Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

3 stars

I read a Dean Koontz book back in high school called Intensity. I remember it being so scary suspense that I couldn’t put it down and finished in a few hours. It was scary and in a good way that puts the fear of Jesus in you. I think I checked the locks and doors in our house for weeks afterwards.

It’s been a decade (or so) since then and now horror books and movies don’t appeal to me as much. So when a friend raved about this series I was a little hesitant. But I’m glad I picked this up. Guys, it’s actually not that scary! I’d say it’s more The Sixth Sense level than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In fact, that’s the premise behind this whole story.

The Story:

Odd Thomas is a fry cook for a diner, he’s a little strange and known for being the town wierdo. He sees dead people.

And he uses this paranormal gift to prevent crime or to solve them. In this first novel, Odd comes across a stranger, gets serious bad vibes and tries to save his podunk California desert town from apocalyptic danger with the help of his girlfriend Stormy and the town sheriff.

The Characters:

Odd- I really like him. He has some baggage, which you learn of in length as Koontz does a lot of character building, but seems like a really nice guy who just wants to marry his sweetheart and to stay out of the spotlight. Which is odd (is it a pun when it’s his name?) for a 19 yo guy. How many guys want to settle down at that age? He does seem a bit reckless at times too, however, it seems like all characters in horror books/movies do things that have you shouting, “NO, don’t go in there!”

Stormy- She’s beautiful, alluring, and eclectic. Perfect sidekick to a crime preventing, dead-people-seeing humble hero.

Wrap-up:

I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars. It was a little slow and the whole time I kept thinking it was a rip off of The Sixth Sense. But I’m going to read the next one and see if it gets better. I’ll keep you guys posted.

-Hannah

 

The Rules of Persuasion

The Rules of PersuasionThe Rules of Persuasion by Amity Hope

1 star

ARC received from Netgalley for a fair review.

The Story-The Rules of Persuasion was 95% predictable, but 100% full of angsty cuteness. Honestly, if you have read any YA contemporary where a boy or girl get’s someone to be their fake boyfriend or girlfriend then you have read this book. The only the thing that is different is the circumstances surrounding the initiation of fake relationship. This review may contain what is considered spoilers, but honestly I think everything I write in here should be entirely expected….so I’m not going to mark it all spoiler. Let’s review this trope recipe:

-someone needs a favor/blackmails
-they actually run in different circles/don’t like each other
-they write down all the rules
-the rules doesn’t stop them for getting a dose of the feels
-shit is going to hit the fan right

Well, you get the idea….

The Characters
Meg-Somehow this girl was supposed to be a girl that wasn’t like other girls. But let’s face it, she was just your average girl, minus her family issues, not some crazy special snowflake. The downside is, that she is sort of a forgettable character. I just finished hours of reading about her and this is what I know:
-she likes to wear high heeled boots that click clack, preferably in black.
-she has two friends, but she only really hangs out with them in school…except to get ready for a date..
-she’s not really into anything in particular…….like really, what are her interests? Sure she watches black and white movies…on rainy days…she likes the beach because of her sister…she graffiti’s because of her sister…in fact she wears black because of her sister… She wants to be a counselor, why? Because she got good counseling…after what happened to her sister. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great and all. But who is this chick? I don’t know, I hardly remember her.

Luke-What can I really say? This is a contemporary YA novel. Let’s hit every cliché thing that accurately describes Luke:
-he’s rich, but wants nothing to do with his family
-he’s good looking
-he’s good at sports too
-he’s also smart – party because he has to study hard for his family
-he has an ex gf who’s a heinous bitch.
-You know what else? He’s got dimples & smirks a lot. That’s right. He was smirking within 2% of the book. I almost decided to keep count of all the times his smirkiness was mentioned….but it got old really fast. Let’s be completely real, if someone smirked at you that much you would be sort of weirded out right?

The Connection-Despite the book being cute, it wasn’t entirely relatable. I understand the need for these kids to act out in their own way but there were a few things that just plain bothered me. The biggest part was how the rich kid was somehow supposed to feel bad for being rich. Like I’m sorry that you had to move from a house where you had a walk in closet at one point. Also, not everyone has parents that allow them to commandeer their old motorcycles… there is something that really irks me when a character bashes another one about being rich, like somehow that makes them a bad person. You know what that makes them? Rich. It shouldn’t be used as a way to make the poorer character seem like a better person.

