All Booked

I love Jodi Picoult. You say her name and I’m attached. Speaking of, my best friend mentioned to me a few weeks ago she was a guest on Jonathan Van Ness’s podcast – Getting Curious – so I immediately dropped everything to listen to her. Was I absolutely enthralled with every word she spoke? Of course.

I’ve been trying to slowly re-read all of her books (or listen to them on audio now as a newer experience). Last year I listened to Leaving Time and was so happy to be back in her worlds. So, when I saw Sing You Home was available on audio from the library I said “gee, OK!” and immediately started listening to the story. Here are my thoughts.

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I read Letters to the Lost a few months ago and I fell in love with that story. I don’t know why sad, contemporary books are my thing right now but I’m living for them and the feelings they’re giving me.

More Than We Can Tell is a companion novel to Letters to the Lost. You don’t need to have read the first one to read this story, but to understand some of the characters it might help a little. Let’s do a quick review!

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Hi!

Playing catch up with a few of my January reads. This was one of the first books I dove head first into this month. Let’s not waste time here and head towards the review of this book.

Even If I Fall
Abigail Johnson
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 352
Would I Recommend: Yes – if you want to cry

Overview of the book:

Brooke and her family are social pariahs after her older brother admitted to killing his best friend over a year prior to where this story begins. Brooke is broken, lonely, ashamed, lost, and any other difficult emotion you can imagine. She begins a new friendship with an outsider who doesn’t know yet about her family’s past and she also begins to connect to Heath – the brother of boy her own brother killed. They begin navigating their emotions with and on each other (sometimes in a negative way, sometimes not) to learn to cope with the pain they both feel.

My Thoughts:

I cried. I was lying in bed at one point in this book and my husband came in and asked why I was crying. I didn’t know how to explain that Brooke’s pain was so realistic at points and that I resonated so much with it that it hurt me. This story is not perfect – it isn’t flawlessly written or explored. However, it is a tangle of realness and those are the pieces that stuck with me the most.

Brooke is navigating in a world that she doesn’t understand and feels completely alone in doing. She has a new acquired friend, Maggie, who just arrived into town and doesn’t yet know why she is such a secluded person. Brooke’s only escape is the ice skating she has been doing since a young age.

Happenstance finds Brooke crossing paths with Heath – the brother of the boy her own brother murdered. I enjoyed this relationship. They are two people who should and do despise each other – because they “should” given their situations. There is a decent amount of honest conversation between the two and some of it made me cringe a little with how rough things were between them, as you’d expect. However, I enjoyed this strangeness – that they both were so desperate to feel something besides the hollowness they’d been feeling for different reasons, and how they worked through them by bouncing off each other.

The parts that actually tore my heart apart were around Brooke’s family. There were scenes where she is so utterly helpless and desperate to connect again, even for just a split second, with her mom, dad, or sister and it doesn’t happen again and again. Maybe I related to this because of my own personal life more than someone else might – but these scenes killed me. Johnson made Brooke feel, for me, like she was at the bottom of a deep well, struggling to keep her head above water and not give up on life. Brooke’s will to keep going despite everything she was living through was such a great light in this story, and I appreciated the darkness we were shown, too. Heartbreaking on so many levels.

I also want to touch on Brooke’s relationship with her brother which I think is important for the story. He is a murderer. He is not a pure character. But Brooke still loves him – that is still her brother. Johnson paints a great dilemma where I tried to figure out how I would feel if this was one of my siblings. Do we stop loving someone who was once so important to us for doing such a heinous act? Brooke didn’t stop and I appreciated that look as this is a reality for many people who have family or good friends who may have done (or are accused of doing) similar acts.

The reasons I didn’t give this a full 5 / 5 was because there were parts of the ice skating sections that bored me. I get it. I do. I understand the need to have this piece of her life she can rely on despite everything else. I used to ice skate for years as a child. I get it. Promise. But sometimes it was so boring.

The other reason was because I wasn’t 100% living for the “mysterious” piece towards the end around her brother. It felt forced compared to the rest of the story. I would have been OK if the story didn’t have this piece in it – the emotions tied to this story were enough for me.

Overall rating: 4.25 / 5

Girl Made of Stars
Ashley Herring Blake
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Would I recommend: Yes.

