Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Three Disappointing Books (How I Ended My 2016)

 
Hi, everyone! The last three books that I read in 2016 were let downs, but that's okay because at least I gave these books a shot! 

Books Mentioned:
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Breaking Nova by Jessica Sorensen- 1.25 stars DNF Check out my review on this shit show.
At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft- 2 stars This is the most disappointing Lovecraft story that I've read so far. It was huge and unnecessarily drawn out. I don't care much about geological identifications and mountains, so this book lost me. Monsters were interesting, but I would've probably enjoyed this so much more if I didn't have to slug through pages upon pages of drab scientific information. 
A List of Cages by Robin Roe- 2 stars Check out my review of this book here. I'm a black sheep when it comes to this book, but that's okay. Others who find it, I'm sure, will get something out of it.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Let me know down below in the comments.  

Night Shift Video Review

 
I reread Night Shift by Stephen King and here's a video of my thoughts. I do plan on writing a review for this collection, but for now, here are some initial thoughts.

Have you red Night Shift? Do you like Stephen King? What's your favorite King novel? Let me know down below in the comments.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Finishing a Beloved Trilogy

Hi, everyone! I have a confession to make: I'm a horrible reviewer. I've been meaning to write reviews for the concussion to my ALL TIME FAVORITE trilogy.. I originally started Daughter of Smoke & Bone in 2012 back in eighth grade. It quickly became a beloved favorite of mine and I was mystified by Laini Taylor's unique writing style. I didn't pick up the sequel until two years later and to this day, it is my all-time favorite second book in a series. Days of Blood & Starlight surpassed DoS&B for me and presented a world that was ravaged with war and I was moved and captivated. I immediately bought a copy of Dreams of Gods & Monsters before even finishing DoB&S and I hopped right into the conclusion of this trilogy. I have posted reviews of both novels on my blog and GR, but have not gotten to reviewing Dreams of Gods & Monsters until... well, now. Three years after finishing this trilogy and if I'm honest I keep putting off writing my review for Dreams of Gods & Monsters because then it'll be final to me. I won't have anything left to review when it comes to this trilogy and I do plan to reread it one day, but I have problems with parting with series I love and my love for this trilogy is so massive. I'm a fantasy reader today because of Days of Blood & Starlight. Before reading that novel, I sneered at fantasy and had no connection to it and now it's one of my favorite genres. Hats off to you, Mrs. Taylor, for creating a series that has made me laugh, cry, and rage at. I guess it's time to say goodbye, but it's not farewell because I will come back to this beautiful world.

Check out my reviews of (I'll be linking my GR reviews instead of my blog reviews, because I've made grammar revisions):
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Days of Blood & Starlight

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Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor

2.5 in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy

5 stars

“There are boys you look at and want to touch with your mouth, and there are boys you look at and want to wear one of those surgical masks everyone in China had during the bird flu. There are a lot more bird-flu boys at large.”

Zuz and Mik are huge characters in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy. This follows their first date and if you love Zuz and Mik then you are destined to love this short story. Seriously, their first date is a treasure hunt and Zuz is the treasure. It’s so freaking adorable. I don’t think this story is integral to the DoS&B universe, but it’s fun. I personally seek out all of Laini Taylor’s work and I enjoy her short stories, so a short story about beloved characters I already know and love is just a lot of fun. Laini Taylor is one my all-time favorite writers. She can write like no other and her worlds are whimsical. I love every word she weaves into a story.



Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

“I am a rabid fairy. I am a carnivorous plant. I am Zuzana. And violin boy’s not going to know what hit him.”

The main female character is Zuz. I love Zuz’s humor. She’s funny, dark, morbid, and I love her odd personality. Zuz’s very shy when it comes to boys, particularly to Mik, but once she’s mad about him and it’s so much fun to see how they eventually come together to form a dynamic couple. Zuz is one of my all-time favorite friends to a heroine. She’s an amazing character and her dedication to those she loves warms my heart. I connect to Zuz a lot. She does a lot of silly things, much like I do, and she’s content with who she is as a person and doesn’t want to change who she is to please anyone.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 5

The main male character is Mik. Mik is so sweet and incredibly goofy. He’s shy and he’s so freaking cute. Mik and Zuz are an OTP couple for me. I don’t think they are the best of the best, but I love them together and they make my heart squeal. I don’t have a deep connection to Mik, but I do have a special place in my heart for him and I think I love him more after reading this story.



