The Wonder – Emma Donoghue

IMG_1198Okay so I added this book to my wish list a while back after Amazon recommended it because of my interest in other books set in Ireland. Immediately after, I forgot about it. This past Christmas, my mom gifted it to me. I didn’t pay much attention to it at first and assumed it was Wonder by R.J. Palacio. (Spoiler: it’s not.) Somehow, the very different cover wasn’t a big enough clue that it wasn’t, in fact, Palacio’s book. No…this book is much, much different.
Now, let me just tell you. I LOVE stories that have some element of “magic” or “the miraculous.” I ALSO love historical fiction and basically anything set in Ireland. I have a bit of Irish ancestry, myself, so I’m always trying to find books that are set in Ireland, or are about Irish immigrants, etc. Donoghue provided the perfect story for me. I’m pretty sure she wrote this specifically for me. I’m like…super important that way.
Anyhoo, we find ourselves in Ireland a few years after the potato famine. It opens on an English nurse (trained by Florence Nightingale) traveling to a tiny Irish village. She was hired, along with a nun (who was also a nurse), by a committee to watch over a young girl who allegedly quit eating but was still alive after several months. The purpose of the watch is to ascertain whether this seemingly miraculous fast is legitimate or a scam. The child, Anna, is believed to be living off manna from heaven. Our English nurse, Lib, doesn’t believe in God or miracles, and is determined to prove there is some kind of trickery involved. Anna has become the subject of national debate. People come from hundreds of thousands of miles away to meet this wonder of a girl. There’s even a possibility she’ll be canonized! And this is all dependent on the nurses proving (or disproving) her ability to survive with no food. Is she actually living off nothing but air? Is she being fed by her caretakers without anyone knowing?
I do love Lib as a character. She’s exactly who I’d nominate to take on a watch like this. She was equal parts resolute and concerned for Anna’s well-being. Anna is a very interesting character, considering she is beyond devout and only 11 years old. Most children that age waver. She never did. Of course, things may well have been different back in the 1800’s in tiny Catholic villages. I’m most certainly not an expert in that field. I just really loved this book. I don’t really know how else to say it. I guess a lot of people weren’t as impressed by it, but I don’t really know why? It could be because the story is a bit slow-paced, but I think it had to be. Hell, I don’t know. When I like something, I have a hard time understanding why others DON’T like it. ANYWAY that’s all I have to say about that. Ta-da!

Book Description:
In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels–a tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

(From GoodReads)

Rating:
5/5

-Lesley

Advertisements

The Chemist – Stephenie Meyer

IMG_1197So like…okay…Meyer gets a bad rap thanks to the Twilight series. But you guys have to realize her other books have been pretty dang good. The Host was great and now that I’ve read The Chemist, I feel like maybe she was just a bit misguided when writing Twilight. SO back to the task at hand. The Chemist was a good example of an intelligent, strong, female lead. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Meyer original if there wasn’t a love story…so that happens too. And to be fair, it was a bit bizarre…but I won’t say more about that because, should you choose to read this one, you’ll want to be surprised by this particular relationship.
The main character goes by Alex. That’s not her given name, but she needs multiple identities, and since that’s what she goes by for the majority of the book, that’s what I’ll refer to her as. ANYWAY, she’s a chemist (duh) who was employed by a secret organization within the American government until one day they decide she needs to be disposed of. Since that day, she’s on the run and uses her know-how to neutralize threats (hitmen) and stay alive. Eventually, she’s called upon to “come back to work,” so to speak, and it leads her down a path she was hoping to avoid. Oh…and there was torture. That’s kind of a cool bit. Ya know…for the tiny sadist in all of us.
I guess this is considered an adult thriller, but it reads more like YA fiction to me. Of course, that could just be a preconceived notion since it was written by Meyer, but honestly, it reads a bit young, in my opinion. The characters are a bit flat, but not unlikable and their interactions are pretty much what you’d expect. Love and hate and distrust and so on. I guess that doesn’t really sound like a ringing endorsement, but it was a decent read. There were a few slow bits that I struggled through, but the story was a new/interesting one.