I’m sorry for all the lists in this review. It was sort of unavoidable to do while pointing out everything. Now if you’ve never read a fake bf/gf book before, it could all be fresh for you and you might like it. Unfortunately, this book didn’t have enough spin to it to make me actually like it that much.

Strange the Dreamer

28449207Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

2 stars

“And anyway, she asked herself, what real risk was there? It’s just a dream, she answered, though of course it was so much more.” 

Strange the Dreamer is the story of Lazlo Strange, a decided dreamer. What does he dream of? The mythical lost city of Weep. Despite the lack of interest in Weep that his colleagues has, Lazlo is assiduous in his studies and finds himself an opportunity of sorts to travel to the city, literally, of his dreams. He along with a band of variety of specialists find themselves on a expedition to find out what happened to the city 200 years prior when it lost communication with the rest of the world, and most importantly what has been haunting the city since. Through the journey Lazlo experiences more life than he had ever read of in his books.

The Story-The one word I think of is oxymoron. This book was so enchanting but at the same time sluggish and boring. There was beautiful prose and imagery, but it only amplified the buildup of the story. While I am happy I didn’t DNF the book, I doubt I will be picking up the next installment, unless I don’t have anything better to read. The part that really made me just so mad in this book was didn’t even happen until 70% At that point, I had to decide if I was too far invested to give up, which clearly I didn’t.

All I can say is, the ending only just barely makes up for that curve ball. If you can suffer the few chapters there is quite an exciting finish, that may or may not be expected. Thinking back on it, it really is the only way to end the story (minus my complaint that will come later in the spoiler at the end of this review).

The World Building– What makes this underdog story unique is the pitch that Laini Taylor gives it in. Here we have this whimsical city that would make a 5 year old Lazlo gallivant in an orchard pretending to be warrior from, risking a beating from the monks that took him in. The world that Lazlo comes from is drab in comparison to his dreams, and it is because he is a dreamer that we get the opportunity to have such a vivid world.

The Characters
Lazlo-Obviously he is what really drives this story. Without Lazlo’s idiosyncratic imagination, we would have nightmares. It’s his candor personality that makes him so lovable. The way he covets weep, shows respect to it, and does his best to understand it helps us empathize with the people of Weep when we discover what has been going on.

Sarai– It’s Sarai’s contriteness that diverts our predilection against the haunting of Weep. She is unintentionally ostracized from her companions due to how she was raised and what was expected of her.

Now there were definitely some characters that got some extra sections that were unnecessary, as well as some that should have received a little bit more love. I think it is largely due to the long winded world building and the curve ball chapters. But who knows, maybe the next installment in the series will focus in on their story, their struggles, and what their dreams may be…even if they are broken.

*****Spoiler time******
The insta-love was just a shock to my system. Here I was engrossed in this underdog story with a beautiful world building, and then BLAM! a chapter on two lonely characters learning to kiss. I don’t mean like a quick paragraph of *smooch smooch* that feels great!. I mean this part of the book was written just like the rest of the book was, achingly beautiful but long winded.

I totally understand that they were lonely, and they had this connection that is dreams and the beauty in it. But what the what?? Their love was rushed while everything else in the book took time. Now while I thought that it was necessary for the Goddess of Nightmares to have a connection with Strange the Dreamer, they could have had a bond of friendship, a true camaraderie, or heck even just a slow simmering romance.


*****End Spoiler*****

Don’t remember who wanted book playlists, but here, at least, is my theme song for this book The Dear Hunter – The Kiss of Life. I thought of this song as I was reading throughout the entire book, and I actually do find it quite fitting. Also, it’s from one of my favorite bands. ❤

-Scrill

Family Camp Trip – Albeni Cove

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It feels so remote yet it’s less than 1.5 hours away from Spokane. This campground is small, wooded and on the Pend O’reille River. Our spot was surrounded by trees and even had a creek running through it!

