Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder Book Review

This book was such a sweet book!! I honestly didn't know what to expect from this book. I'd never heard of the author before and while the cover did draw my to this book, I had only briefly glanced over the premise. Nothing had jumped out to me and I didn't pick up this book for a few months. Then the release date started to approach and typical me I didn't plan as I should and only finished it a day before it's release!! What I can tell you is that I'm so glad that I have a copy of this book! I was soon caught up in a world of quirky characters and the high and lows of friendships and romances. 

Pen was someone I could relate to because I too am not very good at socializing. She also wants to become a writer and her favorite escape is in a book! Set in New York, she and her trio of friends are slowing beginning to undergo some changes. Audrey, her bestie, has started to become fast friends with another girl who Pen doesn't like. And then she starts getting into tiffs with her other friend, Eph so she feels like she's becoming all alone. She also starts to like a boy, Keats, and is struggling to find ways to hang out with him more as she is convinced this is going to be her happily ever after. Fast forward to the end of the book, she's heartbroken (as you can well enough have figured out by the title) but she's gained a lot of knowledge. She's made some new friends, figured out her heart, and realized that not all stories will have happy endings. I personally really loved all the characters in this book. They felt alive and there are some characters (like Grace, Miles, Oscar, and May) who I would want to know in real life!! They were definitely my favorite part of the book.

Plot wise, it's got it's ups and downs. I honestly saw some things coming from the second chapter, but that could have been intentional and that didn't mean I knew how the book would end or anything, I just guessed a few things and hoped and hoped things would work out the way I wanted them to. I probably would have asked for a bit more at the ending, or maybe an epilogue, but really it was fine. 
I also liked the writing! There were some really picturesque descriptions and places that Pen and co. visited that sounded wonderful. There were hidden away book stores and thrift shops. There was a flea market, diners, name it! I really got involved with the story and the characters within a few chapters and never really got bored. The setting and writing were both lovely and there wasn't anything that I disliked. 

Super sweet story!! When I read the premise I hadn't seen anything that piqued my interest but when I finally started the book I was surprised by characters I grew to love (and to some, strongly dislike) and a sweet story about not only love, but about friendship too. I found it very easy to relate to the main character and I liked her! I may have picked up on quite a few things before she did, but she wasn't dumb or annoying! It's just that she was hoping for the best and after all, who really has a clear head when it comes to figuring out crushes and what not? This is a good autumn or late summer read, as it's set in the fall and I tended to picture an overcast sky over the streets of NYC. If you are looking for a swoon worthy (but also realistic) romance with some quirky characters, I would definitely recommend this book!!

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Goodreads • Published June 2016 • Standalone
🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.5)
** NOTE this book just came out yesterday!! I'd highly recommend going to pick up a copy to read because I definitely enjoyed it ^-^
**Also, I have an ARC that was sent to the library that a librarian then gave to me idk how to properly credit that :P 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard Book Review

It was so cool to read these short stories that offer a peek into other characters' POVs and stories. Here we get a look at the past, how Cal's mother met his father the king and slowly lost her mind and in the second story of the book we return to the near present where Farley is being sent into Norta for the Red Guard. Both these stories were pretty interesting and it was great to get a chance to look characters on at the sidelines of the main story. You can understand things a bit better, like how complicated Maven and Cal's past is or find out more about the Red Guard. Although maybe not as exciting as Red Queen or Glass Sword, Cruel Crown is still worth reading, especially if you have read and loved the other books as I did. It's a little bonus material to add to the story, it's great!! I'm probably the only one, but I almost feel like short stories like this are almost like fanfiction to the regular books. Except everything is canon and written by the author haha. Point is, you get more knowledge of the world Cam, Mare, and Maven have grown up in. I quite enjoyed it and if you're a fan of the series, I'd recommend you read it as well!

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Goodreads • Published January 2016 • Red Queen series, 1.5

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys Book Review

I was expecting this book to be moving and incredible, I loved Between Shades of Grey and I was expecting a similar experience. In the end, it compared very well! Salt to the Sea was just as good and maybe even a little better. I did find that this book, while still heartbreaking and shocking, was easier to read and a bit less depressing. Within the first third of the book I was quickly falling in love with the characters and getting attached to them (the exception being Alfred, who I never liked). Florian was complex and a bit heroic. Emilia was the real hero, in my eyes anyway, she was so strong and sweet... Joana was also strong and wonderful. The side characters were so sweet (Klaus was absolutely adorable) and if/when any of them died it was quite heartbreaking. War is an incredibly horrible thing and these characters take you on a trip of survival through a difficult time. War makes people turn to drastic measures and it breaks them. It was both sad and interesting to see how each character dealt differently with the hardships they endured.

