Book Review: Buried Heart by Kate Elliott

Book: Buried Heart by Kate Elliott

Published July 2017 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|465 pages

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

Series: Court Of Fives #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

 The explosive finale to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s captivating, New York Times bestselling young adult series

In this third book in the epic Court of Fives series, Jessamy is the crux of a revolution forged by the Commoner class hoping to overthrow their longtime Patron overlords. But enemies from foreign lands have attacked the kingdom, and Jes must find a way to unite the Commoners and Patrons to defend their home and all the people she loves. Will her status as a prominent champion athlete be enough to bring together those who have despised one another since long before her birth? Will she be able to keep her family out of the clutches of the evil Lord Gargaron? And will her relationship with Prince Kalliarkos remain strong when they find themselves on opposite sides of a war? Find all the answers in this beautifully written and exciting conclusion to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s debut New York Times bestselling young adult trilogy!

I’ve really enjoyed this series but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the previous two.  I had a harder time getting into this book, and it seemed a lot more complicated than the previous books.  I did struggle to keep up with the characters, and what was going on, particularly with Prince Kalliarkos and his family.

I don’t think I read it at the best time, and maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a fantasy.  Still, I did really like it, and it was a pretty good ending to the series.

In particular, I really liked seeing how Jess dealt with both her Efean heritage and her Saroese heritage.  She didn’t really belong to either world, and it felt like she was very much torn between both.  You see what a balancing act it is for her, and how she ended up being part of the revolution.

I really felt for the Efean people, and the anger they felt at their land and their way of life being overtaken.  While it will take a long time for the dust to settle, things felt really hopeful, and I liked that there was hope that things would get better.

However, it felt like there were endless discussions about the revolution, and not a lot of action.  It made the book seem really slow, and there wasn’t enough conflict or struggle in this book to keep me really interested in what happened next.  It felt like this book lost the momentum that the previous books had built up.

I also wanted more magic, like the sparks we see in Court Of Fives.  Even though it’s fantasy, there weren’t a lot of fantasy elements.  The very few that we do see aren’t explored the way I thought they would be.

I was never a fan of the romance between Jes and Kalliarkos, and I thought their relationship ended with a whimper.  It seemed so strong in the first book, but by the end of Buried Heart, I found I didn’t really care.  He was put in a hard position and Jes also had some things she really needed to work out, but I would have been fine without it in this book.  It was also strange, because it seemed liked she wanted to be with Kalliarkos, and yet…it seemed like Ro was an option for her.  It felt very sudden, and almost like she settled for him because Kalliarkos wasn’t around a lot.  Maybe I’m misreading things, but that’s how it seemed to me.

4 stars.  I didn’t love Buried Heart, and it is my least favorite book in the series.  It is a pretty solid ending to the series, even if I would have liked a few things to be different.

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Book Review: Braced by Alyson Gerber

Book: Braced by Alyson Gerber

Published March 2017 by Arthur A Levine Books|309 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Rachel Brooks is excited for the new school year. She’s finally earned a place as a forward on her soccer team. Her best friends make everything fun. And she really likes Tate, and she’s pretty sure he likes her back. After one last appointment with her scoliosis doctor, this will be her best year yet.

Then the doctor delivers some terrible news: The sideways curve in Rachel’s spine has gotten worse, and she needs to wear a back brace twenty-three hours a day. The brace wraps her in hard plastic from shoulder blades to hips. It changes how her clothes fit, how she kicks a ball, and how everyone sees her–even her friends and Tate. But as Rachel confronts all the challenges the brace presents, the biggest change of all may lie in how she sees herself. 

Written by a debut author who wore a brace of her own, Braced is the inspiring, heartfelt story of a girl learning to manage the many curves life throws her way.

I have mixed feelings about this book!  This is a book about a girl with scoliosis, and it’s not something that comes up a lot in books.

I did like that we see how much it changed her life, and how she had to adjust to pretty much everything because she wore a brace.  The author herself wore a brace for scoliosis, and that really came through when you’re reading it, because there was something very real about Rachel’s experience.  I could picture everything so clearly, particularly her resistance to wearing the brace but also her acceptance of it.  She learned to stand up for herself, and to tell her parents- especially her mother- how she felt.

