Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Review: Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples


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Series: Saga
Volume: 1
Authors/Artists: Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 160
Publisher: Image Comics
Year Published: 2012
Format: Physical Copy (Own It)

"When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous, old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaghan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults."

My Rating: 5/5

Ok clearly, I loved this first volume that I read within 2 hours. I try to space out my reading of graphic novels so I don't just read those without a pause for other novels. I really loved this story and the adult aspect which I did have not experienced in a graphic novel before. I think the author and the artist did a wonderful job melding together their words and their artwork. I loved the characters, the world was extremely interesting and the narrative voice was fantastic. I can't wait to see where this story will go and hope to share it with my boyfriend (pretty sure I have him convinced to read it). I would note that this is a very adult storyline so if you're sensitive to nudity, swearing and adult themes I would not recommend. 

Thanks for reading and hope to post more soon!

Sidny

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


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Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Series/Standalone: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children (Book #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 353
Publisher: Quirk Books
Year Published: 2011
Format: Paperback Physical Copy (Own it)
First Line: "I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen."

"A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of peculiar photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its decaying bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow- impossible though it seems- they may still be alive."

My Rating: 3.5/5

I was recommended this book multiple times either by people I knew well or those who are very big in the YA reading community (whether through booktube, or book blogging) and I'm going to tick a lot of people off with this review and spoiler. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book for what it was. The photographs were chilling and held me captivated in the story when I was really into reading. That being said, it took me 2 weeks to get through this book and it didn't capture my complete attention for most of the time. I want to add that this book just did not live up to the hype for me. The premise was interesting to me, until about half way through the book, when there were many "secrets" being kept from the reader. I felt that I had figured out the secrets that some characters were keeping. I also found the love interest interesting and strangely hard to support for reasons that I don't even understand. I hope to continue on with the series and see how I feel about the next instalment before passing judgement on the series, but I am going into the next book with far lower expectations. 
All in all, I think that Ransom Riggs portrays an interesting story using photographs as well as imaginative descriptions. I would recommend this book to younger readers venturing into YA fantasy/paranormal for the first time.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

To begin, these thoughts are my own opinion and if you're a die-hard fan of this series more power to you.

Based on that opening line, I have a feeling many of you know what I'm about to say. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. It was a solid OK read for me. I think that the format of this novel was very interesting and yes I plan on continuing the story to learn more about the characters and the world. This being said, I didn't fall in love with the writing style or our main characters. I thought that this premise had a lot of promise and after being recommended it several times I had high expectations for this book. Unfortunately, it just wasn't the read for me. It took me a long time to read and I feel that while I'll remember this book, I may mostly remember the format. To continue my thoughts let's get into some character discussion.


Characters:
Jacob: Not my favourite main character, I felt for him in the beginning of the story. Dealing with the feeling that he didn't really belong and then witnessing a horrific scene. But then throughout the book, he was so severally wishy washy that it drove me crazy.  I think that his interest in Emma was questioned for only the briefest of seconds before it was just happening. It made me wonder about how he could make the decision so fast, but during other times just couldn't figure out what the heck to do.

Emma: Again interesting, but I wonder about her relationship with Abe and if she's really over it or if she's just replacing him with Jacob. I know it's been a long period of time, but still. She's been stuck reliving the same time over and over. It makes me wonder.

Miss Peregrine: I also wonder more about her past and her brothers. I think there may have been a name drop near the end of the book, but I'm too lazy to go back and check. I wonder if she'll ever be able to transform again. 

Millard: Probably one of my favourite characters. The way he speaks and just tells everyone how it is (especially after he's been shot). I wonder about his future in the series for sure.

Enoch: Creepy little shit... isn't he? But I like him for that reason especially. He's what I thought this book would be... creepy kids.

Olivia: She's so incredibly young, makes you wonder how mature she is internal.

Bronwyn: I think she's going to grow a lot throughout the series.

Grandpa Portman: How well his story lined up with World War II events was unfortunate because it made his "stories" seem like a cry for help when really he just wanted to share his past with someone so bad. Unfortunate how he met his end, and how no one believed him. To know that you're the only one you can count on.

Golan: Not completely surprised, but slightly creeped out to think about the people I pass every day without taking notice. Could I interact with so many people and not recognise them if they were the same person. Creepy.


Final Line: "We rowed faster."



Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Book Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo


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Title: If I Was Your Girl
Author: Meredith Russo
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary
Pages: 280
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Year Published: 2016
Format: Physical Copy- own it
First Line: "The bus smelled of mildew, machine oil, and sweat."

"A new kind of big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennesse. Like anyone else, she wants to make friends and fit in. But Amanda has a secret-something that sets her apart from all her peers. She's determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself- including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells the truth, no one will be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. 

Will the truth cost Amanda her new life- and her new love?"


