Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter


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Title: Firstlife
Author: Gena Showalter
Series/Standalone: Everlife (Book #1)
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian
Pages: 438
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Year Published: 2016
Format: Physical Copy
First Line: "Duuude."

"I've been told history is written by survivors. But I know that isn't always true. My name is Tenley Lockwood, and very soon, I'll be dead. This is my story- but the end is only the beginning.

Tenley 'Ten' Lockwood has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. She's earned her rep as the craziest of the crazies, but that doesn't stop the torture. Ten can leave, but only if she allows her parents to choose where she'll live- after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enermies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herelf on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the boy she's falling for and the realm she wants to support. Who will she choose? Can she stay alive long enough to make a decision?"

My Rating: 2/5

This book was a lot more religious than I expected. I should have guessed based on the premise but unfortunately I didn't expect there to be a totally right and wrong choice. I also didn't expect the book to take a whole evil on one side approach. I was interested in the idea, and had planned to continue the series but after how underwhelming this story is, I also don't believe that I'll be continuing this series anytime soon.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Overall I really didn't enjoy this book. The writing style and the content were not all I had hoped for. At first I thought that the book was intriguing especially when it opened in an asylum. I also thought the idea of having a second life to live was interesting. Thats when the story took a wild turn into what is right and wrong. It also made me think about religion, in a way that I don't really care to read about. 

Characters:
Ten: She was an interesting character to read from, but this was a way to intense novel for what it was and it was obvious at what it was pointing fingers at. The idea of not chosing a side.

Killian: I liked him, even though he was evil, but he wasn't all that and a bag of potato chips.

Archer: I liked him the most he was willing to stand for what was right when he knew it was right, and do what he could to help those around him. 

Van: I wonder how the Everlife will treat him. If he will dare to try to cross into Myriad.

Sloan: She was one bad ass, but not all I wished she could be.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman


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Title: The Golden Compass
Author: Philip Pullman
Series/Standalone: His Dark Materials (Book #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Pages: 399
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Year Published: 1996
Format: Audiobook

"Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her.
In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the alethiometer. All around her children are disappearing- victims of so-called "Gobblers"- and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter are involved."

My Rating: 3.75/5

This book was the monthly pick for my local book club and I was more than a little excited to get to it. I'd heard about this book in the past as it was extremely popular around the time the movie came out, but I'd never really read about it or known what the storyline was about. Overall, I enjoyed the story, especially listening to the audiobook as it was a full cast audiobook. I also really enjoyed the questioning about morals and religion that is hinted at in this first story. That being said I do wonder if I would enjoy the rest of the series based on my enjoyment of this first book. I'm going to give the series a break, before deciding whether to continue with the second audiobook.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Yes, I know I'm behind on extremely popular reads... what else is new?
So this was the pick for my local book club this month, one that I definitely voted for after hearing a lot of praise for the series overall. I'm not going to lie to anyone, I was a little disappointed. I found that this series was interesting, but I was curious about some things and bored with many others throughout it. I also tried to read the physical copy first but the sentences just seemed never ending and extremely intimidating.
That being said I did really enjoy the audiobook. It was full cast and narrated by the author, so I felt that I understood how he meant for his work to be interpreted. 

Characters:
Lyra: Like puberty isn't hard enough, to see playmates getting kidnapped left, right and centre. Also to see the world around you start to drastically change. I do wonder how she will change within the next novel. 

Pan: I wonder how he will be interpreted in this other world and if it will be normal for him to stay so close to Lyra. I also wonder what his permanent form will be.

Lord Azriel: I was extremely surprised to find out that perhaps he was the real problem in these experiments. I was also surprised at the lengths he was willing to go prove his points. I also wonder what he truly believes about Dust.

Marisa Coulter: Here I thought that she was the real villain, and boom she might be the more open villain. The one whose the head honcho.. ya know?

Iorek Byrnison: Loved his voice in the audiobook and his love for Lyra. I wonder how he will react once he realizes that she is gone. I do wonder how he'll rule the bears and react with Lyra kind of disappearing. 

Iofur Raknison: An interesting idea to see a bear wishing to be human. As well as someone trying to be something they are not. I won't say that he'll be missed. The description of his palace though was astounding and really helped me to understand his character.

Serafina Pekkala: Another interesting perspective to read about. Hearing about such a different perspective makes me wonder how the separation of others would affect them. Although they can already be far apart, they are still connected.