I certainly don’t blame Rachel for not wanting to wear the brace at first, but she does realize how important it is over time.  One of her friends really didn’t get why she had to wear it, and I wasn’t a big fan of that particular friend.  She seemed to drop both Rachel and their other friend once they all went to middle school, but at least that other friend was really supportive and understanding.  And it was great that the one friend would help her practice soccer.  Rachel was so determined to make it work, and I loved her dedication to soccer.

As much as I loved seeing how Rachel dealt with her scoliosis, there were a few things I didn’t like.  Her mom was one of them.  I know Rachel’s mom had scoliosis as well, and it seemed like her mom’s scoliosis was a lot more severe than Rachel’s was.  But I got really irritated with all of the stuff about how lucky Rachel is that all she has to do is wear a brace, and how much easier Rachel has it because she doesn’t need surgery.  But it didn’t seem to help Rachel, and it really seemed like her mom’s behavior made Rachel want to do the complete opposite.  I’m glad Rachel talked to her mom, and that they worked things out, but seeing her mom constantly talk about how lucky Rachel was did get frustrating.

I’m glad the book was very much about Rachel in middle school, and that scoliosis was a big part of her life (but not her whole life), I still wanted more about her scoliosis.  It seemed like a pretty short amount of time to have to wear a back brace, and for some reason, I had pictured her treatment as being longer.

I was surprised by some of the romantic relationships in the book- I would get having a crush, but it seems like dating was somewhat common.  I certainly wasn’t thinking about dating anyone in middle school (or high school), but is that a thing now?  I honestly have no idea, but it did surprise me, and there are a couple of things that come up that really should push this book into YA, and not middle grade.  But overall, it’s more middle grade than YA.

2 stars.  Braced was an okay read.  I wanted more with her scoliosis, but at the same time, I’m glad that it’s only a part of her life, and not her entire life.

Book Review: Enter Title Here by Rahal Kanakia

Book: Enter Title Here by Rahal Kanakia

Published August 2016 by Disney Hyperion|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

I’m your protagonist-Reshma Kapoor-and if you have the free time to read this book, then you’re probably nothing like me.

Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.

What’s a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent’s help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford.

But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she’s already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success-a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.

Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)

In this wholly unique, wickedly funny debut novel, Rahul Kanakia consciously uses the rules of storytelling-and then breaks them to pieces.

When I first heard about this book, I was pretty intrigued.  I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, and while it is a cool idea, it didn’t work for me.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it does feel like Reshma’s story isn’t a new one.  It definitely falls into the “I must do all of the things I never did before in order to truly live” trope.  Which is fine, but it really didn’t work for me, and it felt really fake.  I mean, I know Reshma is doing it so she can have an easier time writing a book people will want to read, and maybe Reshma herself is why it didn’t work for me.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Reshma, and I feel like a lot of people would see her as unlikeable.  She is ambitious, and will do anything to get into college.  I was really surprised by the lengths she went to in order to get into college, and I kind of wish the book had gone more into that.  What she did isn’t okay, and she really is ruthless and cruel.  There is no redemptive arc for Reshma, and even at the end of the book, she still believes she did the right thing.

I do wonder if her parents business deal played a part in why she did what she did.  Maybe she didn’t want what happened to their business happen to her, and I get that.  But it doesn’t change the fact that she is cold and willing to do to others what someone did to her parents.  She didn’t learn from that at all, and I felt like, even though there were some very real consequences for her actions, she was still determined to lie, cheat and sue in order to get her way.

And as terrible as Reshma was, I kind of liked that she didn’t really learn her lesson or change because of what she did.  Would it have been easy for her to change and learn something?  Of course, but I feel like that would be the predictable thing.  Her not changing was a little bit refreshing, and sometimes, we don’t learn or change, even though we should.

2 stars.  I didn’t like Enter Title Here as much as I thought, and it fell flat.  I didn’t mind Reshma’s ruthlessness, though I think she went overboard in what she did in order to get into college.