The pace of the book is generally pretty quick, the characters are fleeing from various countries and there are enemy soldiers and obstacles everywhere. I also liked the way the story was told, a couple pages in one of the four character's perspectives. It wasn't confusing after the first five chapters or so and, I think, made the story read a little faster. In my opinion one of the best things about historical fiction is that you are completely transported to another time and directly into the characters' perspectives. It is the best way to learn about history. You learn a lot and I for one find it enjoyable because it's interesting and from a perspective that's easy to read and relate to. I love that about this book and Between Shades of Gray. It is horrible what happened during World War 2, but I definitely don't regret taking the time to read these books. It's not happy, but it's educational and the type of book that opens your eyes and makes you more aware of events in history.

Overall, I really liked this book. I would probably reread it sometime down the road when the things I remember about it will have faded, but maybe not otherwise as it is pretty sad. That would be my one warning, this is a sad book there's lots of death and terrible things happening. There is fighting, children dying, and people being hurt. There are a few mature topics discussed or hinted at along with the violence, so be prepared for that if you do pick it up. If you can handle that, then I highly recommend it. It's a wonderful trip back in time and it's really educational (in a fun way).
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Goodreads • Published February 2016 • Standalone

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson Book Review

To be honest, I didn't really love the romance in this book. I would have totally been here for a book where it ends with Rapunzel lives on happily with her true family and pursues reading and learning everything she can along with traveling. But on the other hand, Gerek (aka the love interest) does help her out a lot and is kind, rescues her a few times, and encourages her reading so it's not really so bad. I just never necessarily liked him that much I guess? Anyway, the rest of the story is pretty cool because you get to a see a fairy tale told in a historical setting and there's full on knights running around doing tournaments and castles being attacked and what not. It was a nice retelling of the fairy tale and I was pretty happy with how closely it stuck the original fairy tale and what they changed here and there. Gothel was pretty messed up as she usually is, but I think she was written well and I was quite scared of what she would do to keep Rapunzel with her at several points! Rapunzel herself was a nice character, though at times she seems naive, I had to remind myself that it's all she knows from living with Gothel and Gothel being strict with her. She seems pretty perfect actually, but not in an annoying way. She's really sweet, but also brave and curious. I actually ended up both relating to her and liking her a lot. I guess that one of the downsides of reading fairy tale retellings is that you know two things a) more or less how the story will end and b) they live happily ever after 99.99% of the time. The thing that's a bit different with Melanie Dickerson's retellings, I think, is that since these stories are told as "historical fairy tales" (well that's how I'd say it) there's more of a chance that the story might differ a little from the original fairy tale. Of course this can be hit or miss, but it's usually a hit with Dickerson's books. There are just enough changes to make the plot exciting and surprising, but still keep the roots of the story close by. The writing flows easily and while I wasn't picking this book up every time I got a chance, whenever I did pick it up I read several chapters pretty quickly and without really realizing that I had.  

I was pretty happy with this retelling!! I really liked Rapunzel, she was so sweet and I thought her story was retold well in this historical kind of retelling that Melanie Dickerson does. Gothel was a wonderful mixture of creepy and understandable, you get scared of what she might do but you're able to see the reasons why she is so cruel when she tells Rapunzel of her past. Although I didn't really like the romance or Gerek that much it was still ok. This is a pretty quick read and if you enjoy retellings I'd definitely recommend The Golden Braid!! :)

I review for BookLook Bloggers
I was provided with a copy of the book to review and the opinions stated in my review were my own.
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Goodreads • Published November 2015 • Sixth book in the Hagenheim series.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

