and London. But once Paige is settled in at Sheol I, the plot thickens as she learns more about Warden and the Bone Seasons and what it means to be clairvoyant.

    I think this book did a good job setting up the series and the fight against the Rephaim and Scion. I cannot wait to read the Mime Order and learn more about this world.

    I really enjoyed the progression of Paige and Warden’s relationship throughout the book. Samantha Shannon did an incredible job of detailing their lives in Sheol I.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ stars

    Book Haul #7- BIRTHDAY!!!

    My parents and my aunt are super awesome so I got even more books for my birthday! Some of these aren't even the first in a series, but since they were on the list I gave them, they didn't pay attention to things like that.

    1. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    2. A Tale of Two Cities (the beautiful clothbound Penguin edition)
    3. Between the Devil Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
    4. In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
    5. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (I LOVE THIS BOOK)
    6. The Silence of Six by E.C. Myers
    7. In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
    8. The Kane Chronicles Trilogy Box Set by Rick Riordan
    9. Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepard
    10. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    11.   The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson
    12. Blankets by Craig Thompson

    Friday, December 26, 2014

    Book Haul #6- Christmas

    So since my birthday is Saturday (the 27th) I wanted to get my Christmas Book Haul posted before I had books from my Birthday too. So I got 13 books from my parents. Some of these are books I have already read, but don't own so I'm so excited to have them on my shelf now.

    1. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (so excited to read this one!!!)

    2. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (love this trilogy)

    3. Lady Thief by A. C. Gaughen (2nd book in the Scarlet Trilogy)

    4. Another Little Piece By Kate Karyus Quinn (don't know much about this one but looks interesting)

    5. Wool by Hugh Howey (heard so much about it so excited to dive in)

    6. Splintered and Unhinged by A. C. Howard (absolutley love this trilogy and Morpheus)

    7. Falling Kingdoms and Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (again love this fantasy series)

    8. Alice in Zombieland, Through the Zombie Glass, and The Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena  Showalter (these books are also really pretty under the dust jacket)

    9. The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook (just some fun HP themed food items)

    Christmas BookTube-A-Thon Wrap Up

    So I have totally failed lately. I was supposed to get my Christmas BookTube-A-Thon Wrap Up up right after it was over, but I totally forgot and then work and the holidays got in the way. But I guess now is good rather than never.

    I was extremely successful and finished all four challenges in the first two days of the read-a-thon. Then I started a four book and embarrassingly have still not finished it.

    First, I read Ascend which was the final book in the Trylle Trilogy. Really enjoyed the conclusion to the trilogy and am looking forward to the spin-off series.

    Next, I read The Solitude of Prime Numbers. This book was strange and not really what I was expecting and left me with a lot of questions and did not seem to really end to me.

    My third book was Not a Drop To Drink, which I absolutely loved. There is just something about Mindy McGinnis's writing style and characters that I loved.

    Finally, I started The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. I'm enjoying this book so far but there is a lot of information to digest in the beginning and a lot of new terminology in the world Shannon has created. This series is definitely going to be intense and I'm really looking forward to seeing where it goes, especially in this first book.

    Saturday, December 20, 2014

    Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

    This book was extremely well written. I absolutely loved the characters and the writing style. Mindy McGinnis has a way of writing that really pulled me in and kept me continuing to read wanted to know what would happen to Lucy, Lynn, Eli, Neva, and Stebbs. I loved Lynn as the main character. She was so strong willed which is rare in many books. She was ready and willing to do whatever was necessary to protect the pond and her house. It is finding Eli, Neva, and Lucy that change her and cause her to show her selfless, caring side.

    Lucy was an adorable little girl who really helped Lynn see that there was more to life than pure survival, that she could have fun and play in the snow. Stebbs was the father-like figure in Lynn’s life especially after her mom passed away. And then there was Eli, the love-interest. One thing that was a little strange to me is that I didn’t feel like I knew the ages of the various characters. The way I read it Lynn was late teens early 20s, Lucy was around 7 or 8, Eli was 30s, and Stebbs was 40s. But I don’t think we ever really know how old they are.

    McGinnis took such a unique story to tell and it was refreshing. The idea of a world with no water or at least limited water is incredibly scary and McGinnis showcases the importance of banding together to survive. This book was very character driven and was a story of survival. The book focuses on what Lynn and her group needed to do to survive and they choices they made to reach survival.

    One thing I wish we could have seen or learned more about is the cities and the history behind the water shortage. I wanted to know why this was happening and how the world went from running water to leaving the rural areas to pay for water in the cities. Plus the whole Cholera thing, I would have loved more background on the world.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ and 1/2 stars

    Friday, December 19, 2014

    Ascend by Amanda Hocking

    The Trylle Series by Amanda Hocking consists of Switched (review here), Torn, and Ascend. These books focus on Wendy, who learns she is a troll when she is 17. The trilogy focuses on Wendy learning about what she is and who she is within Trylle society. It is then up to her to protect her tribe of trolls along with other tribes from the evil King, Oren. 

    Ascend, the third book in this series, did not disappoint. I really enjoy Amanda Hocking’s writing style. I’m not sure what it is but I am captivated by it and it is never unsatisfying. I think Hocking did a good job tying up this trilogy without it seeming forced or too simple. Wendy had to face her father and was able to defeat him and protect her family. One thing that bothered me just from a practical standpoint was the lack of true casualties. While I understand they have healers, it would have been more realistic to have more casualties.

    I’m very happy with how this book went and it was another quick read for me. While these books are not amazing, they are incredible enjoyable and that is why I have given them such high ratings. This is a solid trilogy about trolls. And the trolls alone was enough to entice me when reading this series. The writing style was an added bonus.

    This is a short review but since it is the last book in the trilogy I do not want to spoil anything for anyone.  I'm also really looking forward to Frostfire which follows Bryn who is a tracker in the Kanin tribe. It will be really interesting to learn about another tribe.

