Monday, July 30, 2018

The 5th Wave Trilogy Review

Hey, everyone! I hope you are doing well and reading a lot of books. Today I have a video discussing my thoughts on The 5th Wave Trilogy and whether or not I think it's worth reading.

Have you read The 5th Wave Trilogy? Do you love it or hate it? Have you seen the movie? Let me know down below in the comments!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Hollow by Jessica Verday

The Hollow by Jessica Verday

Book one in The Hollow trilogy

2 stars (originally 5 stars)

Abbey’s best friend, Kristen, has gone missing. She’s wracked with guilt, confusion, and wonders what happened to her friend. It doesn’t help that Kristen’s parents have decided to bury a coffin without Kristen inside of it. At the funeral, Abbey meets a strange boy with white hair and a black steak. Her world has been turned upside by the loss of her best friend, but who is this mysterious boy who keeps her company in the cemetery. This was one of emo thirteen-year-old Sarah’s favorite books. I loved it because of its ambiance and I connected with Abbey’s depression and love for the macabre—legend of Sleepy Hollow, the cemetery, and moody boys. Twenty-year-old Sarah does not share the same sentiments. The ambiance fluctuates between kind of foreboding and overwhelmingly chessy. This book wants to be a ghost story but isn’t one until the last two chapters. I remember loving the big reveal and it was why I loved the book so much when I was younger, but as someone who has read more books, this is rushed and poorly plotted. It feels almost like Verday remembered that she needed to finish the book someway because by chapter 23 out of 25, Abbey is working on a science fair project and doing a lot of borrowing inconsequential things that don’t affect the story at all. It’s not horrible, but it’s underwhelming. Verday has promise. There were times where I really liked her descriptions of the landscape and her intertwining of the legend of Sleepy Hollow to the town the novel is set in and its relation to the story, but this is 85% about Abbey mooning over Caspian. It’s boring and cliché. It is a steaming pile of instalove and angsty teenage moaning about true love not being fair and tragic and yada yada yada.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 2

Abbey is a drag. I appreciate that she is a character struggling with depression, but she is very empty. I think that’s what Verday was going for and she succeeds in that depiction, but people are more than their depression and I would have liked more characterization. I did like that Abbey was passionate about perfume making. It’s unique and it’s been a character trait that I’ve remembered for years. She is too boy obsessed for me to really care though, so I don’t know. I couldn’t tell at times if she was mourning the loss of a friend or the cold-shoulder of her heart throb. It was unconvincing.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2.25

Caspian… what a name. Someone really loves the Chronicles of Narnia and it’s appeal to sounding like a goth kid’s attempt at rebranding themselves during their teen years. I used to think he was so swoon worthy, but I can’t tell you one thing about Caspian besides his affinity for classic literature and always showing up when Abbey is really sad and needs him most. He is soulless. An empty shell of a person and why Abbey lusts after him is beyond me.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 1

The Villain- Pretty sure Verday forgot about writing one in. There’s this mysterious plot about Kristen having two journals and living a double life. I suspect it is leading up to a villain for the future, but this novel is boring. There’s no suspense. No terror. Just the moonings of a teenage girl.

Villain Scale: ???

That Ben guy was annoying. I think he’s supposed to be the Jacob end of the love triangle, but he’s weird. Who sees a girl that he doesn’t know but has forced his friendship upon (creepily and ineffectively I may add) a girl at a restaurant with family while on a date and ask to sit with these strangers? It was the most awkward thing (outside of Abbey’s pining) that I had to endure listening to. Also, who is Kristen? I keep being told and shown memories of them together, but who was she as a person. She wasn’t just a friend. My friends are people with qualities and I can list all the things I love about them and why I value their friendship while also telling stories about times we hung out, but Abbey seems to only be able to relay memories and not reasons why she loved her friend.

