Saturday, August 11, 2018

The King Slayer (The Witch Hunter #2)


“I think, in time, you’ll either be my greatest mistake or my greatest victory.”

Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He’s readying for a war against those who would resist his rule—namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies.

Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth’s strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she’ll go to save those she loves.

My Review:

I read this book hoping it would be better than the first book. Again, I will say the writing was good and I enjoyed the style. Yet, it was still too similar to other fantasy stories I've read before. I liked the characters enough to keep reading, but I won't read further. It is a good story if you haven't read as many fantasy books as me, but otherwise, its plot is too similar.

I would not mind reading other books by Virginia Boecker though, she does write well.

I give this a 2 out of 5!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Witch Hunter (The Witch Hunter #1): A Review


The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

My Review:

I suppose, however, after reading so many books with a similar plot as this one, I got a little bored. If you haven't read as many fantasy books as I have, perhaps this one would be a good match for you.

Elizabeth is a well-rounded character and is good at keeping secrets, although she's not the best at keeping the right secrets. What I like about her is how even though she's been taught her whole life to hate a certain type of people (witches, wizards, and the like) that she was still open-minded enough to see that it's not magic that makes you good or evil, it's your choices.

Nicholas is pretty cool. I liked him a lot. He's the character who you think you are beginning to know and then you're not quite sure  I want to know more about him and about his past.

I will say, I enjoyed Boecker's writing style. She was able to get me into the story with a clear vision of being with the characters.

I will give this a 2 out of 5!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3): A Review


Words can kill.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…

My Review:

Jess and his friends are currently trapped with knowledge that could get them tortured and killed. Several of their friends have already survived torture because of this secret.

Funny, how The Great Library boasts about sharing knowledge, and yet...hoards what it doesn't want the world to see and kills those who try to share it. That's not exactly my idea of a library.

Jess and his friends are now in post-modern America, where they have to learn how to work robots which seem to have more emotion than they should and are also trying to kill them. They are forced to find ways to convince others of the truth behind the library, but it always comes back to them helping themselves.

Stakes have risen, fires are burning. I really hope the next book comes out soon so I can find out where Jess and his friends are headed now.

I love how this series makes you think about what goes into free speech in every country. Is it really all free? And are we willing to do everything we can to make sure we all have the right to say what we believe and gain knowledge in what we are passionate about? Are we willing to live with the consequences if we aren't?

I give this a 4 out of 5!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Bruiser (Standalone): A Reivew

"There’s a reason why Brewster can’t have friends – why he can’t care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that can’t be explained. I know, because they're happening to me."

When Brontë starts dating Brewster “Bruiser” Rawlins – the guy voted “Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty” her twin brother, Tennyson, isn’t surprised. But then strange things begin to occur. Tennyson and Brontë’s scrapes heal unnaturally fast, and cuts disappear before their eyes. What at first seems like their good fortune turns out to be more than they bargained for…much more. 

My Review:

I think everyone needs to read this book.

Brewster is a boy who has given the worst of it in life. He somehow has gained the ability to take away the pain from everyone he cares about...some he doesn't care too much about.

He stays away from people for his own safety, even his miraculous body can only handle so much. Bronte and Tennyson at first love the fact that someone else is taking their pain away until Brewster ends up hurt worse than they imagined.

This book teaches us the importance of feeling pain. It is good to have others there to support us, but we don't learn if we do not feel pain. For without pain, we can't feel goodness, happiness, joy even. Everyone goes through their own trials, but it is not our right to take away that experience from them. We must let everyone make their own choices and let them hurt. Because only when we hurt are we able to pick ourselves up again and rise STRONGER than before.

It's hard to admit, as it was for Brewster and the twins, but they all saw the benefits and soon were able to move beyond the major internal suffering which brought about the physical.

This is truly a beautiful book.

