Kings Cage – Victoria Aveyard

SPOILER ALERT: This review contains some spoilers

Story: 3/5
Writing: 2/5
Overall: 2.5/5    

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I knew I was going to like King’s Cage better than Glass Sword almost as soon as I started reading. Sure enough, King’s Cage was better than Glass Sword but it didn’t have the same appeal as Red Queen. The book starts off with a lot of action, intrigue, drama. Then Mare is rescued along with a few hundred or so (I think?) other newbloods. Just when Aveyard was beginning to redeem herself in my eyes, it starts get boring.

Once Mare is rescued we’re back to her being whiny and lovestruck in the most annoying way. I get it, she has been through a lot and her issues are legitimate, but Aveyard ‘s depiction of her is just so bad. Just like the previous books in the series, the mediocre writing yet again destroys what could potentially have been a brilliant series. Evangeline’s perspective is worse than Mare’s. She crumbles into a mere shadow of the fierce woman Mare paint’s her out to be. Cameron’s perspective was the most interesting of the three and also the most well written. This is the one place Aveyard showed some potential in her writing and I wish that there had been more of Cameroon in the book.

The plot twist were slightly improved. While many were predictable, there were one or two that caught me by surprise. While I figured Cal’s grandmother would play some part, I didn’t predict that Aveyard would do it that way. I also wasn’t expecting an assassination attempt on Maven or that they would rescue all the newbloods and not just Mare.

Although there was more action than the previous one, there was almost too much happening. At times it felt kind of confusing and I felt like there were gaps in my understanding. Overall, it was pretty average but I’m still holding out hope that the final installment will be as good as Red Queen.

Where’d You Go Bernadette? – Maria Semple

Spoiler Alert: This review contains some spoilers

Story: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetWhere’d You Go Bernadette (WYGB) written by Maria Semple is a witty and entertaining read, telling the story of Bernadette, who disappears two days before a family trip to Antarctica. Bee, Bernadette’s fifteen year old daughter narrates the story, piecing it together through various documents – emails, invoices, memos, etc – and her own clever insights.

Writing a book is never easy, and using this format to effectively tell your story adds its own challenges. Semple manages to create a story that is compelling and complex. She uses this format to excellently enhance every aspect of the story.. The characters each have their own quirks, adding a realness that allows the reader to connect to them or really dislike them on a personal level.

Bernadette herself is witty and sharp, a genius architect who always seems to be running away from life, Her attitude towards Seattle’s elite, Microsoft, the helicopter parents at her daughters private school, is in a way a satirical comment on Seattle and how it is now. Bernadette has a past riddled with complications that only begin to explain how she became to be the person she is today. Despite her dislike for seattle and borderline rude treatment of other characters, she ends up being likeable and funny. Just like a real person she has her flaws and her redeeming qualities.

Bernadette is not an exception. Semple creates characters that are real enough to connect to. Like her mom, Bee is funny and easy to like despite the occasional teenage tantrum. Bee is close to Bernadette and her disappearance causes significant changes in Bee’s world. Elgin – her husband, is a little harder to judge. He’s a quirky tech guru for Microsoft that is famed for having the 4th most watched Ted talk in the world. He tries his best to be a good husband and father but his love for Microsoft and Seattle, constantly tear at his relationship with his family. He’s not as bold as his wife and daughter, and is easily manipulated by the people around him.

Semples use of non conventional writing techniques definitely sets her novel apart from others in the genre. However, it’s not the first time I’ve read a book in this format. In fact Meg Cabot has an entire series written in this format. Not that I’m complaining, I love this format and it was definitely part of the reason I enjoyed WYGB as much as I did. Semple does a great job at hinting about things to come without actually exposing chunks of the plot. Unexpected alliances, shocking twists, and ultimately a surprising yet warm ending, make this book a pleasure to read.

Though the story was nowhere near what I expected, I loved it. It’s been awhile since I read a book I enjoyed as much as this one. I definitely urge you to add it to your reading list. If my review doesn’t convince you, maybe the awards its won, will 😉

Quotes: 

“That’s right,’ she told the girls. ‘You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

“Can you believe the weather?’…’Actually, I CAN believe the weather. What I can’t believe is that I’m actually having a conversation about the weather.

“One of the main reasons I don’t like leaving the house is because I might find myself face to face with a Canadian.”

“Its like a hypnotist put everyone from Seattle into a collective trance. “You are getting sleepy, when you wake up you will want to live only in a Craftsman house, the year won’t matter to you, all that will matter is that the walls will be thick, the windows tiny, the rooms dark, the ceilings low, and it will be poorly situated on the lot.”

“Just because it’s complicated, just because you think you can’t ever know everything about another person, it doesn’t mean you can’t try.”

 

Wishlist Wednesday

23437156Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

 

*all information is taken from http://www.goodreads.com


My Thoughts:

It sounds interesting, I love fantasy, a friend reccommended it, and it starts with the words criminal prodigy. That’s pretty much all the reason I need to add this to my shelf.

Glass Sword – Victoria Aveyard

SPOILER ALERT: This review contains spoilers

Story: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Overall: 3/5


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Glass Sword was kind of frustrating to read. It took me a lot longer to read than Red Queen. It was slow, the plot was dull, the characters either annoying or unremarkable. Yet somehow Aveyard has me hooked and I can’t wait to start King’s Cage later today.

 

It has a super slow start and only really picks up a little more than half way through. For a good part of the book, nothing happens. Then the nothing drags on for a little longer. All of a sudden the last third of the book is packed with explosions, prison escape, plot twists, and some tear jerkers. Aveyard’s writing was problematic in Red Queen and this only becomes more evident in Glass Sword. Once again, the story and the characters have potential but are left stunted with Aveyards average wordcraft.

Mare’s character is annoying and bratty for 95% of the book. She’s self centered, whiny, and naive. She falls into trap after trap, only to be rescued miraculously by her friends and comrades. She swings between being an entitled princess and a humble hero more times than I could keep count. I understand that Mare’s character has been through a lot and that her character is supposed to be complex. She’s the center of the entire series and yet her character isn’t strong enough to carry the series. In fact, Cal is the only reason I continue to be enamored by the books. (What can I say?).

Also, can we talk plot twist for a moment? Why is every single twist basically a trap. How stupid do you have to be to walk into trap after trap. I actually started to get bored by trap 3. Shade’s death seems kind of unnecessary but then again I have no idea where this is going. I admit the last couple of pages were really intriguing with the hints at other rebellions, countries with different systems, etc. It all hints at how big this setting is and how little we know and just how much potential this series could have.

Much like Red Queen, Glass Sword is also pretty predictable, with the last 10% of the book being the exception. Aveyard really needs to delve deeper into the relationships between the characters and also their own self perceptions. I would like to hope we’ll see that in the third installment but I fear that would lead to disappointment. I really hope it’s not a bunch of Mare just complaining about being trapped, and being confused between Maven and Cal.

The Tao of Pooh – Benjamin Hoff

Writing: 3/5
Subject: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 

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I grew up reading, and watching Winnie-the-Pooh, so when I walked into a random San Francisco book store and saw the Tao of Pooh, I was intrigued. Flashforward a year later and I found myself with a copy – it was meant to be a gift but my friend texted me the same day saying he finished reading it so I kept it for myself.

It was my second read of 2018 and a quick one as well. The concept of the book was intriguing but overall it was slightly underwhelming. Hoff’s aim is to explain the principles of Taoism through Winnie-the-Pooh and his adventures. I know nothing about Taoism, and I had hoped that reading this book would help me understand it a little better. Sadly, it did not turn out that way.

It wasn’t terrible, in fact it did lead to a good amount of self reflection and shift in perspective. However, I don’t think I actually learned anything about Taoism. The authors explanations of Taoist principles, at times, comes across as misunderstood. Perhaps he lacked the appropriate language and things were lost in translation. There were moments where the author basically tells you to be selfish and only do things you enjoy doing. He encourages the reader to do nothing at all because that’s the secret behind being happy. Life will just work it’s path.

Maybe, I am not spiritually deep enough to understand what Hoff was trying to say, or maybe he was poor at communicating it. Either way, I would still recommend this book to anyone who’s even slightly intrigued. It’s an easy read, perfect for travelling. Most of all because despite the gaps in his writing, Hoff does have his moments of introspection that start your wheels whirring. In fact this weeks Wishlist Wednesday might even feature the Te of Piglet.

WISHLIST WEDNESDAY

13624183.jpgThe 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson

After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, ” The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” has charmed readers across the world.

 

*all information is taken from http://www.goodreads.com


My Thoughts:

It just seems like it would be a fun book to read tbh

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

Story: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Cover: 3/5

Processed with VSCO with 10 presetRed Queen was another bookstagram buy but it was also my first read of 2018. I was pretty excited to read it since it seemed to be popular. It was a pretty “basic” book, if you catch my drift. It followed your basic YA guideline; love triangle, strong-ish female lead, handsome male protagonists (double points if they’re brothers), some form of evil, special powers, blah blah blah.

Nothing in particular stands out about the characters or Aveyard’s writing style. Yet, I lapped up every word because after a long time I found a dystopian YA that fed every one of my guilty pleasures.

The story is decent, and definitely has potential if Aveyard can improve her writing. As is, it’s not terrible but it’s uninspired and flat. There’s nothing memorable about the dialogues, and the characters have neither depth nor originality. In some ways the characters seem to be a mash up of several prominent YA characters, but because YA is still a very guilty pleasure, we let not just Aveyard but several other writers get away with it as well.

I really enjoyed reading the book and have already started the second part Glass Sword, but I don’t have much else to say about the story because in reality the writing is very average. It’s not bad but it’s not great either. It’s insanely predictable but I think I’ll stick it through and see where this goes.

Wishlist Wednesday

7617119I Am Not A Serial Killer – Dan Wells

John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

Dan Wells’ debut novel is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.

 

*all information is from goodreads.com


My Thoughts: 

If you’ve been following the blog, this choice shouldn’t surprise you too much. I am obsessed with crime, specifically violent crimes and I love anything related to serial killers. Also, one has to wonder if the story has any connections to John Wayne Gacy.

Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

SPOILER ALERT: The following review contains spoilers.

Writing: 3/5
Story: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

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I have a complicated relationship with John Green’s books. I love his writing but I dislike his stories. Turtle’s All The Way Down is no exception to this pattern. Green’s latest book tells the story of Aza, a high school girl with anxiety (OCD?) and her best friend Daisy as they attempt to find a missing billionaire, who also happens to be the father of Davis, Aza’s old friend from camp. The story goes on and in typical YA fashion Aza and Davis immediately fall for each other and so begins the teenage angst.

While the storyline really wasn’t great there were some elements of the story that I did appreciate. Unlike other books by John Green, romance didn’t play a significant role in this story. Instead he focused on Aza and her struggles with her mental health. Not ending up with Davis made the story just a touch more realistic. However, the whole missing dad/billionaire thing seemed unnecessary. It added nothing to the story and made it seem just a little too far fetched.

Story disasters aside, his writing was decent. I definitely didn’t hate it but I also didn’t love it as much as I have some of his other stuff. He does a stellar job delving into and depicting the thoughts of an anxious person. Anxiety is something a lot of people struggle to explain, especially to someone who has never been anxious or depressed. Green’s examples and descriptions made me say go “YES! EXACTLY” every other page. His descriptions of anxiety are very accurate and a big part of why I liked the book as much as I did. Aza is a great portrayal of what someone with an anxiety disorder is going through. Green gives spot on examples of what a thought spiral looks like, of how it will sneak up on you when you’re least expecting it, the constant insecurity that inadvertently affects all family, friends, and relationships. Other than that the rest of the writing was pretty unspectacular.

Looking For Alaska is easily Greens best work and Turtles All The Way Down doesn’t even begin to compare. John Green hasn’t grown much as a storyteller. He uses the same patterns, similar characters, and follows the same story arch as all his other books. He has a formula that works for him and he hasn’t deviated from it. That been said I will always be waiting for a new John Green book, the fan in me has not been deterred yet.

Memorable Quotes:

“The worst part of being truly alone is you think about all the times you wished that everyone would just leave you be. Then they do, and you are left being, and you turn out to be terrible company.”

“One of the challenges with pain–physical or psychic–is that we can really only approach it through metaphor. It can’t be represented the way table or a body can. In some ways, pain is the opposite of language.”

“And we’re such language-based creatures that to some extent we cannot know what we cannot name. And so we assume it isn’t real. We refer to it with catch-all terms, like crazy or chronic pain, terms that both ostracise and minimise. The term chronic pain captures nothing of the grinding, constant, ceaseless, inescapable hurt. And the term crazy arrives at us with none of the terror and worry you live with.”

“You just, like, hate yourself? You hate being yourself?”

“There’s no self to hate. It’s like, when I look into myself, there’s no actual me—just a bunch of thoughts and behaviors and circumstances. And a lot of them just don’t feel like they’re mine. They’re not things I want to think or do or whatever. And when I do look for the, like, Real Me, I never find it. It’s like those nesting dolls, you know? The ones that are hollow, and then when you open them up, there’s a smaller doll inside, and you keep opening hollow dolls until eventually you get to the smallest one, and it’s solid all the way through. But with me, I don’t think there is one that is solid. They just keep getting smaller.”

“It’s so weird, to know you’re crazy and not be able to do anything about it, you know? It’s not like you believe yourself to be normal. You know there is a problem. But you can’t figure a way through to fixing it. Because you can’t be sure, you know?”

“And even though I laughed with them, it felt like I was watching the whole thing from somewhere else, like I was watching a movie about my life instead of living it.”

Wishlist Wednesday

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date – Katie Heaney

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“I’ve been single for my entire life. Not one boyfriend. Not one short-term dating situation. Not one person with whom I regularly hung out and kissed on the face.”

So begins Katie Heaney’s memoir of her years spent looking for love, but never quite finding it. By age 25, equipped with a college degree, a load of friends, and a happy family life, she still has never had a boyfriend … and she’s barely even been on a second date.

Throughout this laugh-out-loud funny book, you will meet Katie’s loyal group of girlfriends, including flirtatious and outgoing Rylee, the wild child to Katie’s shrinking violet, as well as a whole roster of Katie’s ill-fated crushes. And you will get to know Katie herself — a smart, modern heroine relaying truths about everything from the subtleties of a Facebook message exchange to the fact that “Everybody who works in a coffee shop is at least a little bit hot.”

Funny, relatable, and inspiring, this is a memoir for anyone who has ever struggled to find love, but has also had a lot of fun in the process.

*all information is from goodreads


My Thoughts: 

So i stumbled upon this book through goodreads and kind of got excited because it was a ‘ oh hey, me too!’ moment for me. I just wanna see what she has to say. It has some mixed reviews so while I don’t have high expectations, I am still intrigued.