To Kill A Mockingbird Book Review

This is such an interesting book. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much I did. I thought this would be another book I had to read for literature that I might end up liking it a little, but it would (as usual) not be as interested as the recently published fantasy or romance books I choose read. But not the case! Within two or three chapters I was getting hooked and would settle in to read for an hour or two and emerge chapters later. There were things I loved, like how Scout toed the line of what was acceptable for a girl at that time. Her mother died when she was young and she's been raised by her father, Atticus, and their cook Calpurnica. Atticus is the hero, someone who Jem and Scout don't always think of as being as awesome as he really is. Atticus also encourages reading (always a win in my book), thinking for yourself, and asking lots of questions. Anyway, Scout hasn't has the normal sort of raising and she's not the normal sort of girl. She wears overalls and beats up boys at school occasionally. She was great, I loved her spunk and seeing the story told through her eyes. The benefit of the book being told from her, a child's perspective, was the simple way she saw the world sometimes and how she and her brother, Jem, would question the world they were growing up in.

 However the racism and sexism throughout the book was sad, but that's how  the time truly was so it wouldn't have made sense to change it. The main issue or problem for Scout to overcome is the backlash from her father defending a black man accused of a horrible crime that he's mostly likely been falsely accused of, shows just how sad a time it was. That was really the main drawback of the book. Otherwise, it's a charming book that takes you back in time to a small-town in Alabama. There are adventures with lost pants, a ham costume, and a fire even! Plenty to keep you interested beyond the historical aspects. The characters are great too, Scout's family is lovable (her aunt or cousin perhaps not as much, they were barely likable in my opinion) and so are their friends like Miss Maudie, Calpurnica, Dill.

Overall, the writing engaged me almost immediately and I was soon turning pages quickly to see what adventures or mischief Scout would get up to next. It transports you back into the late 30s-early 40s and life growing up in the South. I really didn't think this book would be as good as I found it to be. I'm so glad that I decided to read it, it was truly rewarding and I didn't mind reading it at all!! The racism being, really, the only sad or annoying part of the book...however I feel it reflects the time well and is a peak into the past and what the world used to be like. So it's educational :) If your from the South or searching for a book about the south or even just an interesting, captivating book to read, look no further!

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Goodreads • Published December 1982 • First part in a duology (I believe)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Me Before You By Jojo Moyes Book Review

Whether it was because my mother told me that I couldn't watch the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie until after I had read the book or just due to being constantly let down by casting choices and bad representations of the book and its characters in movie adaptions, but I always try to read the book before I see the movie. Thus, I was more than a little disappointed when I realized that the book I had recently been lucky enough to add to my collection was in fact a soon to be movie whose trailer I had just seen about a week before. Yes, that's right. I realized too late to take back watching the trailer (which I had been excited about at the time) that the soon to be released movie, Me Before You, was in fact a book first. I wished I could forget what Sam Claflin looked like and forget all the other actors from the trailer I had seen looked like. I wanted to see the characters in my head based on what I read, not based around who had been cast to play the characters in the movie. So it was with a bit of bitterness that I started this book, but the majority of my expectations were simply hoping it would be a good book. 

Although this is the first book of Jojo Moyes that I have read, I doubt it will be the last as I was pretty impressed with it. One of the things that really makes Me Before You interesting is that it's not a conventional love story. At first I wasn't exactly happy with the ending, but the more I had time to accept it and think it over, I grew to appreciate it. Not only is Will and Lou's relationship far from the typical "boy meets girl" for many reasons, but I really felt like they both influenced each other to be better people and to grow. He gives her hopes and dreams beyond the small town where she's lived her whole life. She in turn shows him that every day could be worth living when you try to see it in that perspective. What happened to me-as I stayed up until 3am reading this book-was that I got utterly lost in the story and caught up in Lou's mission to save Will. I did try to forget all I had seen in the trailer to the movie adaption and maybe that was why I was a little shocked when I realized the story was rather taking a darker turn. Maybe there were things I would have picked up on sooner if I hadn't been as involved in the story (but is that really a bad thing?), but I would still have to say this is a pretty solid plot. There are ups and downs with her relationship and plans for Will, her relationship with her boyfriend, details of her past, and conflict and pressure with her family. I loved that from the first chapter of this book it was very blatantly British. I love all things British (except, perhaps, walking in pouring rain) and the setting for this book is a small town somewhere in the english countryside.