Character Scale: 2

This reread was a bust. It proved to me that I really have grown as a reader and my tastes have changed drastically. I do plan on checking out the sequel because I’ve heard the writing and story improves. We shall see.

Plotastic Scale: 2

Cover Thoughts: Back in the day, I read that ugly hardcover, but I love the necklace cover. It is beautiful.

The Hollow is one of my favorite books. I loved Abby and Caspian they were such good characters. Abby struggles with the death of her best friend and ends up meeting Caspian and falls for him. I liked the paranormal twist that was thrown into the mix, especially since it was vampires. I love vampire novels, but I like having a mix of other paranormal creatures and this book took the cake for a good jaw-dropping shocker.

 Are there any books that you've reread that you stopped loving? Have you read The Hollow? What are your thoughts on the sequels if you've read them? Let me know down below in the comments!

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Sixth book in the Hainish Cycle (can be read as standalone)

3 stars

“No man considers himself a traitor: this makes it hard to find out.”

On the planet of Gethen (also known as Winter), the Gethenians are a genderless species that can choose to become male or female during their mating cycle. The Ekumen of Known Worlds has sent Genly Ai or Genry Ai as he called by the Gethenians because they can’t pronounce the letter ‘l’ to be an ambassador and a connector between the universe with a very closed off planet. This icy planet isn’t easy to win over as a politics and grappling with a culture foreign to him become almost impossible to struggle, Genly finds himself fighting to survive the harsh landscape and the even harsher inhabitants of Gethen. I want to preface this by saying that this novel is brilliant. The concept is rich and ahead of its time. I can see why it’s considered one of the best scifi novels and is always highly recommended, but I felt like I was slugging through an anthropology textbook. The excursion concept is interesting to me, but like when I took an anthropology course, I find it boring. The premise intrigues me, but the meat loses my interest. That’s how I felt about The Left Hand of Darkness. It isn’t the worst novel I’ve ever read, but it’s one of the biggest disappointments I’ve read. This novel appeals to a lot of readers though, so I’m just probably the judgmental black sheep. One of my biggest problems with this novel is that it is so hard to get into. It’s an epic infodump where the reader is thrust into an alien world (keep in mind that the narrator himself is not, so this creates a jarring disconnect almost immediately since he’s been on Gethen for months) with an influx of names, dates, customs, and procedures. It was overwhelming and if I’m being honest my eyes were glazing over with boredom and I couldn’t bring myself to care. I’m just going to say that Le Guin’s style is probably not my style and that’s okay, but can I say that I’m incredibly saddened by this because I thought I would love her writing and she’d become a new favorite. The story does eventually pick up and find its stride. My favorite sections were the ones were Genly Ai was put into concentration camps because I felt like this was interesting commentary on WWII as well as social dynamics and oppression of those who could rise above the regime. There are great themes about prejudice towards the unknown or unbelievable to customs that have been set in stone and I really admire Le Guin’s commentary. There are some really beautiful lines in this novel, but there are too many pages of boredom. It didn’t balance well for me.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 2.5

The characters are where my problem with this novel lies. More so, the actions of the characters and the ending of the novel so look away friends because I’m about to spoil a whole lot of stuff Genly develops this weird semi-romantic relationship with Estraven. We are told that they have developed a desperate love for one another, but I sure didn’t feel that. I wasn’t sold on these two characters in the first place because they felt like walking, talking stick figures. Well, wouldn’t you know that Estraven sacrifices himself and dies for pretty much no reason. You know why it was pointless because Genly went to prison anyway and it was just one of those horrible writing techniques that I loathe to further one character’s story arc by killing off another. That’s just some bad writing and storytelling. I thought I was over this because I read this book last summer, but no, I’m still fuming.

Character Scale: 2

The Villain- Gethen doesn’t play. At times they reminded me of a dystopian society and they definitely weren’t opposed to concentration camps, shooting to kill, and other forms of torture. It was pretty much Big Brother on ice. It was one of the things I did admire about this novel.