    Ascend: ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ stars
    Trilogy as a whole: ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ stars

    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

    I don’t know how to write a review about this book that is coherent and not just gushing. This book was perfect in so many ways. It encapsulated the idea of fandoms and the person who is the fangirl. Characters within the book were just like those encountered in real life. Both the fangirls and other people who don’t quite get it.

    There are many people I meet in college who don’t understand what HP means to me and what it was like growing up with that story, both the actual books and the community and fandom around the series. That series has shaped my life in so many ways and Rainbow Rowell translated that feeling into Cath and her story.

    This book is definitely for a very specific audience who can relate to Cath and can understand what she is going through. Throughout this book, I would read things Cath would say or do and see myself in Cath. I think that is why this book was so amazing to me. I saw myself in Cath and could really understand how going to college affected her.

    I also really want to read Carry On now. Luckily it comes out in less than a year.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ stars

    The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

    This book is actually a collection of novellas that are prequels to the Throne of Glass Series. Each one contains some event that shaped Celaena into the assassin we see in the series. These novellas were amazing and I really enjoyed all the background we got.

    Each novella showed a lot of the choices Celaena makes that contradict the stereotypical assassin persona. These novellas helped show that what Celaena does in Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire is not completely out of character and she has done similar things in the past. Personally I wish I had read this book before reading Heir of Fire because it would have augmented a few of the things Celaena goes through with Rowan if I had already read the Assassin’s blade.

    From the other books in the series, I did not think I would like Sam, but reading this book really made me understand why Sam and Celaena were good for each other. They dealt with the struggles of being an Assassin together and supported each other through that. Along with this came the heartbreak of just how devastated Celaena must be at the beginning of the Throne of Glass with being in the camp plus Sam’s death. The slow build up of Celaena realize just how much she cares about Sam was wonderfully done.

    Each of these stories were a great window into Celaena’s life prior to Endovier and how they have shaped the events that take place in the other books. Arobynn is incredibly cruel and I absolutely do not understand how Celaena survived all that time with him. The Silent Master definitely taught her a lot and was a far better Master.

    That last page killed me. So sad, but she is using Sam's death and her imprisonment to motivate her to survive and get her revenge. This book also made me crave more Celaena and I also miss Chaol and Dorian. I don't like that I have to wait until Fall 2015. 

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ stars 

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    Book Haul #5- Pre-Christmas and Birthday

    So I got the rest of the books I ordered in November, plus one Birthday gift from a friend. I also have a few from publishers. Since I hopefully will be getting a lot of books for Christmas and my Birthday, I wanted to do one last Book Haul before then.

    1. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
    2. Lexicon by Max Barry
    3. The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney
    4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (beyond excited about this one!!!!)
    5. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
    6. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
    7. Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry (won in a GoodReads Giveaway)
    8. The Jaguar's Children (from publisher)
    9. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (from publisher)

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    Christmas BookTube-A-Thon TBR

    So this weekend is the Christmas BookTube-A-Thon and I will be particpating. I have picked four books but two of those are quite long so not sure how it is going to go. But the -thon takes place Dec. 19-21st. You can watch Ariel's video about it here.

    1. Ascend by Amanda Hocking. This fulfills the red and green cover book which is great because it will also lets me finish this trilogy.
    2. Not a Drop to Drink by
    3. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano. I'm kind of obsessed with prime numbers, so my mom go this for me. I'm kind of scared to read it though because while the blurb on the back is great, it doesn't have the greatest reviews. But it is fairly short so we shall see.
    4. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. THis is another book in my BookOutlet order and everyone talks about it so it is on my list to hopefully finish this weekend.
    I will update my Goodreads with my progress throughout the weekend, if you want to follow along. And I'll do a wrap-up next week. 

    Friday, December 12, 2014

    Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

    *I received this book from BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review.*

    First, I just want to explain this book. It is the story of Neil Patrick Harris’s life. However it is a twist on the typical autobiography. When you get to the end of the chapter, there is a footnote that gives you between 1 and 3 choices of where you can take the story next. This book is not meant to be read cover to cover. Rather it is meant to be read multiple times, choosing different stories to tell.

    This book was so unique and I loved it. I don't tend to read non-fiction, let alone autobiographies, but this book was just as entertaining as what I typically read. Between choosing how the story would end, plus the second person POV, it was great. I also loved the "guest" writers like Kelly Rippa and Barney Stinson.  I loved how it was written as if you were experiencing Neil Patrick Harris’s life. I decided for this first time reading that I would go with always choosing the happier option or most entertaining one.

    Some of the endings throughout the book are hilarious. Especially the Joss Whedon one! This book was full of fun, quirky lines that had me giggling to myself and getting weird looks. But it was worth it. This was a fun light read that I really enjoyed diving into. Neil Patrick Harris’s humor and shows are great and this book really showcased that. I also really loved the drawings and pictures throughout the book.

    I think this is one of those books that you have to have the physical book for. Between the pictures and the drawings, and even the little footnotes, I don’t think an ebook format would work well. Even the idea of flipping through the book following into the next story would not translate well in a ebook format.

    On a side note, the back blurb is great. It just added to how much I enjoyed this book!

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ stars

    Switched by Amanda Hocking

    Short review for now until I do a whole series review.

    I don't know what it is but I absolutely love Amanda Hocking's writing. Her books just have a way of entertaining me. This book was very unique in the whole troll thing. While the Trylle are not actual trolls in the sense of what we consider trolls, they are still technically trolls and that was great for me.

    I really enjoyed Wendy as a character. She was definitely different than other Trylle and I think a lot of that had to do with her upbringing in a more modest household with Matt and Maggie. Finn was also great and he clearly will do anything to keep Wendy safe even if that means leaving her.

    Wendy's mom (both moms really) are the exact opposite of what you would want in a world you don't fit into. Willi and Tove sound like they are going to be great friends to Wendy going forward in this trilogy.