Book Description:

In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.
In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she’s one of the world’s bestselling authors.

Rating:
3/5

-Lesley

Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

IMG_1157Good gawd you guys.
This book.
I bought it on a whim after it was recommended by Amazon because of my interest in other books set in Ireland. I knew without even reading about the book that it’d be about rape. I knew it would potentially be a difficult story to read, but I was curious to see how O’Neill dealt with the topic. Rape is one of those topics I am personally connected to and feel passionately about. I will always be an advocate for rape victims. Their voices are rarely heard, and they NEED TO BE.
Anyway, the story begins and it’s all about a gorgeous 18-year-old girl and her friends (who are so much like Regina George and her group of followers that I almost laughed out loud at their interactions) and their wild ways. The main character, Emma, isn’t really all that likable…she’s shady and obsessed with being the hottest girl present. She’s dishonest and also has a tendency to be cruel. That being said, O’Neill MUST be a talented writer because by the time all is said and done, you DO feel sympathy for this girl. You may even relate to her.
You will find yourself hating everyone in this story at one point or another. I promise. Oh…except for Emma’s brother, Bryan, and her friend, Conor.
The ending was NOT what I wanted, but after reading the afterword, I understand the choice she made.

Rating
4/5

Book Description
Emma O’Donovan is eighteen, beautiful, and fearless. It’s the beginning of summer in a quiet Irish town and tonight she and her friends have dressed to impress. Everyone is at the big party, but all eyes are on Emma.

The next morning Emma’s parents discover her in a heap on the doorstop of their home, unconscious. She is disheveled, bleeding, and disoriented, looking as if she had been dumped there in a hurry. She remembers nothing from the party.

That day several devastating photos from the party are posted online and go viral, eventually launching a criminal investigation and sending the community into tumult. The media descends, neighbors chose sides, and people from all over the world want to talk about her story. Everyone has something to say about Emma, whose life has been changed forever by an unthinkable and all-too-common act of sexual violence, but all she wants is to disappear.
(from GoodReads)

-Lesley

The Infernal Devices – Cassandra Clare

IMG_1192
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)

Let me just preface this by saying I really really loved Clare’s The Mortal Instruments. I DEVOURED the entire series in a very short period of time. There was just no stopping me. Immediately after finishing that series, I bought The Infernal Devices, but I sort of forgot I had them until I was going through the large collection of new books I keep forgetting I have. I saw them sitting in their box and began wondering why I hadn’t started them. They looked so sad and forgotten. I still don’t have an answer for the not reading of the books, but short story long…I have started them and I am in love.

I guess it’s just that YA/supernatural/fantasy thing that always gets me…and I truly did love the Shadowhunter world, so it makes sense that a sort of prequel to The Mortal Instruments would make me equally happy. Actually, I may like The Infernal Devices even MORE because I LOVE books set in the past. Clockwork Angel is set in 1878 London and is about an American girl (Tessa) who travels to London after her aunt died at the request of her brother, who had moved and was working there. Of course, as tends to happen in the Shadowhunter universe, things go awry and battles with the supernatural begin. There’s also some of the love drama stuff, because OF COURSE THERE IS…but I REFUSE to give you details, so don’t even try to get it out of me! YOU’LL NEVER MAKE ME TALK!
I will, however, tell you that you should really look into this series. The characters are equal parts fun and infuriating, so you’ll not lack for eyerolls and awws. (and also if you choose to read these, you should know Henry is my favorite character. You’ll see why.) But if you hate it, I totally didn’t recommend it and you have me confused with someone else. I mean, we all know my tastes are a bit strange and maybe also a bit immature. DON’T JUDGE ME!