Book: Into The Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Book: Into The Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Published October 2017 by Greenwillow Books|343 pages

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

Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #3

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

The stunning conclusion to Rae Carson’s New York Times–bestselling Gold Seer trilogy, which Publishers Weekly in a starred review called “Simply terrific.” A historical fantasy brimming with magic, romance, and adventure—perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Sarah Maas, and Westworld.

Leah Westfall, her fiancé Jefferson, and her friends have become rich in the California Territory, thanks to Lee’s magical ability to sense precious gold. But their fortune has made them a target, and when a dangerous billionaire sets out to destroy them, Lee and her friends decide they’ve had enough—they will fight back with all their power and talents. Lee’s magic is continuing to strengthen and grow, but someone is on to her—someone who might have a bit of magic herself. The stakes are higher than ever as Lee and her friends hatch a daring scheme that could alter the California landscape forever. With a distinctive young heroine and a unique interpretation of American history, Into the Bright Unknown strikes a rich vein of romance, magic, and adventure, bringing the Gold Seer Trilogy to its epic conclusion.

I’ve really liked this series, and I thought this last book was a pretty good ending to a pretty interesting series.

What I liked the most was seeing how much Lee’s ability changed, and how she became more okay with using it.  I also liked seeing her discover how to develop her ability, and how there are other people with abilities out there.  I really wish we saw more of that, because I was surprised that other people had their own special abilities.  I know the series is focused on Lee and what she can do but I still wish we saw more of what other people could do.

It’s weird, though, I don’t really see it as a historical fantasy series.  I mean, even though there’s Lee, who can sense gold, it still wasn’t enough to make it a fantasy.  At least for me.  It was a lot more historical that fantasy, and there was enough going on that wasn’t related to Lee’s ability that I don’t really see it as a fantasy.

We don’t see any more of Lee’s uncle, and I am curious about what trouble he’s up to.  Instead, we see a lot more of the guy that her uncle was working for/owed money to.  I wondered if we’d see him again, and what role he would play in this book.  He is not a good guy, let’s just say that.

Lee and her friends really do go through a lot.  I’m glad things worked out for Mrs. Joyner and getting her things, but of course, there are some bumps along the way.  It really was sad she couldn’t sign for her things, and that she had to rely on her father-in-law to come sign it for everything.  I really felt for her and Lee (plus all of the other woman like them), who did everything they could to survive, but still couldn’t get everything they wanted because they were women.  Hopefully things got better for them, and that things calmed down for all of them after the end of the book.

I’m still not a fan of the romance between Lee and Jefferson.  Even though it’s been a minimal part of the series, and very much relegated to the background, I could have done without it completely.  It felt like they had no chemistry whatsoever, and it really did feel like they were together because they didn’t have anyone else.  To be honest, I thought she had more chemistry with the college students than she did with Jefferson.  Lee seemed happy with Jefferson, though, and that’s important, even though I wasn’t thrilled with their relationship.

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, and it was a little predictable at times, but I still really enjoyed it.

Book Review: Ash And Quill by Rachel Caine

Book: Ash And Quill by Rachel Caine

Published July 2017 by Berkley|368 pages

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

Series: The Great Library #3

Genre: YA Steampunk/Alternate History

 Words can kill.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…

I really liked Ash And Quill!  This has been a really cool series to read, and it really is amazing what the Library will do to keep their power.  For some reason, I’m reminded of the Catholic Church and how huge it is- the Great Library feels like the library version of the Catholic church.  I’m not sure if anyone gets the same vibe, but I really felt it in this book, more than the previous two books.

America really does have it’s own thing going on, and I really am curious about why there seems to be more dissent in America.  Maybe because it’s further away, or it’s just what we do over here, but after this book, I’d really like to see more of what’s going on over in America, and if they’d be of any help to Jess and his friends.  I doubt we will, but who knows what is in store for Jess and everyone else after the way the book ended?

I can honestly say that I really think Jess needs to keep an eye on his dad.  I don’t trust his dad at all, and I half expected him to turn on his son.  There is something awfully shady about him, and if he doesn’t make it, I’ll be happy.  I really like the letters we see throughout the book, and it really shows what the library will do to keep certain things hidden and away from the general population.  They’ll do anything to keep printing presses suppressed, and it was interesting to see how people reacted to the idea that they could print books themselves instead of going through the Library for books.