My Rating: 4/5

I haven't read many books with diverse characters but I'm sincerely trying to pick up more over time and this is one I've been interested in since the first time I heard it. It caught my attention as my sister is a huge supporter of LGBT rights and has gotten to know people all over the spectrum. It was very interesting to hear about the main characters thoughts, feelings and experiences especially since this is an own voices novel. I was very impressed with the opening letter written both to cisgendered (those who are not trans) and trans readers. It made sure the reader knew that this wasn't for only people who identify as cisgendered but for everyone. I could not agree more with the story it is important for all different kinds of people to read. I think that the telling of Amanda's story helped me understand those who identify as transgendered and what that means for some people (everyone has different life experiences LGBT or otherwise). I think the author made a good point of reviewing the past and present to show an overall story of our main character and the ending left off in a good place; leaving the reader wondering, but also to an extent content. The reason I ended up docking one star off of this review is because I didn't agree with some of the main character's choices (see the spoiler for more details) and it left me feeling frustrated about the love interest in the book. 

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

WARNING: I'M DRINKING WINE WHILE WRITING THIS SPOILER!!!

So to start this spoiler off I'd like to say this book mostly lives up to the hype. It is diverse, it's own voices and the story is both important as well as endearing. I think that this book did the important job of appealing to both sides: people who are trans as well as cisgendered. The story was important to me because I want to gain an understanding of people who are vastly different from me, especially in the childcare field as we meet many unique individuals and families. I enjoyed the way the author brought the present and the past together in her writing to complete the picture of Amanda's life thus far. I think that while parts of the world have started to be more accepting, it's important to realize that not everywhere is. This really played into the setting and as someone who lives in a small town (not in the southern States), I saw many similarities between Lambertville and my hometown. People are slow to accept things they don't understand, even fear them, but with help, we can change that. Overall, I gave this book 4/5 stars. I think that for an author debut this was an amazing start, but there were aspects that I didn't enjoy. I didn't like the main characters waiting and waiting to tell Grant about her past, although she did try. I didn't think that she needed acceptance from a boy to be complete but I can see how she would feel this was important as it was something she had been missing out on most of her life. Also the importance of self-love! Beautiful!

Characters:
Amanda: To have gone through so much at such a young age broke my heart. At 18 I had it so easy in comparison. I felt for her realizing how she felt unsafe throughout her life, feeling the need to hide, being unable to be your true self for so long, depression and life after a huge change in your life that can't be celebrated for fear of those who do not agree with your choices. I think that she was a strong female character, but her indecisiveness drove me a little crazy. I understand that this was her first serious relationship, but to give up the idea of telling someone something as soon as they look at you with "longing" eyes is a little crazy to me. Maybe I'm just old and in denial about young love, but that aspect of the book drove me a little crazy.

Grant: He seemed like a good guy overall. I don't know if he and Amanda ended up a couple by the end but at least he was willing to try and understand her. I think that the way he found out changed a lot of things for him (for example, the peer pressure of high school....).  I was disappointed by his reaction to finding out, but I felt for his home life and struggle to keep his family afloat. An interesting love interest for our main character.

Bee: I wasn't surprised to realize that Chloe was right, but was disappointed that this was how the author chose to have Amanda come out. If you can even call it that if others tell your secrets before you have a chance. Not impressed with her. I hope she realized that making other people miserable doesn't change your life.

Chloe: I would be interested in a story of her life as well. Learning more about growing up in a place that didn't accept who she was and how she continued her life after the end of this story.

Anna: An interesting character to throw in, but in all honesty, I don't think she would have remained friends with Chloe and Amanda if she was not partying on the weekend. 

Layla: Just a base character for me. The fun, fashionista best friend... mah.

Virginia: A very important character to think about. Someone to help understand what you're going through and has been where you are. I also wonder about her life and people she's mentored and seen throughout her life.

Amanda's Mother: She seemed overall understanding and a realistic portrayal of a parent seemingly losing their child. You go lady! You supported your child through a lot.

Amanda's Father: He annoyed the crap out of me for the first half of the book, but over time he grew on me. Especially after he realized he was losing so much by not supporting his daughter. 

Parker: Ass hat.


Final Line:
"I knew now- I believed, now- that I deserved to be loved."


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver


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Title: Replica
Author: Lauren Oliver
Series/Standalone: Replica (Book #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 520
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year Published: 2016
Format: Hardcover Physical Copy (Own it)
First Lines: "On very still nights sometimes we can hear them chanting, calling for us to die."

"Escape: that was what Gemma dreamed of, especially on nights like this one, when the moon was so big and bright it looked like it was a set piece in a movie, hooked outside her window on a curtain of dark night sky?"



"Lyra:
From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousand of replicas, or human models are born, raised and observed.

But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven two of its young experimental subjects- Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72- managing to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven's purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.


Gemma:
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school and her best friend, April.

But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family's past and discovers her father's mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 and 72- and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learns terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves. "


My Rating: 3/5 

So this book was something a little different than what I expected it to be. When I first heard about his book I really thought that this book was dystopian... I was terribly wrong. As many of you know this book is 50/50 stories of Lyra and Gemma's point of view while their paths cross over. I just thought that this would offer so much more from both sides. I enjoy reading about clones and science fiction overall but I found that this book was a little lacklustre. Halfway through the book, I thought that the book was starting to pick up and it immediately ended and went back to "normal". I also found some of the ideas from one of the main characters were harmful and didn't make me feel entirely comfortable while reading. Overall this was not my favorite book and I will not be continuing with the series. 