Overview of Book:

This book follows Mara and her twin, Owen, in the aftermath of Owen being accused of raping his girlfriend. Mara is friends with Hannah, Owen’s now-ex-girlfriend, and finds herself confused, overwhelmed, and unsure of what to do between loving her twin and believing one of her best friends.

Triggers:
rape, sexual assault, victim shaming


My thoughts:

I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy this book because I feel these topics can be done incorrectly, insensitively, or without enough information to follow through with it appropriately. However, that was not the case for this book and I ended up struggling to put it down until I completed the story.

Seeing how Mara struggled through a large array of feelings, thoughts, and coping mechanisms based on not only the accused rape her brother committed, but also her own past issues, and dealing with her ex-girlfriend were wonderful to experience.

This book is great if you want to travel the very bumpy and uncertain path of someone who becomes placed in a series of situations that could be difficult to manage by anyone. I would definitely recommend this story if you’re up to the heavy topics.


Overall rating:
4.75/5

Let’s discuss.

  • Have you read this book?
  • What are your thoughts on the sensitive topics?
  • Did you enjoy this book as much as I did?


It’s me. Hi. How are you today?

Time for another review. My mood reading has been a little erratic and I wanted something that required little brain power, a hopefully happy ending, and a little bit of curiosity or love involved. I LOVED What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum and thought I’d give her other story a chance. Tell Me Three Things came before What to Say Next, but I was still excited and picked this up on audio. Let’s discuss!


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Tell Me Three Things
By: Julie Buxbaum
Pages: 328
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Audiobook


Book Synopsis:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?


My Thoughts:

I adored this book so much. Perhaps I just like Buxbaum’s writing (thus far I have), but I loved this story. It wasn’t super heavy, it wasn’t something that I felt had extremely troubling problems. It was simple, fun, and I could not stop listening. Buxbaum’s conversation at the end discussed how she dealt with the death of someone in her own family at a young age and how she put pieces of herself into this story. This made it so much sweeter when I was done with this story.

Jessie is struggling with the death of her mother and counts in days how long it’s been since she was taken from her and her father. However, she is not only coping with this loss, but with being moved to L.A. after her father marries someone he met through a bereavement group. Her new stepmother is extremely rich and Jessie’s new home feels sterile yet her new step-brother seems flashy and mean.

Jessie doesn’t know how to fit in at this new prep school where everyone is rich and she feels out of place. She gets an e-mail from “Somebody/Nobody” (SN) a few weeks into starting school who offers to help her in exchange for keep his identity a secret. While she’s hesitant at first, she wants to stop feeling so alone and takes the advice SN gives. She starts making new friends and has a confidant who she desperately wants to meet.

She goes through a wide range of emotions in this book: how the loss of her mother affects her; finding herself with crushes on boys she doesn’t think will ever notice her; despising and feeling sorry for her dad; feeling sorry for herself yet wanting to improve her life; navigating bullying; losing her home and friends. I mean, for how short this story was there was a lot jammed into it and I devoured it all eagerly.

I loved Jessie. I truly did. I also loved her new friendships with other females which I feel like we don’t see enough in books. I loved those new friends of hers. I also enjoyed the variety of boys Jessie interacted with in a pretty innocent way. I loved most of this story.

The only parts I didn’t enjoy (yet did?) are the very trope-y things. Mean girls dating the most popular boys. Girls bullying girls and no one doing anything about it. Jessie’s dad randomly marrying someone without telling her and making her suddenly move to a new state? I mean. What? Other than that, though, if you’re willing to not let any of those things really bother you and just enjoy a fluffy book, I’d recommend this. Cute. It was cute. I like.


  • Ok. Who has read this?
  • What did you think?
  • Have you read either of Buxbaum’s stories?

♥♥

Hello. Good morning, afternoon, or evening.

For several months I have always gone straight to this book when I walk into a bookstore because I’ve been wanting to read it so much. I decided I didn’t want to purchase it so I borrowed it on audio from the library. Let’s talk. P.S. This is long-ish.