Swoon Worthy Scale: 4.5

I think this is worth the $2.99 I spent and I don’t regret spending that money one bit, because I absolutely love this. This short story is as sweet as cake and it warms my belly with happiness.



“If this night is a fairy tale, then this is the happily ever after, right, or at least the beginning of it?”

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: This cover is freaking gorgeous. I love it so much.



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Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Third book in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy

ALL THE STARS

Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s side of the war and is ready to seek vengeance— not only for original self, Madrigal, but for her loved ones who have died in this war. She is ready to take down the seraphim and she will lead an army to finally end this war. Shockingly, Karou and Akiva are together again, but their common goal is to take down their new common enemy. The war between the chimaera and the seraphim will spill out into the human realm and things will change. I finished this book a moth after it came out in 2014 and it to this day is my all-time favorite trilogy. I have a deep profound love of this world and my connection to the characters has spanned for many years. I’ve been putting off writing this review since 2014 because I don’t want this series to end for me and once I hit save when I post this review to Goodreads and my blog, this trilogy and I will be officially finished. I will have opportunities to reread this story, but it won’t be like the first time I enter this world of a blue haired girl covered in ink and cloaked in mystery who falls for an angel that she has a much deeper connection to than the human realm.


Karou’s journey as an apprentice to Brimstone in collecting teeth for wishes shapes into a warrior set out for retribution for the wrongs of her past and her loved-ones. This trilogy is so beautiful and magnificent. I don’t say that lightly. I know it has its… especially in the first book when everyone will scream insta-love and I will counteract with, “No. It only seems that way, but it’s so much more. They knew each other when Karou wasn’t Karou, but Madrigal and this integral to the story.” As this trilogy goes further, it becomes less about the love and more about fighting and surviving. This war is brutal and in the second novel, we are introduced to a young chimaeran child who knows all too well out brutal this war is with the seraphim. Karou and Akiva’s love story shifts… it is harder for Karou to love and trust him because she can’t be sure if he loves her or her past self, Madrigal, and the betrayal that occurs in the first book leaves her quite angry. I will always love Karou and Akiva’s love story, but to me, it isn’t centerfold for why I love this trilogy.


Laini Taylor is one of the best young adult, no writers, of our time. Not everyone love Fitzgerald when he released Gatsby and not everyone will love Taylor’s books, but her writing style is unlike any other. She is able to intricately weave worlds together, create in-depth character stories that span generations, and supply the best quotes for any lover of literature. I love and adore Laini Taylor’s writing style and time and time again I’m not disappointed. Whether it’s with this trilogy or short stories, she captures worlds vividly and uses prose that isn’t found in everyday literature.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

If it isn’t obvious, I love the characters in this trilogy. My heart sings and aches when I think about the beloved characters that I formed a connection with.

Karou is meant to be infuriating because she is a real character. The reason I love her so much is because I get aggravated with her and I realize that she is going to make silly choices and do ridiculous things because that’s a realistic thing to do. If she was a perfect character, I’d hate her. I don’t want perfect. I want real. The progression of her character from book 1 is absolutely amazing. She is not only fighting a real war and leading the chimaeras, but she is fighting a war within herself to decide what she believes in and where she wants to be after this war. I love Karou and I love her flaws.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 5

Akiva will always be one of my favorite love interests. There’s just something about him that warms my heart and makes me happy. Of course, he did shitty things and I hated him for it at times, but I also forgave him because I understood where he was coming from and why he thought, at the time, that his choices were the best choices. Akiva, like Karou, is flawed, but his flaws make me appreciate and love his character all the more.


Swoon Worthy Scale: 5

There is a huge cast of characters in this world. From Zuz, Karou’s best friend, and her boyfriend, Mik, who play a huge part in the war and are total badasses. To Liraz, Akiva’s vicious half-sister who quickly became a favorite character of mine because she is very prickly, but I understand why. Some of the new character introductions are jarring, but I understand why they were introduced in this novel and not previous ones. A minor setback that I can overlook because I understand why. There are so many characters, like Ziri, and so many to love.


Character Scale: 5
The Villain- The villains in this trilogy are brutal. They show no mercy and step on everyone and everything that could defeat or hinder their plots. I really enjoy the villains conceptually and I loved Taylor’s resolutions with them in this series.


