Siege and Storm is the second book in Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone trilogy. It is preceded by Shadow and Bone and followed by Ruin and Rising. After making their escape from Ravka and the Darkling, Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev have to try and make do with their life in an unfamiliar land. The novel starts with Alina and Mal having an encounter with the Darkling's soldiers in their new home and having to run so they don't get captured. Alina and Mal decide to sail out and search for another one of Morozova's amplifiers. However, as Alina and Mal are in search of the next amplifier, the Darkling ambushes the ship they were on and takes Alina and Mal hostage. Once the Darkling finally got Mal to track down and find the next amplifier so that the Darkling could control Alina, the captain of the ship Alina and Mal were originally on, Sturmhond, staged a coup and rescued Alina and Mal. In the second book in this trilogy, we see a lot more of Mal and his relationship with Alina. We also see a lot more of Alina's internal struggle with herself; What is her identity and can someone that is not Grisha (like Mal) truly understand her? The funny thing about this book is that a lot of Mal and Alina's problems with each other would be solved if they had better communication. As the plot of the novel continues, the risk becomes greater. The concern in the last book was destroying the Fold, but that is now mostly forgotten. The entire future of Ravka is now on the line, and Alina seems to be the only one who can determine the future of the country. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm is a wonderful reward. Personally, with some of the new characters like Sturmhond and his ship-mates, Tamar and Tolya, the bigger battles, the higher stakes and anticipation, Siege and Storm is my favorite book in the whole trilogy.
Divergent by Veronica Roth is one of the best books I've read this year. It is action-packed and entertaining throughout the whole book.
Split into 5 different factions, or branches, based on your personality and character traits, Beatrice (Tris) Prior is a danger to all of society. She is what's known as Divergent, someone who doesn't fit into one of the preset sections in the civilization. Forced to hide it or face certain death, Tris decides to become a Dauntless, the faction favoring the brave. She faces a dangerous initiation there, in which she must face her fears and become a true Dauntless or live factionless forever. Soon the world becomes more dangerous for the Divergent and she must do everything possible to survive.
I liked this book because it's very attention-grabbing, it was a book I could escape into. It had very cool fighting and training scenes and was so detailed and relatable that I knew how Tris felt half of the time. The book had me hooked and up all night reading it. I think the author did an excellent job with all of the characters and plots that went into the book. I picked this book because I wanted a good dystopian book and I was not disappointed! Divergent is extremely well written, suspenseful, and quick... You will never want to put it down. This book comes with a great storyline and just the right amount of romance to add to the overall brilliance of it all. By the end, you will adore all the characters and it will leave you longing for more. (It's a 4-book series with 3 movies :) If you love a good young adult, dystopian, romance this book is for you!
Reviewer Grade: 8th
I liked this book a ton! This book is an easy read considering it’s a graphic novel. The story in this book is very inspiring for “shooting for the stars” or doing what you love. In other words, commitment. I can relate with the main character, Astrid, by getting through something tough with something you love. For Astrid, the love is all about roller derby.
I picked this book because I love graphic novels. The storyline to this book was extremely interesting, I could barely put the book down! I was honestly surprised by how good the book was. This book is by far my favorite graphic novel. I have read this book many times since my first.
Astrid was a teenager in junior high. The only thing getting her through the rough days of school was roller derby. Astrid loved roller derby and was committed to putting in her best work. Astrid’s character develops over time in the novel, and it’s interesting to read about her change.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is a nonfiction story about a young man named Cris McCandless. After graduating college in 1991, McCandless left without a trace hitchhiking around the United States. During his travels, McCandless goes by the name Alex Supertramp wanting to reinvent his life. He meets and changes countless people's lives. McCandless had his sights set religiously on Alaska, thinking it his last grand odyssey. McCandless wanted to fend for himself in the Alaskan wilderness, which inevitably proved fatal. This beautifully written book is full of adventure and life lessons. Overall, I would rate this book four out of five stars.
Sense and Sensibility follows two sisters, Marianne and Elinor, who have been left destitute following their father's death. Marianne is an impulsive romantic who chases love wherever it will lead her. Elinor is logical and socially conscious, and hides her turbulent emotions even from those closest to her. Together, the two of them will survive scandal, family drama, and first loves in an attempt to find the prized middle ground between passionate expression and silent intelligence.
This is not the best Jane Austen novel. I've only read about one and a half of her other works, but I can guarantee anyone that this is not the best Jane Austen novel. My main problem with this work is that it has all the drawbacks of a Jane Austen classic (slow pace, meandering conversations, way too many characters) with none of the expected romantic investment.
