Book Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Book Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Published May 2017 by Balzer + Bray|415 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Crown’s Game #2

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/YA Alternate History/YA Historical Fantasy

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

I didn’t like The Crown’s Fate as much as I thought I would.  I wanted to like it more, but I just wasn’t as interested in this story as I was with The Crown’s Game.  I did end up skimming a good portion of it, but at the same time, I was really curious to see how things ended.

I had a harder time getting into this book than I did with The Crown’s Game.  Now that we have an imperial enchanter, I just wasn’t interested in what came after the events of the game.  It has some consequences, and while I did like seeing how Nikolai tried to return to the real world, but I also liked him less in this book.  He wasn’t the Nikolai we knew from the previous book, though I understand why he was much different in this one.

I didn’t really care about Vika or Pasha in this one, and it was a struggle to get through it.  Oddly enough, I initially tried the audio book but switched to print because I couldn’t stand the narration.  So that was out, but I was so determined to see this through, even though it didn’t have the same pull that The Crown’s Game did.

I think I would have been fine not reading it.  I mean, we do see the Imperial Enchanter in action, and it’s this alternate Russia where magic exists, and it’s a cool concept.  But The Crown’s Game worked pretty well as a stand-alone, and while we see more of that world, I don’t know that this book really added anything to it.

It didn’t really have the same direction the first book did, and a lot of the things I loved about the first book were gone in this one.  I just didn’t care about what happened to Russia or the fact that the crown is at stake.  I was just…bored.  While I was initially excited to see how things turned out, by the end, that excitement was long gone.

2 stars.  It was okay, and I think I would have been fine not reading this one.  Everything I liked about the first book wasn’t there, and I just didn’t care about the story as much.

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Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Book: Warcross by Marie Lu

Published September 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|353 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Warcross #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. 

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I really liked Warcross!  I liked Emika, and the world she lived in.

Emika is a great character, and she really is a girl just trying to survive.  It’s obvious Warcross means a lot to her, and it’s a pretty important part of her life.  A glitch really changed everything for her, and as it would turn out, things do not go the way she though they would.

Emika’s world was interesting, she does struggle.  But one of the things that kept me from truly loving Warcross was that the world (and Warcross) wasn’t explained very well.  I wasn’t quite clear what Warcross was or how it was played.  Obviously, it’s virtual reality, but it didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Maybe I wasn’t reading the book well enough, or maybe it didn’t make a lot of sense because I’m not a gamer.  I did like the descriptions when Emika and her team was actually going up against another team, and I thought that was well done.

Maybe I just wish that it translated to the rest of the book.

Worldbuilding aside, I did like Emika’s team as well.  Something about them reminded of the group of people we see in Six Of Crows.  It might be an odd comparison, and I’m not at all sure why these two reminded me of each other, but I’m just going to go with it.  I do wish we knew more about them.  Emika is not at all concerned about what’s going on with them, so because she doesn’t know a lot about them, we don’t know a lot about them.  I wish we did, but hopefully that will change in the next book.

Warcross was entertaining and fun and I feel like I went through it pretty fast.  I did understand some of the motivations behind certain characters, especially Hideo.  And he especially had this really interesting balance of good and bad, so I am curious to see how his story plays out.  Him, more than anyone else.  As interesting as he is, part of me doesn’t like him.

I can’t wait to read the sequel to see where things go!

4 stars.  I really liked Warcross, and I thought Emika and the impact Warcross had on both her and the world was interesting.  It’s entertaining and fun, and an especially great book for people who like video games and technology.  I didn’t love it, but it was still a fun read.

Book Review: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Book: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Published March 2017 by Knopf|297 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

I liked You’re Welcome, Universe!  I didn’t love it, but I did like Julia’s story.  She’s artsy and fun, and she’s pretty into art, especially graffiti art.