Villain Scale: 5

I actually wrote this review because I was contemplating getting rid of this book, but I don’t think it’ll be one that I unhaul. There’s just something about it that I’m not ready to part with even though I hated the ending with a fiery passion. Maybe it’s the brilliant concept or maybe it’s because it’s a classic. I don’t know, but I’ll hold onto it for just a little while longer. Overall, this isn’t a bad novel. It has a lot of great attributes and it should’ve been a favorite for me. Sadly, it wasn’t, but maybe it’ll be a favorite for you.

Plotastic Scale: 3

Cover Thoughts: It’s pretty bland. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it.
Have you read The Left Hand of Darkness? Are you a fan of Le Guin? What are some of your favorite scifi novels that you think everyone must read? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Summer Book Haul + A Mini Review

Hey, everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I usually don't buy books often, but summer is when I usually buy the most books because I have free time and I take way too many trips to bookstores. So, here's my summer book haul!

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I've read a good bit of these which is great because I'm not just letting these books pile up and go unread. I've read The Last Star, A Court of Frost & Starlight, The Pursuit of Holiness, and Lady in Waiting. I'm also currently working on The Purple Book.

393727I read this for my Poetry & Protest class and I just wanted to catalogue the poems that I read on Goodreads. I'd love to read this whole collection someday and hopefully I will, but for now, here are the poems that I have read:

"A Working Party" by Siegfried Sassoon
Really intense poem that paints a picture of WWI and the trenches.

"Burning Shit at An Khe" by Bruce Weigl
Wonderful poem about the shit experiences (literally and figuratively) that the Vietnam War brought to the soldiers. I love the last sentence.
"I lay down in it
and fingerpaint the words of who I am
across my chest
until I'm covered and there's only one smell,
one word."

"A Mirror of the Twentieth Century" by Adonis
It's a very short poem and I don't have many thoughts on it. Not really my style.

"Still" by Wislawa Szymborska
I loved this poem a lot. It's beautiful and harrowing. It spoke to me on a deeper level than I thought it would.

"Song of the Juggler" by Heberto Padilla
I loved this one so much. There was just something about it that really spoke to me and I am a big fan of it.

"Stretch out your hands to me" by Bei Dao
I didn't like this one much. I'm not one for love poems. They don't really sway me and this one while pretty in prose is not my taste.

Everything else in this review is read at my own leisure. This is a very thick collection, but I really want to complete this collection of poetry. I will only be including poems or authors I think are worth mentioning.
*Siamonto's poetry is really captivating and I enjoyed both of the poems contained in this collection.
*The Little Car by Guillaume Apollinaire is one of the most moving poems I've ever read and the lay out of the poem is beautiful.
*I'm not a fan of Gottfriend Benn at all.
*I read one of Siegried Sassoon's poems for class and I loved the ones that are included, especially The Death-Bed.
* I can't stand e.e. cummings.
*Anna Akhmatova is one of the best poets I've ever read. I adored all of the poems in this collection and there are quite a few. Highly recommend checking her out.
*Boris Pasternak's poem "Hamlet" was my essay choice and I love this poem so much. Pasternak is an interesting person and this poem is so moving and I just love everything about it and what it has to offer.

It will take far too long to catalogue all the poems in this novel and I'm just going to leave this review with these thoughts. Against Forgetting offers an expansive range of poetry from diverse perspectives in times of war, exile, inhumane acts of cruelty, and a culmination of every hard hitting topic you can think of. It's a great look into different uprisings and wars that have occurred and the voices of those who were witnesses, either as soldiers, bystanders, or victims, packs a punch. This collection is huge. It could easily knock someone out and with that being said, it's important to keep in mind that poetry is very self-aware and private for the poet. This means that certain poems or poets may not be for everyone and I can truly attest to that statement. I stopped trying to read every single poem and skim read a poem. If it didn't hook or grip me, then I skipped it. I'm unapologetic about it because not every poem will grip me and shake me to my core, but a few of these did and even more of them got me thinking and allowed me to reflective on topics which is the aim of poetry. I'd say this is a successful collection worth checking out if you are interested in world topics and broadening you poetry perspective.