    This was a great introduction into the land of trolls and I can't want to see how the events of Switched unfold in Torn.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ stars

    Thursday, December 11, 2014

    They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire

    This book was action packed from the beginning. Within the first chapter alone, Kenzie is almost killed in an accident. From there the list is released and you learn she is number 5. After that girls on the list start dying in freak accidents. It is Kenzie and Levi that start to piece together what is actually going on with he list and the deaths.

    There was not a moment of this book that was dull or slow, it pulled you right in with the mystery. While the writing in this book wasn’t perfect and the characters at time were pretty one dimensional, the plot and mystery kept me hooked. However the main issue I had with this book was just how far-fetched it was. The book was insanely entertaining, but at the same time so ridiculous. The premise was well explained but completely unbelievable, no society would have allowed a school to continue making a list of the hottest girls in 11th grade for 30 years. That just isn’t plausible.

    I absolutely loved all the Latin references throughout the book and how that added to the mystery of what was going on. Kenzie had to use her knowledge of the language to outsmart those out to get her and the other girls on the list.

    The ending of this one was a little abrupt, but fit with the pace of the book as a whole. I also liked that the book ended somewhat openly about what Kenzie and her team were going to do moving forward.

    Overall, this was an enjoyable quick read. Was it brilliant no, but it was not horrible either. I mostly had an issue with the lack of “real” characters and the plausibility of the plot.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ and 1/2 stars

    Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

    This was a weird read for me. I really struggled to get into. Granted once I did, I could not put it down and read the last 200 pages in one sitting. The basic plot is that Audra and Vane are thrown together after Raiden and his Stormers learn where Vane has been hiding for the last 10 years. And it is Audra’s duty to protect Vane.

    This book is about Vane coming into his windwalking powers, specifically those of being a sylph. The beginning of this book is very obscure in how you come to understand the lore behind sylph, for the most part you learn through what Vane is learning, but you also learn that there is more going on then what Audra is telling Vane. At times that was frustrating for me, but I understand why Shannon Messenger needed to keep us in the dark and leave us guessing. 

    After about 100 pages of this book, it became much more interesting and it began to pull me into the story of Vane and Audra. However, the beginning was quite slow and unappealing at times. The relationship between Audra and Vane was strange. Vane has been helplessly in love with Audra ever since he was 7 and she “saved” him. He has been dreaming about her for years. But as they train together that is definitely when their relationship starts developing further. While they grow closer, it becomes more apparent that Audra is keeping things from Vane in the hopes of keeping him motivated with respect to his training.

    After finishing the book and digesting it, the beginning was lacking. But I’m glad I stuck with it (not that there was ever really a doubt, I finish almost every book I start). Vane and Audra are special and have both gone through very traumatic childhoods. I really liked the progression of their relationship in this book. The rest of this trilogy will be interesting to see what Audra and Vane do next.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ and 1/2 stars

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    Top 5 Wednesday- Re-Reads

    1. Harry Potter Series by J K Rowling
    2. Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
    3. Winger by Andrew Smith
    4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
    5. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
    It is no coincidence that all these also happen to be my favorite books of all time. Only book missing is a Tale of Two Cities which would have made the list if I had it here at school with me. 

    Sunday, December 7, 2014

    100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

    I’ve been reading a lot of paranormal/fantasy lately, so I decided to return to contemporary for this one. Andrew Smith is a new author for me. But I’m so obsessed with Winger. It is by far my favorite contemporary book with If I Stay close but still in a semi-distant second place. As for the actual book, the cover of 100 Sideways Miles is absolutely gorgeous, not to mention the beauty that is the back of the dust jacket. It is also a fairly short novel being under 300 pages. So a short read for me.
    This book did not disappoint at all. It was just as I expected full of Andrew Smith’s wit and humor. Finn as a character was great. He is a 16/17 year old, epileptic, with heterochromatic eyes (one blue and one green). He has a scar shaped like this :|: on his back after the falling horse accident. Finn’s dad also has a book that is strangely very similar to Finn’s life. This is a large part of the identity crisis that Finn goes through. He is not sure if he is really there or just stuck in a book. Finn is also very literal and bases everything off of atoms coming together and how much the Earth moved in the time elapsed. I really enjoyed the recurring mentions of atoms and these distances that were literally on every page. On top of this, Finn had also survived a traumatic event of being hit by a dead horse. This accident took his mom away and also broke his back leading to his epilepsy.
    The first part of this book is very introduction heavy. It is just over a hundred pages introducing us to Finn, Cade, and Julia. Not much else happens in terms of plot and development. Well, I guess Finn has his first kiss and falls in love. But there is not much else happening. It is in the second part that everything starts to change and happen. Cade and Julia fall in love and then she leaves. The third part consists of Cade and Finn going on their road trip to Oklahoma.
    This book did not have too much of a plot, it was more about Finn growing to accept himself and who he was post horse falling from the sky incident. This book while not was I was expected in terms of plot it was everything I wanted in an Andrew Smith book. Having now read two Andrew Smith books I think I can safely say he is one of my favorite writers, plus he has a way of ending his stories. Winger has one of my favorite last pages of all time and this book had just as memorable of an ending. 100 Sideways Miles is a fantastic book that really captivated me with its wit and seemingly pointless details that all connected to form this book. 

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ Stars!

    The Young Elites by Marie Lu

    Let me start off by saying, I have read the first too books in the Legend Trilogy, and while I don’t hate them, I don’t really love them either. I love Marie Lu’s writing style though. The Young Elites grabbed my attention right away. Magic has always been a weakness for me and the idea of the fever, markings, and the Elites was really intriguing to me.

    I think Marie Lu did a great job of introducing the world and the stakes with the Inquisitors and the Daggers. I loved the little snippets of information at the beginning  of every chapter. Though small, it really added to the world and my understanding. It is also interesting the time period that this book takes place in. We are basically in Juno of 1361. This added lords and servants to the fantasy element of the book.