There's still a lot of great stuff about this book. The best thing for me was the main character, Elinor. Elinor is the character through which we sees the story, which has a lot of benefits. It makes her sister's antics more endearing and impactful. It makes her romantic situation more sympathetic, which it needs. It also makes the book much more interesting, because Elinor is an amazing character! She's funny in the best, most sarcastic way possible. She's observant and intelligent, so its great to watch how her mind works. She deeply loves the people around her, and gives everyone new dimensions. She is what makes this book special. The other benefits, I'd say, is the general humor in the writing, the drama of the story, and the sustained level of tension.
The thing I don't like about this romance novel is that it doesn't do what its supposed to do: create a compelling romance. Both sisters have romances that both end somewhat in tragedy, which is supposed to be very sad and moving. This works a pretty well with Marianne, since her situation involved a lot of deceit and drama that was very fun to read. It does not work at all with Elinor. Elinor's love interest is present for very little of the novel, and is so boring that I already forgot his name for this review and wouldn't have remembered it while reading the book if Elinor didn't think about him so often. And she does think about him a lot, which doesn't make sense to the audience, since he's offered so little of himself as a character to be a compelling love interest. This wouldn't be as big of a problem if romance wasn't the central pivot of the book, but as it stands it's distracting to see the intelligent, charismatic lead longing after someone the audience couldn't care about less.
All in all, this book is still very good, and worth a read! I'd recommend this to anyone who likes regency romance, interesting female lead characters, moving emotion, and lots of drama!
Reviewer Grade: 12
The third book in Holly Black’s trilogy, The Cruel Prince, was almost impossible for me to put down. Picking back up after the cliffhanger it left off on in the previous book, it quickly drew me in and started its action. With Jude sneaking back into Elfhame pretending to be her twin sister, Taryn, she meets the people she either missed greatly or didn’t mind living without. She discovers Cardan’s place as High King of Elfhame is in danger, and Jude has to work fast to insure his safety and her own. Cardan’s witty banter, Jude’s quick thinking, family drama, messy politics, a bit of romance, and fairytales come to life. The big events and action was never ending, and made it quite difficult for me to leave the book closed. Although being fast-paced, the 300 page book has become one of my favorites. I would definitely consider re-reading, and would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about ambitious, sword-wielding, strong queens, war between elves and a fight for a crown, and tension between lovers.
Reviewers Grade: 11th
This book is about the scavengers/humans and their struggle with trust and truth. I thought several concepts were good plot ideas, but I felt like I wasted time by reading the book. This book did tie into the series well, but in my opinion it was a pointless story devised to explain a minor detail in the plot of the main series. The characters were not developed very well, though they did undergo random changes. I did not feel like I connected with most of the characters, making the story boring. The book switched between numerous perspectives, which was different, but it skipped a lot of time in between each change making it difficult to keep track. Switching perspectives also caused the book to feel choppy and tiresome.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is an astounding book! It is one of my favorite books and will surely please all of its readers.
In the complicated kingdom of Ardarlan, Celaena Sardothian, the infamous assassin, is taken to the castle of the ruthless king and his strange throne made of glass. There to participate in a competition with killers, warriors, thieves, and cutthroats she tries to win the prize of being the king's champion and a chance to attain her freedom. Disguised as the Lady Lillian, Celaena takes on many different challenges and befriends an international princess, while going head to head with the Crown Prince and the Captain of the Guard. But soon her opponents start dying one by one and it's up to her to fight the evil before it shatters her life completely.
Throne of Glass is incredible because you can tell the author took her time with the book. It has so much detail, you truly feel like you are right there with Celaena every step of the way. The characters are very relatable, yet unique to the fantasy storyline so you always feel connected to the story. The adventurous and exciting feel to the story is added to with a little romance too. Every chapter has new surprises waiting around the corner to constantly keep you on your toes. It has detailed fight scenes and challenge scenes that keep you up all night longing for more. It can get a bit violent and inappropriate, so I recommend age 12+. I feel like this story is a great read because it is a very surprising, suspenseful, and extremely exciting read. In my mind, Sarah J. Maas has created the epitome of fantasy! I would certainly recommend this book to you if you love the fantasy genre!
Bailey is a dog with a purpose. His owner, Ethan, is a loving caretaker and even better friend to this pup.
