2019, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, readathons, reading, reviews

Scallywagathon Wrap Up: May 5-12

Hey friends!

I finished Scallywagathon 2019 last night and read 3 books!

For more information and the prompts, please visit https://sites.google.com/view/scallywagathon2019/home

The Map

I double-dipped and chose books from my 2019 Unhaul Challenge to try and work on those stacks a bit.
(https://allthesewanders.com/tag/2019-unhaul-challenge/)

Here are my thoughts

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Published: 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary

Synopsis: Starr and her friend Khalil are stopped by a police officer after a party. The officer shoots and kills Khalil and Starr struggles with the event and finding justice for her friend.

My thoughts: This was written very well. I was afraid that I wouldn’t like the story because YA Contemporary is just not my favorite genre to read, but I found that this story was engaging, heart wrenching and eye opening, all at the same time. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a story based on lives that many people have lived and that happens in America all too often.

Title: The Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts Saga #1)
Author: Colleen Oaks
Published: 2014
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling/Origin Story

Synopsis: Princess Dinah is destined to be Queen of Wonderland and rule beside her father. When her father brings a long-lost sister to court, Dinah’s world is turned upside down.

My thoughts: Although I thought the first half was a bit slow, I liked the build up of Wonderland that is very different from how Alice will find it in the future. Dinah is a conflicted character and I am curious to see where the story leads and how Oaks envisions her descent into becoming the evil queen we all know her to be in Wonderland.

Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: 1999
Genre: YA Contemporary

Synopsis: Melinda’s first year of high school isn’t going so well. After a traumatic experience at a party that involved her calling the cops, her friends shun her and her parents don’t understand her. Afraid to speak up, she withdraws completely until enough is enough.

My Thoughts: This was done well, although the writing style isn’t my favorite. I am not a fan of short, choppy chapters and vignettes because they typically don’t hold my attention. With that said, the format worked for the story as we are in the head of a traumatized and erratic teenager who is trying to deal with the aftermath of being attacked. It was sad and heart wrenching because I’ve unfortunately known too many people who’ve had similar experiences and were afraid to speak up.

2019, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, booktube, reading, TBR, videos

2019 Unhaul Challenge Video

Hey friends!

I will be posting a First Quarter 2019 Progress Video in a few days but until then, I’ve filmed and uploaded a video if you wanted a visual of all the books left on my 2019 Unhaul Challenge. This has been a fun project so far so I hope it continues to go well. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIxop9yhit8&feature=youtu.be

2019, Books, booktube, reading, TBR, videos

Currently Reading – May Edition

Hey friends!

I am not one for TBRs or anything since I’m a mood reader but I do have a few books I’m working through (or have already completed) and thought I’d share with you!

What are you reading? Have any of you read these and what did you think?

Title: Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: 2012
Genre: YA Fantasy
Synopsis: Alina, an orphan and map maker in the King’s First Army, displays unknown powers during an attack in the Shadow Fold. Recruited into the Second Army by the Darkling, Alina is destined to become the long-awaited Sun Summoner and save Ravka.

Title: The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #2)
Author: Anne Rice
Published: 1985
Genre: Horror/Fantasy
Synopsis: Introduced as an evil and seductive vampire in Interview with the Vampire, we are reintroduced to the real man and how he became a vampire-hero.

Title: Obsidio (The Illuminae FIles #3)
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published: 2018
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Synopsis: Concluding the series, we follow Kady, Ezra, Hanna and Nik as they fight to save Karenza IV and bring justice to all those killed by BeiTech Industries.

Title: The Plains of Passage (Earth’s Children #4)
Author: Jean M. Auel
Published: 1990
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: The saga continues as Ayla and Jondalar leave the Mammoth Hunters and journey to Jondalar’s homeland on the other side of the continent.

Title: Foolish Hearts
Author: Emma Mills
Published: 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary
Synopsis: Unwilling production partners in their high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Iris and Claudia have to navigate their senior year.

I also made a video if you are interested in learning more or want to join!