    This book was told with very interesting POVs. Basically we had Adelina’s first person and then third person with Teren, Enzo, and Raffaele. At times I wanted more from Enzo and Raffaele since we mostly saw things from Adelina’s perspective. But having Teren’s side was great because we saw the “bad” side and what they were up to. The storyline between Teren and Giulietta showed just how complex this world and the malfettos were.

    I found it slightly predictable what Teren’s secrets were, but I see why they were important. i also think he is going to have a large part to play later in the trilogy. This book was a great start to the trilogy and I can’t wait to see where it is going. This book definitely exceeded by expectations and for me was better than The Legend Trilogy.

    That ending was so not fair. Between the introduction of a brand new character that was clearly involved from the beginning, to the result of the battle. Completely unfair, especially because now I have to wait. And Adelina is clearly not in a good place at the end of this one.

    Solid ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ and a half stars.

    Friday, December 5, 2014

    Atlantia by Ally Condie

    I’m not sure what I was expecting with this book, but it definitely wasn’t want I got. The premise was very unique. I loved the idea of Atlantia and the world above and the whole choice between staying below or going above, however I felt like we were thrown in this world with little to not thought or explanation.

    The world building in the book was plain bad. I did not get a sense of what Atlantia was truly like, yes the Divide was clearly explained, but the actual workings of Atlantia and what it was like living there was extremely lacking. I don’t think we ever even got a full description of Atlantia. I just feel like it was expected I already understood the world when I started the book.

    While the world was way under developed, the characters were a struggle too. We barely knew Bay but she was clearly very important to Rio. The entirety of the plot is Rio trying to be reunited with Bay and figure out why she left in the first place. Then you had the side plot of Atlantia falling apart. But the characters seemed dry and I was not at all emotionally invested in them. I did appreciate however, that the romance was not a huge part of this book. True and Rio were cute together and I like them working together to figure out why Bay and Fen left, but their relationship wasn’t the central part of the book.

    This book had a lot of potential with the idea. But it completely fell short. The world was underdeveloped and the lack of explanation really hindered my enjoyment. I was unable to grasp Atlantia as a place and even the sirens were poorly explained. I’m still not really sure what exactly they are capable of. The ending also seemed rushed and then the book ended quite abruptly without really explaining the consequences of Rio choices in the Above.

    ✶ ✶ and a half Stars  and only because of the potential.

    Thursday, December 4, 2014

    Hex Hall Trilogy by Rachel Hawkins

    This is a review of the entire trilogy, I did short separate reviews for Hex Hall and Demonglass if you are interested. The first part is spoiler free, but I do go into spoilers in the second part.
    So my marathon of reading the Hex Hall Trilogy is complete, even though it took me longer than I had anticipated. The first two books in the trilogy, especially Hex Hall did a really good job of setting the scene for the rest of the trilogy. The lore and the magic was all really well explained and the world was built around how Sophie was learning at the same time as us readers.

    It wasn’t until the second and third book that things started to get crazy and unpredictable. We learned new things about Sophie’s Mom and Dad and Archer was not who we thought he was. Once the true villain was identified as Lara, it became clear that Sophie and her group of friends would need to pool their resources and abilities to defeat the enemy (okay, I know that sounded ridiculous but I’m trying not to be spoilery).

    As for the characters, Rachel Hawkins did a good job flushing out Sophie, Cal, Archer, and Jenna into likable characters. I really wanted to know what was going to happen to each of them. And especially after the fire in the second book, I couldn’t wait to find out everyone’s fate.

    *Now for spoiler discussion, so do not read this if you haven’t finished the series. *

    I was a huge fan of Cal throughout the trilogy. In my opinion he was the better guy for Sophie and I really feel like Hawkins took the easy way out by having him save everyone in the end. While it was clear for most of Spell Bound that Sophie was going to end up with Archer, killing off Cal didn’t seem like the right thing to do. And just once, I would have liked the main character to not end up with the stereotypical bad guy who was on the “other side”.

    The ending of the Spell Bound also seemed rushed. Then entire final battle happens in the last 30ish pages. There was a lot of hype throughout Spell Bound about how they were going to stop the Casnoffs, and then it seemed to all work a little too well. But again I was more upset by the Cal thing then anything else.

    The series does conclude in a way that shows what each character is going to do. I think it is pretty safe to say that Sophie’s Mom and Dad are going to get back together. And Archer and Sophie are going to be together as she eventually becomes the Head of the Council. Archer, Sophie, and Jenna are going to stay at the newly opened Hex Hall for another year. Finally, it is foreshadowed that Elodie and Cal are going to end up together since they are both ghosts (which again seems like the copout way of ending the love triangle).

    Overall, this was a solid ✶ ✶ ✶ and a half stars trilogy that was both unpredictable and enjoyable. The series had both its strengths and its weaknesses, but overall it was enjoyable. And it definitely helped tie in with my current mood of reading a lot of demon books.

    Monday, December 1, 2014

    Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

    Well that was quite the cliffhanger. I definitely enjoyed this second book more than the first. We got to learn more about the Council and the world which was really interesting. Plus we got to meet Sophie’s dad. At the end of the 1st book we were left with the cliffhanger of what Sophie was actually capable of and in this book we saw her learn more about her powers and how to control them.

    However, this book added a love triangle. And I hate love triangles, they seem unnecessary in most books and I just don’t see their value. I really dislike Archer and Cal seems like such a better guy for Sophie. But we still have a whole other book before we find out which guy Sophie ends up with.

    This book definitely set up what is to come with the battle between the Prodigium and the Eye. And it definitely looks like the final book will be filled with lots of action and twists as the rest of the story unfolds.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ Stars

    November 2014 Wrap-Up/December 2104 TBR

    I did not read nearly as much as I had hoped to in November. School got way more hectic, plus I was in a little bit of a slump. I also read mostly eBooks so I don't really have a picture for you guys... 

