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Category Archives: Book Review

Which means, I totally should, right?

If you’re a reader, then you’ve probably come across that book that stays with you and leaves you unable to think but you want to rant and/or rave about it to the closest person. I’ve come across three such books that rendered me useless afterwards. I refuse to review them because I couldn’t do a proper job of it. I refuse to read them again because that’s a scary idea. Maybe after I’ve rambled at you, dear reader, you can help me find my courage to do so. These books are definitely worth a second read.

a conspiracy of kings

Title: A Conspiracy of Kings
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
On Goodreads, I rated it: 4/5 stars

Megan Whalen Turner is a fantastic author!! I discovered her back in seventh grade and like many other fans, I’ve been waiting for her next book to release after this one. This one, it just, was everything and nothing of what I expected. I WANTED MORE GEN. I got Sophos. Who is a very endearing character but GEN. After my *extreme* initial disappointment I enjoyed the story completely, especially towards the end because while it had a few cliffhanger strings to keep us wanting, it was a stand alone by (I love those books that can be part of a series but are completely satisfying without needing a sequel) so more GEN. I mean SOPHOS. I became attached to this young king. So read it. All of the books from Megan Whalen Turner are satisfying, brilliant, page-turners.
mockingjayTitle: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
On Goodreads, I rated it: 3/5 stars
Mockingjay, Mockingjay, how shall I put this? I loved you, I hated you, I fear you. Emotionally it was everything I could have expected but plot-wise it was a bit lack luster. Going at a neck-breaking pace I fear I felt detached from most of the characters for the most part. I’ve not yet resigned myself to some of the fates of these much loved characters. I had a love/hate relationship with the ending. Collins is a brilliant author though and I absolutely loved her previous series, The Underland Chronicles. So I’m definitely eagerly awaiting her next book series.
the fault in our starsTitle: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
On Goodreads, I rated it: 3/5 stars
A friend highly recommended this and my curiousity got the best of me so I picked up Mr. Green’s book not too long ago. I’d read Paper Towns (one of Rosey’s favorite reads!) a while ago and while it was stirring, I can’t say contemporary is my thing. Sadly such was the case with this book. I had a hard time liking Hazel and I found it quite predictable but I’d be heartless if I said it didn’t twist my heartstrings a little. Augustus and Isaac were more likeable and I appreciate the very real take on terminal illness that didn’t pull back at all with its punches. With a lot of touching moments at the end of the book, I can say this is worth going to sleep at 4am. Great book, easy to recommend.

I was recently mopping my floors and staring at my bookshelf (because what else would you do while cleaning) and realized that I haven’t actually reviewed all the books on my favorites shelf. I’m not talking my mental “favorites” shelf, which is about a gagillion books long, but the physical shelf where I put my favorite books. Being a book blogger and moreover a book lover, I have my own unique system for organizing my books (mostly so I can find my way to whichever book I want in the vast ocean of literary works I own). It involves a single shelf dedicated to my favorite books in order of preference and merit (but also organized by author because I can’t not organize my books by author), excluding dystopian series because then it wouldn’t fit on a single bookshelf. Anyway, I decided that this would never do and that I’d better review these books quick. Also, I saw a chance to make a graphic. I like that (though I’m not very good at it).

Here is a picture of said bookshelf, but look, it’s mysteriously blurred out (insert chance to make a graphic here).

TFIOS_shelf

Can you guess which book I’m reviewing today? The one in focus, perhaps?

I’m going to forgo my usual header because there’s no use to giving these books a rating. This review is for The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I don’t EVER talk about this book in public and try to avoid the subject because I love this book so much (as does most of the reading world). It ended up on Tally’s Three Books I Cannot Review list (coming up later this week) and I, similarly, have avoided reviewing it for various mental health reasons. Maybe this is bad for our readers because we don’t review those books we love the most (a lot of the books you’ll read about being on my favorites shelf I haven’t previously reviewed for this reason), so I’m going to attempt to review them here, but give me some slack on these reviews because these will be the hardest books for me to talk about publicly. Maybe I’ll devote a later post (I haven’t written the Tuesday post for next week yet so maybe you’ll see it then) to why we (I) refuse to talk about some books, but for now we’ll focus on this book in particular.

My favorite John Green book is Paper Towns, but The Fault in Our Stars is the first book on my favorites shelf because it hit me so hard in the emotional stomach that I just felt it deserved that first place spot. Because it got that first place spot, the next four books on my shelf are also by John Green because as previously mentioned I can’t bear to break up an author in my organization system (you should see my Scott Westerfeld section). First, a (hopefully spoiler free) summary:

Hazel Grace Lancaster has lived on borrowed time for a great part of her life, thanks to miracle cancer-slowing drug Phalanxifor. There is no knowledge as to when this time will run out, but Hazel has accepted that and would be pretty okay with staying home and watching America’s Next Top Model for the rest of her undetermined lifetime. In spite of Hazel’s wishes, her mom insists that she attend Cancer Kid Support Group, which Hazel thinks is kind of ridiculous.