Book Description:

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…
(from GoodReads)

Rating:
5/5
Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2)

I’m still deeply in love with these books and these characters. Henry is still my favorite. I will still rave over the supernatural themes and the fictional history in these books. Clockwork Prince has made me so very happy. BUT THEN THERE ARE THE MOMENTS THAT MADE ME SO DESPERATELY SAD. There were moments that made me lose all interest in the third and final book, only because I was hoping for slightly different outcomes. But it’s fine. I’m fine. Ignore the sobbing you can no doubt hear no matter where you reside.

But in all seriousness, I will finish this trilogy and I’m sure I will love it. I had heard a few negative reviews from past readers. Many people were displeased with what seemed to be a greater focus on the characters relationships, as opposed to the wider story. I totally see how that could be a bad thing, but I think it was important to address the people as individuals and to explain their attachments (or lack thereof). I mean, this story would be nothing without the additional stories the players have created between them. You can’t very well have a decent story without developing the characters and their feelings for each other.

Book Description:

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.
(from Goodreads)

Rating:
5/5
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3)

Man…This trilogy…I’m really glad I read it. I mean…it’s been a while since I consumed a series so quickly. Then again, it’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down and relaxed with a book. Most of the time, I’m trying to do a zillion other things at once, and I can’t really focus on what I’m reading. But anyway…after finishing the series, I was automatically like “OH MY GOSH I NEED TO GO BACK AND READ THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS BECAUSE I REMEMBER HOW THIS TIES IN NOW!” So anyway…the final book wrapped things up pretty much how I anticipated it would. There’s a lot to be said for surprises, but I’m truly glad this one went the way it did. I would have been super disappointed if it didn’t. I’d have to give it a negative review and you all know how much I hate doing that.

As a series, I give this a very sincere two thumbs up. The characters MAY be a bit predictable, but I think it served the story well. Of course there WERE some surprises that cropped up, so don’t think the “predictable” characters make this a bad read. They totally don’t. And honestly, would you really want a set of heroes who don’t follow the stereotypes pretty closely? I’m going to answer that for you…no. You wouldn’t. I promise.
I also promise this rave isn’t just an attempt to make you do what I want, therefore brainwashing you. I would never ever do that. (or would I?) Geeze…why do you people still read anything I write? This is terrible.

Book Description:

Danger and betrayal, love and loss, secrets and enchantment are woven together in the breathtaking finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

THE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.
(from GoodReads)

Rating:
5/5

-Lesley

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me – Mindy Kaling

IMG_1195
Maybe this is an unpopular opinion but I’m just gonna say it. This book was terrible. Not in that it was poorly written. That was fine. It’s fine. I like some memoirs…some being “very few” and basically all of them are sort of focused on mental health (like Jenny Lawson’s stuff). I think the problem is…to enjoy this memoir, you need to really really like Mindy Kaling. And it’s not that I DON’T like her…I’m basically just on the fence about her. I loved her in The Office because she was just such a wreck. It’s fun to watch people be crazy and ridiculous. Here’s the thing though, I know she’s a brilliant woman and I’ve enjoyed her appearances on talk shows and in interviews about important matters like racism and sexism. She has a seriously impressive mind…buuuut that doesn’t really translate into the characters I’ve seen her play. I couldn’t stomach more than a few minutes of The Mindy Project.
ANYWAY the book just sort of became that more of that for me. It was all pretty shallow and I think I was expecting something a lot more engaging and I got mostly fluff. BUT I guess if that’s her life, she can’t really write a memoir that isn’t fluffy. Still…she’s so so smart and I just NEEDED to see more of that.

Soooooo if you’re a fan of Mindy Kaling this book is probably your thing. If you’re not, you’ll be disappointed.