There’s very little romance, and even then, it’s two background characters, so it was nice to see a YA contemporary where the main character isn’t actually dating someone.  I’m trying to think of one with no romance, and I can’t think of any off the top of my head, so if it’s not your thing, this would be a good book to check out.  There’s nothing wrong with romance, of course, but it was a nice change from what we usually see.

And I did want to talk about Julia adjusting to a mainstream school.  She was kicked out of the Kingston School For The Deaf, and Julia had a lot of challenges adjusting to school.  It seemed very realistic, but as I’m not deaf, I can’t speak to how accurate or realistic the portrayal is.  Still, I felt like I understood where Julia was coming from, and there were so many things I didn’t think about- like waking up on time for school, or trying to find visual cues for a lot of things, like the bell ringing.  It really is a community of itself, and I think this book provides a much needed representation in the YA community.

I also like the world of graffiti art, and how territorial it is.  I wouldn’t have thought that, but it does make sense.  I did like the artwork throughout the book, and it really brought things to life.  It was nice to actually see the artwork mentioned throughout the book.  Even though it’s described (and some might not like the visuals of something already mentioned), I thought it added a nice touch.

It is a pretty straightforward book, and it’s right to the point.  Which was fine, but I also thought it could have used something a little different.  I get Julia’s anger and frustration at what was going on, but it did seem a little over the top at times.

3 stars.  I liked the story and Julia as a character, but I had a hard time truly connecting with the story.

Book Review: Let It Be Me by Kate Noble And Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase

Book: Let It Be Me by Kate Noble

Published April 2013 by Berkley Sensation|308 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: The Blue Raven #5

Genre: Adult Romance/Historical Romance

London weather is chilly—and the social scene even more so. Luckily, Bridget Forrester is just getting warmed up… Bridget longs to meet a gentleman who doesn’t mention her beautiful sister upon shaking her hand. But since being branded a shrew after a disastrous social season, Bridget knows she’s lucky to even have a man come near her. It’s enough to make a lady flee the country…

So Bridget heads to Venice for music lessons with the renowned Italian composer Vincenzo Carpenini, with whom she’s been corresponding. But not only is Carpenini not expecting her, he doesn’t even remember her! His friend, theater owner Oliver Merrick, does, though. And one look into her tantalizing green eyes has him cursing his impulsive letter-writing, which brought her across the continent. Yet before Merrick can apologize, Carpenini has ordered her away.

Little does either man know that they will soon be embroiled in a wager that will require the beautiful Miss Forrester’s help—or that there’ll be far more at stake in this gamble than money…

I liked Let It Be Me!  It did start off slow, I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first book in the series (which I did read ages and ages ago, though I don’t think there are a lot of connections between the two).

I did like Merrick and Bridget together, though there was a point when I thought that maybe she would end with Carpenini.  I’m not sure why I thought that, since Merrick was why Bridget ended up in Italy in a musical wager in the first place.  And while I liked them together, I didn’t love them together.  Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for romance when I read this book.

It started off slow, but it did pick up when Bridget started her lessons with Carpenini.  I liked that she liked music, and the musical competition was interesting, but it felt like the romance between Bridget and Merrick took a backseat to the musical aspects of the book.  At the same time, I liked that things did move slowly between them (a little bit more than what I would have thought).  But…I also found myself wanting more moments between them.  They felt few and far between in this book.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked Let It Be Me, and I liked Merrick and Bridget together…I just wish their romance was as important as the music.

Book: Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase

Published March 2004 by Berkley Sensation|352 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Carsington Brothers #1

Genre: Adult Romance/Adult Historical Romance

Due to his history of expensive romantic entanglements, Alistair Carsington now has six months to find either a useful occupation or a wealthy heiress to wed. To prove he is not an idle fop only concerned with sartorial pleasures, Alistair agrees to help his old friend, Lord Gordmor, by traveling to the wilds of Derbyshire to convince Gordmor’s neighbors to support the nobleman’s proposal to build a canal.