I picked out this book at a book fair, I saw the front cover and thought the little puppy was so adorable. I love animals and would definitely recommend this book for others who love animals too. I enjoyed the storyline of this book. I felt that it worked really well with Bailey and Ethan’s characters as the story goes on.
Bailey and Ethan have a great bond that gets better over time. This is a real benefit for the story and allows the reader to have different emotions while reading. This isn’t the genre I would normally go for, but it really surprised me how much I enjoyed the book.
Reviewer Grade: 8
Even though this is meant for younger readers, I thoroughly enjoyed Rebel Girls Lead. If you would like to casually learn about current and past female activists to get insight on topics like politics and feminism, this book is for you. There wasn't any specific political commentary other than the need for more women in powerful roles, which makes this read accessible and enjoyable for anyone. I liked how each individual got their own page and portrait created by a small artist. It made the book feel more personal and inspired me to look further into the women I related to the most!
Emily Henry is an author whose work I've enjoyed, so Beach Read was on my list right away. The story follows January and Augustus, two accomplished novelists and college rivals, who become neighbors and work together to overcome writer's block caused by their resurfacing trauma. They challenge each other to new genres and experiences and definitely don't fall in love along the way. January is a fun character to read about during her most embarrassing and romantic moments, despite each situation being exaggerated so much that it felt silly. Augustus' personality was a little bland and I wished there was an actual reason for them to become enemies instead of the overused misunderstanding trope. However, the message of valuing family despite their faults and taking a leap of faith for the sake of your individuality is important. I'd say this book isn't life-changing, but good to read if you can relate to any struggles with parental relationships or feeling obligated to stay in a relationship that is just average.
The novel focuses on Liv, a teenage girl who thinks her father abandoned her to find Atlantis and never came back or reached out until postcards start coming in the mail. All of a sudden her life changes when her dad says he wants her to come to Greece and help him. Liv agrees but is hesitant to talk and meet with her now-doing well father while she leaves her boyfriend, parties, and life behind. I think the storyline was short and a little odd. Liv suddenly leaves, meets a bunch of people, and the characters all think everything in life is solved. I like the premise of the Love and Gelato trilogy with types of love being the center, but this one doesn't do that theme justice. The wholesome romances of the first two just didn't compare to the hurried and kinda sloppy put-together romance with both family and a boy. I think having the story center around Atlantis was interesting but an intriguing choice since it has mystery and unknowns like Liv's adventure. I think the ending was pretty predictable and the relationships were rushed, but I like the theme and imagery in the novel.
Storm Break follows Harry Dresden, the only wizard-for-hire in the country, as he investigates a grisly murder that could only be done by dark magic. Along the way, he'll have to juggle the case of an abandoned wife, the demands of his only friend in the force, the pressures of a sentient skull, and the condemnation of a council that wants to end him once and for all.
I didn't give this book three stars because it's a decent book. I gave this book three stars because it does some things really, really well and some things really, really badly. Throughout my reading, my internal rating jumped between one and four stars, so I stuck with three because it was mostly a good book and two stars should be reserved for boring books. And this definitely wasn't boring.
On the good side, I enjoyed the world building. It remains typical enough to the urban fantasy realm to seem cozy without being boring. Every magical creature has the exciting things we're used to, with some extra thrown in for fun, and lots of personality to make up for any stereotypical writing. The creatures and world building sell the danger of the world, making the stakes very high in the first book, something I appreciate. I like the main character, Harry Dresden, because he's a funny guy. I mean funny in that he cracks actually funny jokes, as well as funny as in he doesn't ever think things through and the outcome is always hilarious. I also like how the Harry has a "sad hidden backstory", but its not really hidden or sad because he talks about it so matter-of-factly that you forget how messed up it is in context. I loved the mystery of the novel, even if some twists threw me for a loop. The writing could also be surprisingly emotional for whats meant to be a cynical cop novel, in a way that really makes you sympathize with the twisted situation the protagonist is in, as well as the innocent people wrapped up in it. The ending was very satisfying and climactic and well bought, and really kept me invested until the end. Basically, its a very good urban fantasy novel with a fascinating protagonist and a thrilling story!