Things are getting a lot worse, and this is the darkest book we see yet.  I think it’s a result of everything that’s happened in the series so far, and considering they’re prisoners in America, it’s also not surprising.  I’ll admit that I am intrigued by what Morgan can do, but she seems to have this…vibe about her.  Everyone wants to control her, and I still don’t completely understand why.  I mean, it seems like there’s not a lot of people who can do what she can do, but I’m not completely convinced of her special snowflake-ness.  Also, I don’t love her and Jess together, and it feels like they have zero trust and chemistry.  At least Wolf and Santi are an amazing couple, and they really do see this group of kids as their own.  Like it or not, they are a family, and they really are bound together.

It just goes to show that we can choose our family, at least to some degree, and that family isn’t always people we’re related to by blood.

I just want to know what happens next.  What is Jess really up to with that plan of his, and how on earth does he think it’s going to work?  It’s going to be a long wait for the next book.

4 stars.  I really do think this is the best book.  At least so far.  I don’t find Jess and Morgan believable as a couple, but no one can compare to the awesomeness that is Santi and Wolfe.  There’s a lot of twists and turns, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What I’ve Been Reading: Part Three

So, I’ve been doing a series of posts talking about some of the books I read that I never got around to talking about.  We are starting to get to some books that I’ve read a little more recently than some of the other books, so I have more to say about them…but also not quite enough to do a full review.  If that makes sense.

  • Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields.  I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did.  It’s a cool concept, an assassin who can kill people by kissing them, but it didn’t work for me.  And that’s a little disappointing, because I really wanted it to work well.    I loved how Marinda looked out for her brother, and how much she cared for him.  It was really nice to see, but that was the only thing that I really, absolutely loved.  The story didn’t make a lot of sense, but things are magically explained at the end.  The thing that made the LEAST amount of sense was how another girl had to seduce the boys that Marinda kissed.  What’s the point of death by kissing if you’re not the one seducing them enough to get close to them?  And how do these boys even go from the one to Marinda without questioning it?  I do not understand this at all.  What, Marinda can’t seduce them or something?  Or this other girl can’t kill them?  This makes zero sense to me.  My rating is 2 stars for things that didn’t make a lot of sense and the lack of world building.
  • The Secret History Of Us by Jessi Kirby.  I used to LOVE her books, but the more Jessi Kirby books I read, the more I dislike them.  I don’t know if it’s because my interests have changed or I’m harder to please because I read a lot of YA contemporaries, but I didn’t like this one as much as I thought I would.  The pace was pretty slow, and I wanted more of Olivia dealing with her amnesia.  She does try to piece things together, but I wanted more frustration or something from Olivia.  I also wanted more with Walker, but instead, he barely made an appearance.  I wanted more of a reveal, and I felt like something bigger was going to happen.  But nothing bigger happened, even though the book made it seem like something mysterious was going on.  The Secret History Of Us gets 2 stars.  It was okay, but I wanted more than what we got.
  • American War by Omar El Akkad.  I really liked this book at the beginning, and it was really interesting.  But then it lost steam, and I lost interest by the end of the book.  Like The Handmaid’s Tale, the future we see in American War is one I can picture easily.  You do get a good look at what a modern war would look like, and it’s interesting that climate change is what triggers the issues between north and south.  I would have it expected it to be over something else, women’s reproductive rights, LGBT rights or something involving religion.  I know it’s terrible to make an assumption like that, but I do like that climate change is what triggers because it is different than what you might expect.   I felt like a lot of things weren’t really explained or addressed, and it felt like something was missing regarding the use of fossil fuels.  I don’t know if maybe Sarat’s perspective really limits what we know, since she was 6 when war broke out, but a little more broad of a picture would have been nice.  American War gets 3 stars.

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman And Meagan Spooner

Book: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman And Meagan Spooner

Published December 2013 by Disney Hyperion|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Starbound #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth. 

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

I feel like I’ve seen this cover a lot, and I randomly decided to read this book one day.  Because of the cover, which is really cool.  Also, I finished Hunted by Meagan Spooner recently, and I really liked it, so I wanted to check out some of her other books.  This seemed like a good choice, and it really was!

