Reviews

Can You Keep a Secret? BOOK REVIEW

Book Info:

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Page Count (Paperback): 357

Premise: Emma Corrigan is 25 and on her third career. On the return home flight from a big meeting that will make or break her new marketing career, she divulges her biggest secrets to a complete stranger when she thinks the plane is going to crash. Turns out it was just some turbulence, and that man isn’t a stranger after all.

Rating: 4/5 stars

This book was a TREAT. It felt all warm and fuzzy, like a cup of hot chocolate or watching a Hallmark movie. I’m going to avoid spoilers but aspects the plot were sort of conventional anyway. I also didn’t take any notes on quotes really, because I read it fast and just let myself enjoy it. I suggest you do the same!

How I felt while reading this book.

The Sweet Stuff:

  • Emma Corrigan was a delightful character. I changed my career as well quite a few times in my early 20’s, and I think so many people can relate to her desire to prove herself. She told little lies to people, like I also think we all do, and we learn with her that more often than not, those lies are not as good as telling the truth, even though they may be easier in the moment.
  • The twist of who the passenger is on the plane with her is really fun.
  • The book has some romance, but it’s a healthy amount and not the only thing the book’s about, which I really appreciated.
  • Emma’s family dynamic. There is a b story about how she feels like the underdog, and while I found parts of it pretty sad I think it complimented her journey of truth telling well!
  • Her roommate Lissy is great comic relief. There is a mystery of if she is having sex or not in her room secretly, and the result was so funny.

Things I Struggled With:

  • I wished the story with her cousin had resolved differently.
  • Emma’s love interest grabbed her arm aggressively, which always makes me cringe in books. People should not try to control other people’s actions or bodies by physically grabbing them! Not cool.
  • While I like the book, I don’t think I will re-read it. But I will check out her other books! It’s especially good for this sad time. I think it will really cheer you up!

4/5 stars! Check it out if you need a funny read!

Monday Morning in the Bog

Monday Morning in the Bog 4/6/20

Good morning everyone! Today is going to be a short post because I’m feeling pretty glum. It’s raining the next three days in Los Angeles and we are heading into our fourth week of self-quarantine. I know I am very lucky to be healthy and for my family to be healthy, but I have to accept the days where I feel sad!

Currently Reading: Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Queue:

  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Nothing new to report in life, just everyone stay home as much as possible and stay safe!

Down the TBR Rabbit Hole

Down the TBR Rabbit Hole #3

This post was originated by Lost In A Story, who no longer blogs about books it looks like, but this post idea lives on without her! I will take five books on my TBR and assess if I still want to read them. It’s a way to clean up your list and remember books you wanted to read!

Here are my five books this week! Sorry I’m a day late in posting, just slipped my mind yesterday! The days are really blurring together at this point and I really have to be on top of it to remember what day is what. It’s so silly.

#1: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Goodreads Synopsis: In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . . 

Keep It? No. This book sounds interesting, but the line “Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight” threw me a bit. I’m not really interested in reading books where gaining or losing weight is a main plot point, even if it is written well. I just don’t think this is for me anymore!

#2: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

Goodreads Synopsis: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Keep It? YES! I loved the movie and the book sounds even better, plus the movie ended on a cliffhanger and then they never finished it so I have to get around to reading these books!

#3: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Goodreads Synopsis: Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Keep It? Yes, I’m hesitant but willing to give it a shot! Or at least keep it around for now. Alice and Wonderland isn’t usually my jam, but if it’s like a creepy, dark one then I might read it later if I’m in the right mood.

#4: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Goodreads Synopsis: Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma’s gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom…

Told from both Emma and Galen’s points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.

Keep It? Yes, I was going to say no but all the reviews are like “you should try reading this!” so I’m going to. Plus, usually the woman is the mermaid, not the guy, so I like that flip!

#5: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Goodreads Synopsis: Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

Keep It? Yes, agh I keep trying to take books off this but then my heart is like… but what if you want to read it later!

Well, I took one off and kept four, is that a failure? I am too attached to books I have never read!

Did anyone else take books off their TBR this week? Why did you? It’s so hard!

Reviews

Nocturna BOOK REVIEW

Book Info:

Author: Maya Motayne

Page Count (Hardcover): 471

Premise: Prince Alfie has returned home after months at sea, mourning the death of his older brother. When he accidentally unleashes a dark magic, he must team up with a thief to stop it.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

This review will be spoiler-free, but since the thesis of the story (to me) happens about 150 pages in, quite a bit of early plot will be revealed. A heads up!