Where: Albeni Cove

Info & Booking

What I loved:
-Camping spots are very spaced out, surrounded by trees and level. It’s not a parking lot for tents! I find it weird/uncomfortable to go camping and have strangers right next to you and not having any control of their behavior.
-The swimming area is sandy and clean. It’s pretty shallow for a long depth and then sectioned off by a rope to indicate the deep area.
-Clean bathrooms with showers! Yeah!
-Fire pits are usable even during summer (fire season) and at each site.
-Picnic table at each site.
-If you forget something, Safeway is about a 5 minute drive away. We took a short trip to get the wine I forgot (celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary).

Family Friendly:
100% family friendly. Our kids spent their time swimming, splashing in the creek, hiking, looking for wildlife through binoculars, hiking, and stargazing. Not once did they complain of being bored. Amazing!

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Readability: I finished a novel while we stayed there.It helped that the kids were busy! It’s a new to me series: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Review coming soon!

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Repeat: We would go again. In fact, it was already our second visit.

Happy Trails!
-Hannah

 

 

 

Legend

Legend (Legend, #1)Legend by Marie Lu

3 Stars

In a world in the distant future the US has somehow disbanded and a new government has been put in place. Children are tested on their abilities at the age 10-if they fail they are sent to labor camps, if they pass they go on for further education /job assignments. Legend follows the story of Day, a rebel who wreaks havoc against the Republic and June a prodigy girl from the upper class. When June’s brother is murdered, Day is the prime suspect. June is then assigned to avenge her brother by finally bringing Day into custody. Once June is fully into her investigation, she starts to uncover truths about the Republic that she can hardly stand to believe.

The Story-As a whole the book was pretty entertaining. The reveals in the book are pretty predictable, but it was still a decent read. I probably would have enjoyed this a little bit more if I was younger as it seemed a little juvenile, even as a YA. The maturity level of the characters was a little low, which is to be expected from 15 year olds. However, in the society presented I would have expected the children to mature a little faster.

The World Building-Our book takes place in a futuristic LA that has been divided into sectors. The world building is decidedly minimal. There is obviously a history to the downfall of what is the current United States, unfortunately we don’t really get much on that. What we know is probably the only parts that are relevant to the book, but still, it would have added a lot more depth if we had the hypothetical background…but it’s only book one, so maybe it’s revealed in the later books. What we do get are little snippets like finding a quarter from 1995 (? I think that’s the year at least) and having it be incredibly significant that it stay hidden from the Republic, that it would be incriminating to have that token proving some sort of history. Thus showing us that the population is vastly lied and controlled by a totalitarian government. Gone are the days of a 2 term limit presidency as there is a man who keeps renewing his leadership of the country, and a son that aims to also take over when his father retires, promoting a monarchy-esque rule.

We are given little information about what the Republic stands for, and what their enemies the Patriots are after. But like I said before…maybe their motives will be a revealed later.

The Characters– I liked both Day & June’s characters. They both had their convictions and beliefs that drove them. Day is sort of an enigma since he isn’t really with the Patriots but still causes problems for the Republic, seemingly only to be a rebel. It’s never really quite clear what his end result expectations are to be-aside from being a futuristic Robin Hood.

My only real issue was that considering the circumstances, both June and Day spent an awful lot of time **Spoiler**thinking about kissing each other. I mean, they both have the weight of their personal missions on their shoulders, but they just can’t not think about each other’s lips and being in each other’s arms. I’m on the run from the government, trying to get a cure for my brother, and here I am completely self-absorbed. It seemed out of character for both of them since they both started out so focused. **End spoiler**However, it was a quick easy story that was entertaining from start to an exciting finish.

A Darker Shade of Magic

22055262A Darker shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)

4 stars

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

Schwab has this way of presenting a story where you aren’t really rooting for the typical good guys. In A Darker Shade of Magic we are introduced to multiple Londons.