I liked it, and the planet they land on is really creepy and deserted.  I thought Lilac and Tarver were an interesting pairing, and while she was lucky to have crashed on a random planet with Tarver, he probably wished he was with someone else.  At least for a while, but Lilac does prove herself.  I found Lilac to be much more interesting than Tarver, and there were times where I wanted more of Lilac and less of Tarver.  He was a lot more bland than I would have liked.

Something I thought was interesting was how everything was wrapped up pretty well.  I mean, this is the first book in a trilogy, so it’s not the last we’ve heard of this world.  But it makes me wonder what’s going to happen in the next two books.  Part of me feels like their story is over, which makes me especially curious as to how their story will play out in the next book.  I was not expecting their story to be so resolved at the end of the book, I really wasn’t.  Maybe Tarver will be less bland in the books to come.

The planet they crash on is super-weird, and the fact that it was essentially abandoned was also weird.  I wanted to know more about why people were sent there, and what their life was like on that planet before things went bad.  Why would Lilac’s dad be involved with setting up on life on this planet?  So he could have more power and control? That seems likely, considering Lilac’s monologue at the end of the book, but I’m still curious about what’s really going on with him.  I have the feeling he’s up to something, and that something is not good.

4 stars.  I really liked These Broken Stars, and I think it’s a good read-alike for Across The Universe by Beth Revis.

Book Review: Vanish And Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Book: Vanish by Sophie Jordan

Published September 2011 by HarperTeen|294 pages

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

Series: Firelight #2

Genre: YA Paranormal/Dragons

 

An impossible romance.
Bitter rivalries.
Deadly choices.

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?I read the first book in this series years ago, in the early days of the blog.  I somehow never got around to picking up the rest of the series, but one day, when I was at the library, I saw this book and decided to pick it up and read it. After re-reading the first one (Firelight) because I had the feeling I would be really confused otherwise.

I really liked this book, and thought it was a good continuation of the first book.  It did feel like a second book, at least a little, but for the most part, it didn’t, which is good.  It does set up for the next book, of course, but there’s a lot going on and we see a lot of Jacinda and Tamra.

I was not expecting everything that happened with Tamra, and it was an interesting development.  It really caught me off-guard, because if there’s anyone I thought would never be tied to the draki world, it would be Tamra.  There’s quite a role reversal for Tamra and Jacinda, and Jacinda’s actions definitely have consequences in this book.

Jacinda was more frustrating in this book, because she was really indecisive.  She goes back and forth a lot, and I just wanted her to make a decision.  In Firelight, all she wanted was to go back to the draki world, but once she came back, all she wanted was to be with Will.  Hopefully, she’ll figure out what she wants in the next book.

I wasn’t a big fan of the romance.  I liked Will in the first book, but I didn’t really like him in this book.  And I kind of liked Cassian in the first book, but I’m wavering between neutral and dislike in this book.  I’m not sure why, since it’s obvious he cares for Jacinda and would do anything to protect her and keep her safe.  For whatever reason, I feel neutral towards him.

I did like the book, though, and I do want to know how everything turns out for Jacinda and Tamra.  And Will and Cassian, of course.  Oh, and Jacinda’s mom.  Basically, I want to know what’s going to happen to everyone.  I really do.4 stars.  I really liked Vanish, and I thought it was a pretty good sequel.

 

Book: Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Published September 2012 by HarperTEEN|260 pages

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

Series: Firelight #3

Genre: YA Paranormal/DragonsJacinda was supposed to bond with Cassian, the “prince” of their pride. But she resisted long before she fell in love with Will—a human and, worse, a hunter. When she ran away with Will, it ended in disaster, with Cassian’s sister, Miram, captured. Weighed down by guilt, Jacinda knows she must rescue her to set things right. Yet to do so she will have to venture deep into the heart of enemy territory.

The only way Jacinda can reach Miram is by posing as a prisoner herself, though once she assumes that disguise, things quickly spiral out of her control. As she learns more about her captors, she realizes that even if Will and Cassian can carry out their part of the plan, there’s no guarantee they’ll all make it out alive. But what Jacinda never could have foreseen is that escaping would be only the beginning….