As well as being cute, British, and an unconventional romance story, this book opens the reader's eyes to several issues. For one, it puts you into the life of a person living with disabilities and directly in the shoes of someone who is helping to take care of them. There's also the raised issue of whether or not someone in a position like Will's should be allowed to choose to end their own life. I've read a few other books with a main character or a background character who has a disability and it's always shocking when you're reading and you keep realizing all the things that you take for granted: like being able to travel along a narrow sidewalk or the convenience an able-bodied person has in restaurants and other public places vs someone in a wheelchair. I would love to see these everyday struggles presented more often in mainstream media because I don't think about, or notice, how many hardships there are for people with disabilities in everyday life, from walking down the street to driving somewhere. I doubt others do, either. While there are a few things mentioned that I've experienced or heard discussed about my grandpa's care that are in the book (bed sores, for example), I don't really have any place to say whether or not the author did a good job representing these struggles, but it felt like she did to me. It was very eyeopening. 

Other than the ending taking a bit of time to settle with me, the only other thing I disliked really was how Lou is treated by her family at times. I know that most families are a bit dysfunctional because you're taking a group of individuals and they're tied by blood to live together for a certain set of years and you love to hate them in a way... But it was sad how she is treated by her family and the pressure that they put on her. The financial troubles her family has are something that bring in a feeling of reality and make the story relatable because a lot of people have gone through some sort of financial struggle before. 

This book kept me up until 3am reading about Lou and Will! I had to tear myself away to go to bed only to return to it the next morning as soon as I woke up. I found it very interesting and eyeopening to several issues, particularly to the struggles a person with disabilities could come across, more often than not, each and every day. I want to say something along the lines of this book being a sort of bittersweet love story. It was a bit heartbreaking to me and I had to take a day or so to recover from it. I got very easily attached to the characters and sucked into their story. While the ending can be a bit hard to deal with, I would highly recommend this book. It's masterfully written and I did enjoy it a lot despite the couple hours of sleep lost over it and the few tears shed. Upon finishing Me Before You, I realized that it was a prequel to Me After You and I definitely plan to pick up that book now. Bottom line, I was pleasantly surprised by a wonderful and moving story that exceeded the casual expectations I had before starting this book. And after reading Me Before You I'm eager to read more of Jojo Moyes books!

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Goodreads • Published December 2012 • Prequel to After You.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What's going on....

So I made a tumblr book blog (or booklr I guess, I'm still learning the lingo) and you can visit it here although tbh I haven't been very active. That is partly because I have another fandom tumblr that I use more often. Also because I've been interning at my library in the teen department and it's been a blast and kept me busy! But the other reason is that I read so little last year and I'm still trying to get back to the reader that I used to be. I used to be better at blogging and enjoy it more. I want to enjoy it again it's just hard I guess, because I'm not sure how to start back up. Should I switch solely over to tumblr? Try creating a book-themed instagram like a friend of mine has? I don't really know what's best or necessarily what's easiest but I don't think that it's this blog. I figure that I'll give it a month, uploading my reviews as I write them and see how things go. However the likelihood is that I might close this blog down sometime this year...

What's more, my laptop won't let me reply to comments which is so weird...

Anyway, I just wanted to fill anyone who does still read this blog that I'm going to try restarting it some, but I'm really not sure if I'll keep it running. Again, here is the link to my booklr and I may start doing like video reviews or monthly book haul videos on youtube. I also may start a bookstagram because my friend is doing really well on it and while I might not be able to gain the same success it also looks quite fun. If you have any suggestions for me or simply want me to check out your blog or tumblr or whatever, please feel free to urge me to do so. Any help or advise will be readily welcomed!!
I also wanted to geek out a bit about how fun my job is. It's a four month paid internship where I do any little jobs that need to be done and help out with programs. I get a name tag that makes me feel super official and some of the programs I get to help with are super cool! Like on the right where I'm doing a test shot for some long exposure camera magic. The librarians I work with are SO nice and lovely :) It's been such a blessing to be chosen for the internship and that they have it at all. It's a perfect fit for me. It's also really interesting to see how much planning goes into the program (I'm going to get to run my own in April!) and how far ahead things have to be planned and then done. 