Me for most of this book.

Good Stuff First:

  • This was a lush, colorful, full world from the beginning. The food made me hungry, the neighborhoods of the island in a ring made sense to be based off class and the way the author wrote made it feel alive. I was hopeful about this book.
  • The Propio magic in particular was INCREDIBLE. It was magic that personal to you. Everyone’s look a little different, like it was tailored to the first thing that hurt you as a child. There was also other magic in the world. Each person had power over air, water, earth or wind. This seemed unnecessary to me since Propio was SO COOL, plus I had difficulty tracking the two different kinds of magic. In my opinion, she should have stuck with just Propio.
  • To be vague, I think this book highlights the desperation of poverty. Like for someone like me, who has never truly experienced it, the way the thief character, Finn, explains it helps me understand it better.
  • There were cool pieces of writing and ideas. Here were some of my favorites!
    • “A fox does not wait for an invitation, he waits for an opening.” (pg. 29, the password to get into a secret club)
    • “But it never occurred to her that scars could be shared, the burden slung across two shoulders instead of one.” (pg. 394)
    • “Freedom… could be found in a person instead of a place.” (pg. 399)
  • Finn was my favorite character. She was gruff and angry, but once you learn more about her backstory her choices make sense.

What Frustrated Me:

  • There were so many EXTRA WORDS. This could have been a hundred pages shorter, easy. Multiple events were explained in different POV, a phrase would be repeated unnecessarily, etc. It made the middle especially difficult to read. I had to re-read so many pages because I didn’t understand what was happening, or I was bored and drifted off. You don’t want your readers to be bored.
  • Okay, to expand on the repetition in this book… there was so much. An example: on pg. 276, a paragraph ended with “he signaled for Finn to slow to a halt.” Then, the next paragraph starts with, “They slowed to a stop…” We don’t need you to say that! You just said it! This happened WAY TOO MUCH.
  • Everything was over explained. We knew every characters thought and intention for every single damn thing they decided. Some PAGES could have been SENTENCES. It was exhausting.
  • There were moments where I truly didn’t understand what was happening. Through the over-explaining, the events were being rationalized to me the reader, rather than just happening and me going with it because the plot itself was believable. It was bizarre.
  • Too many questions in the prose. This is a personal pet peeve, especially in third person POV. I don’t feel like I am in the character’s head, so I don’t need to know the questions they are asking. It feels like a cheap way to point us toward the mysteries of the book, rather than just letting the twists and turns unfold.
  • I had a few specific character issues with Alfie in particular, the “hero” of the book. These are all things that happen in the first 150 pages or so:
    • He was such an idiot when the bad magic is released. It was CLEAR that bad things would happen, but he just ignored it. This caused TONS OF PEOPLE TO DIE. It seemed like the magic should have been more manipulative with him, then we would have been on Alfie’s side more if he released it and then it turned out to be bad. But no, now I just think of the main character as a moron.
    • It shouldn’t have been so easy for him to enter the magic dimension. “He’d [Alfie] only ever heard of duenos and philosophers being able to reach this place after years of study and meditation.” (pg. 140) But Alfie gets in on his first try? It was cheap and unimpressive. Alfie could have at least studied how to get in before, but this was the first time he was able to because he was under duress. It was just explained away by his magic, but I didn’t buy that as the reason. It was too easy for him.
    • Alfie has an anger issue. We don’t see it, but we learn that he pushed his teacher, Paloma, aggressively. His teacher is still afraid of him a little bit at the beginning of the book. Alfie realized what he did was wrong and apologizes, but it seemed unnecessary and made me not like him from the very beginning. I get that this could be something discussed in books, but I didn’t think it was here and I didn’t believe it based on the rest of Alfie’s character.
  • Ignacio was a scary villain, but he seemed like a villain for villain’s sake. I didn’t know why he was so evil. Not everyone needs an origin story, especially since he was abusive, but it would have been nice to know what made him the way he is.
  • I predicted pretty much everything. You saw things coming and it was because everything was over-explained.
  • I had a hard time following the non-Propio magic, and I strongly feel like it wasn’t needed.
  • Maldito was repeated WAY too often. I liked her use of Spanish words, but this one felt like a crutch to show when Finn was angry (which was a lot).
  • There was also two thesis statements for the book, which I found confusing. There was the first one, which I thought the book would be about, where Alfie is determined to save his brother. THIS SEEMED LIKE A GREAT QUEST SET UP. Then, that is dropped and when Alfie releases the bad magic, it shifts into NO THE BOOK IS ABOUT SAVING THE WORLD FROM THIS BAD MAGIC. The Dez brother story is just distantly in the background the quest aspect that was set up in the first 140 pages is completely dropped.