    In order of reading:

    1. Wake by Amanda Hocking
    2. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
    3. The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
    4. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (One of the best books of the year)
    5. Splintered by A.G. Howard
    6. The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander
    7. These Broken Stars by Annie Kaufman and Megan Spooner
    8. Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
    9. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
    10. White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout
    11. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
    12. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
    I'm currently in the middle of Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins.

    As for my December TBR, I'm sticking with the books I didn't get to in November mainly:
    1. Clockwork Princess (yes I know I'm ashamed that I haven't read this yet)
    2. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (I can't read it until I finish the Infernal Devices)
    3. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
    4. The Retribution of Mara Dyer (I need to get this one read before I get spoiled)
    5. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins (I want to finish the trilogy)
    6. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    High Stakes by John McEvoy

    First off let me just preface this by saying I have not ready any of the other Jack Doyle mysteries. This is my first one. But I absolutely love the fact that it takes place in the Chicagoland area since that is where I grew up. I loved reading about places I had either been to before or places I have heard of. The familiarity definitely drew me to this book. While I’m not a huge horse fan, I do find them to be beautiful creatures and I enjoyed this book’s twist on murder mystery with the murder being that of retired horses.

    I also thought it was really interesting that in the first chapter we witness a murder taking place and the suspect is narrowed down and revealed to be female. At times the changing perspectives could be confusing, but after a paragraph or two, I always got right back into the action of the story. The writing was good in this book, it seemed to be a good mix of description and matter-of-fact statements. This style worked well with the genre and plot.

    Jack Doyle is an interesting “detective” if you can even call him that. He just has a way of understanding what is going on and in this case, he knows people in the business and that is what allows him to figure it all out. This book kept me guessing up until the end. And it still surprised me how it all worked out. I also really enjoyed the Chicago humor in the Epilogue.

    *I received an ARC of this book from Poisoned Pen Press in exchange for an honest review*

    ✶ ✶ ✶ and 1/2 Stars

    Friday, November 28, 2014

    Book Haul #4- Black Friday

    I went to the used book stored today and picked up 6 books for $15, plus I have a BookOutlet order coming eventually, but here are the 6 books I got today!
    • B&N Leatherbound Classic of The Scarlet Letter
    • The Trylle Series Box Set by Amanda Hocking
    • Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
    • The Young Elites by Marie Lu

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones

    First off, I just want to say that I was really looking forward to this book. It takes place in 18th Century Spain. It is about two female protagonists and their struggles in Spain. However, I was disappointed in how the book played out. The beginning of the book is filled with countless acts of harassment both against Caridad and Milagros. And while I’m not completely familiar with Spanish culture in the 18th Century. I am aware of their stance on women. However, I’m not sure it was necessary to have the countless acts depicted the way they were in this book. Reading about it make be incredibly uncomfortable. And I while many books due this to allow the reader to understand what the characters are going through, in this case it was too much for me.

    This is also an incrediblely long book, it is over 600 pages. It took a while for the plot of the story to play out. But we quickly met Caridad and Milagros and they quickly met each other. The writing in this book was powerful and the book as a whole was extremely well written. I enjoyed the friendship between Milagros and Caridid, however aspects of the plot and violence within the story bothered me, making this a less than enjoyable read.

    *I received this book from BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review*

    ✶ ✶ Stars

    Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

    I'm going to marathon through this trilogy this week, so this review is going to be short. I'm going to do a full review of the trilogy when I finish, but wanted to get some basic thoughts out.

    First, I just want to comment on how great this cover is with the mirror images of who I assume is Sophie. It is really great showing the good and the bad side.
    The writing was meh for me, but I really enjoyed the characters and the world. I feel like Hawkins could have built up the world a little more, but I guess she has two more books for that. I also really wanted to meet Sophie's Dad, but I guess that can't happen yet. Hopefully I don't have too wait long.

    This book had a lot of plot twists and I didn't not see a single one coming. Each one was a surprise. That being said I'm looking forward to continue to see where this is going.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ and 1/2 Stars

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

    After finishing Cruel Beauty last night I was really in the mood for another demon book. That lead me to White Hot Kiss. A book about demons and gargoyles which is fantastic. I have read the first three books in the Lux series and absolutely love Jennifer L. Armentrout’s humor and writing style. White Hot Kiss did not disappoint. This book was filled with the same witty banter between characters and the humor I enjoyed in the Lux series.

    This book was also way fluffier than other books I’ve read recently. While this book wasn’t complete fluff, it was still a much happier book. Roth and Layla are great together and I loved watching them grow from enemies to something much more. The dynamic between the two of them was great and I really need more of it. With how White Hot Kiss ended, I’m not sure what is to come in the second one, Stone Cold Touch, but I look forward to picking that book up in the near future.

    Overall, this was an enjoyable quick read for me. I loved the demon aspect plus the whole Warden vs. Demon, not to mention the apocalypse thing. This book was definitely better than I was expecting, especially given the cover. But the dynamic between the characters and the writing really helped move the narrative along.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ Stars

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

    This book was exactly what I needed right now, a paranormal fairy tale. Cruel Beauty is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with demons. Basically two of my favorite things, I absolutely love the Beauty and the Beast story. It is a great love story about looking within. And this particular novel added demons. There is just something about demons that always get me. I’m not really sure what it is, and I’m sure Supernatural has something to do with my slight obsession.

    The beginning of this book was a little bit confusing with respect to the curse and how it tied in with the fairy tale, but as we learned more about both Arcadia and the Gentle Lord/Ignifex, I understood the retelling aspect a lot better. And while this is a retelling, it goes beyond the source material and creates a universe that I utterly enjoyed.