 Anyway, it's been pretty awesome, I mean I even get my own shelf to showcase any books I want to with any theme I want! I've shelf-read shelves, the manga, taken labels off of books and put new ones on, shifted some books when they teen collection was weeded, and done so many other fun things. Which might not be that fun to other people, but it's pretty awesome to me! Anyway...the summary of this post is I'm doing a really awesome internship that I love and I'm not sure how much longer I'll keep this blog running. But I'm going to try and experiment with a few different methods because I want to keep putting up reviews and being a part of the book community, I'm just not sure in what way that will be yet. -Sara

Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs

Kenna is tired of being "normal". The only thing special about her is that she isn't special at all. Which is frustrating in a world of absolutes. Villains, like the one who killed her father, are bad. Heroes, like her mother and best friend, are good. And Kenna, unlike everyone else around her, is completely ordinary— which she hates.

She’s secretly working on an experiment that will land her a place among the Heroes, but when a Villain saves her life during a break-in at her lab, Kenna discovers there’s a whole lot of gray area when it comes to good and evil and who she can trust.. After all…not all strength comes from superpowers.

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Where do I start about this book? I loved it!! To my shame I’ve been reading less and less the past year, finding it hard to find time to read and whenever I did start a book it would generally take me a while to finish. However, that wasn’t true for this book. Powerless was amazing and kept me very interested, I was up late reading and it was the first thing I did the next morning, well besides grabbing some breakfast maybe… Point is, this book grabbed my attention from the get-go and was very well written. It’s lighthearted and full of excitement while handling some crazy plot twists! This has been the quickest I’ve read a book in a while and it definitely made me want to read more in the series…like why isn’t the second book out yet?! ;-;

I loved the characters and none of them felt cliche to me, at first glance maybe a little (businessman and ultra good guy’s daughter is rebelling and wearing black hmmm) but really they all have some great layers and are really lovable. So yes, the characters are great, I liked them loads and they were funny! And brave too…I also liked how the romance was written with both tension and sweet moments. The plot is pretty good as well, the only negative thing that I’ll say about it (and also the book) is that I saw the “omg” moment coming and also have another guess at what might be do follow later in the series concerning a bit of a mystery with Kenna’s dad. There were, however, several surprises I didn’t see coming so it wasn’t as thought every plot twist was obvious or anything like that!!

World-building was good, I mean on some levels it’s very similar to our own world except for the fact that there are heroes and villains with superpowers. Which makes the book, in my opinion, I adore superheroes and I’m just about always down for a story or adventure featuring them. In this book there’s a firm line drawn between heroes and villains, marking one as clearly being the good guys and the others the bad guys. However as Kenna soon learns things can’t be so black and white as she discovers horrible things that heroes are doing and finds some villains that are just trying to protect their own.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and if you’re a superhero fan I would definitely recommend it.

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Goodreads • Published June 2015 • First book in the Hero Agenda series • 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ms. Marvel Vol.1 Review

Marvel Comics presents the new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation! 

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, Jersey! 

Rating: 4 stars

Lately there have been a lot of reboots of sorts with marvel characters...or rather superheroes gaining new faces or a different character wearing the cape you're used to seeing on, say for example, Thor. However in Ms. Marvel I really felt like this was going to be one of the good ones and I don't think that my hunch was wrong. I was quickly enticed by Kamala, she's such an interesting character and I feel like it's a new story, someone new that I haven't heard of before. You can read a "new" character's story and find similarities to several others at times and I didn't have that with Ms.Marvel. The story is similar to other origin stories, but I sort of expected that. She's got family and friends she's lying to about her heroic adventures and then one or two loved ones that she has filled in on her secret. She's had some triumphs already and a failure or two, she's struggling to find the balance of her own life and her time as a superhero. She's also discovering what kind of a hero she is as she tests out her new-found powers. So it's a pretty standard beginning for her. I enjoyed reading this volume, I read at least half of it in Barnes & Noble a little while ago actually. 

I'm looking forward to grabbing the next volume too, because I want to know what will happen! I like that at the moment Kamala is still a sort of Peter Parker hero(or at least Peter Parker in high school prior to avengers or any sort of superhero team-up), focused in her neighborhood and not saving the world exactly, but still doing her part to keep people safe. It's cozy and I like the art style and writing. I really like Kamala, I know I've already said it but I do. I think it's great to have diversity and spread awareness for other religions and cultures. I know I for one find it interesting and it's nice to see a hero who isn't white. I wish there were more :) Bottom line: I really enjoyed this and can't wait to read the next volume!