Let's Talk about Books!

Hello everyone! My name is Stephanie and I am a book addict! Benjamin Franklin said, "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." I have found over my reading years that many people have written something worth reading. Since joining this site I have found even more. I love to read an prefer to read fantasy over much of anything. If you throw in a good romance sub-plot in the mix and I am in imaginary world heaven. In the spare minutes that I have between being a Special Education teacher I am a writer and one crafty lady. I am using this blog as a way to keep track of my bookish adventures and hopefully meet fellow book lovers. 

Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas

In any series there are going to be books like Heir of Fire. Books that are full of a lot of filler and set up for the awesomeness that is coming next in the series. As a reader of many series, I know this to be true and yet I still continue to read books in long series. I’m not going to lie; this book took some time to get into. For the first half of the book I was a little lost and not so happy with all of the world set up, but it paid off in the end. I’m glad I held in there and kept reading.

 

As with the other books in this series, we meet a few new faces in this book as well as hang out with our favorite friends and enemies from past books. My new favorite addition is Prince Rowan.

Holy smokes! As with any good beginning romance Rowan and Aelin despise each other when they first meet, but then the goodness develops and they rock as a couple. I loved the following Aelin as she discovers her powers with Rowan and the way she uses them the way she does. Burn baby Burn!

Manon, oh Manon! At first, I couldn't really find any reason why Manon and the other witch clans played such an important role in this book. Since I read the next book in the series right after this one, I suggest to those that feel the same way just HANG ON, it truly comes together beautifully.

 

I can’t really get into many other details of this book without spilling major spoilers, but if you can get past the filler and plot setting of this book, it pays off in this book as well as in the next.

Graceling - Kristin Cashore

I really enjoyed this book! Graceling is the first book in the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore. Our main character is Katsa. She has been gifted with the Grace of killing. In this world people who are gifted with Graces are looked down upon, at least where Katsa grew up. Graces are basically superpowers that develop in childhood and turn your eyes different colors.

Due to Katsa having the Grace of killing people, she has been the King’s thug since she was young. Katsa is sent out to do horrible things to people for the King and she hates every second of it. Her way of rebelling is to take part of the Council. This is a group of people that do good things for others in their world, which most of the time would thwart the plans of the rulers of the world.

 

During a council mission, Katsa meets another person with a Grace, Po. Po is from another kingdom and is trying to solve the mystery of the disappearance of his grandfather. Po and Katsa align against a common enemy and become friends. During their journey to figure out what is really happening with Po’s grandfather they develop a deep rooted relationship that has to stand the test of their trials.

I really enjoyed this book. It was shelved and described as young adult, but there is an adult scene or two that would make me argue otherwise. I liked Katsa’s resilience and her final determination to stop being the King’s bitch and do what was right for herself and the people of the world. Katsa’s Grace was a bit annoying at first, but once we got to read about what her Grace really was, I was all in.

 

Side character development was fascinating. I really loved reading about all of the people Katsa and Po met, as well as the different lineages of each royal house! I loved and hated so many people in this book! I won’t give any spoiler’s away, but this book definitely made me think about what Grace I would want to have. One of the people’s Grace’s in this book is horrifying and I loved every second I read about it.

 

Overall, if you are looking for a book with a historical fantasy feel laced with superpowers and treachery, look no further! This book had me up all night reading, just to find out what was going to happen next. The romance between Katsa and Po helped with that, but honestly it was well written and developed enough to suit my interest.

Untitled

Untitled - Sarah J. Maas Holy mother of God. I have to re-read this after just finishing it before I can write a review. It was that good!
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands - Chris Bohjalian

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the first book I have read by Chris Bohjalian. It was not what I expected at all. This is a dark story with some pretty intense themes, but written very well. I really enjoyed the world building and the Emily Dickinson poetry that was painted into the writing. It has been a while since I read a dystopian/post-apocalyptic book and I was extremely satisfied with this one.

 

This book is a narration by the lead character Emily Shepard. Her entire world has fallen apart and she must survive in a world completely different than the one she had known her whole life. Emily changes her name through the book to keep herself out of danger from the fallout created by her parents. Emily is attempting to survive in the best way that she knows how and in turn realizes that the way that she knows how to live might be the reason why she struggles so much. She is a tough character with a loving heart, but makes some pretty poor choices. Her voice is authentic and at times heartbreakingly raw as she tells of her life. I found myself quite frequently wanting to scream at Emily while she recounted her story. As I said, she made bad choices and even though she realized after the fact that it wasn’t a good choice, she never once took the time to think about the repercussions of her actions. It wasn’t until Cameron came along that she seemed to want to change her course of direction.

 

The book is told in two separate parts. Before Cameron and After Cameron. Cameron is a little boy who she befriended and became responsible for. Their story is nothing but sad and made my heart hurt. The other side characters were interesting, yet despicable.

While I enjoyed this book, there were some hard themes to deal with while reading. Drug use was a constant through this book, which wasn’t as bad to read about as the cutting. She didn’t want to start cutting, but did anyways and up until the very end of the book, kept doing it. She let her “friends” talk her into a lot of bad stuff, cutting being one of them. She let them drag her into prostitution, stealing, and drug abuse. Emily found herself multiple times homeless, which was hard to read about, especially when she was living in an igloo made out of trash bags and frozen leaves with 9-year-old Cameron.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this book because it was a completely interesting concept. It kept me on my toes waiting to find out what new mess Emily could get herself into. I liked how it was told by Emily in a way that made me feel like we were sitting across the table from each other sharing our life stories. I liked how the author tied in the title to the story and how everything seemed to round out by the end of the book. I liked that most of the issues Emily faced were resolved by the end of the novel. I especially liked how I loved and hated Emily and the mess that her world became. I just really liked this book.

Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry

I was pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I have been avoiding YA books for a while now and after a recent decision to give them a try again, I chose this one and was pleasantly surprised.

Let’s talk about our two main characters. Noah became part of the foster system when he was a child and his parents died in a fire. He had been bounced from foster home to foster home for being a boy with “issues”. He does what every good bad boy type would do and puts on his badass pants.  He is also a really good big brother who is trying to get custody of his younger brothers since they were placed in a separate foster home than him. So, naturally he is protective, determined, and hiding behind an emotionally unstable brick wall.

 

“It doesn't get better," I said. "The pain. The wounds scab over and you don't always feel like a knife is slashing through you. But when you least expect it, the pain flashes to remind you you'll never be the same.”

 

Echo is a wreck. She has her own traumatic background that she is attempting to deal with. All she wants is to get her life back to normal, which has been impossible since she and her friends can’t get past the scars covering her body and a single night she can’t remember. She has a screwed up family with a dad that is always preoccupied with his new pregnant wife and a mom that has severe mental illness. Add in the tragic death of her brother in Afghanistan and you get the mess that is Echo.

 

“They say be a good girl, get good grades, be popular. They know nothing about me.” 

 

When these two came together through the work of the school social worker: Mrs. Collins, great things start to happen. Together they decided they would help each other. Noah would help Echo find out what happened to her on the night she can’t remember and Echo would help Noah find his brothers. During this journey they deal with the ups and downs of both of their traumatic pasts, rise above bitchy teenage social drama, and most importantly learn to love and accept love in return.

 

I highly enjoyed this entire book. I was enthralled from the first page and read it in one sitting. The ended was perfect! So freaking perfect! To all my fellow romance readers, I recommend this book. Prepare for a book that will rock your world and is really quite an enjoyable read, even with the heavy topics. I will definitely be picking up more from this author in the future!

 

 

The Bronze Horseman  - Paullina Simons

I’m quite puzzled.

 

This book was highly recommended. I decided to read it, along with others that were listed on Goodreads’ top 100 romance novels. I should have done a little more research before I dived into this novel because what I have found is that you either really enjoy this book or you hate it. I fall into the latter category.

A young girl Tatiana meets Alexander. He is a soldier in the Red Army during the time when Hitler’s armies are attacking Russia. At the beginning of the book, the war had not yet arrived in their home town. Tatiana and her sister Dasha live in a cramped apartment with their family, sharing a room together. The book begins with Dasha talking about how in love she is with a man she had met the night before when she was out. Tatiana, not giving two flying f’s about this stuff brushed it off. The next day she meets Alexander, who we soon find out is the man her sister is madly in love with. ***Cue complicated love story*** Things pretty much go to shit after this part.

To be fair, the story would have been great and I might have really enjoyed the book if I wasn’t drowned in every single detail of what was happening in the story line. I found myself skipping over a ton of paragraphs full of ridiculous details of Tatiana and Alexander walking or getting on a bus. I could have enjoyed it if I didn’t loath Tatiana and her sister. Honestly, Alexander was the only redeeming character in the book because he had depth and a hell of a good back story. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to save the book for me because he was also kind of a jerk. He was double dipping in the sister pool and that lost him a heck of a lot of points for me. There was a constant “will they, won’t they” thing happening that drove me nuts and made me feel slightly embarrassed for Tatiana and Alex.

My final thoughts: this book could have been a good book. Take out the endless repetitive nonsense about walks, buses, and bullshit and you could have a good book. This book is a love story, not a typical one, but one none the less. It had some serious potential. It is also a book about survival during a horrific time in history, which also gave it some serious potential. Unfortunately, all of the potential was lost. Not a winner for me.

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

After reading reviews about this book by other bloggers, I went into this book expecting one thing: a plot twist.

This book is told in flashbacks and the present. In the Summer fifteen something happened to Cady. Now, in summer seventeen Cady is trying to figure out exactly what happened by going back to the house that her accident took place. The private island that Cady goes to has been in her family for years. She spent every summer there with her cousins and a boy named Gat. These four are called the Liars. I absolutely loved these characters and the poetic method in which they were written about.

 

The writing in this book was phenomenal! The prose and scattered pieces of writing made reading this book imagery heaven. I knew I was in for a great read when on page 5 this happened:

 

“Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open would, then from my eyes, my ears, my mouth. It tasted like salt and failure.”

This is a book about a family. It is a book about love. It is a book of lies and friendship. It was a book that I am incredibly happy I read. I thought this book was genius and it left me speechless at the end. I did NOT see the ending coming, not even close, which made it very satisfying.

I would recommend this book to every single person I know. It was that good. Please, if you decide to read it, don’t read a ton of reviews on it and for the love of God, don’t read any spoilers. Just hold your breath and dive right in.

Alice - Christina Henry

Sorry guys, this one did not do it for me. I thought it would and to be honest I gave this book a fair go at it. At about 100 pages in though, I had to close the book and move on to another story. One that did not try too hard to be scary or one where I found myself knee deep in sexual assault and rape.

I know this book had really good reviews and I may just be a little whacko for not following the herd on this one, but this book made me want to pull my hair out with the over the top loathing of the world in which this book takes place and the ever-not-so-much suspense of waiting for Alice to get almost raped or discovered.

Now, while this book fell extremely short for me, there were some redeeming qualities. The beginning of the book was incredible. I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to keep reading to see what would come of Alice and Hatcher. The imagery in the insane asylum was done beautifully and it had a Count of Monte Cristo feel to it. Hatcher is an intriguing character in the beginning. Going from moments of pure madness into extreme times of lucidity. But, he is dangerous and maybe it is because Alice is messed up herself, but I just wanted to scream at this girl for being so naive and trusting of someone she met in an insane asylum. There was a whole lot of romanticizing of Hatcher, which was just a big NO for me.

Did I mention there was rape in this book? I felt like every time I turned the page someone was being raped or in fear of being raped. Really?

 

Sigh. I’m going to end it here because I feel like I said all I needed to say. I was not a fan of this book, though others are. Read it if you want, but beware that this book should come with a big “Read with Caution” sign on the front if you have any triggers around rape, torture, or abduction.

A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas

It’s been a long time since I picked up a YA book. To be honest I was over the whiny teenage girl drama, the cheesy love triangles, and the instant love that seems to happen with angsty teenagers.

Having said that, I went into this book expecting some overly dramatic girl meets boy, boy hates girl, eventually they end up liking each other crap. I briefly looked at book ratings and top to-read books and kept coming back to this book, over and over and decided it was time to pick it up and see what all of the hype is about. I have two words that sum up this book. MIND. BLOWN.

 

This book was a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, but with fairies! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I said fairies. Not those glowing half naked winged things that dance through the woods kind of fairies, but the kind that have been written in books like The Middle Kingdom: The Faerie World of Ireland  by Dermot MacManus. These fairies will give you nightmares! Sarah Maas did a beautiful job of keeping to the basic literary structure of Beauty and the Beast while weaving a horrifyingly beautiful tale in a unique, yet believable way.

 

My absolute favorite thing about this book, besides it being a re-telling of my favorite fairytale, is the characters. Feyre, our protagonist, actually does what so little YA characters do in novels: shows growth! She is a strong woman, cunning, smart, loyal, basically everything you want in a strong female lead. As for her love interest, Ms. Maas gives us the heart twist-swoon worthy-deep-thoughtful-man candy that is Tamlin.

I really liked the side characters, the ones we love to hate, with Rhysand being my favorite. I can’t wait to read what becomes of him and Lucien in later books.

 

Rhysand stared at me for long enough that I faced him.
"Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don't feel anything at all.”

If you are like me, you might roll your eyes at re-telling books. This was the first book I have ever read as a retelling that I LOVED! I am very happy that I took the chance to give this one a try. I was not disappointed and cannot wait to read the next book in this series!

Tone Deaf

Tone Deaf - Olivia Rivers Review to come.
It’s been a long time since I picked up a YA book. To be honest I was over the whiny teenage girl drama, the cheesy love triangles, and the instant love that seems to happen with angsty teenagers.

Having said that, I went into this book expecting some overly dramatic girl meets boy, boy hates girl, eventually they end up liking each other crap. I briefly looked at book ratings and top to-read books and kept coming back to this book, over and over and decided it was time to pick it up and see what all of the hype is about. I have two words that sum up this book. MIND. BLOWN.

 
This book was a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, but with fairies! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I said fairies. Not those glowing half naked winged things that dance through the woods kind of fairies, but the kind that have been written in books like The Middle Kingdom: The Faerie World of Ireland  by Dermot MacManus. These fairies will give you nightmares! Sarah Maas did a beautiful job of keeping to the basic literary structure of Beauty and the Beast while weaving a horrifyingly beautiful tale in a unique, yet believable way.
 
My absolute favorite thing about this book, besides it being a re-telling of my favorite fairytale, is the characters. Feyre, our protagonist, actually does what so little YA characters do in novels: shows growth! She is a strong woman, cunning, smart, loyal, basically everything you want in a strong female lead. As for her love interest, Ms. Maas gives us the heart twist-swoon worthy-deep-thoughtful-man candy that is Tamlin.

I really liked the side characters, the ones we love to hate, with Rhysand being my favorite. I can’t wait to read what becomes of him and Lucien in later books.
 

Rhysand stared at me for long enough that I faced him."Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don't feel anything at all.”

If you are like me, you might roll your eyes at re-telling books. This was the first book I have ever read as a retelling that I LOVED! I am very happy that I took the chance to give this one a try. I was not disappointed and cannot wait to read the next book in this series!
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

All right, hold onto your pants while I take you on this review. I picked this book up for $1 at the thrift store after reading the back of the book. Here is what it says:

 

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing--a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.”

 

 

As a woman who comes from a crazy family, how could I resist such a synopsis?! I started reading this book with high expectations from the author. It is after all her own personal story. Let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Somehow, Jeanette managed to make her memoir into a beautiful fairytale that distracted me from the horrors that she endured as a child. She made every move her family made, every day her and her siblings starved and dug through dumpsters for food, into an adventure. My heart hurt for the Jeanette and her siblings, but more than that, it gave me a view into the way other people choose to live their lives. I say choose, because there is no other way to describe what these parents put their children through.

 

Usually when I read a book, I feel the way the character feels. If they hate someone, I hate them too. While I really tried to feel the love for her parents and the devotion she had for her drunk father, I couldn’t get over their selfishness or the neglect they put their children through. It could be me being a parent or a teacher who sees the outcome of students placed in neglect and homelessness, but I could NOT find any inkling of appreciation for the author’s parents.

 

“I’m a grown woman now,” Mom said almost every morning. “Why can’t I do what I want to do?”

Hmmm…maybe because you’re a mom and it’s not just about you!

 

I have to commend Jeanette Walls for putting herself and her family out there so much. She weaved beautiful prose and poetic styling into a tale of the heartbreaking reality she endured growing up. That couldn’t have been easy.

 

“One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. Mom frowned at me. "You'd be destroying what makes it special," she said. "It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty.” 

 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I sat down and read it in one sitting, I was so hooked. Usually this type of writing is not for me. I rarely find myself reading a memoir or book of non-fiction, but I am sure glad that I did. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a different perspective of life and see things from another’s point of view. It was good, so damn good.

No One Knows - J.T. Ellison

Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good book with twist and turns. This book was definitely one of those books! Now, while I enjoyed the read and the constant suspense, this book was just OK for me. I really enjoyed the side romance plot, the hatred between some characters, and the action that was riddled within the story.

 

This book starts off with a woman who had lost her husband. Literally, he disappeared! Our main character Aubrey went to a party with her husband and by the end of the night, when they found her apartment drenched in the blood of her husband, she was being accused of murder.

 

 

The story starts as soon as her husband is being declared dead by the state. We go through the turmoil Aubrey faced the night her husband disappeared, as well as the tragically romantic beginning to her and her husband’s relationship.

 

Through all of this, a man shows up that is just like her husband. His movements, his personality, everything about this man reminds her of his husband. Of course, he has secrets and we find out about him when the book switches to his point of view.

 

One of the things I did like about this book was the different point of views it was told in. We got to see things through Aubrey’s view, the mysterious man, the mother in law, and the disappearing husband. One of the things I didn’t like was the way that Aubrey was actually nice to her mother in law. The lady who accused her of murder and tried to ruin her life, literally up until the plot twist at the end of the story. Screw that.

Now, I like plot twists. They keep me intrigued and interested in the story. Having said that, I prefer my plot twists to happen before the end of the friggin’ story!!! I mean, you don’t actually find out what happens until the VERY END OF THE BOOK! Drove me crazy, but it kept me reading the book.

 

This book was an OK read for me. I liked the in depth development of the side characters, the variety of point of views, and the late, but oh so interesting twist at the end of the book. If you are looking for a story with strong romantic elements to it, this book is not for you.

While there is some romance with Aubrey and the mystery man, it is not that intense or detailed. However, if you want a good mystery with shady characters that you love to hate, or a book to read that will keep you interested while you need to kill some time, this is a read for you.

Dead Heat  - Patricia Briggs

Is there anything Patricia Briggs can't do? Dead Heat was awesome! I love Charles and Anna, not as much as I love Mercy and Adam, but I still love them anyways. Anna and Charles share an amazing bond. Something that feels ancient as love itself and just as enduring. This book is my second favorite in the series, the first being the story that began it all in the On The Prowl. I think I like that one the best because it is the beginning of their relationship, though this one shows the strength and beauty of what they have become.

 

So, let's get into the nitty gritty. Anna and Charles head out to Arizona to visit friends with the plan of buying Anna a horse for her birthday. When they arrive their friends lives are in turmoil because a devious Fae is on the loose taking children and replacing them with simulacrums.

On top of the Fae doing awful things with children, one of Charles dearest friends is dying and refuses to be turned into a werewolf. Charles, being the noble man he is, refuses to turn him without his consent. Joseph is a great addition to Charles past, which we don't know a lot about. Each book in this series lends a little more information to this mysterious man, Dead Heat not being an exception.

 

Anna, in previous books has been dealing with the relationship building between her and Charles, but in this book we finally see her settle in as Charles mate and true love. So much so that she decides she wants a child with him.

Anna seems to have come to terms with her past and uses it to help a person in need in this book. It felt like a huge turning point for Anna and one I was happy to finally see.

 

I couldn't find a single flaw with this book. The characters, even the side ones, were well developed and belonged in every place they were written. We got more information on those sneaky Fae and a peek at what is to come for Charles and Anna in the future. I loved how Ms. Briggs weaved in some of the rest of the pack in. She never fails with adding just the right about of Bran into her stories. This book, like many others kept me on the edge of my seat and had me devouring each page with fury. I couldn't wait to see what would happen! Patricia Briggs has always been on my auto-buy list and will remain so. I can't imagine how her next book will be any better than this, but I have said that for each and every single book she has written previously.

Heads up for any readers that haven't read this series, or the Mercedes Thompson series, they need to be read in order. There is a lot of world building and character structure that happens through each book. Don't do yourself the disservice of starting in the middle of the series.