I give this a 5 out of 5!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Everfound (Skinjacker #3): A Review


While Mary lies in a glass coffin aboard a ghost train heading west, her minions are awaiting her re-awakening by bringing lots of new souls into Everlost to serve her. Meanwhile Jackin’ Jill has met Jix, a fur-jacker—a skin jacker who can take over the bodies of animals, most notably jaguars. Jix serves a Mayan god who collects Everlost coins, and has his own agenda. In the concluding volume of The Skinjacker Trilogy, Neal Shusterman reveals new sides of the characters of Everlost, who are pitted against each other in a battle that may destroy all life on Earth.

My Review:

In this final installment, we are taken to a different part of the Everlost limbo world. We meet new characters who have curious talents and can somehow affect the world differently. I rather enjoyed their addition. They certainly make things more complicated.

Then we have old characters who are committing murders to make more limbo children to serve Mary. How does a child in limbo get that way? Of course, they fully believe that this limbo is far better than their real life, but if they don't try hard...then they can't remember their real life. Perhaps that's why. They think they are saving takes a lot for the ones in charge to see otherwise.

Nick is still trying to convince kids the light is good and most are too scared to try as he says. He is still moving forward though, even as a chocolate monster.

Allie has woken up from her high of skinjacking and is back with Mikey as they try desperately to stop the murderers. When Mary wakes up, she and Allie are literally placed in a battle of life and death.

This last installment has the most beautiful ending. It is complete with the story while not tying everything in a bow. We learn about the importance of life and the importance of kindness--in this life and the next. This book isn't religious, but it makes you think about what exactly you will be doing once you're gone and the consequences of your life's actions.

A great series from Neal Shusterman!

I give this a 5 out of 5!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Everwild (Skinjacker #2): A Review


Everlost, the limbo land of dead children, is at war. Nick the “Chocolate Ogre” wants to help the children of Everlost reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Mary Hightower, self-proclaimed queen of lost children and dangerous fanatic, is determined to keep Everlost’s children trapped within its limbo for all eternity. Traveling in the memory of the Hindenburg, Mary is spreading her propaganda and attracting Afterlights to her cause at a frightening speed.

Meanwhile, Allie the Outcast travels home to seek out her parents, along with Mikey, who was once the terrifying monster the McGill. Allie is tempted by the seductive thrill of skinjacking the living until she discovers the shocking truth about skinjackers.

My Review:
What a wild end to the first book right?

Well, here we are with our characters again. Nick may look terrifying, but he really does have a heart of gold. All he wants is for kids to go home...wherever that may be. He knows the light is good because it is the only time anyone looks at peace right before they go. He desperately wants this for himself, but he knows he needs to convince all those under Mary and other's influences that the light is not evil.

Allie and Mikey travel to find her parents. They are met with another group of Skinjackers who aren't exactly the nice type. They Skinjack for fun and without consequence, leaving poor Mikey behind in the world of limbo as they bounce about everyone's bodies. Poor Mikey just wants someone to love and respect him for the power and person he is. Allie, unfortunately, stays blind to this until far too close to the end...but I guess that really is good storytelling. I couldn't put the book down!

Mary drove me insane. The way she thinks is just wrong! Of course, it's right in her head, but really it's just wrong. She doesn't want to lose control over all she's built, and yet Nick and Allie are making her limbo and actual hell. The lengths she goes to in order to stop those two is disgusting.

I will have to say, the ending to this installment made me anxious to read the next. Neal Shusterman does well with leaving us with a cliff-hanger but not in a suddenly cut-off way but in a way that gets you pumped for the next book not dying for it...for lack of a better description. Once again, another great book from Shusterman who does well at keeping it clean and still telling a riveting story.

I give this a 5 out of 5!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Everlost (Skinjacker #1): A Review


Nick and Allie don't survive the car accident...

...but their souls don't exactly get where they're supposed to get either. Instead, they're caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no longer exist. It's a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost children run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.

When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of lost kids, Nick feels like he's found a home, but Allie isn't satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the "Criminal Art" of haunting, and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost.

In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

My Review:

It's been a long time since I've found an author (who is new to me) that I will buy their books simply because they wrote them. After this book, Neal Shusterman became one of them.