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Book Review: When It Happens by Susane Colasanti


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Title: When It Happens
Author: Susane Colasanti
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 310
Publisher: Speak
Year Published: 2006
Format: Paperback Copy
First Line: "'So.'"

"A boy, a girl, and the possibility of something real...

Seniors in high school, Sara and Tobey couldn't be more different. She wants to get into her first-choice college; he wants to win Battle of the Bands. Sara's other goal is to find true love, so when popular Dave asks her out, she's thrilled. But Tobey always creeps into her thoughts. Lucky for Sara, one of Tobey's goals is also to make her fall in love with him. Told in alternating point of view, Sara and Tobey's real connection will have everyone rooting for them from the minute they meet."

My Rating: 1/5

This is a low rating, even for me. This is a book that's been sitting on my shelf for years on years on years. So I pulled it out of my TBR jars and that forced me to read it. And I freaking hated it. It reminded me why I hated YA Romance books in the 2000s. This book was so hurtful to read and used so many tropes. I hated the way the characters acted, were portrayed and the writing just overall. This book uses slut shaming in many aspects of the book and I just couldn't relate to the characters. In my opinion, the author seemed to be writing about teens without knowing anything about teens.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

Wow, I've never rated a book so low and thought so lowly of a book that I read. That is harsh, I'm aware. I just didn't like how the author portrayed teenagers and used stereotypes throughout the story as a whole. I think that this story portrayed teenage boys as only thinking about sex and getting off without thinking about others feelings overall. Even confusing lust and love. The teenage girls in this book were worried about not being pretty enough, smart enough or thin enough for boys to call them and ask them out. I was just so upset throughout this book.

Characters:
Sarah: Spends far to much time thinking about how she's the smart girl, not the pretty popular girl. She also seems to think that if you think about sex and you're a girl you should have the label as a slut. It was so frustrating to read about such a negative sex oriented story.

Tobey: The one thing that made up for this book was the fact that Tobey brought up birth control and it is brought up a few times in this story. I think that his constant narration about how bad he wants to bang Sara is just irritating. I'm aware teenagers are hormonal but girls are allowed to have positive thoughts about sex. Shook. I know.

Dave: Obviously all jocks are jerks and can't be trusted. All they want to do is pressure you into sex and think about having sex with your way hotter friend... right?

Josh: Kinda a blah character.

Laila: Another blah character.

Maggie: I liked her, she was someone I think would have a better perspective for a contemporary novel, that being said if it was written the same way.

Mike: Super static character.


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 393
Publisher: Philomel Books
Year Published: 2016
Format: Hardback Copy (Own It)
First Line: "Guilt is a hunter."

"Based on the 'forgotten tragedy that was six times deadlier than the Titanic.'-- Time

Winter 1945. WWII. Four refugees. Four stories.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept...

Worl War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety. 

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. not country, nor culture, no status matter as all ten thousand people- adults and children alike- aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson's Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein's Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of Wilhelm Gustloff- the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shade of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shocking little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity and love can prevail, even in the darkest hour."

My Rating: 4/5

This story is definitely hard hitting and not for the faint of heart. I noticed right away that the authors writing style were strict to the point and that she didn't cringe away from facts that happened during this time in history, she seems to just lay them on the table for what they are. I was interested in the storyline as I hadn't heard of this tragedy, but also wasn't expecting as many gruesome details as the author included. That being said, it made the tragedy hit closer to home. Slowly the author has us fall in love with characters and also begin to understand how some characters might think in this war-torn time period.
I'm interested to read more of her work and plan to continue reading her work throughout this year.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys

This book has taken booktube by storm by being one of the most hard-hitting young adult historical fiction. I certainly agree with these statements this is a tragedy that a lot of people don't know about and I'm certainly one of them. I had no idea that this had happened during the war and had affected so many people, more people than the Titanic. I'm also looking forward to reading more of her works, but I'm glad that I planned to read a light-hearted contemporary book for after this hard-hitting read.

Characters:
Joana: She is strong and wise beyond her years. She has guts and has given up so much to help those around her. I can't imagine living through something like that and raising two children that you rescued. 

Florian: I enjoyed his perspective a lot based on him being on the run from the rest of his peers. To realize everything that happened during his time in the art gallery. I was glad that he was the knight they needed.

Alfred: I hated him. With a fiery passion! He was the trained sociopath that I think we expect that the German soldiers would be.

