A Conjuring of Light

29939230A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)

 

2_stars

 

An enemy finds its way from Black London to Red London and it’s darkness is seeping into the very souls of its citizens. Only the antari and friends (with their powers combined!) can stop this foe.

The Story-Okay, unpopular opinion time. I did not like this book at all. It was soooooo loooongggg. With that being said, there was so much that wasn’t necessary in the book. From points of views to full scenarios. There is some conflict that arises between the countries that could have been left out of the book entirely. The only thing it really offered was an out for some characters. I honestly think there was too much time breaking each character down that it ended up being wasted on me. By the time we finally got to the end, it was anticlimactic and really proportionate to the buildup that spent leading to it. I think some of the arena scenes in the second book lasted longer than what we finally got with Osaron, or at least it felt that way. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there wasn’t so much blandness in between though! It was only my determination and love for the second book that got me through this one.

The World Building– I think the thing that bothered me most about this book was that there was no explanation for our villain. Like what’s his deal besides needing more, more, more.

The Characters– I still adore Delilah and Kell. What I did like about this book was the background story for Holland and all that he endured. I was really happy to get to know one of our villains, except for the fact that we don’t really know anything really about Osaron. He is such a vague villain that we don’t even know what he really looks like.

The Soundtrack– Hawkboy – Scoundrel

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Adorkable

28791088Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman

2_stars

“He was my Huckleberry, my Han Solo, my one, but most of all he was my Becks and I was his Sal.” 

Sally Spitz hasn’t ever had a boyfriend, and her good friend Hooker is bent on playing matchmaker by setting her up repeatedly on blind dates – that go pretty bad. In an attempt to dodge more awkward moments with boys she’s not into Sal adopts the plan to use a fake boyfriend as her get-out-of-blind-date card. Fortunately, her best friend Becks would do anything for her. Unfortunately, she has been in love with him since they met in elementary school.

The Story– To start, I’d like to point out I think it’s stupid that her friend and mom are in cahoots to set her up over and over with boys. Like seriously? She’s just 17, let her meet boys on her own. The premise that started the whole book was funny yes, but I just wanted to push her friend down a very long flight of stairs (see below).

Anyway, if you are a cliché trope devourer then this book is probably for you. I love that stuff. But the entire time I was reading this book I was wondering, why did I pick up this garbage?. Super cute popular boy? Love triangle? Misunderstanding? Girl who melts at the touch of said cute popular boy? Happy ending? Yes, it’s got all this and more. I am totally okay with all of this, I especially love the hidden feelings best friend trope that it is centered on. Even though I am okay with all of it, I sort of feel like when you’re doing a same ol’ story you still have to bring something fresh to the table….also those characters. I am not sure how by the end though I thought, dang that was cute. I think it’s the grand gesture….it has to be, because who can get over that?

Another thing that just sort of bothered me on a really small irrational scale. Each character was introduced with a first and last name (except the brothers because duh, they have the same last name). I don’t even know why it bothered me so much why each character’s full name had to be pointed out.

The big problem I had with this book was how it took peoples names and made it a point to make fun of them. MAINLY SPEAKING when my name, Priscilla, was changed to Pisszilla. GTFOH! I’ll never get over that.

The Characters
Sal-So Sal was supposed to be a dork right? She as obviously beautiful without really knowing it, because she is repeatedly told she is good looking throughout the book, but at least she wasn’t Debbie-downer about herself either. But really, the things that made her a dork I didn’t personally think was dorky. Like really, I’m pretty sure guys think it’s pretty cool when a girl can be into things like Star Trek or Star Wars. Liking Harry Potter? Pretty sure that’s not dorky at all – there’s an entire theme park and franchise dedicated to its fan base, what other book series ever got its own theme park?!. This girl is sort of rude though. For example, she’s a Griffindor so she had to go and bash on Slytherin – not cool in my book at all.

Becks-Oh Mr. Perfect? He’s incredibly good looking and just so amazing at soccer. He’s pretty much the prince of the school. What bothered me about this book was that he was making out with half the school, and of course is spared the man whore card, all the while his best friend Sal is judging every girl for going after him. Like I know you’re jealous and all, but quit objectifying the girls vying for his attention.

Hooker-Can we just talk about how much she pissed me off? If I had a friend that acted like this I would bitch slap her to Antarctica where she can set up some penguins. Seriously, screw this chick. No means no doesn’t apply to just sexual situations….so when your “bestie” says to please stop setting up her with blind dates because she’s not interested and only 17…then you should probably stop. She had zero personality and added nothing but premise to the story. She could have easily been taken out of the story all together and been set up by guys her mom randomly bumped into. Really, half the guys that she was sending to Sal was her cast offs. What kind of friend does that? He wasn’t good enough for me, so you can have him. Hooker you are awful.

The Soundtrack-Okay, now since I wanted to punch a hole through this book, I have a few qualms about assigning some good jams to this book, alas, it cannot be helped.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – Can’t Take My Eyes of You (because big gestures in stadiums make me think of Heath Ledge & 10 Things I Hate About You)
Backstreet Boys – Quit Playing Games with My Heart
Jimmy Eat World – Carry You
Civil Wars – Poison and Wine

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

8591107The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

2_stars

“I didn’t know what was real, what was a nightmare, what was a memory.” 

