Source: Library

Guest Review: The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley, Narrated by Jayne Entwistle

Posted February 12, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 18 Comments

Guest Review: The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley, Narrated by Jayne EntwistleThe Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
Length: 9 hours 50 minutes
Series: Flavia de Luce, #2
Published by Random House Audio on March 9, 2010
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 10
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

From Dagger Award–winning and internationally bestselling author Alan Bradley comes this utterly beguiling mystery starring one of fiction’s most remarkable sleuths: Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads.
Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacy are over—and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer has had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets.
Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Brontë sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head? 
From the Hardcover edition.

Another whimsical and captivating entry in the Flavia de Luce series pits eleven year old amateur detective Flavia against a new puzzling murder and a long ago death of a young boy that may have a bearing on the famous puppeteer’s demise.

Flavia is not just precocious, but rather a child protégé when it comes to chemistry, particularly poisons, and puzzling out a mystery. The de Luce household is somewhat ramshackle and eccentric both the estate and the family. It is a pleasure to slip into Flavia’s English countryside and village 1950-era world. She is both a terror and an engaging girl with a mind that observes and analyzes beyond the average adult.

I enjoyed this gently paced historical mystery. The author’s carefully painted historical setting, dialogues, and characters make the book just sparkle. It may have a child detective, but this is very much an adult level series with themes and elements aimed at an adult audience. That said, Flavia is written so that the reader/listener is convinced of her age while also finding her abilities and deductions equally believable. It is fun how one moment she is clever and cunning when on the hunt to solving the mystery and the other she is cat-fighting and pulling pranks on her older obnoxious sisters while avoiding the stern censure of her father. She understands so much about facts, but finds adults act in unfathomable ways at times. I about died laughing when she went to her father’s manservant to explain what was involved in ‘having an affair’ because she deduced he was likely to be her best bet for an answer. Poor old Dogger!

I will say that this book/series are more of an acquired taste in that I don’t think this will have universal appeal. It will depend on if the reader/listener likes a story that takes its time and also has a mischievous eleven year old as the principle character.

Jayne Entwistle continues to deliver a brilliant performance as the narrator. She voices all the characters so well even the added voice of a male German accented voice along with Flavia’s girl exuberance. There is something that she does to make it feel like the right era, too.

All in all, I had a great time and even burst into laughter several times over Flavia’s antics. Dogger the family handyman continues to be a favorite character as he fights his post-war stress demons and takes care of the family and particularly Flavia. I can’t wait for more from this unique historical mystery series that makes me think of Sherlock Holmes mashed with Addams’ Family.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Posted March 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret RogersonAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Series: standalone
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fae
Pages: 300
Format: Kindle Edition, Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher, Library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

A few points about An Enchantment of Raven

  • The writing was gorgeous. The world was beautiful, Margaret Rogerson really has her way with words and she weaves together a stunning, vivid, dynamic world that really makes your imagination come alive.
  • Thought, the world and the writing are beautiful, where the book really hurt was the characters and the weak plot line. The story follows a 17 year old girl named Isobel, a human with painting as her Craft. They live in the world where summer does not seem to go away. The Fair ones hunger for human craft, and Isobel’s paintings are highly coveted. When Isobel gets her first prince – Rook of the Autumn lands – she paints sorrow in his eyes and puts Rook in danger. For Isobel did not know that showing emotion is dangerous and can get him killed.
  • Isobel is 17 years old, Rook is hundreds, if not thousands of years old. There is a bit of instalove between Isobel and Rook. I did not get the romance between the two and was quite frankly a bit confused about it. If Fair Folk are not meant to feel, how does Rook fall in love not once but twice? Also, if Rook is as old as he is and in love with a 17 year old, felt a bit off Isobel had moments of maturity but she also had bouts of juvenile tendencies as well. They have this heated kiss scene at which she comments afterwards that sex really turns people into imbeciles. Which I guess just reminds you that she is a 17 year old girl who just got grabbed by a Fair Folk that is hundreds of years old. I couldn’t get past that, mainly because he was so much more mature and experienced as her that the duo was making my head hurt.
  • There were a few other parts that confused me. The Hemlock plot line just felt kind of underdeveloped. At one point it is said Rook is losing his magic, I did not understand if he was going to recover and get it back and the whole conflict just felt a bit confused and one I found I really did not care for. The Ardan King is somehow poisoning the lands, but I did not understand how or why.
  • Isobel is a special snowflake, only she can save Fair Folk lands with her craft.
  • Overall, the writing was magic, stunning in it. But it faltered in characters, romance and a plot line that just didn’t completely work.