Overall Rating: 3.25 stars

Have you read any of these books? Are you interested in checking out any of them? Let me know down below in the comments!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

It's All About the Duke by Amelia Grey

It’s All About the Duke by Amelia Grey

Book three in The Rakes of St. James Trilogy

2 stars

The Duke of Rathburne and his friends have a dark past and find themselves the targets of the scandal sheet of Miss Honora Truth. Years ago, he and his two friends made a bet and twelve young ladies of the Season were sent letters from secret admirers. The dukes got away without much reprimand, but the ladies felt some burn. Rathburne has recently acquired a ward to watch over for the upcoming Season, Miss Marlena Fast. Miss Fast isn’t all what she seems. In fact, she’s Miss Honora Truth and all those sheets she has written are starting to catch up to her now that she is the company of the Duke of Rathburne. The premise for this is fun. It’s your typical story of a rake with high societal standards falling in love with a younger woman who doesn’t have any sway in London society (which if I must confess, is one of my favorite historical romance tropes). I’m a sucker for a good tension-filled romance of the “we mustn’t, but I can’t help myself” variety. However, this was lackluster. I didn’t really buy the romance between Rath and Marlena. I wasn’t even held in suspense by what would happen when Rath found out who Marlena truly was. It was just a plotline thrown in to add some suspense to this rather dry romantic narrative that had all the passion of a raisin. Also, Grey does an excellent job at writing the most cringe inducing lines.
“He was a feast of handsome, desirous male for her eyes.”
There are so many things wrong with this sentence. For starters, “feast for her eyes” is a great example of objectification from the female point of view. It is also just a weird phrase that needs to die. But thrown in handsome and desirous and we have this weird double adjective phrase that doesn’t flow well at all and just proves that these two words are not sexy when put together. I wasn’t aware that I was reading an ACOTAR novel because there’s the illustrious word male gazing up at me awkwardly. Our heroine refers to Rath later as “his male glory”. I think you get the point, Grey’s writing ability can be a little cliché and pairing that up with an uninteresting romance creates a lackluster romance in the historical genre.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 2

Marlena isn’t a bad heroine. She is kind of interesting. She’s lived this double life as a regular young lady and a scandal sheet writer. That’s an interesting combination, but of course, she has to be different from all the other girls of the town. She has to have dirt on her nose, prefer to be in the garden, and read botany books. I don’t mind her being represented as different from all the other girls of the ton, but let’s be real, this type of portrayal sets up the narrative that being like other girls in the ton and to enjoy balls, gossip, tea parties, or anything else means that you are a bubble head (see further down for example). Outside of her attributes of uniqueness, she was your run of the mill heroine.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2

Rath has his moments. He definitely was much more interesting at the beginning of this novel, but as the story went out the tension between him and Marlena fizzled out and I lost interest in his narrative. I can’t really tell you anything about who Rath is because all he is described as is a rake. No interests and hobbies outside of that.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 2

Justine is Marlena’s cousin and companion. She is the prime example of women who enjoy the Season being portrayed as bubble heads. She constantly going on about being the “diamond of the Season” and creates a lot of false narratives in her head. She fits into this trope of being a typical woman obsessed with the Season and I was kind of getting annoyed with her character and lack of depth. Then there’s, Veronica and Eugenia, who are the reason that Marlena started the scandal sheet and are her best friends. I really like Eugenia and her storyline was interesting. Veronica and her husband’s storyline was weird, but it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve read or even a real hinderance to this novel.

Character Scale: 2

Overall, It’s All About the Duke isn’t a horrible historical romance novel, but it’s definitely not the best one out there. I’m sure this one will be a favorite for a lot of people. I just wasn’t one of them. I will also not be reading the previous novels in this trilogy because I have no interest in the characters.