Villain Scale: 5

Overall, the ending of this trilogy is far from perfect and leaves open the possibility of a follow-up or spin-off series (if Taylor chooses to do so) and I know that this kind of ending will infuriate a lot of readers, but I understood its implications. The ending of a war, especially as long as the one in Eretz, does not wrap up nicely and most wars lead to new problems and other wars, so it makes sense that another story could be introduced at this ending. When I think of the implications of major war, like that of WWI or WWII I see how WWI bled into WWII and catapulted it and how WWII led to the Cold War and will continuously lead to the threat of nuclear war. I’m happy with where Laini Taylor left this trilogy because I don’t want a nice perfect story wrapped up with a neat bow. I’m happy, content, and also sad because I will never know this story again with fresh eyes, but I am pleased to say that I know and love this story.


Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I think this is a badass cover. It’s not my favorite, but I love it and it has a very chimaera feel to it.
 
Are you fan of the Daughter & Smoke Bone trilogy? Let's discuss this beautiful world! Anything you can think of whether it's squees or critiques. I want to know your thoughts! Let me know what you think down below in the comments! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Nine Books in Nine Minutes

 
Hi, everyone! I'm really happy that I'm on Spring Break right now because I definitely need one. I hope you are all doing well and have been reading a lot of great books! Here's another video about some of the books I've read in 2016. 

The Books:
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Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan- 3.25 stars This novel is very haunting and I loved the first fifty pages (even if they were brutal and hard to read). Sadly, this novel continued to feel disjointed and there were too many storylines interconnecting. I would recommend this, but if you want to read a Lanagan novel I recommend The Brides of Rollrock Island much more.
Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo- 4.25 stars Check out my review and read this story on Tor's website. You won't regret it! I promise.:)
Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn 5 stars- I just found out that this book is no longer free on Amazon and that makes me so sad, but I also think that you should buy this because it is worth spending $3.99. I loved this story so much and whether this story will be for you depends on the prologue (which I talked about in the video). 
 Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo- 3 or 3.25 stars I'm conflicted on what to rate this, but once I write my review I'll be able to tell more. I'm not a contemporary reader, but the ballet and Antarctica storylines made this novel both great and boring at the same time. I loved the ballet sections in San Francisco the most, but they also felt a little annoying sometimes. I don't know... I'm conflicted right now.
Miracles Happen by Mary Kay Ash- DNF Check out why I DNFed this book here.
Bloodspell by Amalie Howard- 1 star DNF This book is a Twilight rip-off. Check out my review here
Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon- 1.25 stars This book is free on Amazon and it definitely is a book I would've been mad if I had paid for. Check out my review here
A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford- 3.25 stars This started out really strong because it's has really dark themes, but the story started to drag and it went downhill. I won't be continuing this trilogy, but I do recommend this if you are a fan of YA paranormal romance. 
The Trouble with Dukes by Grace Burrowes-4.25 stars This is such a cute HR! I love Hamish and I'm a sucker for Scottish heroes. Check out my review here

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what your thoughts are down below in the comments! Also please read Nine Minutes because it' amazing and I love it so much!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Continuing the Tor Short Challenge

I don't know if there is a Tor Free Shorts Challenge, but I'm all up for dominating this fun collection of imaginative stories.  Tor Shorts have some of the most simple, but elaborate story lines spanning into a small amount of pages. I'm embarking on my journey to conquer these beautiful stories.The best thing is that these stories are free! FREE! Something so awesome being free is just an absolute treasure trove. These stories are short and can usually be read within 5-30 minutes and that's such an awesome thing!  If you are interested in taking on the Tor collection, let me know!
So far I've read these stories:
    Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski- 5 stars because this story is set in the Winner's Curse world with an excellent fairy tale story.
    The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo- 5 stars because I love Bardugo and this story was A+.
    The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo- 5 stars because it's beautiful.
     All the Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead by Dennis Danvers- 5 stars because it's a stunning magical realism story.
    Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Glass- 4.5 stars because the story's transitions were beautifully done, but I wanted more.  
    Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo- 4.25 stars because it's beautiful, but something felt missing. I did love the ending!
    Ponies by Kij Johnson- 4 stars because it was super creepy.
    Among the Thorns by Veronica Schanoes- 3 stars because it was sick and creepy, but I wanted more.
    The Log Goblin by Brian Staveley- 3 stars because it's a simple story.
   Orphan Pirates of the Spanish Main by Dennis Danvers- 1.5 stars because it was weird and not in a good way.