    Ignifex is a new favorite when it comes to characters. He was cunning, haunting, and obviously very good at getting what he wants. His characterization was great. The books starts out depicting him as this cruel, very black-and-white character, but as the story unfolds we see all the layers and complexities to his character. Plus there is his shadow, Shade. Shade was an interesting character for me, I really hated him at the beginning, since I was a strong proponent of Ignifex and Nyx. But understanding Shade’s past helped. As for Nyx’s character, she had always been groomed to marry Ignifex and destroy him, and as expected, learns there is more to the curse than originally thought.

    I thought Hodge did a beautiful job creating the universe and retelling the classic Beauty and the Beast story with her own twists. Hodge has beautiful writing that just pulls you into the story. And the last part of the book was extremely well written. The book reached a whole new level at the end with the forklore and mythology.

    After I started this book, I could not put it down and was dead set on finding out what happened to the characters I had just met. I’m sad that this is a standalone, even though Crimson Bound is in the same universe. I wish I got more Ignifex and Nyx. But I do feel like the book ended perfectly, without diving too far into the future after the plot of the story had played out.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ and 1/2 Stars

    Friday, November 14, 2014

    The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander

    Like many books nowadays, this book is told with dual perspectives. However this book is unique in that it has dual timelines as well as more that the typical two perspectives. We get Jack’s, Edwards’s, Sadie’s, and Felix’s perspectives throughout the book. The book also involves multiple genres. You have the mystery with the dead girls, even though that is solved quite early in the book, but you also have the mystery of Elizabeth’s death and who is following Jack. Alexander also adds magic to this pot leaving you with the story that is The Secrets of Life and Death.

    I really enjoyed this book. I loved the different aspects of it and the multitude of perspectives the reader got due to the various POVs throughout the book. This made the book enjoyable and kept the reader way more informed with what was happening. This was also a good book for me due to it’s historical references. I tend to shy away from historical fiction books because they typically fail to keep my attention, but this one had the added fantasy aspect that really helped keep my interest.

    The writing in the books was also amazing. I really enjoyed the way Alexander introduced characters and I loved her descriptions. She pulled you into the story and portrayed the characters perfectly. I felt connected to the characters as they tried to figure out what was happening now to Jack, while examining what happened in the past to Elizabeth.

    Overall, I really appreciated this book. It was an enjoyable historical, mystery, and fantasy book. Alexander was able to build magic into our world and keep it believable.

    *I received this book from BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review*

    ✶ ✶ ✶ and 1/2 Stars

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Top 5 Wednesday- Couples

    1. Chaol and Celaena from the Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
    2. Snape and Hermione from the Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling (I don't even care that it isn't cannon).
    3. Ryan Dean and Annie from Winger by Andrew Smith
    4. Tris and Four from the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
    5. Mara and Noah from the Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

    Splintered by A.G. Howard

    As I’m sure you have guessed by now, this is another book that I totally judged by the cover. But I was not disappointed at all by the actual book. It was great. I loved the Alice in Wonderland connection but I also appreciated Howard’s own take on the world. While I loved Alyssa and Jeb as characters, Morpheus wins it all for me. He is absolutely amazing and I love his characterization. He is just so obnoxious but also completely lovable at the same time. I may be in the minority with this, but I loved each and every scene with him. And his interactions with Alyssa were great, the teasing, the tension, and just the overall way he approached things with her. And you could argue that many of his choices were despicable, and he was often quite cruel, but I think his actions and his heart were in the right place.

    As I got further and further into the book and you learned more about the curse on Alyssa’s family all because of what Alice had done to Wonderland, you got a better understanding of some of the choices Alison had made to protect her daughter. Alyssa was determined to do whatever she could to protect her mom and destroy the curse. I think having Jeb come along was a way to protect Alyssa from going completely head-first into the battle with little to no concern. It also kept her somewhat grounded as she realized how similar she was to the people of Wonderland and just how well she actually fit in if she thought about it. At first Alyssa’s blind faith and love in Jeb really bothered me, (probably because I hated his girlfriend so much). Even now after finishing the book and knowing everything, I’m still not really sure how I feel about that. Plus my obsession with Morpheus definitely influenced my views.

    As for the actual plot of the story, after Morpheus explained the “curse”, it was pretty clear what needed to be done to “save” Wonderland. And like with all things, it was easier said than done. I thought the plot progressed realistically and I don’t have many problems with the way things progressed. And I was completely surprised by the twist at the end. I didn’t even have a small inkling that it was even possible. That unpredictable twist allowed me to enjoy the book even more than I already was.

    Overall, this was a solid first installment in the trilogy and I cannot wait to find out what Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus get up to in the next two books.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ and 1/2 Stars

    Saturday, November 8, 2014

    A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

    We again have another favorite book. I was highly anticipating the release of this book and that was mostly due to the cover. Word cannot describe how stunning this cover is. It is even better in person and having the physical book. But this book was so much more awesome than the cover made me think it was. I was not disappointed in any aspect. The one flaw in the book and it is minimal, is the fact that I was able to predict a small detail that we learn at the end.

    The writing and descriptions in this book were great. Claudia Gray has a very unique and intriguing way to draw you into the story. The way she described all the science in the book was great. She was descriptive and went in depth, but at the same time she would add humor to it to fit with Marguerite’s lack of science understanding. I loved the way everything was introduced and explained in the different universes. Even when the universe was very similar to Marguerite’s real home, we always knew what the differences were. Having Marguerite be an artist who focuses on detail was very important in regard to this story. The narrator needed to be someone who was detail-oriented but who also had a very limited understanding of physics. The whole basis of other universe travel was based on physics and using equations to understand why things happened.

    Paul Markov was a very complex character who we knew very little about, however as the story went on we learned more about his life and his interactions with Marguerite. I loved the little flashbacks throughout the book that gave you a better understanding of why it was so shocking that Paul could kill Marguerite’s father and destroy all the data and leave.