Then Hazel meets the least ridiculous thing about support group: Augustus Waters. Extreme fan of metaphor and drama, Augustus attempts to sweep the usually unsweepable Hazel off her feet, and in the process gets swept off of his one foot at least several times. The result is everyone lying on the floor, in every array of emotion possible.

When I say everyone lying on the floor I mean that metaphorically but also quite literally in that I was lying in a sort of puddle-heap hybrid by the end of this book. It (metaphorically) killed me emotionally, though a tiny bit of that might’ve been because I read TFiOS in one sitting starting at like eight o’ clock the night I bought it so I was sitting there having my feelings ripped out at approximately five a.m., but it was also a really emotionally difficult (but great!) book. Everyone (meaning one person) I’ve ever talked to about it also says they suffered a mental breakdown while and after reading the last chapters, and that is in agreement with every online discussion of the book I’ve ever read.

I don’t want to say too much more about TFiOS because I don’t want to risk ANY spoilers, but just know that it really is really truly really worth a read. It didn’t make it to the tippy top of the NY Times bestseller list for no reason.

The author, John Green, does other things besides write books, including running a vlog with his brother, Hank, and generally building and sustaining an awesome online community that has been helping to decrease worldsuck (aka do good things for the world) for years, as well as providing a ton of fuel for intelligent discussion (we like that here at Bookmarks) and the increasing of knowledge. You should go check him out.

Can you guess which book I’m reviewing next? (Here’s a hint: it’s the one not blurred out all the way.)

Happy Tuesday and hope you’re warm,
Rosey


the reaverTitle: The Reaver
Author: Richard Lee Byers
Pages: 352 (Ebook)
Rating: 4/5

THE REAVER came out February 4th! I received an ebook copy from Netgalley for review.

In the 4th book of the multi-author Sundering series, Richard Lee Byers introduces Anton Marivaldi—a renowned reaver with an insatiable thirst for bounty and a moral compass that always leads him toward the evil he’s never tried.

Endless, pounding rain afflict the Sea of Fallen Stars and the coastal regions surrounding it. Harvests are failing, travel and trade are disrupted, and civilized forces are giving way to the deluges caused by the storms. In panic and despair, many have turned to the goddess Umberlee, Queen of the Deeps, offering her sacrifices with hope that they will be spared the inevitable reckoning of her perpetual tempest.

Evendur Highcastle, undead pirate captain, risen from the depths to assume the mantle of Umberlee’s Chosen, takes advantage of the people’s desperation to strike for both spiritual and temporal power in her name.

Vying with Highcastle for the hearts and minds of the people is Stedd Whitehorn, a little boy and the chosen of a god thought lost to time: Lathander, the Morninglord. In a time of such upheaval, Stedd’s message of renewal and hope runs in stark contrast to the savage ethos of Highcastle and his waveservants.

When Anton captures the boy in order to collect Highcastle’s considerable bounty, the reaver is quickly caught in the riptide caused by the sundering of worlds.

Start out with a fight scene. Check. Pirates and ships and magic and awesome powers. Check. Keep me interested. Yep, check. Wow, this book blew me away. I loved reading this! I had no trouble picking up where I left off whenever I had to put it down and I enjoyed Anton Marivaldi’s adventure with Stedd and Umara. I love reading from the bad guy’s perspective which made it even better when I got to read from Stedd’s point because it was so refreshingly different. Anton had me swaying between liking him and thinking some of his “kind” acts a bit out of character but I grew fond of him as the story progressed, especially as he teamed up with Umara.

One of my favorite parts were the lions and what happened after Stedd got to his destination. Won’t elaborate more than that. I loved the fight scenes too! Always a new factor to throw in and keep things interesting. Umara definitely brought things to a whole new level of interesting with her wizardry. The events of the Sundering are coming together spectacularly and I’m sure that any long time Forgotten Realms fan is going to enjoy this story as much as I did. Even new fans can pick these books up and dive in without a problem.

Byers brought an excellent tale to the table, one that made me forget about anything but the sea and the not so romantic antics of pirates and their battle for domain and power. There was almost nothing for me to pick at so I say, pick this up! The ending was perfect for Anton and Umara, two not so pure characters and I was really happy for Stedd. Not a heavy tale, it has my praise for being captivating and reaver worthy.

Happy Reading
~Tally


Abandon Elana Johnson SPOILERSTitle: Abandon
Author: Elana Johnson
Rating: 4/5 stars
Pages: 446 (hardcover)

Many of you may remember my wave of enthusiasm as I read the Possession books, Possession, Surrender, and Abandon. Well, on the same night during which I reviewed Abandon, I also wrote a spoiler-ridden review to get some of my . . . Emotional blockages out of the way. During a recent laptop overhaul I discovered this review that I had intended to post at some point, and decided that the time is now. There will be spoilers. You probably won’t get it if you haven’t read the book. You might not get it even if you have read the book. I hope this gives you a little bit of insight into how my brain actually works, as there’s quite the difference between the reviews I usually post and the initial spasm I experience after finishing a book. I hope you enjoy it despite or because of those reasons. Here, in its entirety, is my spoiler review, sans edits since my original brain splat.

Though I really loved Possession and Surrender, there was something about Abandon that made it so perfect I couldn’t breath while I was finishing it. It wasn’t even that late at night when I was reading, so I can’t blame exhaustion for my overemotional breakdown like I can with most of the books I’ve lost it over. I was sitting there, nine thirty at night, huddled in a corner even though it was 85 degrees in the dark, and I couldn’t believe what’d just happened. This happened three times, with building intensity.
First, Laurel fell. I had to read everything from both Zenn and Jag’s point of view several times because I could not comprehend what had just happened. When I did get the basics (Vi’s mom just fell off a hoverboard, everybody freeze and decide that since she knew the risks it’s okay she died), I thought for a few minutes that Zenn had killed her. I felt relief, because I was ready for Zenn to freaking commit to a side already. I also felt despair, because a. Vi had lost her mother and b. Thane had lost his wife without really reconciling with her like I’d hoped he would. Also c. d. e. and f., but that’s more detail than I need to get into.

Then, Thane sacrificed himself for the good of the Resistance. That was the way for him to die. It was perfect and beautiful and so, so tragic. My jaw actually dropped, which I’ve been noticing happening for a long time, but haven’t noticed often. It dropped lower than it’d ever dropped, I do believe. The emotional cascade nearly made me stop reading. But I kept on.

And then Zenn happened. I was literally, really, truly, curled in a ball, dripping tears onto the pages of my pristine copy of Abandoned. I didn’t even have the presence of mind to care. I had expected Vi to be the one to go, and I was going to be flat out enraged if she dropped off. I was so surprised. I, again, couldn’t figure out what had happened. I hadn’t even thought to mentally prepare for Zenn dying. I had expected to be left with the opposing points of the love triangle, a bitter old lady with a thousand cats still wondering what would have happened if Vi had survived. Instead I was a blob of person-mush, falling apart for someone I had barely tolerated for most of the book. Me and Zenn had some problems, to say the least. But everything, and I do mean everything was redeemed with his last italicized thoughts, and I am still trying to deal with his death. I don’t think I’ve fully accepted it yet.

I am now forcing myself to move past the deaths, and focus on some of the other things, the thing I’m focusing on being the plot. I read all three books in a few days, really back to back, so the plot is kind of a flowing line through the whole story span (not really plot arc. There are a ton of those within the story span. It’s very confusing), but I ran into a bit of a hitch in my flawless reading plan when I was about ¾ of the way through Abandon. It corresponded with the weather taking a turn for the hot, I do believe, but I went to bed late one night and when I woke up didn’t feel the need to read my book for like eight hours, which was a lot for me. It was a good thing for me personally, actually, I did a ton of classwork and worked out in the time I spent away from my book, but I did lose a little bit of that fluidity with the plot line. I went back later in the day and nearly died from plot angst, though, so I apparently didn’t lose all of my memory.

There wasn’t one event that drove me away from the book, but about 105% of the reason was because of Zenn’s narration, I do believe. I got really tired of him and Saffediene and Vi and all that suck, because two love triangles is just too much for a book to handle. I got tired of him worrying about which side to pick, as I’d already mentioned. He needed to just commit, to a side, to a girl, to an ally (the thought of him leaving Jag again was also not attractive to me). I needed to get out of his head for a while, I think. I started back on with a Jag chapter, and I think that was really good for me because I regained my faith in Elana Johnson’s (awesome) writing expertise and remembered that I really loved everyone except for Zenn.

Hope that was entertaining if not educational,
Rosey


the adversaryTitle: The Adversary
Author: Erin M. Evans
Pages: 352 (Ebook)
Rating: 2.5/5

A bit late of a review, I received a copy from Netgalley for review.

In the 3rd book of the multi-author SUNDERING series kicked off by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, the award-winning Erin M. Evans throws her signature character Farideh into a maelstrom of devilish politics and magical intrigue. Captured by Netherese agents and locked away in a prison camp, Farideh quickly discovers her fellow prisoners are not simply enemies of Netheril, but people known as Chosen who possess hidden powers, powers that Netheril is eager to exploit—or destroy. As Farideh’s friends and sister race across the landscape on a desperate rescue mission, Farideh is drawn deeper into the mystery of the Netherese plot alongside two undercover Harper agents. But will her closest ally turn out to be an adversary from her past?

I’m starting to realize why these authors are the ones chosen to take part of the Sundering series. They are *brilliant*. Evans had my attention from the start, I didn’t know if i would enjoy this one, mostly because I wasn’t sure what to expect. Not knowing who the cast of characters were, I kind of stumbled around lost for a good long while in the beginning which made it hard to sit down for a continuous read. Once I got a grip on the who’s and what’s I think I started to enjoy myself.

Then the middle hit. I had to put it down until I had a chance to sit down and plow through it in one sitting just so I could get it done with. The plot slowed down to a crawl as all the characters struggled internally and while I got a great glimpse to their relationships, it was really hard to not just skim through after a while.On the other hand, the characters! I just loved each and everyone. Most of the characters I had fun reading weren’t human and it was interesting expanding my knowledge of the Forgotten Realms. One particular favorite was Mehen, the twins’ adopted father, a dragonborn. Wish I could have read more about him! The end had some lovely fights and Farideh stole the show. I enjoyed it much more than the rest of the book.

If you’re looking for an author with solid characterization skills and an ability to bring a fantasy world to you completely Evans is the one. This was a decent introduction to her but maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had picked up her other books first. Perhaps in a different mind frame I could have enjoyed this story better. I’m not sure. Have you read it or any of the Sundering books so far?

Happy reading
~Tally


ophelia and the marvelous boyTitle: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Author: Karen Foxlee
Pages: 240 (Ebook)
Rating: 3/5

I received a copy from Netgalley for review. This book is coming out on January 28th, so you can pick it up quite soon too!

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a truly remarkable adventure that I for the most part enjoyed. I love museum settings and think that this is a story that both boys and girls can enjoy, especially as a read-out loud to a class story. In fact, I started out reading it out loud to a friend but ended up falling quiet and reading it to myself. Oops.

Ophelia was interesting, more so than the Marvelous Boy who I refuse to speak about for spoilerish reasons (also because I might end up yelling about a specific thing again. Which is a good thing, that means the author did good!). She meets him and refuses to believe in his fantastical stories about wizards and keys and the end of the world. I nearly wanted to smack him myself after he kept making Ophelia go after keys, it got a bit tedious. My favorite scene would have been Ophelia and the ghosts, that struck as the Snow Queen’s evilest of deeds. More so than the misery birds or the wolves, or that she wanted to kill a boy. The misery birds were pretty neat and scary, wish I could have seen more of them in the story.

It was a great read though I felt like the ending and the fight with the Snow Queen was rushed and slightly anticlimactic. The Snow Queen gave me the chills and I loved the flashbacks of Ophelia and her mother, but the other characters seemed to lack some character building. The ending came at a satisfying point even though I wanted it to continue for just a bit longer so I could get a few remaining questions answered! Overall though, I was happy to have picked this up and would definitely recommend it to any youngster or young of heart.

Stay warm!
~Tally


fangirlTitle: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Pages: 433 (Ebook)
Rating: 2/5

In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan,
but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for
every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

The beginning started out fantastic! I’ve very hard to please with beginnings but I was engaged with the story and read it at every spare moment (and not so spare moments). The writing shone and I really liked Cather and her fanfiction, which, personally I found really fun to read. But then, somewhere around the halfway mark, I realized something but crossed my fingers in hopes that Rowell (I’ve not read any of her other books) would have some fantastic twist that I wasn’t expecting.

I was disappointed. I was *highly* agitated. It stopped. Pretty much left me wanting to throw the book (ebook format mind you, I didn’t dislike it enough to throw my tablet thank you very much) across the room. What. Is. This. It meandered from one problem to the next with little resolution and I just wanted to be done with it.
Clearly I am not in the majority, people have just raved about this book and I was optimistic through the first half. Cather’s cute attempts and non attempts at college life were entertaining as were the glimpses of her writer life. Problems with her father, her sister, romantic relationship, finishing her writing class semester assignment, her mother, it all piled up on her. It was frustrating to see her deal (or not deal) with her problems. I could hardly bring myself to care after a point. At the very least I hoped she’d pull herself together. I was glad that she and Levi could bond together over Simon Snow (oh why didn’t you give us an ending on that string Rowell?) and just reading out loud together. That might have been the sweetest part of their time together.

Still. No ending. I am not sure if I need to commend Rainbow Rowell for her genius or wail at her for the injustice of it all. The ending… (or lack thereof) My dear reader, I will let you decide on your own. I will not take back my two stars though. This just wasn’t my cup of coffee but it certainly doesn’t mean it didn’t have any entertainment value.

Cheers,

Tally