Upon arriving, Alistair, a famous war hero and eligible bachelor, finds everyone couldn’t be nicer, everyone except for respectable, practical, spinsterish Mirabel Oldridge. The last thing Mirabel wants is for her tranquil little corner of England to be destroyed by a noisy, nasty canal, and she is prepared to use every weapon at her disposal–including her disheveled coiffure and unstylish wardrobe–to stop Alistair.

I’ve read a few of Loretta Chase’s books, and really liked them, so I figured I’d read this one.  It has been sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time, and it seemed like it was a good time to actually read it.

Maybe I wasn’t in the best mood for romance, because this one was just okay.  I felt like there was some chemistry between Mirabel and Alistair, but not enough to care or feel fully invested in their relationship.  They are definitely at odds in Miss Wonderful, but that clearly isn’t a barrier for them.  They managed to work it out, but like I said, I had a hard time with completely caring about their romance.

Maybe it’s because I felt like the book was more about them fighting over the canal, and how he wants it built, while Mirabel doesn’t.  I get why, for both of them, but I feel like it was more about their own histories then them.  I did like Mirabel, though, and Alistair was just okay.

I did like that Mirabel was 31- for some reason, that seems old in the world of romance.  It’s not (because then I’d be old, and I don’t feel old at all), but it worked really well, and she and Alistair, because of their different life experiences, do match up well.  They seem to be on pretty even footing, which was nice to see, because that doesn’t always seem to be the case.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s not my favorite Loretta Chase book, and I had a hard time getting into it, but it wasn’t horrible.

Book Review: Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Book: Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Published March 2018 by Little Brown Books For Young Readers|304 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.

The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

I liked Tyler Johnson was here.  I’ve picked up a few books about teens dealing with police brutality, and I think this one is one to read.

I loved Marvin, and you really felt what he was going through.  I’m an only child, so I can’t imagine losing a sibling, much less a sibling who’s my twin.  I liked seeing how much he grow over the course of the book, and how important it was for him to speak up about what was going and what had happened.

I didn’t care for the romance we see in the book- it was unexpected, and while it didn’t take away from everything we see in the book, I also would have been fine without it.  Maybe it’s there to show that love can be found in unexpected places, or for some other reason.  Whatever that reason is, it didn’t work for me.  Still, I’m glad he seemed to find some sort of happiness after everything that happened.

The one thing that stood out to me was how there didn’t seem to be a big search party for Tyler when he went missing.  Something that did come up was race and how it plays into missing kids and media attention, and it’s sad that no one seemed to care about Tyler until he was found dead.

I felt devastated for Marvin and his friends, and the everyday racism they face.  I will never know what it’s like to almost be shot for potential shoplifting, and the assumptions made because of his race makes me horrified that people have to deal with this on an everyday basis.

There is a lot of hope in Tyler Johnson Was Here, and I like that there’s hope.  Hope that they’ll find Tyler, hope that Tyler gets Justice, and that hope that things will get better for Marvin.  I hate that he lost his brother, but I love that Marvin finally realized what he wanted to, and why he did some of the things he did.

4 stars.  I know there are a lot of books out there about police brutality, but this is one to pick up.

Book Review: Stepping On Roses, Volume 1 by Rinko Ueda

Book: Stepping On Roses by Rinko Ueda

Published April 2010 by Viz Media|200 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Stepping On Roses #1

Genre: Manga

A rags-to-riches romance from the creator of Tail of the Moon! Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi’s financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition–he’ll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi pull off fooling high society into thinking she’s a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth it to give everything up for this sham of a marriage?

This is another book I’ve had on my bookshelf for a while, but never read until now.  I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, and I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series.

The story itself is interesting, and it’s your typical rags-to-riches story.  Sumi is trying to keep her family together, and she wants stability, obviously, but how it happens is…different.  I didn’t particularly care for Soichiro, and he’s a horrible person, in my opinion.  I thought he was horrible to Sumi, and things are bad enough at home that she’ll get married if she has to.