In the last year, I have discovered I'm a lover of short stories. I love reading a story that is only a couple of pages and falling in love with them. I find that short stories really capture the level of a writer. A story that moves me without a multitude of pages shows that the writer is capable and I enjoy the feeling of finishing stories if I really love them.

(Read in November 2016)
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meat + drink by Daniel Polanksy

1.25 stars
I do love reading short stories and it's been some time since I read a Tor short. Sadly this one is very lackluster. It has no real oomph to the story. It's written a la karen's review style without capitalizing letters, which is a style I really enjoy, but for this story it doesn't work. I felt as though I was reading a story written by a twelve-year-old. The pacing was choppy, the sentence structures were brief and had no direction, and the overall story was unoriginal. Vampires are nothing new and this story did absolutely nothing for me besides give me a reason not to start working on my math study guide for finals.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 1

Character Scale: 1

Plotastic Scale: 2

Cover Thoughts: I usually love Tor illustrations, but this one doesn't evoke any strong emotions from me.
 
(Read in December 2016)
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Friedrich the Snow Man by Lewis Shiner

2.5 stars

"If you gaze long enough into the holidays, the holidays will gaze back into you."

As a freshman in my university we are forced to take a class called UNIV100. It's a required course. I wanted to take the one that focused on dystopian fiction and its relation to society today, but I had marching band at that time. Luckily, I chose to take this class called Disobeying the Norm. I knew it was a literature based course, but I didn't realize it was a philosophy class. It was my personal favorite class of my first semester in college. We study the key Existentialists. I realized that Friedrich Nietzsche is my personal favorite. The idea of him turning into a snowman brings great joy to my heart. Especially since he was such a bigot- he was incredibly racist and he hated women, but his ideas were brilliant. Also this is worth taking ten minutes of your time to read.


"What cruel fate had brought me back to life, only to find my work subverted to the cause of war and hatred? I had proclaimed God dead; was this His revenge?"

Cover Thoughts: That is the scariest looking snowman. He looks as though he's going through an existential crisis. *slowly backs away from my jokes*
 
(Read in March 2017)
34307963The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard) by Matthew Kressel
1 star

This quick Tor short focuses on the story of a novelist from the planet of Mars who is slowly dying and takes refuge on Ardabaab. He meets a little girl who inspires his last story to continue on and finish his last tale.
I'm sure quite a few people will enjoy this story, but I was not one of them. The writing felt pretentious while also retaining a clipped dialect. It felt too conflicting and the constant mention of wikis was just annoying and made the story feel modern while trying to retain its sci-fi storyline. I personally wasn't a fan of this one, but I urge of others who are fans of Tor shorts to check this one out because I'm sure that someone will absolutely adore it.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 1

Character Scale: 1

Plotastic Scale: 1.25


Cover Thoughts: It's a cute illustration, but it doesn't really stand out to me.
 
(Read in March 2017)
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Ecdysis by Julianna Baggott

1.5 stars

This Tor short follows an unnamed character who was a girl born with the initials of A.S. As a young girl she wished to be a boy and would fill her socks with sand and place it in between her legs. In this world, people can take on avatars to match the skin or the body they wish to take. We never really know if she becomes a boy or not because she says deep down the desire is always there and that's what matters most. I am not transgender so I have no clue how a young child must feel experiencing the confusing nature of gender when their physical self doesn't match their mental self. It's a debated topic by people who aren't trans that being trans is a mental disease called gender dysphoria (I'm not saying that I agree or disagree with this merely stating a fact) and I do feel, personally, that this story gives the tone of painting being transsexual as a mental disease. I don't know if it's the concept of the world or the whacky, flowery writing, but it felts like trans-sexuality was being compared to a disease with the need "to pick myself clean" and take on a body. It sounded as though the main character was self-harming herself and while the trans community does have high suicide rates, I'm not sure if this was what the author was intended to portray. Again, I'm not trans and so I don't have a very big grasp on the feelings within the trans community. I don't think the writing in particular for this Tor short helped me to understand this character because while I generally like flowery prose, I don't like pointless prose. I have no clue what the author was trying to say. I'm happy to come across a Tor short with a trans main character, but I'm hoping to find others that have a better portrayal with this topic because I don't feel like the story was really able to accomplish that feeling of being out of one's body as fully as it could have. There were a few paragraphs where I really felt how isolated and saddened the character felt at never being the image of her mother because she didn't identify as a woman and I thought that was lovely, but the rest was a confusing mess to me.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 2

Character Scale: 1.5

Plotastic Scale: 1 (b/c I have no clue what is really going on...)