This series follows Nick and Allie, siblings who passed away in a car crash. They wake up and soon find themselves sinking into the ground. For, you see the dead can't walk on living ground. It's a crucial point to the story and is what set's Nick and Allie off to trust those they might never have in order to find "dead land" they won't sink through.

These two have their own "powers/abilities" in this world of the dead. They are separated at times and brought back together. They make hard choices and sometimes the wrong ones, but I love how they both choose to do what's right--even when they get a little lost on the way.

Mary is meant to be sweet and charming on the outside, but if you cross her you will see the monster she truly is. This limbo world is her kingdom and she won't let anyone throw her off the throne. What hurts my heart is that she preys on the smaller children's need for routine and the fact that they don't realize they are dead.

The McGill is terrifying, and yet a complete character. We get to see his thoughts and feelings and motivations. He's definitely more complex than I was expecting. And quite the good "bad guy."

This novel really makes you think about the choices you make in life. Although all these characters are dead, they are in limbo for a reason and they are all on a course to find out why they are still "living" in a sense.

Neal Shusterman had me walking next to his characters and right along with the action. It was as if I was right there with them. He was able to whisk me away completely, and that is a huge mark of a wonderful story-teller.

I also appreciate his ability to keep his books clean. More books need to be like this. Wholesome, while telling good stories.

I give this a 5 out of 5!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

I Know What You Did Last Summer: A Review


It was only an accident -- but it would change their lives forever. Last summer, four terrified friends made a desperate pact to conceal a shocking secret. But some secrets don't stay buried, and someone has learned the truth. Someone bent on revenge. This summer, the horror is only beginning...

My Review:

This book is marketed as a horror book, but it really isn't all that suspenseful. What kept me reading was how interesting it was. I wanted to know how one of their friends ended up dead.

I didn't really get connected to any of the characters. I thought they were all shallow. It wasn't really the best book I've ever read. I did read it because it was recommended to me by friends. It was fascinating to watch the psychological struggle these people went through, but that was about it.

I give this a 2 out of 5. The 2 because I did actually stay interested enough to finish the book.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Call (The Call #1): A Review


Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun.

Could you survive the Call?

My Review:

I will have to say this book was one of the creepiest I have read in ages. Which made me super excited. It's hard to find a good creep-tastic book.

In this world, fairies are to be feared. To hear their death horn blow means you will most likely end up dead or mutilated or both. *Shiver* I can't give this book justice with my own words, but if you like creepy then this is a book for you.

The fairies are angry the humans have taken over their world and now are taking revenge on their children. Creating Changelings wasn't enough anymore, it wasn't making enough difference. So the Call became something to be feared of. Hardly any kid makes it to adulthood anymore. Kids are put into their schools and still taught life skills, but most end up dead before they can graduate. If you survive the Call, you're changed forever and not necessarily for the good.

We get glimpses into the fairy world and just how these mutilations come about and I have to say there were times I had to stop reading and steel myself for what was to come. It's all gruesome, yet fascinating. It's a trainwreck that I can't run away from. I'm excited to read the next book to see just how the humans are going to hold onto the world they call home.

I give this a 3.5 out of 5!

Content Warning: foul language, gory scenes, sexual innuendo

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2): A Review


Let the world burn.

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion and, in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.

After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

My Review:

It's always so curious to me when people dabble into what life would be like if something significant in the world's history had been different.

We will never know what we lost from the Great Library of Alexandria, but I feel that Caine has made a fairly believable world.

Jess and his friends are back. They have separated somewhat into their respective occupations, but of course, fate would have them be reunited. Some time has passed as they all have learned what it really means to serve the Library--and of course, it's not what they all thought it would be.

They have all learned that if you think outside the box you either die or get imprisoned and tortured until you die. That's not exactly what I would call an open-minded government.

As Jess's and his friend's eyes are opened to the harsh realities of those in charge, they finally start making their way around the rules to try and make knowledge free for all.