2019, Books, reading, reviews

The Illuminae Files #1

Title: Illuminae
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: 2015
Country: United States
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: An illegal mining colony is destroyed, so the survivors aboard three space vessels must fight a virus, an industrial nemesis, and an AI system gone rogue.

Sequel: Gemina

The story was interesting and the format was intriguing. I had no problem with the overall way the book is presented, since it’s supposed to be a dossier given by someone named Ghost to some Executive Director. The intentions behind this wouldn’t make any sense if the story was written in a traditional format so this was fun to experience. It felt like a real investigative file someone would obtain about an event that happened.

I also listened to the audio book because everyone won’t stop raving about how it’s got a full cast and sound effects. While it made it more entertaining to experience, the audio book was more annoying than anything for 90% of the time. The sound effects were cool and enhanced battle scenes and some of the more intense events going on, however, the voice actors were annoying. The accents seemed super fake and in the end it sounded like 4 people doing every voice with variations. It was too slow to listen to on 1.5 speed but sounded stupid on 2 speed. But if you don’t follow along with the physical book, you get less of a visual effect, which is the whole intention of the story. It’s a conundrum.

My biggest gripe with this was the content itself. The dialogue was extra cringey and over the top. The chats were so annoying that I skipped over some of them because I couldn’t handle it. I know it’s YA, I know there’s a teen romance at the center, but it was tiresome and made me roll my eyes so hard. I think my favorite parts were the surveillance analyses because it gave us an idea of what was happening with some snarky commentary. The AI’s thoughts were interesting as it struggled with consciousness and understanding humanity versus it’s programmed code as a machine. But it was way too long and got old real quick.

Everyone says how this book is amazing and unique. It’s definitely different and I give the authors props for playing with a new format and trying something different. This could definitely make for a fun TV show, if done correctly. In the end though, I was incredibly underwhelmed and almost put it down. I watched/read some reviews that stated the first half was slow, which it was. I guess the build up was needed? I think there could’ve been less but since the format is unique, it goes by quickly, even though it’s 600 pages. In reality, it’s closer to 300 because of the way it’s presented.

Will I continue on with Gemina? Yes. I am curious as to where it will go and what happens next. Do I have high hopes? No. Will I listen to the audio? Yes, only because it made it more entertaining, although it didn’t add any value to it so I will likely skip parts.

Final verdict: An average story with a unique format that everyone has over-hyped and touted as this amazing book that is a must-read.

2019, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, reading, reviews

2019 Unhaul Challenge – The School for Good & Evil

To see the books I’ve been working through and my thoughts on them, please select the “2019 Unhaul Challenge” category at the top of this post. For a review of all my books, please select “Book Reviews” from the tabs on the menu bar.

Title: The School for Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Published: 2013
Country: USA
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy – Fairy tale

Synopsis: Sophie and Agatha are kidnapped by the School Master of the School for Good & Evil. However, they don’t end up in the school they hoped for and their origin stories begin.

Check out the book trailer. It’s so much fun!


I loved this book. From the very beginning I was hooked and enthralled. I love the idea of two friends having to live through a fairy tale in order to understand how to survive it. The characters are so much fun and many of our favorite fairy tale characters have appearances (mostly as heroes, damsels and villains we know them as today) with glimpses into their past at the school. And many of our current characters are children of those same characters we read about, making this a next-generation-type story and I am here for it.

Sophie has spent all her life preparing to be kidnapped into the School for Good, while Agatha has done everything she can to avoid having to leave their hometown. When they are both taken, Agatha and Sophie end up in, what they think, are the wrong schools. Their journey entails Agatha convincing Sophie they should try to go home, while Sophie just wants to prove she’s good and find her prince. So their story begins and it’s an origin story of epic proportions

This reminded me so much of Wicked by Gregory Maguire (not just the play) and the tv show Once Upon a Time. I LOVE fairy tale-inspired stories and I enjoy villain and origin stories even more. This was so much fun and I even cried at the end.