The City of Brass

The City of Brass
By: S.A. Chakraborty
Pages: 533
Rating: ★★★★☆(3.75/5)
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook


Book Synopsis:

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…


My Thoughts:

Perhaps listening to this on audio was a mistake for me. I somewhat wish I had read it in physical book form instead. There were parts of this book I was DEEPLY invested in. Then there would be parts I would be so glazed over for 45 minutes I’d have to go back and re-listen once or twice to the same thing so I didn’t lose the story line. I struggled but I also had fun. Does that make sense?

Nahri is a character I actually enjoyed. She was witty, somewhat sarcastic (which I’m finding is a quality I adore in characters), and figuring out life no matter the circumstances she finds herself in.

Dara. Well. Dara I actually loved. I loved Dara. When we first see him enter the story I thought “Oh great, here comes this asshole”. But, as the story went on and I tried to figure out if he was a good or bad guy, I realized he is neither. I enjoyed his affection for Nahri, his conflict over his very, very long life’s history and the future, and the way he is still able to love despite it all.

Ali is neither love-able nor hate-able. He is bound by blood to maintain the laws and rules his ruling family creates even though his heart and head tell him to act differently. While being on the more emotional side made him likeable, he did feel like a character who was constantly unsure of himself and therefore his development felt like a non-stop journey of going up and down hill after hill. Honor and blood. Compassion and caring for others. Finding a middle for him was difficult and while I could understand his position it left me feeling simply “meh” about him.

The parts I struggled with the most in this story was times where not much was happening or was usually when one of these characters and someone else were interacting with each other. Nahri and Dara were fine. But Nahri and Ali. Meh. Ali and Dara. Meh. Often in this situations nothing was really happening and even character development in these spots was low or nonexistent which made it hard to keep following. Hence the glaze fell over my mind and eyes.

The plot was usually interesting but sometimes a little slow. It continued this way throughout the entire story and at times left me wanting a little more than I got. Like many other books I kept wondering “Ok. But how is this going to end? Ok. But how is this going to help this person? Ok. But…why? Ok. But. But. But.“.  I understand looking back that the entire story wasn’t meant to be quick paced, but at many points I wished it was anyway. How Nahri is important in this world, how Ali and Dara play into this, and how the world could one day be made or broken because of them all was much more clear at the end, but it did take a while to get to that understanding. Nahri’s gifts are interesting. Dara’s past was intriguing. I did appreciate how the two of them found each other, rocked the core of Ali’s city, and were plotting ways to change their futures.

Let’s switch gears here and talk about the parts that made it impossible to stop listening. The world. This story starts in Cairo and the travels that occur stem from Cairo outward. To hear about somewhere other my own backyard was truly refreshing. The dust, the landscapes, the way people lived based on these things – great. Check, check, and check.

Additionally, the amount of diversity in magic, creatures, and things I’m not familiar with made me SO happy. Daeva. Tanzeem. Shafit. Nahids. Djinn. YAS. I learned so much about other beliefs, creatures, worlds, and ideas from this story (whether real or not) and I applaud Chakraborty for this. Thank you for the diversity I didn’t know I needed but am so happy I received from this story.

Overall, the world and what is inside of it is wonderful. Diverse. Beautiful. Unique. Interesting. The characters, though, not as much. While I struggled in some parts of this story I will still be eager to see what happens to these character’s fates in the next book since we left off on a somewhat sad, cliff-hanging spot.


  • Thoughts, anyone?
  • If so, what are your thoughts on the location and magic of this world? The people? The characters?

♥♥

Hi Book Lovers!

I recently listened to this story and I want to briefly discuss!


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The Lost City of the Monkey God
By: Douglas Preston
Pages: 326
Rating:  (4/5)
Genre: Non-fiction
Format: Audiobook


Book Synopsis:

A five-hundred-year-old legend. An ancient curse. A stunning medical mystery. And a pioneering journey into the unknown heart of the world’s densest jungle.

Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.

Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.

Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn’t until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.


My Thoughts:

To begin, I want to briefly summarize to everyone that I am pursuing majors in World History and Anthropology. I am obsessed with three things (take it as you’d like):WWII from a European standpoint, American Indian history, and the history of the Southwest including histories in North and South America such as the Aztec, Maya, so on and so forth. The majority of classes I’ve been taking the past 3 semesters have all been around the histories of the Southwestern regions and this story fell in line with that learning. Also, it can be quite fairly assumed I picked this book up for the reasons mentioned above. I did.