    There were many twists and turns in this book that set many things up for the next book and the rest of the series. I appreciate that Claudia Gray didn’t leave us with a huge cliffhanger because that is just cruel, but she still has me beyond anxious to read the next one and find out what they are going to do to stop the villain, (not naming him because spoilers). I also tried really hard to not finish this book right away, but I didn't accomplish that very well. The book came out Tuesday, and it is Saturday and I have already finished it.

    Overall, this was an amazing start to a new series. It contained so many elements of what I appreciate in a book, there was the science aspect, the whole fantasy, multiple universes aspect, the humor, and of course the romance. The cover of this book is just as amazing as the actual book. And it is going to look great on my favorites shelf.

    ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ Stars

    Monday, November 3, 2014

    The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

    In honor of Retribution coming out tomorrow, I decided to read this so that I can read Retribution right away. The book was better and crazier than the first. After the first, I felt like I had a good grip on what was happening in the book and the series as a whole, but this book completely obliterated all that. I'm currently sitting here in shock because I have no idea what to expect in the final book of the trilogy. I can say that I'm super excited to read it.

    The book set up what I expect to be an amazing conclusion to the trilogy. Michelle Hodkin's writing style is amazing and I absolutely love the whole unreliable narrator aspect of the story. We have no idea if we can trust Mara or if anything she is telling us is true. One minute she thinks someone is terrorizing her then we find out that she did it herself. But then there are other times where her suspicions appear to be real. This book has so many twists and turns that right now I don't even have any theories for what could possibly happen in the final book.

    I'm also really glad that I was able to wait until the day before Retribution came out to read this book and that I was never spoiled. So now I only have to wait a few days to find out what is really happening in this trilogy.

    5/5 Stars

    Sunday, November 2, 2014

    The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

    This book is amazing and definitely ranks in the top tier of what I’ve read this year. Kestrel and Arin’s story is enticing and pulls you right in. There are so many nuances and intricacies to the world that Rutkoski has built. The history of the Valorians and the Herrans is fantastic and captivating. Rutkoski blends politics, revolution, and history together with the story of Arin and Kestrel to create this novel.

    The characters alone in this novel are so intricate and have so many layers they shape who they are. Kestrel and Arin both have countless reasons for their actions and have many difficult choices to make as the novel progresses. Other than Kestrel and Arin, the side characters are just as intriguing. The romance is a large part of this novel, but it didn’t take central stage which I appreciated. It was more of a friendship that blossomed into something more.

    I felt like the beginning of this book was a little weak as Rutkoski built the world and set the stage for the Revolution. But that did not diminish my love of the book at all. Lots of books need time to explain the world and build up what is going to happen. Once the revolution happened, the pace picked up and the twists and turns began. There were so many times throughout this book where Arin or Kestrel’s choices were unexpected. I was convinced they were going to do one thing and then they would do something else entirely.

    Overall, this was an amazing read and I cannot wait to read more about Kestrel and Arin and the aftermath of the revolution. This book pulled me right in and I couldn’t stop reading it. I’m not really sure how this book should be classified, it definitely has elements of historical fiction, but there is a fantasy feel as well. Regardless, I would recommend this book to anyone that wants a book with true intrigue, drama, and action.

    5/5 Stars

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

    The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

    First let me just say this book is absolutely gorgeous. The cover is amazing with the two hands reaching towards each other, and the tiny little gold stars scattered in the sky. But the best part is the page edges they are gold. It is beautiful with the gold accents on the cover.

    This book is very different then what I would typically read. I tend to stick to fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian. But The Book of Strange New Things has qualities of my typical read. There is the sci-fi aspect since the Oasis is in space and whatnot. However, the faith part of the book is new to me. I have never read a book with faith such a strong theme in the book.

    Peter and Bea are devout Christians and it is his faith that leads Peter to travel with USIC to Oasis as the preacher. Peter leaves Bea and their cat Jonathan behind. When Peter gets to Oasis everything seems to fall apart. Faber created an interesting world between Earth and Oasis. The added theme of faith really made this book unique.

    I have to admit this book wasn’t quite my cup of tea. It was a little too faith heavy to me. But I’m glad I read it since it opened my eyes to other genres and I have always said I should always try every genre at least once. Since I didn’t really enjoy this book, I can’t give it more than a couple stars. But I do commend it for incorporating two topics that typically don’t get put together, space and religion.

    * I received this book from BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review*

    2.5/5 Stars
     The concept and the beautiful writing is what raised it from a 2 to a 2.5.

    Wake by Amanda Hocking

    I’ve been on a little bit of a mermaid kick recently. Anna Banks’s Syrena Legacy is amazing. And I’ve had Wake for awhile now and finally decided I needed to read another mermaid (yes this one is technically sirens, but same idea) book. I enjoyed the alternating perspectives between Harper and Gemma. It was amusing how different but yet similar the sisters were. It was informative to see everything from Gemma’s perspective as she learned about what she had become and to see things from Harper’s perspective as she saw her sister change and saw other people’s reactions to that change.

    I also enjoyed watching their different relationships unfold. I have to say I absolutely loved Daniel’s character. He is that obnoxious boy who always annoyed Harper until she gets to known him better (AKA typical bad-boy in YA novels). And Alex is such a sweet guy and I absolutely loved him and Gemma together.As for the mythology aspect of this novel, I loved the back-story we got from Penn, Lexi, and Thea about sirens and the Demeter’s curse. I also liked that it wasn’t until half way through the book that we learned about the sirens.

    One thing that really bothered me in this book was the fact that Gemma and Harper referred to the Dad as Brian. During dialogue he was Dad but everywhere else he was Brian. It was just weird. They did the same thing when they met their Mom, Nathalie. It was just awkward and I’m not really sure if their was any benefit to it being that way.