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Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Posted March 15, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain NeuvelWaking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
Series: Themis Files, #2
Published by Random House Audio on April 4th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 9
Format: Audiobook, Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.
Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

I listened to Sleeping Giants last year and absolutely fell in love with not only the audiobook but also the story.

Waking Gods picks back up a few years after the events at the end of Sleeping Giants. Now it seems that Themis isn’t the only robot out there as another Giant robot appears on Earth, than another, than another. Soon Kara, Dr Rose, Vincent and their mysterious friend are out there again trying to figure out why the robots are showing up and are they a danger to Earth.

This was a thrilling ride. I love having all the voice actors and the characters right back telling the story. They do such a great job with the book it is both exciting and an interesting listen. There were a few parts that I found myself reading the actual book for (mostly the scientific parts), but overall the audio is my favorite part.

The story itself is exciting as a reader, I was eager to find out what happens to the characters and what do the giant robots want from the Earth. This definitely had some science fiction elements to it, but it was easy enough to get into the story. Sylvain Neuvel really knows how to bring the characters and their personalities to life through simple character dialog and files. This is not written as a traditional book which I think makes it even more exciting.

I did have some gripes about it

First, I didn’t like the voice of Eva. I get that she is suppose to be 10 year old girl, but she was super whiny and listening to it was a bit grating.

The second gripe might be a spoiler so please read at your own discretion below

View Spoiler »

 

That’s all. I am enjoying this series, it’s really well done and I am looking forward to digging into book three and seeing how it wraps up. That ending definitely threw me in for a loop.

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I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, Charlie Thruston (Narrator)

Posted March 13, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 18 Comments

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, Charlie Thruston (Narrator)I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, Charlie Thruston
Series: Jasper Dent, #1
Published by Audiogo on April 3rd 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
Pages: 9
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?
Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.
In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a pretty likeable teenager, he is both handsome and charming. But Jasper is also the son of a notorious serial killer Billy Dent with his own set of demons that keep him up all night. Billy Dent had the tendency of taking his kid to “work” and with that Jazz has learned how the killers work.

When a body turns up in the small hometown of Lobo’s Nod, Jasper is convinced that it’s a work of a serial killer. With Dear Old Dad still locked up in the penitentiary, it couldn’t possibly be his work of art, but something about the bodies is making Jazz really uncomfortable and familiar.

Now Jazz joins the police in a wild hunt as they try to identify and catch the serial killer before any more bodies pile up, after all, he seems to know how to think like one.

This was such a thrilling ride. Wow! I don’t usually like Young Adult Thrillers, but this one does not read like one. Jasper is flawed, super flawed and is battling a lot in his head and in his dream. He has seen so much bad done by his dad that he actually has to remind himself about humanity. Sometimes, it’s really hard to be in Jasper’s head as he battles with something on a primal level that has been ingrained with him through his Dear Old Dad (as he calls him)

This book wasn’t always an easy listen and made me super uncomfortable at times, but the writing was amazing. The story flowed, the characters were interesting. I especially loved Howie, Jasper’s best friend, he seemed so original and fun. It was creepy to see how some serial killer’s thing, it most definitely left me cringing. The storyline definitely kept me hooked and coming back.

The narrator for the audiobook was Charlie Thruston and he did an amazing job. I loved how he altered his voice for most of the characters and his impression of Billy Dent really hit the spot and made my skin crawl.

Overall, this was a fantastic read with great characters, great narrator, and a storyline that definitely gave me the chills when listened on audio. It really bought the whole experience to a new level.