Thanks for reading,
Sidny


Spoiler: Replica by Lauren Oliver

So I have a few thoughts about this book. One being that it took way to long to get to the point. I thought it was interesting and while it ended leaving questions, I don't feel the need to continue on with the series. I found parts of the story to be unnecessary, such as the love interests of both of our main characters, the use of harmful feelings felt by Gemma about her weight and the lengthy period in the beginning where Gemma's point of view happened. I really think this book would have been better off to switch perspectives. As I mentioned in the review I will not be continuing on with this story. To elaborate I think that Gemma and Lyra didn't necessarily need love interests to feel complete throughout the story. Isn't it nice just to have someone? I also thought that the way Gemma described herself was uncomfortable to read. I can't change the way someone might feel about themselves but it seemed like she truly thought nothing good about herself. 

Characters:
Gemma: I thought that her character was overall either boring or harmful to think about. I understood her curiosity but it was just overall underwhelming to hear that she was a clone and watch her fall in love with Pete. 

Lyra: While I don't plan on continuing on with the series if at some point I changed my mind I would think it would only be for Lyra's point of view. Her life holds so much mystery and what will happen to her... nobody knows. Also did not need to fall in love to be happy and feel safe... I just think it's a poor message to send to young adults.

Pete: He's sweet.... he dealt with the madness well overall. 

Jake: Sad to see him go, kinda saw it coming though. Wish his death had escalated the story a little more. 

Caelum: I'm curious about his experiences in Haven and why he was so sure no doctor could ever be good. 

April: "Leave" but don't actually go! Ugh so frustrating.

Gemma's Mom and Dad: Did they think she would never find out about her past? It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Dr. O'Donnel: Curious what happened to her, but not enough to carry on.

Nurse Em: What people do when they're in love... ugh.


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review: The Black Key by Amy Ewing


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Title: The Black Key
Author: Amy Ewing
Series/Standalone: The Lone City Series (Book #3)
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Dystopian
Publisher: 2016
Year Published: HarperTeen
Format: Audiobook

"For too long, Violet and the people of the outer circles of the Lone City have lived in service of the royalty of the Jewel. But now the secret society known as the Black Key is preparing to seize power.

And while Violet knows she is the center of the rebellion, she has a more personal stake in it- her sister, Hazel, has been taken by the Duchess of the Lake. Now, after fighting so hard to escape the Jewel, Violet must do everything in her power to return to save not only Hazel, but the future of the Lone City."

My Rating: 2.5/5

So I finished this series as I started it with an audiobook. And I thought it was a solid mah. I liked some parts of the book but overall wasn't a huge fan of the series as a whole. I found the characters changed in a negative way. I thought that the events that transpired in this book were easy to see coming and not that hard hitting. I just thought overall it was a letdown. I'm giving it 2.5 because I found the beginning to be interesting while the ending to be cheesy and rather predictable.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: The Black Key by Amy Ewing

So this book was not as good as anticipated and while I knew it wasn't going to be good (I saw many reviewers mention it was a let down) so I didn't go in with high expectations at all. Still was slightly let down. I thought the first half was interesting enough but during the revolution itself, I found the writing to be corny. The yelling (maybe this was on the audiobook only) was ridiculous and I hated it. It just seemed poorly written and foolish. I was predicting sentences and reactions throughout the last two hours. Overall I wouldn't recommend this series to someone who has a background in dystopian.

Characters:
Violet: I thought that she was just so sure about herself that she screwed up so many things. Lucien wouldn't have died if she wasn't a screw-up things may have gone differently for many others. I just hated her overall.

Ash: Mah

Cora: I thought she was one of the most interesting parts about the second half of the book. 

The Duchess: Good riddance!

Raven: She was at least a little more realistic.

Garnett: Cute that he loves Raven I guess...

Lucien: Kind of poetic that he died with the same words that his sister said before execution.


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


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Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult
Pages: 530
Publisher: Scribner
Year Published: 2014
Format: Paperback Physical Copy
First Line: "At dusk they pour from the sky."

"Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure's reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Marie-Laure and Werner, from warring countries, both having lost many of the people they loved, come together in Saint-Malo, as Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another."

My Rating: 4/5

This is a book that I bought based on the premise as well as the lovely cover. I know.. I'm that person who takes that into consideration if I'm buying books. As soon as I started this book I expected to enjoy it. The characters captured the reader's attention easily and the writing kept me thinking late into the night. I think that the subject matter is important for youth as well as adults to read about. While we are taught about the war to an extent in school, or through post-secondary education there is still so much you can't get from facts alone. Many people still view all the German soldiers who fought in this war as villains, but this book (similar to parts of the Book Thief) showed that many people weren't willing participants but were motivated in some way to participate. It's horrible to think about but it's a fact. I think that the author did an excellent job of showing how integrity and resistance were viewed in Nazi Germany. I also think that the beginning of the book portrays the change in a society. I enjoyed this work overall, just found that it didn't give me a huge wow factor for this reason I rated this book 4/5 stars overall.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny