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, reviews

2019 Unhaul Challenge – Glass Sword

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: Glass Sword
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Published: 2016
Country: United States
Genre: YA Fantasy/Science Fiction

Synopsis: Mare and Cal meet up with the Scarlet Guard to fight against Maven, but new troubles and betrayals will question all we know.

Oh geez…okay. I am soooo annoyed right now. I don’t know what it is about this book in particular but the writing style has gotten on my last nerve. The choppy sentences, the constant reminders and reminiscing of events that happened in book 1, and the non-plot by page 115 have done me in. Is it me or did this seriously regress from book 1? Were these the same problems as the first and I just didn’t notice because the story was interesting? Does this suffer from middle-book/sequel syndrome? Someone help me out here.

I’ve DNF’ed at page 115. I just really can’t deal with this. I even tried the audio book to see if it would help me get over the choppy sentences but it’s no better and when I heard Farley’s weird British accent and Kilorn’s stupidity/betrayal (again), I almost threw the speaker. This is ridiculous and not worth my time. I feel like the story isn’t moving anywhere. Barely anything has happened, which is crazy to say if you’ve read it and know the first scene in the book! It was explosive and started with a bang…and then it got really slow and boring. Not in the way where I would expect more backstory or scheming, but in the sense that all Mare does is pity herself, tell us how she will act weak to make people think she’s broken yet pretends she’s not just acting, and the constant reminders of backstabbing and deaths from book 1. Honestly….I’ve read book 1 so stop reminding me past page 50. I remember what happened, quit telling me and start moving the story along!

Anyway…this is a huge disappointment because I was psyched when I read Red Queen and enjoyed it (even though I didn’t like it the first time around). So here I will put this down, unless convinced otherwise. My friend Nicole is reading this too (check her Youtube, I’m sure she’ll have some thoughts) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChVCae-LXrII_0qSQ3xNdBw and will tell me what’s happening so I can stop being frustrated. I might check out book 3 if she deems it to my liking (she’s a good judge of my reading after all haha) so standby. Otherwise, this series is getting unhauled pronto!

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, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, reviews

2019 Unhaul Challenge – Legend Trilogy UPDATE

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.

So I’ve read Legend and really enjoyed it. I moved on to read Prodigy and I got really bored. I’ve DNF’d after page 128. Here’s why:

Title: Prodigy
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2013
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: June and Day have fled Los Angeles and are heading east to link up with the Patriots. They are assigned a dangerous mission in order to gain clemency and passage to the Colonies.

The setting is wonderful. I love a good dystopian and in this one we find out more about how America split and became the Republic versus the Colonies. There was a climate disaster, the ice caps melted, half the world went under water and anyone that could emigrated from America. Consequently, America became a totalitarian state of secrecy (think North Korea) and isolated itself from the world. Then a civil war broke out and a war front ran through the middle of the country, dividing it in half. It’s all very interesting and we do get a map this time.

I enjoy these types of science fiction novels. However, this one got really boring. I’m a third through and nothing has happened. We’ve just learned of the plan that June and Day have to carry out and they’ve made their way to accomplish the task. But it’s just very dull and I am not even excited about the plan. I had my friend tell me the ending of this book (she hasn’t read the third yet) and what she told me did not entice me to read the rest of the book or move on to Champion.

While there are a ton of comparisons between Hunger Games and Legend, there are some differences, at least in the first. But I see it moving too close toward HG that I am just not really wanting to continue. So I will leave it at the first one, which was an exciting read. Maybe book 3 is better, y’all can change my mind. However, I don’t feel that I’m missing out and I will be unhauling the series. I definitely want to see this as a movie or show though!

Final verdict: It’s not bad. Marie Lu’s writing is good and flows well, but the story didn’t excite me. The world is interesting and my favorite genre, but I’ve read enough YA dystopians to not feel that I’m missing anything. So, unhaul it is! It’s not you, Prodigy, it’s me.

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!!!

2018, Books, Favorites, reviews

Arc of a Scythe Trilogy Review

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: 2016
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: In a perfect world with no death, some are chosen and trained in the art of taking a life to keep the balance of the world.

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: 2018
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Citra and Rowan come to understand the complexity of this world and have their own ideas on how to fix it.

Book #3: COMING SEPTEMBER 2019

There is a ton of political intrigue, mixed with our own history that make this world really interesting and possible. Many questions on what is ethical, how our society might be if we no longer experienced natural death, and how to navigate a society that has seemingly everything, are explored and analyzed.

In book one, we are introduced to Rowan and Citra, two teenagers chosen to become apprentices to Scythe Faraday, in a futuristic and seemingly Utopian world centuries after our time. Having discovered immortality, death is no longer something to fear in this world. This is where the Scythes come in: they are chosen to glean people to keep the population balances through statistics or past events that would have eliminated people via natural selection. However, some don’t follow this rule.

VERDICT ON BOOK #1: I loved this story. The ideas and historical knowledge that appear and are intertwined within the story give it a rich and totally possibly future we could experience, which I think enhances the story and makes it feel that more involved. We deal with love, friendship, loyalty, pain, immortality, ethics and a society trying to make the best of their situation (as well as some of those who take advantage of said situations). Highly recommend!

In book two, we follow multiple points of view – Scythes Anastasia & Curie, Rowan, the Thunderhead, and Grayson, with an additional few sprinkled throughout. We pick up shortly after the end of book 1 and learn more about the world of the Scythes, the workings and thoughts of the Thunderhead and a lot of conspiracies and troubles that plague our main characters. There are tons of plot twists, surprises, great character development and the cliffhanger was intense!! I want to know what happens next, as I have my theories.

VERDICT ON BOOK #2: While I also loved this one, I felt it was a tad bit long and some of the parts were dragging for me. While I understand the need for world building and learning about all of the characters and their impact on the world, there was a few times I was bored and just wanted the story to move along. But overall, I really enjoyed the story and am looking forward to the next book!

There is no cover for book three yet, but I am looking forward to it!