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Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

Posted March 5, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: The Reader by Traci CheeThe Reader by Traci Chee
Series: Sea of Ink and Gold, #1
Published by Putnam on September 13th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

The Reader follows a girl named Sefia, who lives her life on the run. After she watched her father get murdered, she flees her home with her aunt Nin. Unfortunately, the very people who came for her father have finally caught up with them and now they have aunt Nin. What do they want? The book that Sefia and her aunt Nin are protecting. In this world, reading is unheard of, but not only can Sefia read she also knows how to write. Now she must save her aunt Nin and find out why the people who are hunting her, want the book so badly.

This was… Interesting. I am struggling with writing this review. I loved the writing, I thought the author’s writing was really beautiful and you could just picture the world so vividly with her descriptions, it was a pleasure reading this book as well as experiencing it on audio.

That being said, I found the book to be confusing and a little weird. I wasn’t sure what was going on for half of the book and we get randomly thrown around for a while trying to figure out what is going on because we don’t just follow Sefia, we also follow Reed in real life and his stories, and we also follow a librarian named Lan and how he ties into all of this.

My husband and I did have a discussion about the world in the book being advance, but not knowing how to read or write. We both wondered if such a thing was possible. He seemed to think it was, but not likely. Also, I could not think of recent civilizations in history who did not have record keeping that managed to thrive without having to research a lot of it.

I liked Archer, the boy that Sefia finds on her journey and who then follows her as she tries to find Nan. She saves him from people who raised him basically to be a killing machine. Of course Sefia tells Archer that he never has to fight or kill again, yet there are times that it was almost like she expected that of him without much of an argument.

I never felt like there was a real plan revolving around rescuing Nin. Sefia does not know how to fight and towards the end of the book, they don’t really have a plan when they find themselves in a dangerous situation. No plan, just walk in there and expect everything to work itself out. Maybe they planned on talking themselves out of the situation? I mean, these people killed her father, but Sefia was just like “okay no plan, let’s just waltz in there and see what happens…” umm, okay?

Overall, the writing was beautiful and this had so much potential, but I felt the execution was lost somewhere and the plot at points felt undeveloped. I will finish the series eventually because I do feel invested, but I do not feel in the hurry to do so.

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Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

Posted February 26, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan SpoonerUnearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Unearthed, #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 9th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.
For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.
In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

The Plot

Earth intercepts a message from an ancient Alien race that is supposed to be extinct, about the technology on their planet Gaia and how it can be an earths doom or salvation. I was super excited for this because space, aliens, another planet, sounds fun right? I found myself a bit confused. This book had some science fiction notes to it, but a large part of it felt like it took place on earth. Most of the book follows these two teenagers, each other on Gaia on their own accord to save one of their family members back home. Mia is a scavenger and wants to bring back a power cell in hopes to buy back her sister from a contract she locked herself in. Jules wants to save his father by unlocking the secret behind the second message that they uncovered, warning the earth about possible dangers. They enter a temple and together they must solve puzzles in order to uncover what this alien race is hiding. But everything is set in this rock temple that feels more like they are back on earth than anything. I really LIKED the concept of this book, I thought it had a lot of potential, but the plot in book one felt a little odd until the end. Most of the book we follow these kids solving these puzzles which can feel tedious reading about.

The characters

I had no issues with the characters for the most part. I like Mia and I liked Jules and I liked that the author kept them true to their nature most of the book. Jules is book smart, Mia is street smart. She knows how to lie and deceive in order to stay alive and ends up throwing Jules under the bus several times in hopes of keeping them alive when danger started nipping at their heels. The characters weren’t always likable for me, but I think that’s what drew me to them. They felt human, they both had a bit of a selfish reason to be there and both lied to each other in order to try and benefit themselves. But it was also nice to see them evolve as characters by the end of the book and realize that they are going to have to set their differences aside in order to save humanity.

Romance

The romance was awkward. Did not work for me at all. I would have been fine without it in this book. I don’t generally like relationships that are built on lies and both of these characters lied and deceived each other at the beginning of the book. Also, it was awkward with all the goo goo eyes the two were throwing at each other and felt a bit of instalove for me really.