Loyalties are tested and sacrifices made in the explosive conclusion to Sophie Jordan’s Firelight trilogy.I’ve really liked this series, and this book really took me by surprise.  There were quite a few things I was not expecting.  At all.  Like escaping the enkros and all that came with it, and what they were really up to.  Most of all, how little they really understand, and hopefully, should they keep capturing dragons, they don’t learn that much.  It’s the same with the hunters.  Particularly where Will’s family is concerned, I hope they don’t find out the truth, because I am not fond of them.

There were so many other things that I did not expect- betrayal from the pride, what really happened to Jacinda’s father, and the death of one character really surprised me.  I think I expected everything to go okay, and while they did, to a point, there were some twists and turns along the way.  Which, looking back, wasn’t surprising, but still.  I did not expect certain revelations to come out.

It is pretty fast-paced, but considering it’s under 300 pages, the fast-pace isn’t surprising.  I did want more with what happened to Cassian and Jacinda, particularly with what happens at the end the end of the book but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen since the book came out over 5 years ago.  I also wanted to see more of Tamra, but that never really happened either.  Basically, I just wanted something a little longer, because it did feel like something was missing.

3 stars.  I liked it, and it was a pretty good ending to the series, but I think I wanted something a little longer.  There were some things that came up that weren’t really talked about a lot, and I wanted to know more about those things.

What I’ve Been Reading: Part Two

In an effort to talk about a lot of the books I’ve read, I’ve decided that it was a good idea for me to do some sort of post where I briefly talk about some of what I’ve been reading.  All links to Goodreads if you want to check out the book!

  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert.  I honestly don’t know if her books are for me, because  this book was okay, and I wasn’t a big fan of Pointe when I read that.  Suzette was a frustrating character, and she seemed really self-absorbed. She cared more about herself than her brother and what he was going through.  I get that she needed to have her own life, and considering everything that her brother had going on, it makes sense she’d try to have her own life and do her own thing.  But…it just bothered me that she didn’t really seem to care about anyone but herself and what she wanted.  There’s a lot going on in this book, and it was a little unclear what direction Colbert wanted to take.  Everything felt messy and unresolved, and while it’s really cool that the story is about a Jewish black bi girl, it felt like there was too much going on for anything to really have an impact.  It was very surface level (at least for me), and nothing got the attention it really deserved.  Little & Lion gets 2 stars.
  • The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi.  I really liked this one!  If you liked Jumanji, you will definitely like this book.  Picture Jumanji, but with a steampunk, Middle Eastern twist to it, and you have The Gauntlet.  It’s definitely fun and cool and it’s perfect for all ages, not just middle grade readers.  I loved seeing the relationship Farah had with her friends and her brother, and how willing she was to go get her brother out of this game.  It’s fast-paced and you really feel like you’re playing the game with Farah and her friends.  The Gauntlet gets 4 stars.
  • The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  This is another book I really liked.  I really liked Sal and the relationship he had with his dad and his grandma.  This book really is about family and belonging and how we all fit together.  In particular, Sal has his friend Sam, and they are better off as friends than as a couple.  I’m definitely glad that there was no (romantic) relationship between Sam and Sal, because it wouldn’t have fit with everything going on.  And the more we see them, the more you realize they are stronger as friends.  I didn’t understand Sal’s anger issues.  It seemed a little out of place, and it didn’t seem like Sal.  Sal, Sam, and Sal’s other friend were remarkably similar in that their mothers died, and their biological fathers weren’t around.  Sal’s adoptive father was great, though, and Sal (and his friends) were really lucky to have him in their lives.  It does make me want to read Aristotle And Dante Discover The Universe but I’m nervous to read it because I know everyone really likes it, and what if I don’t like it as much as this book?  I did really like it, and I’d rate The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life gets 4 stars.
  • By Your Side by Kasie West.  This book was really cute!  I wish I liked it more, because it seems like the type of book I’d absolutely love.  I did like the trapped in the library aspect of the book, and I was slightly disappointed that the entire book wasn’t set in the library, because that would have been awesome.  But at the same time, I liked seeing how her weekend in the library changed her.  My big question is, how did the library staff not double check the bathrooms before closing?  I mean, maybe they closed the bathrooms early- I know my local library closes the bathroom 10 minutes before closing, but still, why not double check.  I know it would ruin the whole book, but it is a little strange to me.  I liked seeing Autumn and Dax’s relationship after their library lock-in, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about Autumn’s anxiety.  She seemed pretty calm throughout the whole thing.  I don’t doubt that’s a real thing for her, and anxiety is one of those things that seems to be different for everyone.  Or maybe what we saw is different than what she was really experiencing?  At any rate, I did really like By Your Side, and it gets 4 stars. 
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman.  This book was a weird one, but like most of the other books I’ve talked about, I really liked it.  I heard about it on the Book Riot podcast, and it was creepy as hell.  There were a couple of moments that were truly terrifying.  I am curious about what it is that drives people to violence, and how it even came to be.  On the one hand, growing up in the world could be a good thing, because it’s the only world you’ve ever known, and you’re better able to handle it because you don’t know what it was like before.  But on the other hand, you’ll never know what the world was like before it happened.  I can’t imagine having to go outside blindfolded.  At least with the zombie apocalypse, you can see.  Not with this one.  I ended up getting the audio book (which I haven’t listened to yet), because in a world narrated by someone who’s blindfolded, and trying to get to a safe community, you wonder what the book would be liked if you listened to it.  I’m assuming you’d really be immersed in the world, and one of these days, I’ll have to listen it.  I really don’t want to give it away, so it’s probably good this review is really short.  Bird Box gets 4 stars.