Now for the really, really bad stuff. Or just one really, really bad thing. In short: the author of this story has no idea how to write women. Or, he knows how to write women, and he just chooses to do it in the worst way possible. Every single woman in this book is one of three things: desperate for help from the dashing protagonist, incredibly attractive for no reason and really into the protagonist, or a token "strong independent woman" who devolves into one of the other two types within chapters. And I cannot stress how jarring this was. The author can write witty dialogue and fantastical creatures and heart wrenching emotion, but he can't write a single female character without sexualizing or demeaning her in some way. It's like walking through a local art gallery full of beautiful landscapes and self portraits, and then out of the blue there's a two-year-old's finger painting. I could go on for hours about how bad it was, and I really want to, but basically: about half of the women in this book are prostitutes, about half of the women die horribly and helplessly, most of them hit on Dresden and he always assumes its to seduce him for nefarious purposes, and not a single one of them has more than a shred of autonomy, character, or soul. All of that had to go into the main character, who is amazing alone, but whenever he's around woman he feels like a gross power fantasy that I can't sympathize with until about ten pages after he shares a conversation with a female character.
All in all, this book is a frustration. I want to enjoy the world building and fun characters and funny moments and good plot, but every so often a woman is introduced and I have to resist the urge to track the author down and throw the book at his face. If you can suffer through that, there is some great writing to be found! If you can't, I don't blame you.
Reviewer Grade: 12
Leviathan Wakes is set in a time where humanity has reached the edges of the solar system, desperate to grow past the confines of Earth. Jim Holden is on a ship meant to drag ice from asteroids when he discovers a secret that kills most of his crew and puts the rest of them in horrible danger. Detective Miller has just been assigned to a throwaway missing persons case that is far more than it seems. The two men will find their stories colliding in a way that could either create a new, starward path for humanity...or end it for good.
This was one of the first serious, in-depth science fiction books I've read in a long time, since those types of books usually wear me out. But this one blew me away. The first surprise was the world building. Most science fiction has complex world building, its a staple of the genre. But this was beyond insane world building that still stuck itself between the lines, in small observations or bits of daily life. It hardly ever had to derail the story to go in depth about the mechanics of this world, but by the end my brain was still clogged with what felt like endless information about this fascinating future for humanity. The second surprise was in the characters. No one felt like a staple science fiction character. Detective Miller at first seemed like the stereotypical sad grizzled cop, but the complexity of his character blew everything I was expecting out of the water. Jim Holden at first looked like the paragon leader type, but he often gets things wrongs or makes bad choices in a way that still endeared us to his endlessly moral character. The side characters also deliver, with memorable personalities and motivations. The third surprise was in the plot. It starts slow, meandering its way through the characters, but then it takes off like a shot. There will be huge chunks of action and long bits of calm, but the two are well balanced. The twists are also wonderful, because they aren't trying to be surprising or upsetting. They just want to tell a good story. And it does that job well.
All in all, this book is wonderful in so many ways. I'd recommend it to anyone who loves complex science fiction, well-written characters, breathtaking action, and a twisting mystery alongside!
Reviewer Grade: 12
This Is How You Lose the Time War is a correspondence set throughout the whole of time, between two people on opposite sides of an eternal war. Red is a member of the Agency, a stark, metallic technotopia wielding bionic creations to tear time into place. Blue is a part of the Garden, an organic monolith determined to sink its roots into every part of time. The two of them are the best of the best, clashing invisibly over and over through time and space. When one of them leaves a letter, it begins a conversation throughout time, one that will change both of them, and the world, forever.
This book was a phenomenal read. It was a difficult thing to work through, something that refused to hold your hand and guide you through the sudden shifts and strange situations. But after drowning for a little while, everything starts falling into place, and soon you can't tear yourself away from the pages. The prose was brilliant, bringing every place and century and emotion vividly into focus. The characters are endearing and heartbreaking, and their development as they grow to understand and care for each other is profound. The storylines were vivid and fascinating, creating a whole new meaning to "the butterfly effect." Even the world building, as intentionally vague as it is, is still understandable and entrancing. I honestly don't know what it is that made me obsess over this book. Maybe it was the evolution of the characters, transforming from hellbent killers to cautious friends. Maybe it was the distinctiveness of the two characters voices, made all the more special since both sides of the story are written only by their given author. Maybe its the fascinating world around the characters, the future dystopias and steampunk cities and sand swept temples. I don't know what it is, but its one beautiful, wild ride.
From what I can tell, most people either love or hate this story. The ones who love it give gushing reviews not dissimilar to mine. The ones who hate it call it confusing, obtuse hogwash that doesn't properly develop its world or characters enough to be compelling. I can't tell what side of the spectrum anyone is going to fall on, but I know that everyone should give this a chance. All in all, I recommend this book for anyone in the mood for strangely poetic science fiction, star-crossed enemies, or an examination of a universe that can be forever changed by the beating of wings.