Pacing

Oh gosh the pacing felt terribly off for most of the book. It was awkwardly slow. I didn’t care to read about the puzzles because I found that I was rereading what they needed to do in order to understand how they were solved. It’s different when you are watching a movie, over your brain trying to scramble to make sense of what is happening. Also, because this was from two POVS, Amelia’s and Jules there was a lot of stuff that kept being super repetitive and I felt like the author kept rehashing things we already knew over and over again, it got boring up until like 70% of the book when it finally started to pick up. I enjoyed the last 70% of the book, the pacing picked up, it got exciting, and I found myself pushing more to finish it.

The ending

I don’t even know where to go with this. It confused me. I can kind of guess what is going on in general, but the big reveal at the end was a bit odd and I am not too entirely sure if I care for it. Remember, I was really looking forward to the whole alien, science fiction part of this book and I am not really getting much from it yet. Hopefully the conclusion will be so much better, because I am looking forward to see how it ends.

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Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted February 9, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Fixer, #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 7th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
Pages: 360
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Rating: 4 Stars

The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.
For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.
Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she's about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.

Gahh this book is hard to review without giving away much of what happens at the end of book one, but I will try.

The Long Game starts shortly after the events following from book one. Tess has found herself trying to navigate her new life after discovering more secrets about not only her family, her grandfather, but also that there might have been a fourth player involved in the murders that have happened.

Now being a fixer runs in her family, and Tess finds herself thrown into that lifestyle at school. When one of her classmates asks Tess to return the favor and help her win the class presidency, the stakes end up higher than Tess is ready for and secrets that should have been buried come falling out.

Terrorist, murders and secrets, this book really takes you onto one wild emotional ride. I found myself on the edge of my seat once again as I sat there wanting to know what will happen to Tess and her classmates. Some revelations have left me a little on a heartbroken side and we got to say goodbye to a few characters from book one.

The ending was great, though the fact that the author is not writing any more books in this series is a little disappointing, because it leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions. I felt bummed when I realized that after the ringer that we were put through we would never know how all of this was going to end, so let this be a warning to those going into the books, because I found myself debating the unfairness in being left the way it was.

Also, I was a little disappointed that despite Tess’ grandfather who raised her being such a major part of her life and book one, it was kind of ignored in book two.

Overall, this was a great series and it showed quite a lot of promise, the fact that it’s run was cut short, I think is quite a bit disappointing, especially when we are left with a lot of unresolved issues that were major in the book. But, despite all this it is well worth the read because in the end, this series was super exciting, fun and interesting. I definitely do not regret reading.

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Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Posted January 27, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on January 2nd 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 370
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Jude was only seven years old when she watched both of her parents get murdered and both she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. After ten years, Jude wants nothing more but to belong in Faerie, despite the fact that she is mortal, but a lot of fey despises humans, especially Judes rival Prince Cardan.

Jude knows what she has to do in hopes of earning her place and respect among the fey and that is to get a place as a knight of the court. But, when Jude is trusted into a civil war that threatens the Courts of Faerie, Jude must risk her life in order to save her family and Faerie from the bloodshed.

This was my first Holly Black book and it did not disappoint. The writing was wonderful and kept me wanting to turn those pages. The world building was rich and dynamic, I really felt like I knew the place with all its beauty as well as cruelty. The character development was gradual and satisfying.

I did like Jude as a character, she was an easy one to follow – very loyal, very smart, and does not allow the fact that she is a mortal in an immortal world to drag her down. Despite being defiant and of course a somewhat of a flawed character, she knows what she needs in order to survive even if at times the chinks in her armor really show.

I didn’t feel like there was a special snowflake alert in this book. Jude uses the help of others around her in order to stay alive and survive as well as fight a battle that seems impossible to win as a mortal. Faerie teaches her how to become cunning, quick and deceitful and it really starts to show as the character is faced head on with some ugly realities of the Courts of Faerie.