I do want to know what trans people think of this story because I did some research and it doesn't seem like Juliana Baggott is a trans person, so I'm don't think this is an OWN voice story, but I'd love to know what others think and if I'm just reading this all wrong because I'm not apart of the community and don't want to assume anything.

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover so much. The first time I saw this cover I saw a boy and then I saw a girl. It's pretty remarkable how well the art work captures the essence of the main character.
 
(Read in March 2017)
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Excerpts from a Film by A.C. Wise

5 stars

"That moment right there was when I knew. Even if I didn’t understand it fully at the time, the knowledge was burned right onto my soul. That’s what happens to girls. If you don’t fight back, if you don’t run away, someone bigger and stronger will chew you up and just walk away. They’ll leave you crumpled on the ground like so much trash, and the world will never know you existed at all."

Wow. That's all I can say about this Tor novella. The story follows Mary, Eva, Lillian, Eve, and they are all the same person. She's a woman of many names and many faces. Ghosts have been trailing her since she's come to Hollywood. She's determined to be famous and George, a producer, has all the means to make it possible. If there's one Tor novella you need to read, it's this one. It's longer than Tor shorts usually are, but I think that's what makes this story so amazing. I just can't recommend it enough. I'm speechless and while some may not find this story moving to them, I absolutely did. I'll give you some backstory as to why this story works for me and maybe it'll work for you, too. I love old Hollywood. Books like Valley of the Dolls 50th Anniversary Edition are my jam because I love old Hollywood and its grit. I love the sparkling lights and beauty, but I also love the desperation in the actresses behind the scenes that sometimes lurks into films. I love how old Hollywood is the place of the depraved and they were plastered on the screen. I also love ghost stories and I love how haunted old Hollywood feels. Old Hollywood has left a resonating mark on the famous hotels of the time and ghosts roam the town. I find it so fascinating and alluring. I also love this story because it takes a turn in addressing movies and serial killers. I just finished writing a paper about how violence escalates do the media that is plastered everywhere, particularly in movies and TV shows. It's Mary's mission to bring these girls to the screen and to show who they are in opening crime film, but it goes wrong with the death of Elizabeth Smart, branded by the media as the Black Dahlia. Mary sees Elizabeth clearer than all the other ghosts that follow her and she has a new idea... an idea that will help her become an everlasting star. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. It's right up my alley with being macabre, morality depraved, beautifully written, and it's short (which I love because when short things make me love them it means that they are meant to be loved).


Whimsical Writing Scale:5

The thing about dead girls is once you see them, you can’t un-see them, and you realize they’re everywhere. If Mama admitted to this one, she’d have to admit what might happen to me, what might happen to her, and she couldn’t bring herself to do that."

Mary is the main female character in this novella. We don't know Mary very well besides the knowledge of her being from an abusive home (something very dear to my heart because the portrayal was accurate and similar to past circumstances I've experienced) and it's quite heartbreaking to only know this one concrete fact about Mary. We also see that she's determined (to be a star), resilient (survives and runs away from an abusive household), and that she's cunning (spoilers as to why this is and you should read it to find out). I don't mind being shown who she is through George's perception and the few snippets of her encounters with ghosts because I feel like I know Mary quite well while she still retains the allure of an old Hollywood star.


"I can’t just be a face or a name, I have to be every face, every name. I have to be all of them in one. If I can put all those ghosts up on screen with me, people will have no choice but to see."

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 5

The main male character is George. We meet George at an interesting point in his life. He's obsessed and mentally haunted by Mary. He's also physically haunted when she appears in all the reels of his movies. Then he has a heart attack. It's an interesting way to introduce an integral character to the story. We meet him at his death and we meet Mary as a ghost. It's an interesting juxtaposition that follows throughout the story. I don't particularly like George because he reminds me of the men from Feud: Bette and Joan (if you aren't watching it, get on it because I love it) and how they only want women in Hollywood for sex or to turn women against each other (he doesn't do that, but whose to say he just wasn't shown doing that).