Grey London-what we would be familiar with, magic free (no Harry Potter’s here, sorry), where one of our main charater’s, Lila, hails from
Red London-a flourishing magical city with a red river, where our other main character, Kell, hails from
White London-another magical London that is essentially fading
Black London-well, let’s not talk about that place, because nothing good comes from Black London

These Londons sort of…overlap…so to speak. People used to be able to go from one London to another, but now only Antari (like Kell) can make their way with their magic to cross between through doors they can conjure with blood. While Kell is on a special mission he somehow gets into some trouble, bumps into Lila, and shit pretty much hits the fan.

The World Building-I loved the idea of these overlapping Londons. My favorite part about the Londons were their different levels of magic, and that even though they are all called London, they are nothing alike…except that one spot where there seems to always be a bar/tavern no matter which London you are in. There are different languages and even a limit to the magic that everyone has. Even when it comes to elemental magic there is a variety to it. There aren’t a bunch of people just moving water, fire, and other elements around with their magic. It just isn’t that simple.

The Story-The only reason why I didn’t give this book 5 full stars was because it honestly took me a little bit to really get invested into the story. It took me a good 25% before I was really sure I was going to keep going, because honestly, before that I probably easily could have set it aside and left it to back burn for a while. Fortunately I had enough people pestering encouraging me to read the book that I kept going. Thank the Lord for that. Once you start to really understand all the London stuff and have all the characters established is when the fun starts. It’s original and exciting, and you never know what kind of sticky situation Kell & Lila are going to have to get their way out of.

You know what else? We have a handsome young man and fierce young woman for our main characters. You know what they don’t do throughout the entire book? Swooning for each other. It is so refreshing to read a fantasy story that was primarily driven by romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love those books too. It’s just….refreshing.

The Characters-Let’s be real. It’s the characters that really make this book. I love the idea of the magic & world, but without Kell & Lila, the story would be boring. I love Lila, she really is such a hoot. She’s the type of girl that may fail or make a mess out of things, but doesn’t back down from a fight. She stands up for what she believes in and fights for those that are weaker than their enemies. She seeks adventure and is willing to drop everything familiar and safe to get it. I felt like Kell was so lonely, even with having a family and all his needs met. I don’t think he truly realizes it until he meets Lila and realizes what he is missing.

Now I am eager to read the next book, and ready to spend just a little more time with the fantastic Delilah Bard.

-Scrill

Roar

Roar (Stormheart, #1)Roar by Cora Carmack

5 stars

“You are lightning made flesh. Colder than falling snow. Unstoppable as the desert sands.”

Roar is the gripping tale about Princess Aurora who lives in a land that is ravaged by magical storms. Stormlings like her family, inherit the power to tame and control the storms and it is their duty to protect their kingdom. Except Aurora does not have any affinity with the storms. In an attempt to still protect the kingdom without any magical skill, she is arranged to marry the son of a neighboring kingdom. It is only days before her wedding that Roar begins to realize there is much more the magical storms than she was led to believe.

**Okay before I really dive into the review, can we just appreciate how GORGEOUS this cover is?? I must find out who did this art!!**

The Story-Okay, so maybe not the most original story. Princess has an arranged marriage only for her whole world to change causing a chain of reactions that sends her on an adventure of self discovery. It was the pitch that really did me in. We have had so many elemental books recently where people come across gifts to fight one another. But what if it wasn’t another race or people that you were fighting against, but the world itself? This book hooked me from the start. It was both beautiful and exciting from start to finish. In fact, I don’t recall a dull moment at all. Roar had a vast magical world, feisty characters and plenty of action and romance to drive the story to the very last page.

The World Building– Ok, really magical storms? The world building was so fantastic! The cover is only a small example of how descriptive Cora Carmack writes without droning on and on. The world building slid in seamlessly as the story progressed so you weren’t bogged down by just history or just luscious scenery. The concepts that she introduces were incredibly original. I loved the idea of stealing a storm’s heart and while having said heart it helps you control similar storms. I loved that there are brave souls and that chase and hunt down storms. Everything about the story helps promote vivid imagery that keeps the mind entertained.

The Characters-Aurora is such a great main character. She is spirited, brave, determined but still with fault. She isn’t this magnificent princess that she portrays, but she is willing to fight for the strength that she needs. I loved that she can be naïve but she learns as she goes and doesn’t back down to uncertainty. No one can blame her for keeping her real identity and skills secret because it would cause chaos, therefore causing her to suffer alone without any sort of reprieve.