It is a different take on romance, especially with the few romances I’ve seen in manga.  There’s possibly a love triangle though not really.  She seems to be interested in someone other than her husband, who she’s not supposed to fall in love with.  It’s more business arrangement than anything else, and you see how people treat her because of the poverty she lives in because of her brother.

It’s just…the romance didn’t work at all, and I have the feeling that they’ll end up falling in love.  That, or things will end terribly.  I’m just not interested enough in the story to find out.  It was a quick read, but it’s manga, so that’s not surprising.  I did like the illustrations, though, and I thought the story came across pretty well with the artwork.  I did like the historical details included, and it makes it clear that it’s not necessarily happening in present time, which I did think at first.  There is an emphasis on class and social structure, and I though Ueda did a great job at showing that.

2 stars.  I’ve read some manga, but this wasn’t one of my favorites.  It just wasn’t for me, though it might be a better fit for someone else.

Book Review: Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody

Book: Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody

Published July 2017 by Harlequin Teen|384 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

This is a book I’ve had for ages, but it was something I hadn’t read…until it was selected for the #MGYABC.  I really wish I liked it more, because the cover is really pretty (and that shade of purple is amazing), and it’s a cool idea.

I don’t know that a stand-alone was the best fit for this world.  I thought the world-building was really confusing, and most of the time, I wasn’t sure if Gomorrah was a festival or a city or both.  Maybe I missed that part, and maybe it’s both, but I thought it wasn’t clear what Gomorrah actually was.  Also, we barely see the festival itself, other than Sorina’s illusions, and I honestly thought that we’d see more of the festival.

Honestly, this book was more murder mystery than fantasy, and I felt like it could have happened anywhere.  Other than the illusions, there really weren’t a lot of fantasy elements, and I was disappointed by that because for whatever reason, I thought it would be more of a fantasy.  I thought that the person behind the murders was pretty obvious, and I figured it out pretty early on, so that’s something to keep in mind.

I also felt like a lot of names were thrown at me.  I mean, Sorina has a lot of illusions, and I sort of liked that they were her family,  but it was hard to keep up with who was who.  What was interesting and cool and really different was that we get drawings and a description of each one throughout the book.  It didn’t really help me keep track of everyone, but it was an interesting way to go about it.

I did think it was a little sad that she’d rather be around her illusions than real people.  They get better treatment than a lot of the actual people in the book, now that I think about it.  I’m not sure what to make of it, but people clearly don’t think much of the people of Gomorrah.  There also seems to be a distinction between those who live Up Mountain and Downghill.

I had such a hard time picturing everything.  I had no idea where things were, especially in relation to each other, and I felt like we were at place after place, but for me, there wasn’t enough to distinguish each place from each other.  There were parts where I was skimming because the book was either painfully slow or painfully boring, so that’s something I could have missed as well.

And then there’s the festival itself.  Okay, Sodom and Gomorrah is one of two things I thought of when I saw Gomorrah (Gamora being the other, though that’s probably because I saw Infinity War while I was reading this book).  And that definitely brings a certain image to mind, but I didn’t expect to see much of the biblical Gomorrah, since this is YA.  But while there are mentions of sins and a woman-turned-pillar-of-salt and the history of Gomorrah, it’s not really explored in-depth, and I wish we got more of the Festival.  I was picturing something like the Night Circus or Caraval, but like I said, this book was more murder mystery with some magic than a festival in a fantasy setting.

I don’t think being a stand-alone worked in it’s favor.  I felt like it was too short page-wise to fully get immersed in this world, and I feel like this book being a stand-alone hurt it because we weren’t able to get more of the world Sorina lives in.

1 star.  I thought the world was really confusing and not explained very well.  The concept is cool, but I don’t think it was well-done.

Book Review: Mambo In Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Book: Mambo In Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Published July 2015 by Riverhead Books|448 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

From the bestselling author of Girl in Translation, an inspiring novel about a young woman torn between her family duties in Chinatown and her escape into a more Western world.

Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong grew up in New York’s Chinatown, the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker. Though an ABC (American-born Chinese), Charlie’s entire life has been limited to this small area. Now grown, she lives in the same tiny apartment with her widower father and her eleven-year-old sister, and works—miserably—as a dishwasher.

But when she lands a job as a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio, Charlie gains access to a world she hardly knew existed, and everything she once took to be certain turns upside down. Gradually, at the dance studio, awkward Charlie’s natural talents begin to emerge. With them, her perspective, expectations, and sense of self are transformed—something she must take great pains to hide from her father and his suspicion of all things Western. As Charlie blossoms, though, her sister becomes chronically ill. As Pa insists on treating his ailing child exclusively with Eastern practices to no avail, Charlie is forced to try to reconcile her two selves and her two worlds—Eastern and Western, old world and new—to rescue her little sister without sacrificing her newfound confidence and identity.

After reading Girl In Translation, I knew I had to read Mambo In Chinatown.  While I didn’t love Mambo In Chinatown, I still really liked it, and I liked it a lot more than Girl In Translation.

One thing I noticed while reading this book is that something about it rings true.  It seems like Kwok draws on her own experiences as an immigrant when she writing, and it shows, because something about Mambo In Chinatown felt really personal.  Also, I think Kimberly from Girl In Translation makes an appearance in this book…at least, it seems like her, and it would be really cool if it were.

I did like Charlie.  She’s doing everything she can to help out her father and her sister, and you see how she struggles with reconciling two different worlds.  I was surprised with what happens with her sister, and I hope she gets the help she needs.  I respect that their dad is doing what he thinks is best for them, but it ended up doing more harm then good, it would seem.

And Charlie did have a lot on her plate- for some reason, I initially thought she was younger than she was, but it’s clear she cares about her sister and that she’s doing her best to help out.  I love that she ends up learning how to dance, and considering her mom was a ballerina, I thought there would be more connections to that.  Still, I’m glad it worked out for her, and while her dad wasn’t happy about it, it seems like he comes around, which is good.

Speaking of her dad, he does do his best in raising Charlie and her sister, but a lot of work still falls to Charlie.  I’m glad she finally said something about it to him, because we do see some changes in him after that.  I did hate that he didn’t want to give Western Medicine a try.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the medical issues his wife had, or if he just didn’t believe in it, but it was frustrating, even if I could understand it.  He went through quite the change, and it happened pretty fast, so that was a little odd, but at least he’s trying.

Charlie was easy to relate to- she’s imperfect and clumsy and she just wants a better life.  I really liked her, and I thought she became a lot more confident by the end of the book.  I’m glad things worked out for her, and that she has great friends and family.

4 stars.  I really liked Mambo In Chinatown, and seeing how much Charlie changed by the end of the book.

Book Review: Restore Me By Tahereh Mafi

Book: Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

Published March 2018 by HarperCollins|448 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Shatter Me #4

Genre: YA Dystopia

Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

When I heard that there was going to be another book in the series, I was excited.  Nervous, but excited.  I mean, I really like the series, and I’m glad that we’re getting more books.  But I was also unsure, because where was this new set of books headed?  Would they add to Juliette’s story and world, or would they take away from it?

I am glad to say that this book has added to the series and to Juliette’s world.  I do wish I had re-read the first three books, because it’s been several years since I read the series, and I was a little bit fuzzy on what happened.  Restore Me does reference the previous books, of course, but it took me some time to get back into this world and get to know the characters again.

I liked seeing what happened after the events of Ignite Me, and there is so much more to this world than I thought. Restore Me makes me want to re-read the series just to see if I can figure certain things out.  We get so many different revelations in this book, and part of me wants to see if they’re hinted at in the previous books.

I also liked the excerpts from Juliette’s journals from when she was in the asylum.  For me, they were reminders of what she’s been through, and how much she’s changed.  By the end of the book, she’s such a different character than she is at the beginning.  Plus, we do get some very interesting placements of words and sentences and I liked it.  It made me think of the previous books, though not to the degree we saw before.