"Movies are a special kind of magic, playing with make-believe and blurring the line between real and unreal. Humanity is the other half of the equation; they have to be willing to believe, take the ghosts flickering up on screen into their very souls and allow themselves to be changed."

Swoon Worthy Scale: 2

The Villain- All the killers and copycat killers who steal lives from women.

Villain Scale: 5

"There’s a monster killing his way across the country. I guess I followed behind him and cleaned up the mess he made. This whole damn country is haunted, every single step of the way."

Overall: You should go read this on Tor's website right now!!! It's amazing and I love the blending of history (Elizabeth Short's famous death) and old Hollywood. It's spectacular.


Plotastic Scale: 5

"That’s my plan, my dream. I’m going to live forever, up on the big screen."

Cover Thoughts: I love it. It's black and white and fits the style of old Hollywood.
 
 
This next one isn't a Tor Short, but I reread this beloved short story and I highly recommend it. 
 
157076The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

5 stars (Originally 4.25 stars)
Update: It's been almost five years since I read this short story as a freshman in high school and recently I read Zodiac by Robert Graysmith. Since becoming familiar with the killings the Zodiac executed, as well as the possible ones he may have committed, I wanted to reread this short story. Zodiac pretty much copies all of Zaroff's obsession with hunting humans. It's quite fascinating to read such an old short story that has hints of the psychological stamping that most serial killers have: a hatred of others (he is the same race and background as Ivan and undermines his intelligence), feeling superiority, the need to dominate. It's a very interesting story, but it sets me on edge and I feel dirty reading it. Sometimes it's too much to be close to those who have no caring for human life. I do still enjoy the story and highly recommend it. Connell captures a lot within a few pages and sets up a remarkable story. Even more interesting is the implication of killers. Are men of war serial killers? Does killing someone who is hunting you constitute as murder and how is that any different from an animal killing a person to save itself from death? Is survival of the fittest a real concept when it comes to free will or does it kick in when we are on the brink of death? These are interesting questions posed by this short story and I don't know the answer to one of them. I think that's what makes this story so relevant even today.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.5

Villain Scale: 5

Character Scale: 5

Plotastic Scale: 5
 
 
Have you read any Tor Shorts? If so which ones do you recommend? If you haven't they are free online and I highly encourage you all to check them out! 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

18295788 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

4 stars (originally 2 stars)

Check out my original review here.

The story behind Guy Montag is an ironic one. Montag is a fireman who burns books and as the novel progresses becomes obsessed with retaining books and the information within them to make sense of the world around him. Bradbury is a staple science fiction writer and his tales spoke of warnings to society about the reliance of technology. I was originally introduced to Montag’s story of a fireman whose job is to burn as a freshman in high school. Interestingly enough, I read the book in April of 2013 and four years later as a freshman in college I’m reading Fahrenheit 451 again for an essay on book banning and challenging. I originally gave this book 2 stars, which seems harsh but also understandable. Younger Sarah did not like classics and referred to this novel as being “older than my mom so it’s original in my opinion”. Young Sarah gave no fucks about the classics and hated metaphors according to my prior review. I don’t agree with Young Sarah at all. I was very callous and wasn’t able to see a world without books, even ones I didn’t like, but as I’ve done more research and see how books are still challenged today I see the importance of a novel like this.


Is Bradbury the perfect writer? Absolutely not. His writing can be a little sluggish when pacing falters and a lot of this novel is spent of reflecting and imaging. It’s not the most immersive pacing, but the words that Bradbury has put on the page are striking and remain with the reader. I also, love Bradbury’s metaphors. As time goes on and I become a more well-rounded reader, I look for novels that have meaning and substance. This novel has that and while not all novels that have meaning speak to me, this one does because I believe our society has and will always be one that prefers technology to conversations and thought. It is how our society has shaped and it’s not a bad thing, but it has left humans disconnected from one another. Relationships are not built on the same foundation that once were and sadly, Montag and Millie’s relationship perfectly captures a couple who doesn’t know why they are together and don’t feel a connection to each other because screens and “the family” block that both. Maybe I sound cynical, but I see it every day with couples and not all couples are like this, but the majority is now. A lot of people feel that Bradbury’s novel is outdated, but I disagree. I feel like Fahrenheit 451 is mirroring the twenty-first century more and more every day.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 3.75

The main male character is Guy Montag. I don’t have a connection to Montag and when it comes to dystopian novels his character is one that seems to be confused, panicked, and I can’t connect to him. Montag pales in comparison to Offred or Winston Smith because his personality doesn’t make me feel for him. He also doesn’t have very many memories of the past and this disconnection to his past makes it hard to connect to him.