Locke is not your typical “hero”. He isn’t some brave prince swooping in to save the day. He definitely creates an interesting dynamic as he has to battle his will against the princess’ determined spirit. She won’t back down, and Locke is forced to match her determination.

I love that though everyone may be slightly attracted to each other, there isn’t any instalove or ridiculous romance. Each character has a temperament that adds to the story.

Overall– this was one of my most anticipated books, and I was incredibly happy that it came in my June FairyLoot box. It was love at first sight from just the cover, and it didn’t fail to follow through with any of my expectations. In fact, it both met and exceeded them. It is definitely one of my favorite reads for 2017, and I cannot wait until the next book comes out.

-Scrill

The Big F

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The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin

ARC from Swoon Reads and Netgalley for a fair review.

Publish Date: August 29, 2017

5 stars

“Being lost, being without the plan I’d armed myself with my entire life, got me out of my comfort zone in ways that challenged me and forced me to grow as a person.” 

Maggie Ann Martin debut? I dub thee for fans of Kasie West and Morgan Matson.

The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin was a breath of fresh air in the YA contemporary category. Instead of a story about a 16 year old falling for that one guy that sweeps her off her feet in the most unexpected ways we are given the story of post high school but not quite adult. Where YA contemporary has steadily given us that high school romance and NA/Chicklit gives us those mid-twenties/fresh out of college taking on the world through middle age stories, Martin has delivered us a refreshing story that manages to land right in the middle. While The Big F dances around the typical tropes it doesn’t exactly take the same path.

Dani is fresh out of high school and as the daughter of a college guru she is on her way to the college of her dreamsor not. She’s failed her AP English class and her acceptance into the communications program has been taken away leaving her without a college plan. That is until she meets Luke, the boy next door who held her heart till he moved away when she was 11, wearing a t-shirt advertising the local community college. She finds herself enrolled into a community college as a last ditch effort to hopefully get back on track. If only she could figure out how to handle her new budding relationship, passing her classes and getting back into the good graces of her parents.

The Story-Like I said before, I loved that this didn’t follow all the typical YA contemporary tropes, but they are there, just not obnoxiously…

Firstly, lets touch on the base that she has a healthy relationship with parents that are, wait a minute, still together. There was no tragic death of one of her parents or a divorce sparking some kind of character building. Her parents were together, her family spent time together, and her brother was normal. Now, this book didn’t pretend that the world was perfect as her friends have had their own parental issues. It just wasn’t one of the defining issues for Dani. In fact, everything Dani goes through is self-inflicted and she figures it out on her own.

The boy next door trope is probably the biggest cliché in this book. Thankfully, the story doesn’t completely drive this one home, and uses it merely as a spring board for the plot. You know what the best part of this one was? It was almost more of a reach for a familiar connection rather than the one next door that is suddenly confessed to.

Lastly, the friend that sets you right trope. Dani had two friends like this. She had a friend to set her right emotionally, and a friend to check her when she was drowning academically, what a lucky girl. Even though they were there for her though, it wasn’t like her friends had to knock her silly and talk sense into her; they were just there for that extra push.

Was this the next story to make your heart break into a million pieces and then soar to the moon? No, but it’s the type of book you can enjoy over a weekend, silently cheering her on and grinning and her foolheartedness

The Characters

Dani-Okay, I really liked her. I think my favorite part of her was that though she had her romantic tendencies she felt so tangible. She was realistic, straight forward, and had her weaknesses that didn’t put her in the damsel in distress category. Despite making some key choices that she has to fix, she is still fairly level headed. She doesn’t need people telling her what to do, just the usual pat on the back and reassuring words.

Luke-What can I say really? He is pretty much the perfect boy next door. What makes him so perfect? He is the boy we dream about when we’re 11 but realize that everyone has their flaws even if they sit on such a high pedestal.

Porter-Everyone needs that one friend that shakes things up. Porter is that friend that introduces you to new things without making you go buck wild crazy that your family is completely concerned. I feel like all the Porters of the world are underappreciated, and I thank Martin for helping the “gangly boy” stand out.

