While I don’t typically rate books on the blog, I will mention if I enjoyed or disliked something and why. On Goodreads, I provide ratings for anything I read, unless it’s a DNF (I don’t think it’s fair to rate something I didn’t complete). But how do I get to these ratings and what are some examples for each?
In this video I discuss these things and hopefully you find it useful in determining if you’d follow my recommendations, or if it explains why we may disagree on something and why.
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.
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!