Swoon Hero Worthy Scale: 3

This is a very small novel, but there is a large cast of characters that cement Montag’s journey from a burner of books to a reader of books. The cataclysm for his journey is Clarice, a neighbor who likes to ask questions and takes walks. Montag’s interactions with Clarice lead him to seeing the world and looking at things, like the moon, that he previously ignored. Clarice dies unexpectedly and her death leads to him taking higher level risks than his previous ones. Millie or Mildred is Montag’s wife and we are first introduced to her in a comatose state due to sleeping pills. Immediately, her stomach is pumped and she is brought back to life and her existence continues. Millie is an odd character because she is perfectly paints what an individual obsessed with TV looks like and while today TV isn’t obsession iPhones create Millies by the billions every day. She likes to drive fast in the beetle to feel alive and she remains a disconnected individual towards her husband. Faber becomes a friend and ally to Montag when it comes to books. I really liked Faber’s interactions with Montag and he called himself a coward which is a very brave statement to make because most cowards deny cowardice, but he saw that he could do something and hid in house. Beatty is a confusing character. He seems to be the villain because he is the Captain of the Firemen, but as we see at the end this is not the case. I have a strong feeling that Beatty loved books and didn’t want to live in a world where books could not be read. He was constantly quoting books and writers under the guise of haggling or expressing how unnecessary books are, but someone who doesn’t value books would have no need to express his feelings through quoting others. In the end, Montag finds a group of men who have become books. It’s a really interesting concept and the feeling of hope at the end of the novel after a war breaks out and destroys the city. I’m quite happy with the way Bradbury has ended Fahrenheit 451 because it feels like a new beginning.


Character Scale: 4

Overall, my thoughts on Fahrenheit 451 have changed drastically. I originally didn’t like this book very much and I do think it was because I was too young to have appreciated in. My reading tastes at the time were not looking for a novel like 451 and being forced to read it did not help. I recommend this to anyone who loves Bradbury or dystopian novels. I feel like this novel is a staple to the dystopian genre and any fan should pick this novel up.


Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: My edition is a book of matches. Literally, matches within a book! I love my edition so much and I’m happy to own a copy of this novel.


Have you read Fahrenheit 451? Have you ever read a book that you didn't like and enjoyed later after rereading? What's you favorite dystopian novel? Let me know down below in the comments!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh

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Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh

Second book in the Westcott series

2.25 stars

“What I set as my primary goal in life was all a mirage in a vast, empty desert.”

Camille Westcott has lost everything. Her life has been turned upside down since finding out that her father’s marriage to his mother was a sham and her and her siblings are illegitimate. She finds herself in Bath at the orphanage where her half-sister lived and becomes a teacher to the orphans without any knowledge of children. Joel Cunningham is a renowned artist known for capturing self-portraits that bring out a person’s personality. Joel is no stranger the orphanage that Camille finds herself teaching at as he lived there as a child and teaches art to the orphans. Camille’s demeanor is stiff and cold and he finds nothing tasteful about her since her rejection of his dear friend (Camille’s half-sister), Anna, but when Camille’s grandmother commissions him to paint a portrait of her, he finds himself becoming attracted to her. This book is bland. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a HR novel that didn’t have me speed reading through (even my least favorite one I read quickly), but this one was so easy to put down. There are quite a few issues I have with this novel, but it also isn’t horrible because when it was fun to read I wasn’t bored and I found myself squealing at the cute moments.


Balogh’s writing style is impassion and cold. It’s hard to make a connection to her when her character match her writing style at the beginning of the novel. Another con to Balogh’s writing style is her tendency to have really long mental interjections before starting a conversation. It gets really easy to lose interest when I’m reading a conversation that last several pages because there are so much unnecessary anecdotes that lack in humor and are filled with existential drama. This story didn’t entrance me and in my opinion, that’s a bad sign in a HR. HR romance should make me want to never stop reading and I should gobble it the story up because it’s just so swoony and fun. This novel lacks just that.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 2

“Life has kick us in the teeth, Abby, and I am about to kick back. Hard.”