I had not heard of this tale, legend, or whatever other fanatical word you’d like to use. Perhaps what drew me in mostly to this story was hearing the first hand experiences of the people involved in this journey (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Preston journeys with researchers and others to see if they can uncover anything about the rumors that have lasted for centuries over the supposedly lost city based on the Monkey God.

Starting with stories drifting through history enters a man named Theodore Morde who, in the early part of the 20th century, claimed he had found this city that had been lost to its people and the past. However, he eventually takes his own life without telling anyone of the things he supposedly found.

This book traveled through it all. It started with the train of people who have talked about or previously attempted to search for this place and how they got to the point of doing this in their lives. However, once we finally got to how it all connected to today’s story was important in my opinion. Then we follow this new team going out in to the wilds of the jungle which features one of the most venomous snakes in the world as well as other creatures that have never seen humans before.

 

The learner in me was so ecstatic to hear the most mundane things: how they prepped to go into the jungle including their supplies and expectations; the way the wildlife works; how researchers have attempted to use different technology to find the right locations; digging up the past including old journals and stories from people who claim to have gone; the trek through the jungle and the sounds, sights, and thoughts everyone had while taking this journey. I couldn’t get enough of it all. This is what I want to do. Highly venomous snakes and all.

The other part of this story I enjoyed was Preston discussing how deforestation and looting are damaging not only the jungles and all that live there, but history as well. It kills me that such sites lose their context, information, and history because of looters. It kills me that all the creatures in these areas who have never interacted with the destruction of humans are dying off and losing their homes due to carelessness.

The only part of the story that I didn’t enjoy as much was the extensive conversation around the disease at the end. While I am not trying to discredit its importance for not only the crew who got sick or anyone else who has the disease mentioned, it did take up a lot of time at the end and didn’t tie in as well to the main story of the lost city which bummed me out at the end.


  • Has anyone read this story?
  • Does this topic interest anyone?
  • How would you feel about venturing into the depths of an unknown jungle knowing you are risking your life?

♥♥

Hi Book Lovers!

Time for another review. First, I received three different copies of this book from different book boxes several months ago. Second, the cover is, honestly, appealing as all get-out. Third, I can’t recall a time I’ve read a Little Mermaid retelling or a book about sirens. I finally decided to give it a go and here is what I thought!


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To Kill a Kingdom
By: Alexandra Christo
Pages: 342
Rating: (3.50/5)
Genre: YA
Format: Hardcover


Book Synopsis:

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?


Quotes:

“Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.”

“The true danger is people. They are unpredictable. The betrayers and the liars.”

“Royalty cannot be unmade. Birth rights cannot be changed. Hearts are forever scarred by our true nature.”

“‘Wars aren’t won by running,’ she says. ‘You can’t win a war,’ I tell her. ‘Someone else just loses.'”

“Some people burn so brightly, it’s impossible to put the flames out.”


My Thoughts:

Characters:
I did not enjoy Lira. I’m so sorry, but I just didn’t. Well, let me take that back a bit. I enjoyed her at the start when she was so ruthless and cold as her namesake should be. However, the way she developed fell so flat for me and I ended up feeling like cringing often in the second half of the book at her character’s terrible thoughts and plans.

On the other hand, I mostly enjoyed Elian. I kept wanting to roll my eyes at how often he thought about how he didn’t want to rule a kingdom. Which. I mean. Fine. You don’t want to rule. But stop obsessing over it and make a decision – either don’t rule or suck it up and rule. Geez. Besides that, I enjoyed watching his banter and kindness with his crew and even Lira throughout the book. I was happy with some of his choices by the end and happy FOR him.

I feel like Elian’s crew held the most enjoyment for me as well as the sea witch who was so brutal and ruthless which was, at times, the only complex thing going on.

Story line:
This book started out strong for me and I was excited to see where it was bound to go. However, I quickly became annoyed by the middle of the book. I’m 100% sure that after every single page I turned in this book from the middle on I thought “I have no idea how this story can be wrapped up to where I enjoy what comes out of it all”. Every. Page. To be fair, I was right and that I didn’t enjoy the ending which fell extremely flat.

The ending was unrealistic, frustrating, and whatever battle, fight, or even argument I hoped would occur only fizzled my dreams slowly but surely. I’m all about loose endings. I’m also about nicely wrapped up endings. I can go both ways here. The way this wrapped up was fine for a standalone book, but also gave me a slightly sour taste in my mouth.

