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!
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!
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
Author: Stephanie Garber Title: Caraval Published: 2017 Country: USA Genre: YA Fantasy
Synopsis: Scarlett and her sister Tella are invited to the mysterious Caraval. When Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s leader, Legend, Scarlett soon finds out that Caraval might be more than just a game.
Author: Stephanie Garber Title: Legendary Published: 2018 Country: USA Genre: YA Fantasy
Synopsis: This time, Tella becomes ensnared in Caraval, making a deal with the evil Prince of Hearts. In order to fulfill her bargain, she must learn Legend’s true identity.
Author: Stephanie Garber Title: Finale Published: COMING MAY 2019 Country: USA Genre: YA Fantasy
Synopsis: Even though Caraval is over, the game isn’t. Scarlett and Tella must both achieve their goals to save the empire, and their mother.
My thoughts on Caraval: I really enjoyed this book! When it first came out I thought it would only be another Hunger Games knock-off but I was surprised at how much I got into the story and how I wanted Scarlett to solve Caraval and win the game! The characters really developed throughout the whole book and there was plenty of suspense that kept me wondering what will happen next, who is Legend, and what the ending will be!
My thoughts on Legendary: What a disappointment. I hated Tella’s perspective – mainly because she is as annoying in this book as she was in the first one and Scarlett plays only a small part. Additionally, the metaphors were insane in here and way over the top. I get that everything is supposed to be magical and flowery but I was so distracted from the story because of it that I didn’t even finish the book before a month-long trip.
I did like Jacks and his cunning ways and was also a fan of Dante in this one. The story was interesting but I had my issues with it – mainly how dumb Tella is and all the stupid choices she made. Sadly, Scarlett appeared no better in the few scenes we saw her in. However, I did love the reveal of Legend and how it set up for Finale.
My hopes for Finale: Since this is from both Tella and Scarlett’s perspective, it might be ok. I am really hoping the language is changed and the metaphors aren’t as silly and exhausting as in book 2. I wasn’t bothered by it in book 1, so maybe I noticed it more because the story was dumb.
Title: The Diabolic Author: S. J. Kincaid Published: 2016 Country: USA Genre: YA Science Fiction
Synopsis: Nemesis, a Diabolic, is created to protect Sidonia, a politicians’ daughter. When the Emperor summons Sidonia, Nemesis goes in her place to protect her from their family’s enemies.
Title: The Empress Author: S. J. Kincaid Published: 2017 Country: USA Genre: YA Science Fiction
Synopsis: With a new EMperor on the throne, a new person for Nemesis to protect, and a challenge to the status quo of Diabolic rights, Nemesis’s saga continues.
Book #3: TBD, possibly Summer 2019
My thoughts on Book #1: I really enjoyed this book! We follow the story of Nemesis, a Diabolic. A humanoid engineered for companionship and protection, she has to learn how to be human and all of the struggles that come with it. There is love, despair, anger, betrayal and forgiveness – all emotions that teach her that there is so much more than simply what she was created for. I really enjoyed the perspective from Nemesis and her struggle with finding herself and her loyalties.
I buddy read this with a group of gals and we had some awesome discussions, thoughts and predictions, some of which came true, while others didn’t. Kincaid developed a rich, futuristic universe that didn’t seem totally unbelievable but still had enough fiction to really engage the creative senses. I definitely got a Star Wars meets The Selection vibe and thoroughly enjoyed reading the story.
My thoughts on Book #2: What a change in enjoyment from the first book. This was such a boring book. I LOVED The Diabolic and Nemesis but in this one, she just spent half the book being selfish and short sighted. I still don’t care for Tyrus and my suspicions from book 1 were confirmed! Ha. But oh man, this just didn’t do it for me.
After the events of The Diabolic, Tyrus and Nemesis aren’t the most popular in the galaxy. So they take on a journey to try and change some rules, politics and minds on their way.
It literally was dragging until almost page 100 when it finally got interesting. Then it was boring again until about 75% of the way through. The ending was pretty intense and set up for the third (when do we get it 😦 !!!!) but I don’t think I will be pre-ordering or jumping on the third book right away. Which is a bummer, because the first was so good!
Title: Midnight at the Electric Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson Published: 2017 Genre: YA Historical Fiction Country: US
This book is a multi-perspective with three story lines: Kansas, 2065; Oklahoma, 1934; and England, 1919.
We primarily follow Adri, a young woman in 2065 who is preparing to go to Mars as part of the first wave of colonist. She leaves Miami for Canaan, Kansas to stay with an aunt on her farm that she’s never met and prepares for her journey. She finds a journal from someone named Catherine that lived at the farm in 1934 during the Dust Bowl. She also finds letters from someone named Lenore, dated 1919 and addressed to the farm. As she deals with her final weeks on Earth, she and her Aunt Lily are determined to find out who these people were and piece together their life story.
This was a nice story but nothing mind blowing. Adri is arrogant and unpleasant while Lily is eccentric and very friendly but they get along pretty well. I really liked the idea of the three story lines and how they tied in together though. It was interesting to see them span several generations and coming full circle at the end.
I will say though, the title of the book doesn’t make sense to me since The Electric, part of a traveling carnival that Catherine visits in 1934, is only mentioned in her journal and so i don’t really understand what the point of it was, other than the shattered hope it gave Catherine. Maybe it had to do with the end of her final journal entry? I have no idea but if you think this is about a carnival, it’s not. Which is fine, just had me confused throughout the whole book as I was trying to figure out the point.
Author: John Green Title: Turtles All the Way Down Published: 2017 Country: USA Genre: YA Contemporary
Synopsis: Aza, a teenager with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and her friend Daisy, are intent on solving the case for the mysteriously disappeared billionaire, and collect the $100,000 reward. It gets complicated when Davis, the billionaire’s son, and Aza, become romantically involved.
I wasn’t sure if I would like this book to begin with, but then again, I loved The Fault in Our Stars and decided to give it a shot – I am so glad that I did! Aza is a deeply troubled and distraught character but that’s what makes her real. She has real problems and real concerns that arise from every day situations that life throws at her, and her struggle to survive with OCD is as much part of the story as the actual story of finding the missing father. Inspired by John Green’s own OCD experience, it felt very genuine and made the story believable.
I was sucked into the book and spit back out a mess. I felt for Aza – I don’t have OCD but my anxiety made me feel for her. It wasn’t an easy story to read and had some very out of control parts. I felt for her friends Daisy and Davis; I felt for her mom and her counselor who want to help her; and I felt for John Green as he poured so much of his own demons into this book.
If you want something different, something not entirely happy or sad, then pick this one up. But prepare yourself for the feels and then go read The Fault in Our Stars for some more emotional torture!