I really wanted to like this book, and I might read the second one if I feel like it, but in the end there were too many problems with the writing and plot for me to give it more than 2.5 stars.

Monday Morning in the Bog

Monday Morning in the Bog! 3/30/20

Good morning! Here is what is going on for me in the book world:

Currently reading: Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Queue:

  • Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella
  • If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’m going through books a little slower than I thought I would. I truly feel like my brain is molasses. I don’t know if this is from the lack of stimulus of being outside my house or just processing this tragedy. It’s probably a mix of both.

But as fun life updates, these are all the things I have been doing to kill time during quarantine! (Other than reading, of course, which I have been doing like 2 hours a day)

  • Writing: I have been working on my pilot called Sworn Frenemies: two former childhood enemies have to bury the hatchet when their daughters become best friends. I have a bones draft, basically wrote out the scenes I had in the outline. There is a lot of work to do but I’m proud of how much I was able to get done the last two weeks!
  • Video Games: These have been incredibly helpful against feeling sad. I finished Zelda BOTW and started playing Horizon Zero Dawn and Rayman Legends. They are all bright, big world games (well, Rayman Legends is a platform game but the colors and characters are cute and bright) and being able to climb mountains in video games has helped my sadness with not being able to climb mountains outside.
  • Adult Coloring: I have been ROCKING at my The Selection series adult coloring book. It’s a fun one because it switches between pictures and then quotes you color in. It’s brought me joy!
  • Blogging: updating the background of the blog and reading other people’s posts has reminded me of why I am doing this! I love reading people’s takes on books and finding new books to read.
  • Yoga: has kept me sane. It helps quiet my mind down and makes me feel better physically. I recommend Baron Baptiste! He has three workouts on youtube of different lengths and they kick your butt.

Hopefully some of those inspire you to find something new to do! How have you all been spending your time in quarantine?

Reviews

Slaughterhouse-Five BOOK REVIEW

Book Info:

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Page Count (Paperback): 215

Premise: Billy Pilgrim survived the battle at Dresden, and we go through time and space as he experiences his life before and after WWII.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I went into this book cold. It’s technically my husband’s book. I’m trying to stretch out my fantasy books that I haven’t read, so I’m peppering his modern reads/classics.

I am thrilled that I did, because this one BLEW ME AWAY. I don’t think I even have anything bad to say about this book, so I’m just going to go through everything I loved about it. The spoilers will be mild, if any, so I don’t think you really have anything to worry about there.

And like with most classics, I’m sure Sparknotes can delve into this book better than I can. But here is my laymen’s take on a fantastic novel.

Look, and also I’m so mad about this but I accidentally DOUBLE DELETED the notes on my phone I wrote for this with all the quotes I loved. I’m tired and sad, and this just made me more tired and sad.

My feelings on Kurt Vonnegut after reading this book.

Everything I Loved:

  • Billy Pilgrim is an unreliable narrator… at least we think so. He “travels in time” throughout the book, so you are seeing life the way that he does. He also is abducted by aliens and learns from this. Daresay, not what I was expecting from a book that I thought was about someone’s experiences in the war.
  • The first and last chapters are in Kurt Vonnegut’s POV. I liked this because you learn first hand that writing a novel on his experience in Dresden was difficult for him, and it almost makes this book make more sense in hindsight.
  • Spastic in time – that is Billy Pilgrim’s explanation of how he goes through life. When he falls asleep, he wakes up in another part of his life. Reading this book felt like maybe what drugs feel like? I was so immersed, but also felt like ping pong for my brain. I do not know how Kurt Vonnegut accomplished writing a book like this so clearly, but so jumpy through his life. It went forwards and backwards in time, in no linear way, which to me is a feat of writing.
  • There were so many great quotes in this book, so many big ideas written so simply. Here is a giant list of my favorites:

“… Weary growled at Billy, ‘Get out of the road, you dumb motherf*cker.” The last word was still a novelty in the speech of white people in 1944.” (pg. 34)

“Billy had a framed prayer on his office wall which expressed his method for keeping going, even though he was unenthusiastic about living.” (pg. 60)

“[Rosewater] was experimenting with being ardently sympathetic with everyone he met. He thought that might make the world a slightly more pleasant place to live in.” (pg. 102)

“So the Americans put their weapons down, and they came out of the woods with their hands on top of their heads, because they wanted to go on living if they possibly could.” (pg. 107)

  • Alien quotes: there is a group of people called the Tralfamadorians that the author uses to spin on its head the idea of human life, and it’s almost Billy Pilgrim’s way of explaining to himself how the world is horrible. Here are some of my favorite Tralfamadorian quotes:

“I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.” (pg. 86)

“There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no cause, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments all seen at one time. ” (pg. 88)

  • So it goes… This phrase is repeated any time death is mentioned. It’s probably said 100 times, and it gives you this ease about how much death is in here. To me it’s the way that Billy handles death. It’s poetic and heartbreaking.

Look, there were so many big ideas I loved in this book, but I did delete my notes on accident so now they are all gone. I’m just going to take that as a sign that I’m going to stop talking and recommend that you go read this! I felt like I was having a hard time doing this book justice anyway. ☺️

Bye boggies! 💛

Down the TBR Rabbit Hole

Down the TBR Rabbit Hole #2

This post was originated by Lost In A Story, who no longer blogs about books it looks like, but this post idea lives on without her! I will take five books on my TBR and assess if I still want to read them. It’s a way to clean up your list and remember books you wanted to read!

Here are my five books this week!

#1: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

**Warning: this is the third book in a series! May be spoilers in the synopsis!**

Goodreads Synopsis: Elisa is a fugitive.

Her enemies have stolen the man she loves, and they await her at the gate of darkness. Her country is on the brink of civil war, with her own soldiers ordered to kill her on sight.

Her Royal Majesty, Queen Lucero-Elisa né Riqueza de Vega, bearer of the Godstone, will lead her three loyal companions deep into the enemy’s kingdom, a land of ice and snow and brutal magic, to rescue Hector and win back her throne. Her power grows with every step, and the shocking secrets she will uncover on this, her final journey, could change the course of history.

But that is not all. She has a larger destiny. She must become the champion the world has been waiting for.

Even of those who hate her most. 

Keep It? No, and here is why:

This is actually the third in the trilogy. Early on when I used goodreads, I would just save “a book” by an author that I wanted to read. So, I am taking this one off my TBR since I added the first book of the series at a later date.

#2: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

**Warning: this is the second book in a series! May be spoilers in the synopsis!**

Goodreads Synopsis: I lean forward, pushing my body out past the battlements. The wind plucks at my cloak, buffets against me, as if it would carry me off in flight, just like the birds or the knight’s soul. Let go, it cries, I will take you far, far away. I want to laugh at the exhilarating feeling, I will catch you, it whistles seductively.

The convent has returned Sybella to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

Keep It? No, but for the same reason as above!

I’ve added the first book in the series, Grave Mercy, to my TBR.

#3: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

**Warning: this is the second book in a series! May be spoilers in the synopsis!**

Goodreads Synopsis: In Allison Sekemoto’s world, there is one rule left: Blood calls to blood .

She has done the unthinkable: died so that she might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from the psychotic vampire Sarren. But when the trail leads to Allie’s birthplace in New Covington, what Allie finds there will change the world forever—and possibly end human and vampire existence. 

There’s a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago—and this strain is deadly to humans and vampires alike. The only hope for a cure lies in the secrets Kanin carries, if Allie can get to him in time. 

Allison thought that immortality was forever. But now, with eternity itself hanging in the balance, the lines between human and monster will blur even further, and Allie must face another choice she could never have imagined having to make. 

Keep It? No

I’m not really into vampires anymore, so the odds of me reading this are quite low.

#4: Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

Goodreads Synopsis: Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there. 

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.

Keep It? No

Sounds too cliche for me, and maybe I’m just not the right age for this.

#5: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Goodreads Synopsis: In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. 

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Keep It? Yes

I’ll be the first to say that dragons usually aren’t really my thing, but this one does sound interesting!

So technically, this round I kept one, replaced two, and removed two off my TBR!