Plotastic Scale: 2

Cover Thoughts: I want that green dress.

Thank you, Netgalley and St.Martin’s Paperbacks, for providing me with a novel in exchange for an honest review.

 Have you read It's All About the Duke or any books by Amelia Grey? What books do you recommend in the historical romance genre? Let me know down below in the comments!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

BookTubeAThon 2018 TBR

Hey, everyone! The BookTubeAThon is rapidly approaching again this year. It starts on July 30th and ends August 5th. Here's my TBR, or as I like to call it, books I know I won't actually read. 

Challenge #1: Let a coin toss decide your first read.
Challenge #2: Read a book about something you want to do.
Challenge #3: Read and watch a book to movie adaptation.
Challenge #4: Read a book with green on the cover.
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Challenge #5: Read a book while wearing a hat on the cover.
Challenge #6: Read a book with a pretty spine.
Challenge #7: Read a seventh book.
All the books I mentioned at the end of the video.
Are you participating in BookTubeAThon? Have you posted your TBR? If so, link it down below!

Friday, July 13, 2018

January-June 2018 Releases That You Have to Check Out!

Hey, everyone! I hope you are doing well and reading a lot of wonderful and life-changing books. One of my goals for 2018 was to keep up with the ARCs that I receive from publishers because for the last couple of years, ARCs haven't been a priority, but I would request them like crazy. (I don't recommend doing that at all!) Suffice to say, I have intense ARC guilt and I'm trying to remedy that this year. It's been going really well! So far I have been accepted for 49 ARCs and have read 25 of those. I'm also currently reading two at the time that I'm writing this post. Surprisingly though I've read 29 new releases this year because audiobooks from my library allow me to check out newer titles as opposed for me waiting to stumble upon them at a cheaper price later on. Today, I'm going to list all the new releases that I've read this year and which ones I recommend reading in the latter half of this year! Asterisks (*) indicate which ones I recommend the most.

