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

Spoiler: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

It's been quite a while since I've picked up a historical fiction and it's rare that I read an adult book so might as well hit two birds with one stone. I thought that this book really illustrated points about the war that I never had to think about before. The idea of someone trying to make something of themselves even though they feel what they are doing is wrong, knowing there is no way back, PTSD before it was fully accepted, and how Germany looked between the two world wars. I think that the pacing for this book helped keep me interested the changing between past, present and finally futuristic times to our main characters. The main characters in this story were two very interesting points of views to read from as well as the other side characters who sometimes had a chapter here and there.

Characters:
Marie-Laure: I don't think that I've read from a character who was blind before and it was interesting to see the way the author worked that into his writing. The way that Marie-Laure made her way through different cities and experience the war would be very different from others in similar positions to her. I thought that an interesting idea was how she claimed not to be brave just living her life. It was a way I never thought of looking at the situation.

Werner: I was interested in his beginning to see how Germany changed between the wars and right before the second. To see his fear about the mines and making a choice to "better" himself. Little did he know.. but he would have been conscripted either way. I also thought that the choices he made were tough choices to make. He was scared to speak up and wouldn't you be as well if you worried nothing would change or you would be next. I thought that his death was a little crazy. It makes sense if you think about him dying due to not having the stone, but at the same time, I wished he would have made it through. At least the author was realistic.

Frank Volkheimer: Overall he was a man who did what he thought was right for his country and himself and by 1974 it clearly haunts him every day.

Etienne: Another interesting perspective to think of someone who has PTSD from the first world war and is entering the second. I wonder how many men experienced this from the first to the second world war. Were they able to survive another time either from home or the trenches? I'm happy that he ended up living a long life.

Frederick: I thought that the ending was a chance for Werner to say goodbye to Frederick and I wish that he had had a chance to live a very different life.

Jutta: She was one of the only people who had her eyes wide open and was going to say something about what she saw. I think her future was a sad look for us, but important none the less. To see Berlin post war was a scary thought for me as a young lady. A subject I would be interested in learning more about.

Madame Manec: To have lived through 2 wars and to still be willing to stand up to the oppression her country was experiencing was inspiring.

Reinhold von Rumple: A desperate man will do desperate things for certain.

Daniel: I wish we saw more of him, but once again a realistic showing of how people who went to work camps did not often make it home or anywhere after the war.

Bastian: He was a root of evil. To train those boys to do those things and have them kill a man ever year shakes me. It makes you wonder what motives he had to do such a thing, or if he took much convincing.


Moments to Remember:
Pg.  266
"'And you, Madame? What would you like to be?'
'Me?' Madame Manec's knife pauses. Crickets sing in the cellar. 'I think I would like to be the Blade.'
'The Blade?'
'Yes.' The perfume of the peaches makes a bright ruddy cloud.
'The Blade?' repeats Marie-Laure. Then they both start laughing."


Final Line: "Until all she can hear are the sighs of cars and the rumble of trains and the sounds of everyone hurrying through the cold."


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Book Review: The White Rose by Amy Ewing


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Title: The White Rose
Author: Amy Ewing
Series/Standalone: The Lone City (Book #2)
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year Published: 2015
Format: Audiobook


"Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has n o choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised- a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there's a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. but is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won't be able to put down until the final shocking moments."


My Rating: 3.5/5


So this is the second book in the Lone City series and I found myself really enjoying it. I won't go on a huge rant with things that were slightly problematic in this review, I will say how I felt about it overall though. It was a good audiobook. I thought that the characters paths were still interesting and while we did see some growth and learnt more about some characters pasts, we didn't really see a huge leap and change. I did find myself feeling this was a bit of a filler for the final book (which I have on hold on audiobook at the library).  This book took little time to get into and while I had to concentrate, it didn't involve a lot of focus and I did love the kickass female them that it set. Especially when I was working out at the gym, it was a good distraction from how out of breath I was feeling (#sofit). I do hope to continue with this series and read some of the ebooks that are available through overdrive, but I don't feel a huge rush to jump into the next book, I'll get to it when I can. 

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: The White Rose by Amy Ewing

So this was a book I picked up because I enjoyed the first one and hadn't read a dystopian like this in a long time. I thought that the world was interesting and seeing different kinds of servitude to a ruler was interesting to me. The idea of companions and surrogates was interesting to me. In this book we learned so much more about the world how regimentals are taken, as well as ladies in waiting. It was interest and sad to see a world where there was so little choice in what you became, where the rich keep getting rich and the poorer are continual losing loved ones and lives. I think that the author does a very good job of getting a reader interested in different aspects of the world, but around the last 2 hours of the audiobook I found myself getting bored with where this story was going. And while the author tried to write a surprising ending, I wasn't surprised by what happened and guessed it within the last half an hour of the audiobook. For these reasons I thought this book was ok, it was good but not my favourite dystopian of all time.

Characters:
Violet: I think that Violet started to find peace with herself and what she had to do. But at the same time I found her a frustrating character because she was constantly saying it was time for answers she just got the bare minimum but then kept getting angry about it. I also thought she made many poor choices. I'm interested to see how her sister's kidnapping will change her, I can't see a way it won't.

Ash: To have to leave your sister to die when you are helping so many others can not be easy, but to see him without a purpose is so frustrating. Not quite as frustrating as people not taking his need for help seriously. Companions don't ask for what they get either. They aren't given a choice.

Raven: To see her so week and so different was scary, but also important to remind the reader what they were fighting against. I was surprised that she didn't want to learn what the other elemental powers were, but I can see how she would be frightened after all she's been through.

Sil: I'm not sure if this is how you spell her name, but I listened to the audiobook so I'm just guessing. She's a weathered woman. She's seen things that no person should ever have to and has lived through the building of a revolution I only hope she gets to see a better world.

Lucien: His story was another one that broke my heart. To hear that his father sold him out so similar to how Ash's family sold him out broke me. It was hard to see that they couldn't see eye to eye. They have no reason to fight, they should remember who they are really trying to fight but we'll see how well that works out.

Garnett: I wonder what made him really turn to the Black Key and could he be the weak link? It's sad to think that that's possible, but he didn't really get what he wanted out of the deal, he still had to marry the boring teacup lady.


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Book Review: Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson


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Title: Like A River Glorious
Author: Rae Carson
Series/Standalone: The Gold Seer Trilogy (Book #2)
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Year Published: 2016
Format: Hardcover Physical Copy

First Line: "Sunrise comes late to California."

"He will never stop hunting me down. I have to end him, and soon.

Lee Westfall survived the dangerous journey to California. She found a new family in the other outcasts of their wagon train, and Jefferson, her best friend, is beginning to woo her shamelessly. Now they have a real home- one rich in gold thanks to Lee's magical ability to sense the precious metal in the world around her.

But Lee's Uncle Hiram has survived his own journey west. He's already murdered her parents, and he will do anything to have Lee and her talents under his control. No one is safe. When he kidnaps her, she sees firsthand the depths of his depravity.

Lee's magic is changing, though. It is growing. The gold no longer simply sings to her- it listens. It obeys her call. Will that alone be enough to destroy her uncle?"

My Rating: 4/5

My mom loves this series. That's how I'm going to start this review. Solid choices. So after I ordered this book I passed it off to her cause she was dying to see where the series would go (she's not impressed she has to wait until October for the next one). So it's taken me a little while to get reading this book, but wow what an interesting turn from the first book. I found this book to be refreshing between the fantasy reads that I was reading. I found that this book started with a slow beginning similar to the first book. I found that it was it picked up far faster than the first story. I also found that this book had a far sadder story for both our main characters and the surrounding world in up and coming California. There were times in this story where it broke my heart to see people of different race and gender treated like trash, but I think it's important to remember our history so we can improve our future. At least that's what I hope. I would recommend this to any lovers of historical fiction and those interested in gold rush times. It also has a key bit of magic, if you're just wandering into historical fiction for the first time. Overall, I enjoyed this story and plan to continue the series although I'm not sure where it could possibly go.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Like A River Glorious by Rae Carson

Like A River Glorious is the second book in the Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson and we follow our main character Lee building a new home with her family and finding her own in the California. We follow her adventures and unfortunate circumstances the characters in our story go through. I think the author did a very good job of picking up right where she left off. I thought that it was interesting to see our characters starting a new home and becoming a new kind of family. The characters seemed to stay true to who they were and I loved that they were interesting and unique to other characters in this time. I also enjoyed the story line. I think that it was important that things weren't perfect, there were accidents, and people leaving. As well as, how the villain returns. I loved the mystery of what happened with Lee's mother and Hiram. It really makes you wonder if she is his daughter by blood. It was sad to see the camp change after people left and passed on, but I see why this was an important aspect in this story. I won't lie, I cried all the same. And what will happen after such a dramatic ending?

Characters:
Leah: I thought that Leah was so strong in the last book, and I was right she was. But I found her need to be too independent in this book to be troublesome. Especially after being captured and when Jefferson asks for her hand throughout the book. I did think that it was about time they got together in this story, but at the same time when you can't own anything or have your name on something because you're a lady... ugh I live a very lucky life to not have to think about things like this. I was very proud of Leah for taking down her uncle, helping those who were trapped in the camp and taking care of her new family. I wonder what will happen with her change in her magic as well, should be interesting to see how the author takes this story to the next book and the next level. 

Jefferson: He's grown from a boy to a man. I thought it was very interesting to see how he changed his proposals every time. I thought it was extremely endearing to see him stick up for Leah even after she brushes him off so many times. He is strong enough to deal with what he saw and stood up for what was right even though it was far from easy. I wonder where his path will take him.

Tom: I think that he's an interesting character to look into. It's interesting to see how the college boys act and how those around them accept it. Not that there's anything wrong with whatever sexuality you believe in. But that being said, during this time it would be rare to have this accepted in society.

Hiram: He's a real son of a gun. I hate him. He's horrible to everyone around him but I can't help but wonder what happened between him and Leah's mother. Is it true that they had one last night together? Or did he take advantage of her? I also wonder what happened to make her mother change her mind and marry Reuben.. there's a lot of things that are going unanswered. To see how he treated those around him as well as those in his care broke me a little bit. It's horrible to think that this was often the sad truth as North America progressed. 

Muskrat: I hope that he made it out of the fray, he did what was right for his people, it's a shame that he lost so many before they made it to any form of freedom. 

Dilley: I won't lie, I'm glad he died. He deserved it. This character showed his true form of evil in this book for sure. 

Tug: I didn't like him at first but he grew on me. I hope that he doesn't get too angry when Leah and Jeff get married, but it was bound to happen.

Mary: What she went through to get to freedom was horrible. To have to sleep with men, be beaten, abused and kidnapped... I can't even imagine. I do wonder what will happen next in her story. 

Wilhelm: What is this man's story? How did he get caught up with Hiram and Dilley?

Mr. Hardwick: I don't trust this man as far as we can throw him. He just doesn't seem like a good guy overall. I hope that he disposes of Hiram though as Leah requested.


Moments to Remember:
Pg. 143
"'I think you're in love with me,'' he says.
I stare at his lips. What comes out of my mouth is: "Jefferson McCauley Kingfisher, you have the swagger of a rooster and the swelled head of a melon.'"

Pg. 209
"'What now?' I ask.
He gestures toward the cabin.
'Again? All day?' I hate being cooped up, doing nothing. I've never spent an idle day in my life, and it makes me fit to burst.
He just frowns.
'Well, don't talk so fast. I can hardly understand you.'"


Pg. 250
"Well, I'm going to interfere. I'm going to interfere plenty."

Final Line: "'Never call me that again.'"



Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket


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Title: The Carnivorous Carnival
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series/Standalone: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Book #9)
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 286
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year Published: 2002
Format: Hardback Library Copy

First Line: "When my workday is over, and I have closed my notebook, hidden my pen, and sawed holes in my rented canoe so that it cannot be found, I often like to spend the evening in conversation with my few surviving friends."

"Dear Reader,

The word 'carnivorous,' which appears in the title of this book, means 'meat-eating' and once you've read such a bloodthirsty word, there is no reason to read any further. This carnivorous volume contains such a distressing story that consuming any of its contents would be far more stomach-turning than even the most imbalanced meal.
To avoid causing discomfort, it would be best if I didn't mention any of the unnerving ingredients of this story, particularly a confusing map, an ambidextrous person, an unruly crowd, a wooden plank, and Chabo the Wolf Baby.
Sadly for me, my time is filled with researching and recording the displeasing and disenchanting lives of the Baudelaire orphans. But your time might be better filled with something more palatable, such as eating your vegetables, or feeding them to someone else.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket."

My Rating: 5/5

As I mentioned in my review of the 8th book review, I think that this series really took a turn now and I'm enjoying it far more than I enjoyed the first books. While I liked the first books, I found them to be a little too repetitive and young for me. At this point, I'm extremely excited to continue my reading of the series. I found this book caught me off guard with a twist or turn here and there. I think that the writing style in this series is by far one of the most unique styles I've ever read and it really sets the books apart. I am looking into watching the Netflix series but hoping to finish the series first. I plan to pick up the next 4 books in May and June.. if not before then. My curiosity is killing me.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Book Review: The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket


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Title: The Hostile Hospital
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series/Standalone: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Book #8)
Genre: Fiction, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 255
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher
Year Published: 2001
Format: Hardcover Library Copy
First Line: "There are two reasons why a writer would end a sentence with the word 'stop' written entirely in capital letters STOP."

"Dear Readers,

Before you throw this awful book to the ground and run as far away from it as possible, you should probably know why. This book is the only one which describes every last detail of the Baudelaire children's miserable stay at Heimlich Hospital, which makes it one of the most dreadful books in the world.
There are many pleasant things to read about, but this book contains none of them. Within its pages are such burdensome details as a suspicious shopkeeper, unnecessary surgery, an intercom system, anesthesia, heart-shaped balloons, and some very startling news about a fire. Clearly, you do not want to read about such things.
I have sworn to research this story, and to write it down as best as I can, so I should know that this book is something best left on the ground, where you undoubtedly found it.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket."

My Rating: 5/5

So I took a break from this series for a month and when I was at the library getting some books for my preschool classroom I thought what the hell, I might as well pick up this book and the next one in the series. For me, these are perfect weekend reads and on weekends when I don't have plans I can fly through them along with my other book of the week. This one I thought really blew the others out of the water. It came into its own and connections are starting to be made and as an adult, I'm far more interested. I think that the author does a magnificent job incorporating his own story and others into that of the Baudelaire orphans and I was impressed with his writing in this installment even more than the others. I can't wait to finish the rest of the series, and I'm strongly considering binge reading over the next few months. After all what's a long weekend without books!
Can't wait to see where this series is going.


Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: Sailor Moon Vol. 2 by Naoko Takeuchi


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Title:  Sailor Moon Vol. 2
Author: Naoko Takeuchi
Series/ Standalone: Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (Vol. 2)
Genre: Manga, Fantasy, YA,
Pages: 235
Publisher: Kodansha
Year Published: 2011
Format: Physical Copy

"The mysterious Tuxedo mask has revealed his identity, forcing Usagi to come to terms with her growing affection for the masked vigilante, all the while defending the people of Earth from renewed attacks by the sinister "enemy". Everything threatens to overwhelm even Sailor Moon when suddenly a new Sailor Guardian appears. Could this new Guardian be the Moon Princess the Sailor Guardians are sworn to protect?"

My Rating: 5/5

So this second instalment definitely upped the excitement. As I'm laying sick in bed, I thought what better time to pick up such a nostalgic piece of my childhood and man was I happy that I did. Sailor Moon really went deeper than I ever realized as a child. As a child, I would dance around my living room "transforming" into a Sailor Scout and protecting the world from the evil but I didn't realize what the storyline actually was. As per usual the art in this book was inspiring and made me wish that I could draw or do something of the sort, but damn I'll just appreciate it. And the story line? Got so much better this book. Will be continuing on and can hardly wait!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Book Review: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski


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Title: The Winner's Kiss
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series/Standalone: The Winner's Trilogy (Book #3)
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 484
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Year Published: 2016
Format: Physical paperback copy
First Line: "He told himself a story."

"Wishes don't win wars.
The empire is at war and a heartbroken Arin leads his people to battle. But, he can't forget Kestrel- or how she's betrayed him. Kestrel is a sly, ruthless killer, caring more for the goly of the empire than for the lives of innocent people- and certainly more than for him.

At least, that's what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is sentenced to life imprisonment in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for an escape she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they've done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

High stakes, true love and the destiny of nations come together in a heart-pounding climax to the bestselling Winner's trilogy."

My Rating: 4.5/5

So I finally finished this series and was super nervous for all my fictional babies in this book and damn Marie Rutkoski she did not disappoint. I thought that this was a marvelous conclusion to a very interesting series. The political drama continued, the romance was still swoon worthy and the characters stayed true to who I remembered them to be. That being said, I did find that the beginning of this book seemed to drag a little. I found that it was taking a little to long to get to the pieces that I was hoping would happen and for that reason I knocked off half a star. I will say that the twists and turns in this book still managed to catch me completely off guard and I was ready for the worst at almost every moment. 
Marie Rutkoski you've made me laugh, cry and sigh with this trilogy and when you write more books (which you have to) I will be in line to pick them up.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

What a good way to start the reading month! Boom! I was looking forward to wrapping up this trilogy but also nervous about all my fictional loves in this book. This series had a way of tearing the reader apart... in a good way. I loved the writing of the romance and the political drama. The characters and the interesting choices that the author made to set this book apart (a girl whose power lies in her smarts, having "savages" enslave the cultured society, etc). I really enjoyed the drama in the first two books and was a little disappointed how Kestrel chose to fight physically more in this book, although it made sense.

Characters:
Kestrel: So I thought for sure when she lost her memory I was gonna hate this book, I thought that the time in the mine was slow and while the dual perspectives kept me interested it was frustrating how long it took Arin to realize what the hell had happened. None the less, I think it really worked wonders for their relationship. I also mentioned how I was unsure when she kept using physical combat during the war, but in the end, she used her strategizing to win the war for everyone. Very impressed and love her to the end.

Arin: This guy gets me. He is hot and amazing and a martyr which for some reason gets me. I really thought that it was interesting to see how he kept Kestrel at a distance and while he was heart broken after she rescued him. I thought for sure he would throw a pity party but he was patient and got her to fall for him again. Ladies and gentleman, I fell with him. I would do literally anything for him.

Roshar: He is hilarious and wonderful. I did wonder about how he used his humour so much during the war, but he kept this story light and funny. It was great, I hope that he finds love in his lands with his freaking tiger.

Risha: What a badass.

The Emporer: Perfect ending for him. I loved it! I thought that it was incredible.

Verex: The fact that he still tried to help Kestrel, even after she was a "traitor". I hope that he finds happiness with Risha.

The General: He will learn to forgive himself and her, I'm sure.

The Queen: She thought she was so smart huh? You'd get the land if your brother owned it, but your brother is even smarter. So suck it! I'm not her biggest fan... obviously.


Moments to Remember:
There were alot I didn't mark so I'm just going to put the final line.... should I end this section???

Final Line: "'Play.'"


Thanks for reading,
Sidny