 

Book Description:
Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

 

Rating:
3/5

 

-Lesley

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

IMG_1193

Alright, I’ve been meaning to read this one for ages. I never got around to it because I was so focused on all the YA that I’ve been buying. Then the movie came out and I was like, Yeaaaaah I should probably get around to reading that so I can watch the movie and not ruin everything. Then I told one of my friends I was about to start it, and she said “You haven’t watched the movie yet, right?” Apparently, people weren’t thrilled with the movie. I still have yet to watch it since I JUST finished the book one or two days ago. When I finished, I immediately tried to find the movie to watch so I could compare and contrast, but sadly I would have had to leave my home to obtain said movie (THE HORROR!!!!) so I’m going to put it on my Netflix queue so I can see why people didn’t care for it.
ANYWAY the book.
I had a pretty vague idea of what this was all about before I started it because EVERYONE I know had read it and talked about it, without any spoilers, so I was pretty excited about it. I like intrigue and scandal as much as the next person. I enjoyed the story and even the skipping around (which I typically hate with a passion). I liked the characters. I liked the setting(s). I liked it all. The twists were effective. All that stuff. Buuut that’s it. I just liked it. I didn’t love it. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat like I was for other books in this realm. I think it was relatively predictable. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it sort of ruined the ending for me. I just wanted it to be something totally out of left field. Maybe this is why I’m not a novelist. Maybe this is why I’m a run of the mill book review blogger. I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL, GUYS.
But yeah, I DO recommend this one, despite my less than stellar review…if only for a quick read mystery. Soooo there ya have it!

 

Book Description:
Every day the same

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

Until today

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
(from GoodReads)

 

Rating:
3/5

 

-Lesley

The Magicians Trilogy – Lev Grossman

fullsizeoutput_3af

Warning: This is going to be a VERY long post, because I am including all three books instead of giving them separate posts…because does anyone REALLY want three different posts about basically the same thing? I think not!

 

The Magicians

Ooookay so…a year or so ago, SyFy came out with a new series called The Magicians. I was expecting it to be about…ya know…party performers. Card tricks and bunnies in hats and so on. I was very confused about SyFy’s interest in something so puerile, and I Refused to watch. (Refused with a big ole capital R) I grew even MORE confused as an increasing number of friends insisted I watch. But THEN, my cousin Keith, who has suggested the largest number of my (now) favorite shows, told me I should watch. So I began watching and I thoroughly enjoyed it. About halfway through he tells me “Oh hey, you should read the books.” HOW DARE YOU TELL ME TO WATCH THE SHOW WITHOUT TELLING ME IT WAS BASED ON A SERIES OF BOOKS! Annnnd then I started reading the books and Keith was like “yeaaaah see they’re really not all that similar.” The basic concept is the same-ish but it’s not like the TV series ruined the plot of the books in any way.

SO MOVING ON…I finished the first about a week-ish ago and I fell in love. I wasn’t expecting it at all because, though the show entertained and surprised me, I still had a bit of a “ugh…magicians? Really? I’m not 5,” kind of mentality. It’s so much more than that though. “Magician” isn’t really the word I would use to describe the characters. Sorcerer feels more accurate to me. Witch even works. In fact, some of the “magicians” are referred to as “hedge witches,” but you’ll have to read the books to learn why. The setting is pretty awesome and the storyline kept me engaged, which has become harder and harder lately. (Yay for poor attention spans!) My only real complaint is that I don’t really LOVE any of the characters. I like one or two of them, but the majority are pretty insufferable. I know that doesn’t really inspire confidence in the stories, but I think their kind of awful personalities serve the book well. (I prefer the TV characters by FAR and that’s just VERY unusual…but shhhh don’t tell anyone.)

I expected this book to be a lot of things, and it was none of those things. I expected fluff and got darkness. Oh…and if you’re sensitive to obscenities, drinking, drugs, and sex…maaaaaybe don’t start this series. JUST to be safe.
Book Description
Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined

(from GoodReads)
Rating
4/5

The Magician King

I think I probably should have written this review sooner, because already things are growing foggy the further I get into the third Magicians book. WHOOPS! But I’m enjoying the trilogy so much that I started the third immediately after putting down the second and sort of forgot about this whole business of reviewing things. Oh well. HERE WE GO!