The main female character is Camille. Camille has the personality of a bag of bones, even then I’m sure skeletons are more fun than her.

She is a very refined character and her thoughts don’t feel real for a very long time. My interactions with Camille were not off to a good start at the beginning of the novel and I couldn’t find myself wanting to connect to her cold, whiny inner monologues. Camille is also incredibly selfish. Her mind is all woe-is-me my life is over and ruined. Waah waah waah!


The funny thing is that Camille does grow on the reader. I’m studying to teach high school English and I loved her interactions with teaching the children. It made my soul so happy. Camille’s interactions with baby Sarah are her saving grace. It’s those interactions that made her human and I could see that Camille wasn’t a cold-hearted aristocrat no longer in high society, but a woman who didn’t know love and wanted to give it to someone small.


Camille also made a complete 180 out of nowhere from being cold to shoving tongue happily into Joel’s mouth, which is great, but a little out of left field for her personality. Then she became cold and stiff again then she randomly jumps into bed him with. I was proud of Balogh for allowing Camille to have a true first sexual experience. She doesn’t have an orgasm and it’s refreshing and believable. Then Balogh ruins it with that annoying trope of fuck and run while calling herself a na├»ve idiot for putting her love in someone who may not love her.

Like please, can we stop with this trope? Why can’t we have a heroine who has sex and doesn’t feel ashamed by her actions just because affections may not be returned.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2.5

The main male character is Joel. Joel is so bland. He is boring and I couldn’t find myself falling for him. He is not the type of HR hero that makes me swoon and it made story pretty boring. An orphaned painter shouldn’t be such an uninteresting character, but Balogh somehow managed to make his character dull. He does grow into a more interesting and fleshed character as the story progresses, but by the last page I still found myself unimpressed by his comments and I just didn’t really care all that much for him.


Swoon Worthy Scale: 2

I haven’t read the first novel in this series, so I hadn’t met Anna prior to reading this novel. I can’t say I’m impressed with Balogh by her introduction to a beloved character because it left a sour taste in my mouth. I’m introduced to her in a POV after a tense interaction with Camille and it results in her and Camille’s cousin, Lizzie, making snide judgmental comments about Camille’s state of dress and her personality. I understand from reviews that people didn’t like Camille, but I honestly didn’t like Anna very much because of this at first. The first time I'm introduced to a character in a book, POV wise, shouldn't be them judging another woman while also saying "I so want to like her, but I don't know if I can because of how she treated me in the past" (paraphrased). Anna did grow on me as the story went on, but I still can’t get over my first introduction being a catty bitching session about a woman.


I did enjoy seeing a huge family like the Westcotts in a HR because most families are quite small, but this family was huge. I couldn’t keep track of all of them and it reminded me of how big my family dinners are because I come from a large family as well. I enjoyed Abigail, Camille’s sister, and Avery, Anna’s husband, but besides them no one really stuck out to me. The connection to Joel’s family is quite interesting and I really felt for him for his new knowledge and sudden loss. It’s too bad the character wasn’t around more because I found his dry humor hilarious.


Character Scale: 2.75

Overall, I don’t know if I would recommend this. It’s not my favorite HR and it’s definitely the best. There are much better ones out there and I would recommend Lisa Kleypas, Sarah MacLean, and many more before I would recommend picking this one up just because it’s not very fun and the characters are bland. The novel remains at a stagnant pace for a long time and I almost DNFed because of how bored I was. I’m glad I finished though because I found the ending to be sweet. SPOILER I wish that there were more adoption endings in HRs because I think it’s so beautiful to welcome unwanted children into the lives of those who are willing and able to provide for them.SPOILER If you do decide to pick this one up, I hope you enjoy it more than I did.


Plotastic Scale: 2.25

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover for this one. It’s stunning!


Thank you, Netgalley and Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Are you interested in picking up Someone to Hold? Have you read Mary Balogh? Any recommendations as to what other books I should pick up? I know she is beloved and I just think this one was a miss for me. Let me know down below in the comments!