There’s a movie in development, according to the author. Currently, they are working on a script and I hope it gets made. If done right, it can be huge and amazing, and possibly rival Harry Potter. Check out his blog https://schoolforgoodandevil.com/somans-blog-first-peek-at-book-5-movie-update-las-vegas-and-more/

There is tons of fun learning (it’s a school setting after all) and students developing their magic, along with trials and ways for them to get better at their crafts. I loved how it ended and wrapped up but I am conflicted on continuing the series (I don’t want to be disappointed if they aren’t as good as the first). However, their ratings are even higher on Goodreads and there is a spin-off trilogy currently in progress. So maybe I will pick it up, I don’t know yet. Either way, I loved it. Go read it, I highly recommend you do!

2019, Books, reading, reviews

Artemis Review

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Published: 2017
Country: USA
Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: Set in the not-too-distant future, Jazz is recruited to plan and carry out an act of sabotage on the Moon city, Artemis. When things don’t go as planned, the heist turns deadly.

What I liked: The idea of living on the Moon is pretty cool. The setup and atmosphere felt plausible and the story was engaging and fast-paced.

What I didn’t like: The main character, Jazz, is a 26 year old smuggler but she reads like a 15 year old wanna-be rebel. While there are some deeper and underlying issues, the author tried too hard to make her relatable and many of the snarky comments were directed at the audience to make us think she is cool. Her sass was annoying and not funny, although I think some of it was supposed to be. It just made her really obnoxious and irritating to me.

I hate to say this because I don’t know if it’s me or on the author, but the way she was written is so obviously done by a man that it was almost too much. I am all for being shameless and admitting faults and being open about sexuality but some of the phrases and scenes were so cringey. I don’t know what the author was trying to do, but his depiction of a young woman was so far off that it really annoyed me. Some of the things she said or thought to herself just appeared as a man trying to think what a woman might say but it just came off as something you’d instead hear in a porno. It was unnecessary and ridiculous.

Many people complained about the book being too science focused and while it was definitely heavy and could get complicated, that didn’t seem to bother me as much. Additionally, the side characters weren’t too bad and added to the story.

I also liked the email exchanges between Jazz and Kelvin because it gave us backstory without having to build it into the story dialogue, which I appreciated. It also brought a little more insight into who Jazz was and how she got to where she is when we first meet her in the beginning of the book.

Verdict: Overall, it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t mind blowing. It could make for a cool movie and I could definitely imagine the scenes as they were happening but the overall character depiction really bothered me. The story would’ve been fine without all the sexually explicit stuff that was so over the top that it just got annoying and eye-roll inducing.

2017, 2018, 2019, Books, Favorites, reading, reviews

Warcross Duology Review

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2017
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Emika Chen, a skilled hacker, accidentally glitches herself into the opening championship of Warcross. Impressed with her skill, the owner of Warcoss, Hideo Tanaka, offers Emika a job to track down a mysterious figure that could jeopardize the entire company.

Title: Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2018
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Taking place right after the end of the Warcross Championship, Emika is embroiled with a secret organization. With a price on her head, she now fights for survival and what she believes in.

Many have compared this to Ready Player One and while it’s similar in the Virtual Reality aspect, I think this is more modern and fun. The NeuroLink technology they use in this book not only allows for VR gaming, it overlays and affects the world outside of the game as well. The characters are fun and Emika isn’t an annoying heroine like your typical YA novel. Of course she’s smitten with Hideo, the young and handsome genius billionaire, but she’s also smart and driven.

Images by https://twitter.com/thenocturnalfey/status/1000032678614192129

Most of the first book takes place in Tokyo and the Warcross Championship world, as we learn about the technology, the game, and the players. Emika is part of the Phoenix Riders and is helping them defend their honor and title.

Team Phoenix Riders by Marie Lu

The second book definitely increases the action level and world as we move beyond the game and more into the underground world of Tokyo and the Dark Net equivalent of Warcross. I found it very entertaining and thought the world was described well. There are cool artifacts and power ups that would make for a cool visual if this was ever adapted to a movie.

While the story was action packed, it also dealt with a lot of great issues like immortality, the limits and breaches of technology and personal ethics. Additionally, there are lots of betrayals, double crossings and action happen and the game scenes become even more intense! Also, there is a corgi, so she automatically won my heart! I love these types of stories and while this is a duology, the ending set the tone for a continuation! Go read it now!!!