    Overall, this was a fun read and a great introduction to the series. I adored Hocking’s writing style and the way she pulled you into the story. I liked that Hocking built up Capri and Gemma and Harper’s lives before she introduced the Siren aspect and the troubles that lie ahead. The ending seemed a little rushed, but I liked the fast-paced aspect of the book.

    3/5 Stars

    October 2014 Wrap-Up/November 2014 TBR

    October was a bit of a slow month for me. School definitely became more time consuming for me. Hockey also started which gave me less time to read. But I still read 14 books.

    In order of reading:
    1. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
    2. J by Howard Jacobson
    3. Winger by Andrew Smith
    4. The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
    5. Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
    6. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
    7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
    8. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
    9. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    10. Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
    11. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
    12. The Jewel by Amy Ewing
    13. Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover
    14. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
    I'm currently in the middle of The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.

    As for my November TBR, for the most part I'm attempting to read the books I own that I have not read yet. For sure reads are:
    1. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (cannot wait for this one to come on Tuesday)
    2. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (finally going to get around to reading this one).
    3. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith (I love Andrew Smith so I'm going to continue reading all his books)
    4. We are the Destroyers by DK Lindler (I got this one from the publisher to review)

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover

    So I’ve had this book since it came out in January. And I finally got around to reading it. But I was beyond disappointed. This book had so much potential with the themes and topics it dealt with. I feel like Grover barely scratched the surface when it came to dealing with the gender roles and the flaws in the society.

    And for a book that I believe is a stand-alone, it sure did leave the ending very open. To me there was no real conclusion. She never really proved to everyone that she was just as good if not better than the boys her age. The only ones to truly accept her were Mirko and Ratho. And those stories are left somewhat open as well.

    I was also disappointed with how the plot panned out. We learn a lot about the Madronian rule and R’tan culture but then there is no conclusion to the problems that plagued the world. It was great world building but nothing came of it. This isn’t technically a spoiler, but I feel like the end was just Tiadone running away from all the problems in the world to be on her own. That is not the sign of a strong female character. Tiadone shows throughout the book that she is equal to the other males, but the ending kind of reverses some of that.

    Overall, there was potential with this world and the storyline but it was poorly executed in my opinion. Because I liked the concept I have to get it 2.5 out of 5 Stars even if I felt the novel overall to be lacking.

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    The Jewel by Amy Ewing

    WHY DID IT HAVE TO END LIKE THAT??? That is not a nice cliffhanger at all Amy Ewing. I don’t approve! Other the the “horribleness” of the ending, I really enjoyed this book. I have heard people compare this to the Selection Series, but honestly I see no connection. These girls are auctioned off to the wealthy to bear their children and then are tossed away after they have served their purpose. The Duchesses and Countesses are all in a competition to obtain the best surrogate and will go to any length to obtain what they want.

    The world is beyond ridiculous where girls are literally bred to be surrogates for the wealthy and powerful. However, underneath that there are the rebels with Lucien, Violet, and the other person who I won’t name so I don’t spoil anything. The “magic” within the book (AKA the auguries) are an interesting facet. One to control color, one for shape, and one for growth. With these three powers, the surrogates and doctors are able to create whatever is desired in the child.

    As for the characters, Violet was your typical strong-willed female who completely despises the system. Lucien is there to help her along her way and is a source of information for what is really going on. Then there is the love interest Ash. I thought this match was a little forced and cliche. Of course she had to fall in love with the one guy who was unavailable and would get her in the most trouble. Even though we don’t see a lot of Garnet, I feel like he will be a very important character and confidant for Violet as she grapples with what happens at the end of The Jewel. Plus he is your stereotypical bad boy, who completely defies everything expected of the royals.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this new dystopian novel and obviously need the next one now. I need to know what is going to happen to Violet now that that thing happened (I know that sounds stupid, but obviously don't want to spoil it for people who haven't read it). I have to say though, with the books I have been reading lately, I appreciate the cliffhanger even if it infuriated me to no end. And because I literally just finished the book, the cliffhanger is still fresh in my mind for me to agonize about why Amy Ewing decided to leave us hanging like that.

    4/5 Stars

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

    This book literally starts with you meeting this pretentious doctor. He introduces his practice and how he gives his patients the illusion that he cares, when in reality, he knows everything way quicker than the time he spends with them. Dr. Marc Schlosser is basically the complete opposite of what you would hope for in a doctor.

    There were a lot of instances where Marc was really annoying to me. And I don’t even know if annoying is the right word. He was just so condescending and a character you were supposed to hate. Like when he would try to judge how he acted by stating that it was due his practice or his work. He was using his unique practice to justify some of the borderline unethical things he was doing in his practice. He just really got on my nerves, but I still wanted to read the book to see how it was all going to unfold.

    Throughout the book, Koch used this amazing writing style to describe how the body worked. While these were incredibly descriptive and sometimes really in-depth in terms of body function, I really enjoyed the imagery. The human body is a fascinating topic and I feel like Koch really embraced that in his writing.
    It was war. You’re better off winning a war than losing it. History teaches us that.  And biology. You’re better off beating someone to death, than being beaten to death. From time immemorial, the man has guarded the entrance to the cave. Intruders are sent packing. People. Animals. A persistent intruder can’t say later that he hasn’t been warned.” (pg. 195)
    My only real complaint is the slowness at the start of the book Koch sets up the relationship between the Schlossers and the Meiers and the subsequent death of Ralph. And with that explanation and background information, the timeline at the beginning of the book is weird. Koch switches between the present after Ralph’s death, the summer leading up to his death, and his time in med school. At times it seems out of place even though it makes sense towards explaining what is happening in the book.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this book, especially the writing. This book has been translated into English from Dutch, but it is not noticeable and Koch’s imagery and language is translated beautifully. I was only slight disappointed by the end. I feel like it did not completely wrap everything up, but I guess that is the nature of the story Koch was telling.

    *I received this book from BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review*

    4/5 Stars