I think I liked this book even more than the first. We get to see more of Fillory. We get to see Julia’s weird and pretty tragic background. We meet some interesting characters and go to some fun places. There’s more adventure, per Quentin’s request. It’s just a fun jaunt. I did take SOME issue with the flashbacks, because I like things to be linear (OCD is fun y’all) BUT I think it suited the story to bounce back and forth. Of course, I did find myself speed reading/glancing over bits and pieces because I just REALLY wanted to know what happened to Julia to make her … well … HER. Sometimes I wouldn’t even know what was happening in the “present” bit of the story because I was in such a hurry to figure out what happened in the “past” bit of the story. And I wasn’t disappointed upon finishing her backstory.

I think I have texted my poor cousin more about these damn books than I have about almost anything else. Okay, that’s not true. I’m also entirely too invested in his love life, but that’s neither here nor there! But seriously you guys, I’m more and more interested in these books as I progress. They are definitely books I would recommend (and HAVE recommended), though again, if you don’t like to see profanity or sex…maybe steer clear of these babies. Not that it’s overly graphic, but I know some people’s sensibilities are a BIT more delicate than mine. So….yeah…just keep that in mind. BUT definitely read these books. DO IT!

Book Description

The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the cutting edge of literary fantasy.

(from GoodReads)

Rating
5/5
The Magician’s Land

So the final installment of Grossman’s trilogy kicked off pretty fast and pretty wild. I feel like the other two were more of a slow burn kind of story…but now that I’ve written that, I know that’s not the case, because the second book was full of the back and forth with the “present” and “past” and while it wasn’t ALL ACTION ALL THE TIME (you have to read that in a movie announcer’s voice), it wasn’t slow going either. OR MAYBE I’VE ALREADY FORGOTTEN EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED. It’s possible. My memory is no bueno. ANYWAY. I mean, the story itself wasn’t fast paced in the beginning, but it started basically in the middle of the story Grossman wanted to tell and THEN went back to the beginning….and did the same basic past-present-past (etc) pattern that we saw in The Magician King.

There’s more mystery/intrigue/scandal. Quentin seems to be STEEPED in scandal in all of the books. There’s always SOMETHING going on with him. I think Quentin must be a magnet for all things strange. But I guess the books would be super boring if it was all “Oh hey…Quentin is a genius and he got accepted into Harvard or wherever and now he’s learning things and eventually he’s going to be an investment banker or a mad scientist or whatever it is that happens to geniuses.” Like…that’s not a book I’d read. Honestly, that’s basically what a book I wrote would sound like. This is why I stick to the reviews, guys. (Although, let’s be real…I’m not exactly killing these reviews either. LOTS of rabbit chasing going on here.) Uh so my point…I FEEL like there was a lot more scandal. Maybe because Quentin seems like more of an adult (even though he’s technically been an adult for a while). Maybe I don’t actually know what I’m talking about because I’ve managed to let all three of the books sort of run together and it’s becoming harder and harder to separate the storylines.

ANYWAY…this was by far my favorite of the trilogy…I guess because I was so anxious to see how Grossman wrapped up the story. It was nice to finally get to the end and see how he worked it all out. It didn’t really go the way I thought it would, so I think that means I can give it an A+.

I guess it all just boils down to my recommendation though. This book is another you really should read. Like…really. All three of the books are definitely worth your time. Unless you’re not a fan of magic…in which case, why are you even considering a trilogy called The Magicians? Get outta here!

 

Book Description:

Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose, he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, but he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, and a new Fillory–but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.

Rating:
5/5

-Lesley

My Kind of Crazy – Robin Real

fullsizeoutput_3ae.jpeg

So I bought this book on a whim at Sam’s (when I was supposed to be shopping for practical things like food and cleaning supplies) because I liked the cover. I mean…LOOK AT THE SPARKLERS! I didn’t read the blurb or anything. I just saw the word “crazy” and saw sparklers and that was enough for me.

I maybe should have actually read the blurb because, as it turns out, it was a VERY adolescent story. Normally I like YA because it’s usually      a quick, fun read. This one…just…wasn’t. I mean…it had some glimpses at adult type themes, but most were handled in a fairly juvenile manner. I suppose, since this is directed at kids, I can’t complain much. There were several funny moments, but mostly in a “Oh how silly” kind of way. The characters were interesting enough (for high schoolers), and the main character’s father was interesting insofar as he was super troubled and kind of a jerk so he added a little dimension, I guess.

So anyway, there’s a promposal, some high school drama, parent drama, pyromania, and a stripper. That makes it seem interesting, right? So if you can get past the teenagery stuff to read about some pyromaniacs, this is the book for you! (Yeah! Way to close the deal, Lesley!)

 

Rating
3/5
(It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.)

 

Book Description
Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

(From Goodreads)

 

-Lesley

The Gender Fall (The Gender Game 5) – Bella Forrest

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 3.53.27 PM

Man…this was one of those books I just couldn’t decide if I liked or hated. I even took a LONG break from it because I was teetering between these seriously conflicting opinions from the beginning. It was breaking my brain a bit too much. (More than usual, that is.)
An example? I can’t tell if I love Viggo and Violet or if I think they’re complete and utter morons. They just can’t seem to keep themselves out of danger and it’s making me more than a little crazy. I mean, I understand that the series, in its entirety, has seen Viggo and Violet in danger because they’re trying to save their world, but shouldn’t people who are attempting to save everyone be a little less reckless? Or am I just a wuss?

What is it with these dystopian heroes/heroines and their blatant lack of regard for their own well being? I’m sure the readers wouldn’t particularly care for self absorbed characters coming to save the day, especially since it’s unlikely that such characters would do much in the way of saving people anyway. They’d be too concerned with their own safety BUT these completely selfless types don’t really exist in the real world. OKAY YES there are some, but they certainly aren’t nearly as prevalent as these types of novels would have you believe.

Anyway, the series thus far has been pretty action packed, and book five is no exception. There were a few more lulls (or maybe I’m just not remembering the other books well) but I think that was necessary to recover from said action.
I wasn’t as into this one, but I think maybe I’m just getting a little burnt out on this storyline. I mean…I find myself hoping the end is near, instead of enjoying the ride. Maybe I should take a break before I start the next one? Eh.

Rating:
3.5/5

I’m not going to leave a description because I don’t even know how to sum this one up (especially without spoilers)…and the only description I can find online is basically along the lines of “See what happens next!” NOT HELPFUL!

-Lesley

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls – Lynn Weingarten

FullSizeRender.jpgWhat can I say about this one?
Let’s start with…this is another book I bought on a whim at Sam’s (when I was supposed to be grocery shopping) because I liked the cover…and because, for some stupid reason, I have a weird fascination with books about the aftermath of suicide. I read it in short bursts, over a long period of time…mostly while I was sitting in my car, outside the spawn’s school, waiting for her to be freed.

It had a promising start, but then it all sort of spun out and became more and more ridiculous as time went on. I mean, I don’t mind a little ridiculousness…truly. I’m usually pretty ridiculous myself. And okay…I should get used to things getting a little wonky  when I’m reading YA…but it was really just a cheap knockoff of some more adult friendly novels. I won’t even say which book it was compared to in early marketing, because that will give away the huge “twist” in the story.
ANYWAY, the good news is, yes there IS a twist or two. That usually helps keep my interest when I’m reading things…but I think Weingarten was trying really hard to be gritty and in doing so the story went from good to not good pretty fast. I’m sad it didn’t live up to my expectations. I REALLY wanted to like this. I just couldn’t. And oh my gosh…the ending. What even? I almost want to make you all read it just so I have someone to talk about the ending with…I mean…seriously. It was a huge WTF moment.
But yeah…I don’t think I can recommend this in good conscience.

Rating:
3/5
(I guess it could actually be more like 2/5 but I enjoyed the beginning, so I guess I’m being generous)

Book Description:
June barely has time to mourn the death of her best friend Delia, before Delia’s ex-boyfriend convinces her Delia was murdered, and June is swept into a tangle of lies, deceit, and conspiracy.

(from GoodReads)

 

-Lesley