I went through this book so fast, because I just needed to know what happened.  Especially with how the book ended.  I have so many questions about Juliette’s family and I especially want to know more about what Castle knew. Something about him seemed so strange and off, and it makes me wonder what he’s really up to.  There are some things that are not adding up- with both Castle, and Warner (plus a few of the other characters), and I’m hoping we get some answers.  I’m not convinced everything will be answered to my satisfaction, but I’m hoping some of my questions will be answered somehow.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like a lot more books have had multiple narrators.  It worked really well in this book, because there is such a difference between Juliette and Warner.  We see what’s going on with both of them, and we’re getting two very different stories with both Juliette and Warner.  It’s something you’ll have to read, because I don’t want to give anything away.  Restore Me definitely adds to the series, and I can’t wait to read what happens next.

4 stars.  I didn’t love Restore Me, but I can’t wait to read what happens next.

Book Review: Banana: The Fate Of The Fruit That Changed The World by Dan Koeppel

Book: The Fate Of The Fruit That Changed The World by Dan Koeppel

Published December 2008 by Plume|304 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/Food History

In the vein of the bestselling Salt and Cod, a gripping chronicle of the myth, mystery, and uncertain fate of the world’s most popular fruit

In this fascinating and surprising exploration of the banana’s history, cultural significance, and endangered future, award-winning journalist Dan Koeppel gives readers plenty of food for thought. Fast-paced and highly entertaining, Banana takes us from jungle to supermarket, from corporate boardrooms to kitchen tables around the world. We begin in the Garden of Eden—examining scholars’ belief that Eve’s “apple” was actually a banana— and travel to early-twentieth-century Central America, where aptly named “banana republics” rose and fell over the crop, while the companies now known as Chiquita and Dole conquered the marketplace. Koeppel then chronicles the banana’s path to the present, ultimately—and most alarmingly—taking us to banana plantations across the globe that are being destroyed by a fast-moving blight, with no cure in sight—and to the high-tech labs where new bananas are literally being built in test tubes, in a race to save the world’s most beloved fruit.

I thought this was an interesting read.  I didn’t love it, of course, and by the end, I started to lose interest, but there is a lot that I learned about one of my favorite foods.

Like, there’s over 1,000 types of bananas worldwide.  To me, all bananas are the same.  It’s not like, say…apples, where you know there’s a lot of different varieties.  But bananas are pretty consistent, apparently, because they all ripen at around the same the time, no matter what.

What I also didn’t know was that the bananas we eat are basically grown by cloning, and need a lot of human help.  And because bananas are the same, they’re equally susceptible to diseases and stuff.

I could go on and on about the different things I learned about bananas.  It’s something I never really thought about before, and there’s a lot I never realized.  The history and politics behind bananas and how they’re grown and shipped was something I never thought about.  We all know about Dole and Chiquita, but I never realized that they were two different brands of the same type of banana.  It’s something I never really paid attention to before.

Still, it was interesting to read what they did in order to outdo and compete with each other.  Particularly Chiquita (which used to be United Fruit).  What they did in Central America was absolutely horrible.  I won’t go into it, but it sounds like some pretty horrible conditions were there all because of, well, money.

One of the main things we see in the book is the book to save bananas from disease.  There’s a lot of different research going on to save the fruit we all know and love.  It sounds like it’s pretty hard, though, because bananas don’t have seeds, so banana scientists are trying to figure out what to do.

While the book was pretty informative, I did start to lose interest.  The book wasn’t told in a completely linear fashion, and it jumped around a lot.  One minute, you’re reading about banana plantations in the 1950’s, and the next minute, you’re reading about some researcher in the 1930’s.  It was hard to keep up with what was going on because the focus kept jumping around, both in time and with people.  I ended up skimming  some parts about halfway through the book.

I will say that if food history is your thing, this might be worth checking out.  Or if you just want to know more about bananas.

3 stars.  While I learned a lot, it also jumped around a lot, and that made it hard to keep all of the information straight.