Emilia: Her story is what broke me the most. To be traded in for someone else's safety. To live her life being told that she is nothing and no one. To give birth after the sexual assault from possibly multiple people. To give up her life for that of her child, it broke me.

Shoe Poet: His death broke my heart, but at least it was quick. He didn't freeze to death in the water, and he helped Klaus find someone else to take care of him.

Klaus: I wonder about his future and what his childhood was like. Did his life get better after the war, or did he traumatic stress disorders?

Ingrid: The first loss hit hard, I was really excited to see that she had made it so far, especially being hunted for being blind, but then after it all, it didn't work out.


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Series/Standalone: Outlander Series (Book #1)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction, Romance
Pages: 627
Publisher: Anchor Publishing Canada
Year Published: 2001
Format: Paperback (Own It)
First Line: "People disappear all the time."

"Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another. In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon-- when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach-- an 'outlander'-- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord... 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny is soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life... and shatter her heart. For here, Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire... and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives"

My Rating: 5/5

Since I've joined the bookish community there has always been a buzz around the Outlander Series.  I'll agree with those who do not appreciate aspects of this storyline and it is problematic. There are also points where this story made me feel slightly uncomfortable. Strong alert for rape, sexual assault and physical abuse. That being said, in the time period where this takes place, this is not exactly surprising. That being said I loved the grit and the dark aspects of the storyline along with the many characters. After finishing this book I can not wait for more and plan to continue the series throughout the year.
Certainly a new favorite.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This might be a very rambly spoiler because I loved this book! I'd heard so much hype about this series in the book community and I certainly understand why. I also understand why it's a problematic read, but I rated for my enjoyment of the storyline and enjoyment I felt throughout reading the story. So that's why this book got a whole 5/5 stars. I really enjoyed how this book is more than a romance, it shows different aspects of historical fiction (life in the Highlands, war, justice, etc). It also speaks about abuse, assault and a varied other assortment. That being said, the first book always does come back to romance, which I appreciated. Normally I'm not someone who loves romances, but this one took me by storm and I can't wait to continue the series.

Characters:
Claire: I really enjoyed her perspective a woman of her own right coming into a world where woman certainly isn't taken seriously. I liked that she used her knowledge to help heal those around her and take care of those she could. That being said, she was little quick to forget about Frank and her past life. I also didn't appreciate how fast she forgave Jamie for serving "justice" in the inn. That being said we have to take the time period into account. I loved her stubbornness and her willingness to stand her ground.

Jamie: I really loved him. Right from the start. And I know that's the point but he is someone who cares for those around him. A man who has suffered for choices he has made and is trying to better now. That being said, he is a little too willing to sacrifice himself for others. I hope that their romance continues and I wouldn't be surprised if his shock from the prison returned.

Frank: He was just kind of alright. He didn't really seem to care that much for Claire and was more interested in his past than her. I also just didn't feel like we got to know him that well, I'm wondering if that will change throughout the series.

Randall: I'm curious about his past. For example, "Who is Alex?" "Was he always horrible?" I think with his relation to Frank it would be extremely hard for Claire to go back and see Frank the same way. I also was surprised at his extent of his villain. 

Column: I wonder about him and whether he will reappear in the future. To live such a painful life in a time where there isn't anything that could be done for him broke my heart.

Dougal: Again, why are you so willing to assault people? I understand that he was doing certain things for his brother, but other things made little to no sense to me. I also hated how he treated Claire when he was with her alone. Just creepy. I also assumed he was a lot younger before I googled the cast for the series.

Jenny: I really loved her. She was willing to give anyone a piece of her mind and was willing to fight for her own. I loved her and her attitude. She was stronger than so many women I've seen throughout novels.

Ian: He seems like a good man and I wonder about his family in the coming war and famine.

Geillis: She kind of reminded me of a villain near the end. She was a good friend to Claire but she was willing to be a Jacobite knowing the result of the war. I also wonder when she went through the stones. 


Moments to Remember:
Pg. 309
"'Why, what's the matter wi' the poor child?' she demanded of Jamie. 'Has she had an accident o' some sort?'
'No, it's only she's married to me,' he said, 'though if ye care to call it an accident, ye may.'"

Pg. 562
"'Sassenach,' he said against my shoulder, a moment later.
'Mm?'
'Who in God's name is John Wayne?'
'You are,' I said. 'Go to sleep.'

Final Line: "And the world was all around us, new with possibility."

Thanks for reading,
Sidny