Overall I mainly enjoyed the characters and the majority (more than the first half) of the story. However, I do wish that this story had continued on the path it began and it would have felt better executed that way. I’m glad I read this and enjoyed the voyages on the sea and dealings with sirens and mermaids. It inspired me to pick up other mermaid/siren/sea books afterwards so for that, thank you.


  • I was trying to search for other people’s To Kill a Kingdom reviews here but haven’t found as many as I thought I did months ago. Tell me, have you read this?
  • If you have, let’s discuss. Good and bad!

♥♥

Hi Book Lovers!

I read A Reaper at the Gates the week it was released but I’m just now finding I want to discuss it out loud.


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A Reaper at the Gates
By: Sabaa Tahir
Pages: 464
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Genre: YA
Format: Hardcover


Book Synopsis:

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.


My Thoughts:

Maybe I’m too easily caught up in the hype of popular books, but I definitely loved the third book in this series.

Lia is becoming much more complex as a character – she finally is taking charge, facing demons, and not just simply running from all the trouble in her world but instead is facing them head on.

Helene’s story was really fascinating this book, too, with her loyalty to the Emperor and yet her true loyalty with her sister. It gave a much softer look at Helene and I appreciated knowing she isn’t like the Emperor or the COMMANDANT. Ugh – that thing.

Elias. Well, his beginning story as Soul Catcher in the last book felt like a cop out for me and I wasn’t as much of a fan of his story line. However, in this book it was heartbreaking to see what he would have to accomplish in order to become what he promised he would become in this role. Also, how it affected Lia was sad and it made me sappy-girl swoon over his adoration of her here.

The Commandant is especially annoying, vindictive, and out to get the flesh of everyone and everything. I hate her character, but I suppose that means Tahir did a good job at creating such an awful character with no remorse or positivity. Only tricks and schemes. The Nightbringer, however, I found fascinating. He wasn’t as horrendous as he’s painted out to be – it’s almost proof that everyone has some kind of backstory that has made them who they are. Now, I’m not saying I’m rooting for his character and that he’s wonderful, but, I did find I had a somewhat soft spot for him at points (though I always wondered what plot he was up to this time around when he showed up somewhere).

There is so much packed into this book: traveling, fear for one’s life, fear of who you are becoming and if it is enough, fighting and death, hope and wanting to stand up for what is right. A lot of this book is leading up to a bigger battle at the end and it is one that had my heart pumping until the last page. There is so much going on with so many different groups of people that it’s fast-paced and sometimes brutal in what is going on.

The one thing that truly saddened me in this book is the new relationship Lia forms towards the end and what happens with that relationship. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it but the bond between these two characters felt awkward yet comforting all at once as it was forming. At the very end I kept thinking “next book will prove this situation wrong. Next book will prove this situation wrong”. I know it probably won’t but I wanted to have hope in that moment. Additionally, the final ending was very chummy and I’m curious how it will bounce into the final book where it left off.

Overall I loved this story. I enjoyed the more complex features of these characters I’ve grown to absolutely adore. I enjoyed the world and, even though it’s dark, I also loved the way this fallen apart world is coming together to battle it out for change (whether that’s good or bad I don’t know yet). I cannnnnnnooooootttt wait for the last book and I know I will end up re-reading the series when that time comes!


  • Tell me your thoughts on this book!
  • Who was your most loved character? Your least?
  • What did you think of the ending and fighting?
  • Are you excited to read the next book or have any other additional thoughts?! Please share!!!

 

♥♥

Hi Book Lovers!

I’ve been on vacation for a little bit now and on the plane ride to my destination (Wisconsin, to see my family), I was able to listen to this wonderful story! Let’s talk about it.


What to Say Next

What to Say Next
By Julie Buxbaum
Pages: 292 pages
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Audiobook


Book Synopsis:

Two struggling teenagers find an unexpected connection just when they need it most.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?


My Thoughts:

Kit is struggling to come to grips with her life without her dad after he recently passed away. David has never been able to fit in due to his high functioning state of mind and inability to read social cues. Two very different kids in high school yet when their worlds clash together it is adorable and precious.

I’m going to start by saying I loved David. A lot. He has to be one of my favorite book characters to exist. In reality he reminds me a lot of Jacob Hunt from House Rules by Jodi Picoult. He wants to fit in. He wants to have friends. He wants to be social. He just doesn’t quite know how. Hearing the narrator read through Jacob’s thoughts made me hang on to every word that was being said.

Kit, on the other hand, took me a little longer to enjoy. I initially had a harder time connecting to her character. I knew from the get-go she was struggling to cope with her feelings after her father’s recent death, but it was hard to like her and her group of friends (who I initially thought were annoying and dramatic). However, as the story goes on, it was relatable to see her growing from something so traumatic into a new version of herself and towards the middle of the story when the situation with David’s notebook happens, I appreciated her friends a lot more (they really started to jump on to the bandwagon of genuine friends which was a nice thing to see).

There is some romance in this novel, but it didn’t feel like the front and center of this novel (as I didn’t think it should be). For that, I applaud this book. The setting wasn’t super relevant for me in this book and instead focuses on the character’s development. If you’re looking for something with a lot of drama, love, or craziness then head in another direction!

I didn’t really like the complexity of the situation surrounding David’s notebook nor the surprise piece towards the end around Kit. While neither were completely out of left field, I did wonder why they were in the book and it sometimes just felt like it was there for the book to have some drama. I could have gone without and still loved the book, but I also can see why they were put in there (such as Jacob’s breakdown in one chapter and reciting Pi multiple times to calm him).

Overall this book was such a light, wonderful, fantastic read. I think I found one of my new favorite characters and I’ll be interested in reading more of Julie Buxbaum’s work!


  • Have you read this book? If so, did you enjoy it?
  • Have you read any other books by this author? If so, are they good?

♥♥

Hi Book Lovers!

Time for another review.


When Elephants Fly

When Elephants Fly
By Nancy Richardson Fischer
Release Date: September 4th, 2018 by Harlequin Teen
Pages: 400 pages
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5/5)
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: E-Book


To start, I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Secondly, there are a few potential triggers for anyone tirelessly working through mental health challenges: abuse, suicide, and schizophrenia.

 

Book Synopsis:

Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia. Genetics are not on Lily’s side.

When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests.

But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.


Favorite Quotes:

“Crazy is genetic. It’s the house I was born inside. There are no windows, just two locked doors. One door leads to Normal, the other to Insanity. At some point, I will inherit a key, but I don’t get to pick which door it unlocks. Even if I did, there’s no guarantee I’d understand the choice, or realize where I was when I got there.”

“I hold my breath, frozen like a soldier who has stepped on a land mine. But no matter what I do, eventually it’s going to blow me up.”

“I had the urge to tell her that there’s a relief when you no longer have to prove to the most important person in your life that you’re worthy.”

“The one certainty in life is that it changes.”

“It’s impossible to bend crazy to your will. It wins, hands down.”


My thoughts:

This book hooked me from the beginning and I soon found myself unable to complete any real-life tasks to continue reading Lily’s story. Lily comes from a genetic line predisposed to schizophrenia. After almost losing her own life due to her mother succumbing to her own delusions, Lily grows up hoping to beat the odds of something she cannot see coming. She has a long-term plan of no stress (or fun of any kind) in order to come out, hopefully, free of the same mental illness that’s been plaguing the woman in her family for several generations.

However, Lily begins volunteering, and eventually writing small stories for the local newspaper in her town. Her story on the local zoo preparing for a new elephant calf, soon named Swifty, leads her on an unexpected journey after Swifty’s mother tries to kill her shortly after birth.

Lily is quite the character. She’s slightly infuriating. She’s slightly too calm and laid back. She’s slightly avoiding truly living life. Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about how fearful I would be if I were her knowing that there was a strong possibility I would find myself drowning in a sea of mental illness that I couldn’t avoid. While I do not struggle from schizophrenia nor personally know anyone who does, my heart ached to see the way this illness can suck the life of anyone it goes after. To hope for a life you are pretty sure will not play out as you’d hope would probably make me just as cautious and anxious as Lily was for most of this story.

Her best friend, Sawyer, was a wonderful character, although this idea he was ridiculously rich wasn’t something I bought into for the majority of the story. Sawyer also harbors secrets of his own and it becomes clear in understanding the superbly adorable to the friendship Lily and Sawyer have created over their own internal struggles through the years.

This story also had another hot topic in it for me: elephants. I’ve read several stories about elephants in the past that discuss their depth of emotion and how they typically act in the wild. Sometimes those ideas are hard to listen to and this story does touch on several instances of animal abuse which were hard to stomach through for myself. Still, the elephant’s stories are just as important here and only added to the tugging on my heart.

I enjoyed almost everything about this story: the mental health representation which I do not think we see nearly enough in YA (or any other genre), the elephants, the friendship, but most importantly the decision between living your life or letting your life control you. Is it better to take risks that might not let you live as yourself as long as you’d like? Or is it better to play it safe and hope to peacefully ride out the waves without creating any yourself?

There were only a few pieces of the story I did not enjoy as much: Lily just up and leaving out of the blue for a story, her selfishness during some of Sawyer’s personal problems arising, and her initial carelessness at how her life affected other people’s (such as Swifty). Lastly, the odd way the story ended wasn’t necessarily bad, but it kept taking odd turns I wasn’t expecting and with people I wasn’t expecting. Also, without saying what it is, the final piece of Lily’s puzzle at the end really tore me apart for a few days after finishing. I non-stop thought about mental health and how I choose to live my life, even without the battles Lily faces.

I’d highly recommend this story to just about everyone: it isn’t a perfect, happy story, but it is something that should be thought and talked about more often.

  • Has anyone else read this book?
  • What were your thoughts on this story?
  • What did you think of the mental health topic in this book?

♥♥

Hi Book Lovers!

I recently did a review for An Ember in the Ashes which was a re-read in anticipation of A Reaper at the Gates to come out. That obviously meant I needed to FINALLY get around to A Torch Against the Night so when the third installment was available I could devour it immediately (which I did). Let’s get started.

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A Torch Against the Night
By: Sabaa Tahir
Pages: 452
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Genre: YA
Format: Hardcover


 

Book Synopsis:

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.


 

My Thoughts:

I think this book was my favorite of the three so far. Firstly, I knew more of the world, rules, and culture and what was going on so instead of spending the first several chapters wondering what was happening I could easily jump right in and simply enjoy it from page one. Second, I enjoyed the overall story line of this book the most simply because of where it came from and where it led to by the end. Third, I loved the characters SO much more in this story than in An Ember in the Ashes.

In regards to the story line, it was easy to follow. I always enjoy that there are still plenty of details in her writing and stories but it doesn’t ever feel as though we are stuck in one spot or bogged down too much that it stalls the story line. I appreciate that. I understand that this book is definitely a slight “filler” in that there is mostly traveling and the idea of scheming going on here, however, I think I enjoyed getting to know Lia, Elias, and even Helene more.

While Helene was not my favorite character in An Ember in the Ashes, I found her growing on me throughout this book. Being torn between your mind/heart and the life you need to live to survive is a tough call, and I feel slightly bad for her most of this book. Lia felt slightly more naive in this book. Perhaps it’s the issue with the Nightbringer that made me roll my eyes. While she didn’t seem as afraid as in the first book, I did wonder about some of her choices and why they were necessary or if they were doable (Kauf? I mean.) Elias is wonderful. His story line made me feel the most: sad, confused, worried, etc. Without spoiling it, I was not in favor of where his story went by the end of this book. It felt like a cop-out and a way to keep the story going.

The love (triangle[s]?) weren’t my favorite piece of this book. While I can appreciate loving and hoping despite the terrible things going on around you in desperate times, some of these situations felt pushed and unnatural. I really could have cared less if there were any love stories involved here as I feel like the main plot doesn’t revolve around this idea anyway.

Lastly, while it made me feel anxious at times, when Tahir doesn’t stray from the way this world works, the rough stuff and all, I appreciate the story a little more. Listening to tales at Kauf was not easy, but almost necessary. Listening to the brutality of other situations and fights along the way were also difficult but, again, made me appreciate the story more. I’m growing to like when a story doesn’t stray from the hard things just to save face or be constantly fluffy and happy (even though those are usually my favorite stories).


  • TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK!
  • What was your favorite part?
  • Least favorite part?
  • Did you like the love situations?

♥♥