January 2018 Releases
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*The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn Released January 2nd by William Morrow 4.25 stars (audiobook)
Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge Released January 16th by Inkmonster LLC 3 stars
Reign the Earth by Sarah Glenn Marsh Released January 23rd by Razorbill 3 stars
 The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn Released January 23rd by 47North DNF 1.5 stars
*Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen Released January 30th by Bloomsbury 5 stars
*A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch Released January 30th by St. Martin's Press 4.5 stars
The month of January has a wide array of releases. I read all the ARCs that I was provided with in exchange for a review in this month. 5 out of the 6 books were ARCs and one was an audiobook that I do recommend. I feel like I enjoyed the novel more because of the audio as opposed to if it I had read it. 3 out of 6 novels are favorites and books that I recommend highly. My favorites from the month were Reign the Earth, A Devil in Scotland, and The Woman in the Window. Reign the Earth was my favorite out of this month and is still one of my favorite fantasy reads of the year.
February 2018 Releases
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*An American Marriage by Tayari Jones Released February 6th by Algonquin Books 4.5 stars (audiobook)
Starlings by Jo Walton Released February 13th by Tachyon Publications 3 stars
*You Know How the Story Goes by Thomas Olde Heuvelt Released February 21st by Tor Books 4 stars (free online)
 *Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman Released February 27th by Random House Books for Young Readers 5 stars
*I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara 4.5 stars (audiobook)
The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran 3.75 stars
Some of the most famous and talked about best-sellers were released in February- An American Marriage (Opera Book Club pick) and I'll Be Gone in the Dark (it's everywhere + they caught the Golden State Killer!). I read all the ARCs that I was provided with in exchange for an honest review. 3 out of 6 books were ARCs, two were audiobooks, and one is a free online story. Out of the audiobooks I listened to I feel like both were fantastic and I highly recommend them, but I think that I would've benefited more from reading I'll Be Gone in the Dark as opposed to listening to it. 4 out of the 6 novels were favorites. My favorites from the month were An American Marriage, You Know How the Story Goes, Tess of the Road, and I'll Be Gone in the Dark. Tess of the Road was my favorite out of the month and is one of the emotionally impacting novels I've read this year. Plus Tess is an amazing and memorable character!
March 2018 Releases
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the witch doesn't burn in this one by amanda lovelace Released March 6th by Andrews McMeel Publishing 3 stars
*The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton Released March 13th by Candlewick Press 4.25 stars
The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg Released March 13th by Holt Paperbacks 3.75 stars
*I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman Released March 27th by Viking Books for Young Readers 4.5 stars
 The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton Released March 27th by Tor DNF 3 stars
I feel like March was a huge month for publishing, but not so much for famous or well-known / acclaimed novels. I read five out of the ten ARCs I received for the month of March which is not good, but I will try to go back to those ARCs in the future. All of these books listed are ARCs that I received in exchange for an honest review. 2 out of the 5 novels were favorites. My favorites from the month were I Have Lost My Way and The Price Guide to the Occult. I Have Lost My Way was my favorite because I had forgotten how much I love Forman's books and I was blown away by the raw reality she depicts.
April 2018 Releases
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School for Psychics by K.C. Archer Released April 3rd by Simon Schuster 1.75 stars
Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime by Cutter Wood Released April 17th by Algonquin Books 1.25 stars
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku by Fujita Released April 17th by Kodansha Comics DNF 1 star
Dimension Drift Prequel by Christina Bauer Released April 24th by Monster House Books 2.5 stars
April wasn't big for publishing and the books that I checked out didn't impress me. As far ARCs go, this is a month of flops. I read all four ARCs that I received from publishers. I don't have a favorite from the month and I'm not rushing to recommend any of these novels, but if they sound interesting to you definitely give them a go!
May 2018 Releases
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The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner Released May 1st by Scribner 4 stars
Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope Released May 1st by St. Martin's Press 3.25 stars
The Luck of the Bride by Janna MacGregor Released May 1st by St. Martin's Paperbacks 3 stars
Furyborn by Claire Legrand Released May 22nd by Sourcebooks Fire 4 stars
LIKEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff Released May 29th by Knopf Books for Young Readers 4.25 stars
It's All About the Duke by Amelia Grey Released May 29th by St. Martin's Paperback Currently Reading
May is a huge month for publishing. A lot of talked about and hyped novels were released. I've read five out of the seven ARCs that I received from publishers in exchange for a review (I'm currently reading one now). 3 out of the 5 novels were really fantastic and I'd say that Furyborn and LIFEL1K3 are favorites. LIFEL1K3 is my favorite from this month. It completely surprised me and I wasn't expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did. If you aren't a fan of sci-fi, I think that this will be a great starting point if you are interested in getting into the genre.
June Releases
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Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari Released June 5th by Penguin Teen 1.5 stars
The Mermaid by Christina Henry Released June 19th by Berkley 5 stars
The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland Released June 26th by Viking Books for Young Readers DNF 2 stars
There are some really interesting releases in June. None that I think are getting a lot of hype, but I definitely see bloggers, BookTubers, and bookstagrammers talking about them. I've read three out of seven ARCs that I received from the publishers. I'm going to have to play catch up with some of these, but I'll get to them when I can! The Mermaid is hands down one of the best books I've read this year. It blew me away and I can't recommend it enough. This is one of the few novels that completely blow me away and I want more people to read it.

ARCS I Still Need to Read
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Are you excited to read any of these books? What are some of your favorite new 2018 releases that I need to pick up in the second half of the year? Let me know down below in the comments!

Short Stories That I Enjoyed in the Last Two Weeks

Hey, everyone! I've been away for a while. I moved into my apartment, started my intern teaching tenth graders at a local high school, d...