What I’ve Been Reading: Part One

I’ve been reading quite a bit over the last few months, but I haven’t been in a mood to review anything.  But all of a sudden, I want to at least share some of what I’ve been reading.  I’m a bit fuzzy on some of the books, since it’s been a while for some of them, but I’ll do what I can.

  • I’ve read The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah.  I checked out this book from the library, and having read some of her other books, I knew I had to read this one.  I really liked it, and she has such unique characters.  Even though the book is set in Australia, the characters and beliefs are ones I can see happening here in America.  I liked seeing how much Michael changed, and I can see, very clearly, how he didn’t really think about what his parents thought and why they thought that way.  He really does make an effort to change how he thinks and to come up with his own beliefs.  I also liked seeing Mina’s experience, and how not everyone is like their parents.  My rating for this book is 4 stars.

Let’s see…I did read Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.  This book seemed right up my alley when I bought it years ago, but when I finally read it over the summer, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.  I wasn’t a big fan of Anna’s best friend Frankie.  She seemed really self-absorbed and not willing to hear Anna out.  I get why she was upset, and that she was dealing with the loss of her brother, but that’s no reason to act the way she did.  Anna seemed to be there for her, which is good, but at the same time, it seemed like her parents were absent, and weren’t really around to help their daughter grieve.  I’d rate this book 3 stars.

  • I also read Control by Lydia Kang.  This one has a really cool idea- it sort of reminded me of X-Men, at least a little.  That’s pretty much all I remember.  That, and I was vaguely interested in reading the sequel.  I remember it being a futuristic world, with a lot of interesting technology.  It’s too bad I have forgotten it, but I’m pretty sure I liked it, so this book gets 3 stars.

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova.  I really liked The Historian when I read it years and years ago, and I didn’t know that the author had a relatively new book out.  I didn’t like The Shadow Land as much as The Historian, and I found myself skimming the more historical half of the book.  It didn’t really hold my interest the way her other book did, but it is written in a very similar style, which I liked.  I’d give this book 3 stars.

  • I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood!  I feel like I need to do a post talking about the book and the movie, but for now, I’ll talk about the book briefly.  It’s scary how relevant this book still is, and how much of it still rings true.  I listened to the audio book, and I really liked it.  Claire Danes did a great job narrating The Handmaid’s Tale.  The only thing I didn’t like about it were the flashbacks.  They didn’t translate well to audio, and it wasn’t clear at first if we were in past or present.  I also could have done without the symposium epilogue part of the book.  It really took away from the horrors of what happened in the book, and while the idea of trying to piece together sources and the accuracy of said sources is interesting.  But I don’t think it really fit with the rest of the book.  The Handmaid’s Tale gets 4 stars.