Zoe-This girl has got to be the best wing woman ever. Martin did such a good job of incorporating a supportive friend without her own issues becoming the plot of the story. Zoe isn’t some magical creature that doesn’t have any drama per se, but the book wasn’t about her and she did a stellar job as a supporting character by not stealing any drama thunder.

The Connection– Personally, I have always felt completely detached whenever I read about the following things in YA contemporaries who were obsessed with going to a university. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against this age old tradition of kids graduating high school and heading off to college. I loved that this book showed a little bit more of the alternative – the wonderful world of community college.

I consider my town a college town. Spokane has both Gonzaga and Whitworth, a remote campus for WSU downtown, EWU just a stone throw away in Cheney and two community colleges. I had the luxury of going to both community colleges over the course of five years, and while I missed the whole dorm/sorority bit, I don’t feel like I missed out on all that much as far as my education goes. I think one of my favorite parts of the book was really that Martin didn’t dog against community college, even though Dani’s mother was a consultant for college acceptance. It was refreshing to be reminded that while they don’t typically offer 4 year degrees, they are an amicable stepping stone for transferring to university for either catching up on requirements for a program or simply determining that maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to do.

Purchase The Big F on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

-Scrill

The Hundredth Queen

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King


No star rating due to DNF


ARC received from Netgalley for fair review


Publish date: June 1, 2017

*yes, I know I am a little late*



I. JUST. CAN’T. I hate DNFing an ARC, but no thanks. 

My overall reaction:

I gave this a solid shot, and by 73% I am baffled by the lack of romantic development, despite there being a huge romantic element. I get instant attraction, but really? instant attraction to the first man you’ve seen, and despite the ramifications of possible DEATH you risk your life and their’s for someone you hardly know? 

You also hate someone for something you have been groomed for for your entire life? I mean, I get the girls wanting some kind of personal freedom. But honestly, having had only known one kind of life..you think that they would have been a little bit more accepting and honored on how their life is leading.

I’m sorry I just feel like the romance is hurried and there for has ruined the book. I like the idea of this magical element that can essentially destroy you if it’s not properly honed. I also loved that even though said magical element is news to our character, that she’s not just like magically all powerful and bad ass. The problem for me is, I hope they get caught and are killed even if the benefactor is a little gross, and I don’t think you’re supposed to feel about the main character like that.

-Scrill

Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton 


4 Stars


“Ahmed would tell me that an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind. Shazad would tell me that was why you had to stab people through both eyes the first time around.” 

Well that was well done and a stellar sequel. I don’t even have a good excuse as to why it took me so long to finish, because it was exciting from start to finish.

TTTT picks up pretty much where RotS leaves off and our Blue Eyed Bandit just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, even with the help from her friends. Throughout this book you are forced to reconsider who are your allies and who are your enemies and whether or not you can draw a clear line between the two. Amani winds up at the palace and is determined to not let her position go to waste, but while she is there she faces more challenges than she expected and her faith in the rebellion might be wavering. 

The Story-this book had so many twists that there was never really a moment that you could stop and rest easy. Amani suffers a great deal in this book and somehow survives through it all. Her heart and determination is the only thing keeping her going. My heart broke for her so many times, and trust me when I say that it didn’t even have anything to do with her love for Jin. if you’re looking for more romance between her and Jin, then just be warned that it is not a primary aspect of the story.

The Characters-We already met most of our rebels, but what I found interesting was seeing the other characters developed much more in this book, especially the sultan. His ideals and aims are much more different than what is expected, and the things he does to keep his rule barely intact is astounding. The man is definitely someone to fear. Again, the real question Amani has to face is who to place her trust in.

The World Building-The history of the Djinni is elaborated a lot more in this book. The magical elements are somewhat minimal, in fact for a majority of the book there aren’t many grand gestures of magic. 

One of my biggest problems with the book was the cover. For one very simple reason. Why is Amani (I am assuming that’s who it is) holding a bow and arrow when she is a gun sharp shooter? She uses a bow once…when she is trying to shoot a duck and it is such a tiny moment that it seems ridiculous to somewhat feature her with a bow on. the. cover!

-Scrill