Reviewer Grade: 12
Me Myself & Him follows Chris Schweitzer, a graduated high school senior ready for his last summer in small town Ohio. But when he does whippets in an alley, passes out, and ends up in the hospital, his life splits down two paths. The story follows both these possibilities: one where his parents find out and ship him off to spend the summer with his distant father, and a second one where his parents remain in the dark, and he stays in town with his slightly distant friends. No matter which path taken in this multiversal tale, both sides end with Chris' life changed forever.
This book was very solid. I say this meaning no offense: it wasn't boring, slow, tangential, or otherwise hard to read. It was easy to read, and if I recall correctly, I finished it in under two days. I call this a solid story because that's what it is: a story that is very easy to enjoy. The characters are fun and witting and exciting; it's very easy to get invested in them and their choices. Even antagonistic characters (often including the main character) are likable and relatable, despite their horrible choices. The dual story structure stays interesting and fresh, exploring the characters from many different angles. I like how the story expands on its dual universe origin, including science and research to solidify the basis of the premise.
There were a couple things that threw me off. One storyline became, to me, far more intriguing because it delved further into the protagonists relationship with his father, which really helped flesh out both characters. The other side of the story had its merits in evolving the protagonist and his relationship with his friends, but it wasn't nearly as compelling for me. The only other issue was that the ending was slightly anticlimactic. I don't disagree with how the ending turned out, since it resolved both sides of the story, but the ending just felt a bit abrupt.
Still, these are my opinions, and one of the reasons I called this a solid story is because I think anyone could enjoy it. This book is fun, clear-cut despite a complex premise, relatable, and heartwarming. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a story about goodbyes and new beginnings, with some bittersweet laughter along the way!
Reviewer Grade: 11
I enjoyed this book a lot. I picked up this book because I enjoy reading the genre horror, and it did not disappoint! The main character, Josie, goes through a cycle of emotions in each stage of the book. I feel like this adds so much more to the book, and makes the reader feel more connected to her. For instance, when going to a new school, Josie meets Vanessa and eventually she feels like she finally belongs and has somebody to relate to.
The horror element of the book along with all of Josie’s grandma’s crazy rules lead the reader down a path of mystery, the rules including…
1. Never leave your windows open after dark
2. No dolls in the house
3. Never, ever go by the house in the woods
Josie’s dear friend, Vanessa leads her in the woods to the house, the house that is calling for her.
I can relate with Josie on different levels. One of these levels being in a new school and feeling like you don’t belong. I relate to her on that level of feeling awkward around new people.
I enjoyed this book a lot and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for horror and mystery put into one book.
Reviewer Grade: 8
This book surprised me as far as good pacing and witty banter. It seemed like an average enemies-to-lovers book, which it is, but something about the characters' deep discussions and interests intrigued me. The main characters, Rowan and Neil, have been high school competitors for years to become the top of their class, never before stopping to consider that their passion to be the best hindered the discovery of similarities between them. Rowan and Neil had great chemistry and I could easily understand the pressures and concerns they had as newly-graduated high school seniors. Some reviews argued that the author tried to address too many issues in one book (misogyny, anti-Semitism, veganism, etc.), but my opinion is that there isn't a limit on how much you can advocate for equality in one book! Try this one out, it might surprise you.
This book is very heavy and grim, but Hanya Yanagihara gives a detailed insight into living with disabilities, mental illness, and addiction. I became attached to the characters from the start. Four young men- Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcom, have been best friends since being college roommates in New York, but their individual lives and struggles make it complicated to work through their mid-life crises. Despite the grief and somber moments in A Little Life, I appreciated the resilient mentors that the four, especially Jude, had. It had a loving message of always having a support system somewhere even if it doesn't feel like it, and that your past doesn't define you- your present choices do. However, the ending was open ended and left a lot for me to ponder over later. I'd recommend this if you like more somber, down to earth books (and if you're a fast reader, because this book took forever to read!)
I appreciated a more realistic, but equally heartwarming, romance novel to break up the many cookie-cutter books of the genre. In The Kiss Quotient, the main character Stella seeks advice to find a romantic partner. It's only a matter of time before the man who agrees to help makes her reconsider who she is looking to impress. Stella's witty lines and her experience with Asperger's were interesting to read about and made me appreciate the romantic scenes even more because not every party or conversation went as expected. It was also cool to follow a main character that is self-confident and extremely brilliant. Nothing particularly stuck out to me as negative about the book, but it was fast-paced and surface level which just isn't my favorite kind of book.