I did have an issue with the Judes relationship with Madoc, I found it a bit hard to grasp, especially with what had transpired in the past. It was a bit odd that Madoc’s eldest blood daughter remained defiant with hate for her father, but Jude and her twin sister did not show that what had happened effected them. I don’t find all that believable, even if they both were young – they were seven and it probably should have had some negative effect on them.

Judes relationship with her twin sister Taryn was absolutely frustrating at times and honestly could have killed the book for me if it wasn’t for everything else. It seemed petty, childish and just infuriating. When I found out why the feud between Cardan and Jude started, it was hard not to grit my teeth. I almost gave this 3.5 stars, but the storytelling won me over and pushed it back towards the edge.

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Review: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody

Posted January 8, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review: A Week of Mondays by Jessica BrodyA Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Series: standalone
Published by Straus and Giroux on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 463
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars


When I made the wish, I just wanted a do-over. Another chance to make things right. I never, in a million years, thought it might actually come true...

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball try-outs and her class election speech (note to self: never trust a cheerleader when she swears there are no nuts in her bake-sale banana bread), and to top it all off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!
As far as Mondays go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she’s reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair her relationship, Tristan always seems bent set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?
From the author 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and The Unremembered trilogy comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out what you really want.

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having the worse kind of Monday. She gets a ticket for running a red light, takes a really bad school picture, fails at her softball try-outs and her class election speech, and to top of the day, her boyfriend Tristan dumps her with a lame excuse.

Defeated Ellison thinks she can do better and wishes for a do-over, what she doesn’t expect was to experience the same day over and over again with a chance to make it better for herself.

This was cute and a bit of a reminiscence of groundhog day. I liked the storyline a lot and that the author chose to use that kind of inspiration in a young adult novel not only to grow her character but also to teach a less.

Be yourself and do what makes you happy and hopefully everything falls into place.

Ellison was a bit frustrating at first, but she was a teenage girl who gets dumped by her popular rock star boyfriend and she has no idea why. Suddenly, when presented the chance to fix her day, Ellison seems to think that the only way she can break this cycle is if she can keep Tristian from breaking up with her. While doing that, she forms a rocky relationship with her best friend Owen when she tries to focus so hard on getting what she thinks she wants, versus what she really wants.

I liked that Ellison grew as a character, despite the little flop in the end that made me grate my teeth a little – but I loved the way things turned out and how she used the day not only to better herself but to also help fix her family life and her relationship with Owen.

I loved Owen in this book and wish there would have been more of him, but their relationship just ended up being so cute and heart-melting that it made it a stronger enjoyable part of the book.

Overall, this is a sweet, cute, YA Contemporary that I enjoyed from page one till the end and I am glad it teaches a lesson about discovering who you are and what really makes you happy and not just letting people influence you.

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Review: Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Posted November 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  Night Road by Kristin HannahNight Road by Kristin Hannah
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 22nd 2011
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 385
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices. To hold on…To let go..To forget…To forgive…Which road will you take?
For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows--her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.
Jude does everything to keep her kids safe and on track for college. It has always been easy--until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.
On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.
NIGHT ROAD is vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, identity, love, and forgiveness. It is a luminous, heartbreaking novel that captures both the exquisite pain of loss and the stunning power of hope. This is Kristin Hannah at her very best, telling an unforgettable story about the longing for family, the resilience of the human heart, and the courage it takes to forgive the people we love.

Night Road follows a woman named Jude, who is a mother to two twins Zach and Mia and Lexi a former foster child with a dark past. Lexi quickly befriends Mia and the two become inseparable even when later, Zach and Lexi fall in love.

Jude is helicopter mother. She does everything she can to keep her twins safe and she makes sure that they are both on track for college.

One night when the twins attend a high school party right before their graduation, Zach – who is suppose to be the DD ends up being mad at his mother and drinking, the other two don’t fare much better. When it came down to going home, they had to make a decision between calling their mother, or driving the one mile towards home. Last time the twins got drunk and called for their mother to pick them up, Jude reacted poorly and punished them, despite the fact that they did the right thing.

Well the kids choose to drive and a terrible accident happens, and leaves one of them dead and the events that follow changes everyone’s lives.

This was my first Kristin Hannah book and I honestly have no idea how to feel.

I had a hard time putting it down, it was engrossing, the plot was super interesting, it was emotional. This is one of those books that really takes you for a ride. We get to know Mia, Zach and Lexi as they grow up for the first half of the book and then this terrible tragedy happens and it’s hard to bear, because we actually got to know the kids before this life changing moment. I got to see them as young kids heading towards a future and for some reason books like these can be way harder to read over books that start with the tragedy because of that attachment.

But the problem for me ended up being that after the tragedy that occurs, I found that the emotion that was most prominent was anger. I found myself angry for the rest of the book. Angry about how the scene at the hospital went, angry at Jude, because if she handled the night that the twins actually called her to get picked up better – than maybe the twins wouldn’t have gotten into the car drunk and instead had called their mother. Angry at the way Jude reacted towards Lexi when there was so many factors and people at fault for the accident. I felt like both Jude, Lexi, Zach and Mia were all at fault one way or another here, but the poor girl with the dark background is the one that gets the short end of the stick.

Lexi is unable to take what she had done and ends up pleading guilty and going to prison as MADD was already trying to make an example out of her and Jude had decided to press charges for Vehicular homicide.

But the problem for me ended up being that after the tragedy that occurs, I found that the emotion that was most prominent was anger. I found myself angry for the rest of the book. Angry about how the scene at the hospital went, angry at Jude, because if she handled the night that the twins actually called her to get picked up better – than maybe the twins wouldn’t have gotten into the car drunk and instead had called their mother. Angry at the way Jude reacted towards Lexi when there was so many factors and people at fault for the accident. I felt like both Jude, Lexi, Zach and Mia were all at fault one way or another here, but the poor girl with the dark background is the one that gets the short end of the stick.

Lexi is unable to take what she had done and ends up pleading guilty and going to prison as MADD was already trying to make an example out of her and Jude had decided to press charges for Vehicular homicide.

I was discussing it with my husband and he asked me, so what is it you don’t like about this book, the fact that it’s realistic? No that is not it, I do believe it is realistic. I think Jude’s reaction is realistic for a mother that lost her child, but at the same time, it felt overwhelming for me. I spend a lot of the book being angry, and the book was a bit on the long side, so I spent a lot of time just trying to get through it. It just felt so emotionally draining that at times I just had a hard time with the book.

It feels like one of those books where the author chooses one character who already has a short end of the stick and keeps throwing punches at that character through the book, to me that is just seriously exhausting. Thought the book was well written and the story was interesting and compelling, I felt like it was also a little too long and it just felt like a little too much? Maybe I would have felt differently if Lexi wasn’t the one who kept taking those punches?

I just had a hard time with Jude at the end, her anger blended with my anger, but I felt like it was all just so unfair. Plus, I did find that Zach’s lack of involvement not very realistic. That night was honestly in part his fault, now Lexi was taking responsibility and he couldn’t even stand up for the girl he loved? He was 18 years old, he should have had a voice.

Overall, I still don’t know how to feel. It’s well done, it really draws some sort of emotion out of you. It’s suppose to be a tearjerker, but at no point in the book did I found myself able to feel that way when it was overtaken by strong anger. I was sad for what happened, it was absolutely heartbreaking and I don’t even want to imagine how that sort of thing feels, I don’t even want to know. I do believe that Jude’s emotion and the lashing out is probably true to form, but she let her grief rule her for so long, that I was honestly surprised her husband continued to stay in that relationship. She also seemed to have forgotten that she still had Zach and he needed a mother, but for years, she couldn’t even do that despite that her whole life was centered on being a mother.

But, the book did its job. It caused a real and a raw emotion and I think it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t tears, the author was able to write a novel that I felt strongly about and I applaud her for it. The writing is emotionally driven, the storytelling was well done and I really enjoyed it. As a mother this kind of a thing is terrifying and it wasn’t an easy read, but it was well worth it.

Rating Report
Plot
4.5 Stars
Characters
3.5 Stars
Writing
4.5 Stars
Pacing
3.5 Stars
Cover
4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars

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