Yet, knowledge comes at a steep price. Jess questions again and again if it's all worth it. The fact that he keeps saying "yes" despite the literal fire raining down on him makes me love him. He is someone who realizes that this suppression will only further harm the world. It's already in flames, so why not make it hotter by fueling the public with knowledge?

I am so excited to read the next book.

I rate this a 4.5 out of 5!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Wonder: A Review


I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

My Review:

There are a few books that I'm compelled to read because I happen to see a movie trailer for them. Wonder is one of those books.

As I started reading, I loved the various different POV's. Books like this--books that focus on the need to treat everyone with kindness no matter what their situation--need to highlight everyone's POV. Yes, Auggie has a facial deformity which unfortunately makes him prime for bullying. Yet, when we see the trials everyone else is going through as well... well, it puts things into perspective. 

Auggie's story, as well as the stories of his friends, teaches us that life is hard for everyone. That if we would just be a little more kind and a little more understanding, we would be able to see the wonder in all.

I'm grateful books like this are written and are written well. Not only do we have a good story here, but we have been taught a life lesson that we should carry with us always.

Never lose the wonder, and never lose sight of the wonder in others.

Follow Mr. Brown's advice. He's a pretty smart guy.

We also all need a friend like Summer who won't let us pull our "woe-is-me" crap (because we all have those moments).

The movie did okay. The only thing I didn't like (and this was mostly due to time purposes) was it didn't focus much on Auggie's positivity after his short bouts of negativity. In the book, I kept getting the impression he was a super positive kid and the movie just didn't highlight this amazing aspect (and frankly crucial part of his character).

I rate this 5 out of 5!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1): A Review


In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time...

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…
My Review:

Jess is a teenager who has grown up in a world of really rich thieves. He has an immense love for books in a world where books are outlawed. If I lived in his world, I would probably be in his line of work as well. Stealing books.

He is sent by his family to become part of the Great Library of Alexandria (to steal books and stuff). Yes, that library. This book is one that occurs in a world where the Library never burned down. It's a fascinating world. The technology is advanced and yet people don't read actual books (they read them, just on fancy tablets). It's clever.

I found Jess to be relatable and a good person. He makes choices based on what he believes to be right, not necessarily what his deranged father has led him to believe. In this book, he has a lot of growing up moments as he learns to make friends in a highly tense situation. His friends are great too. Rachel Caine was able to invent believable and loveable characters who were full of life. It was as if I could reach out and touch them.

I know the whole outlawing books sounds like Fahrenheit 451, but the lesson continues to be an important one. Our ability to write what we believe as well as the discoveries we have made is something worth fighting for. And oh, do Jess and his friends fight for it.

I recommend this book to those who enjoy alternate universes based in the real world, and science fiction.

I do have to say this book made me think about what the world would be like if we hadn't lost all that knowledge from the Library.

I rate this book 4.5 out of 5!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Son (The Giver #4)


They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

My Review

This series is so beautiful. I'm sad I never delved beyond the first book until last year.

Son unites all the previous books together: so if you haven't read this book there will be spoilers.

Claire, a young woman turned ancient, comes to the town where Jonas and Gabe have been living since their escape. But it's not quite that easy. She has to go through hell and back again to get there. She meets a monster who follows her to her son...but she's so old there's no way her precious Gabe would believe she was his mother...

The world beyond where Jonas grew up is incredible. Jonas's ability as The Giver is so much more than we ever thought. He is fascinating. As is Gabe.

Who knew the little baby Gabe was so much more powerful than we thought. A defiant teenager, sure, but strong--the way Jonas raised him.

And Jonas's wife... Lois Lowry knows how to connect seemingly unconnected books beautifully.

Son brings our characters together in a whirlwind story where we learn vanity is not worth the price of our children.

Lowry knows how to write books that bring wonder into the reader's lives and teaches us life long lessons we should all uphold.

What I love most, is how she teaches us to be brave and to be kind.

This is a series I will definitely read again.

5 out of 5!