Mara Dyer survives an accident where three of her friends die. She has no idea what happened or what is happening to her. In her recovery strange things start to happen around her and she can hardly handle the stress that is honing in around her life, including the attention of heartthrob Noah Shaw.

The Story-Okay, to start I was pretty intrigued about the plot. I just really, really wanted to know what was going on. At about 70% I had a major “why is this even happening” moment. It sort of felt like this story was jumping from scene to scene of Mara’s delusions. I’m not sure if it comes up again later, but there were a few things that I felt sort of just dropped off in the story line, and I am not sure if it’s for mysteriousness or…? I think my biggest issue with the book besides it sort of being jumbled was the fact that Noah would speed off in his Prius…I am pretty sure those go zero to sixty in about an hour, so it was really hard for me to imagine him doing that.

Truthfully, as a whole I didn’t care for the book, and I think a big part was also the characters. The only reason why I even went more towards a 2 star than a 1 was because I finished it so quickly. Despite its flaws I still kept turning the pages, and you know what? I actually want to read the next book…even though I almost want to hate this one.

The Characters-Guys, these characters made me want trap them inside a building where they can all die when it crumbles.

Mara-I really hate girls who know to stay away from a guy and then melt into a puddle when they come near. Like really Mara, just because a guy tells you to do something and is grossly charming doesn’t mean you have to do what he says or follow along. Get a back bone.

Noah-Can we just point out how awful this guy is? Somehow we get through the story with only Jamie telling Mara that it’s basically a bad idea to get involved with him. Honestly, great, he’s not perfect, but you know what? Maybe he could feel just a little bit ashamed about how he used the girls at his high school. Oh and his possessiveness was really not attractive, despite how often we are told that he is basically McDreamy. Hey Noah, when a girl says no, that means no. That doesn’t mean pursue her more just because you have some weird fascination with her as well as a disposition of getting everything that you want. Also, I really hate when writers point out how much someone is smiling. Okay enough already with the smiling, smirking, and upturned lips!
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Joseph-How can this kid be so smart but then just roll over and take Mara & Noah’s word for something that happened that was incredibly sketchy.

Daniel-What kind of dick big brother pushes his sister to spend time with a known playboy?

 

Fireblood

Fireblood (Frostblood Saga, #2)Fireblood (Frostblood #2) by Elly Blake

2_stars

“The flame, eternal, like the spirits of the Fireblood people. Crush us, beat us, cut us down. We will not be extinguished. We live in the embers and rise again to consume our enemies.”

Taking over the country after his brother, Arcus has set out to create peace with Sudesia and have a safe place for firebloods. Unfortunately the court is less inclined to accept the warm blooded people.Meanwhile, the Minax is possessing citizens and wrecking havoc in the city by making them kill other people. When his court is attacked because of his new policies, Ruby takes the opportunity to protect Arcus by separating herself from his court and set out on a mission to infiltrate the Sudesian court to find the Fire Minax so the Frost Minax can be destroyed.

The Story– The things I liked about the first book were completely lost here. There was maybe 5 pages of broody Arcus, and obviously no arena scenes. Ruby did have to go through some challenges in order to accomplish her goal, but it wasn’t nearly as captivating as the gladiator-esque scenes while battling the willpower of the Minax. Fireblood was this drawn out story of Ruby just needing acceptance and the entire time she was like “Arcus forever”, turns around, “mmm Kai, you’re conveniently here and flirting with me.”

Around the 80% mark I realized, that this just isn’t going to wrap up nicely in time. Which caused me to realize, that this just isn’t the end.

“‘We need to be prepared for the worst.’

Except the worst keeps getting…worse.'”

 riverdale cw the cw jughead cole sprouse GIF

The World Building-There was pretty much no additional world building in this book. What little there was was spent on the dynamic of the Fireblood masters and the trials to become a master.

The Characters

Ruby-Despite there obviously being a love triangle, it was really just so lighthearted that it should hardly count. Ruby being the key element in the triangle turned out to be flighty in the fact that she was so easily swept away. I found that she fell more into the convenience rather than actual feeling.

Arcus-True to form, Arcus was broody and romantic at the same time. Unfortunately, he was only in maybe 10% of the book, yet his presence was enough to keep Ruby faithful enough. My dear Arcus, you deserve better.

Kai-I don’t have any feelings for this guy. Despite him being a fireblood I found him to be lukewarm at best. Honestly, if he was going to sweep Ruby off her feet couldn’t he have had a bigger impact of character traits?

 

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Unspoken Rules

35424123Unspoken Rules by Lora Inak

ARC provided by Netgalley for a fair review.

Publish date: September 17, 2017

2 Stars

“She wasn’t like the other kids at school. She didn’t have the same freedoms. She had to live the life decided for her. Tread the same terrain trodden on by her mother, her grandmother, no doubt her sister and countless other girls and women from her community. Her road was set – long straight, even, the scenery black and white.” 

Unspoken Rules is about a Syrian girl, Natalie, living in Australia desperately trying to balance life at home within the Syrian Christian Orthodox community and her secular life at school.

The Story-What I liked about this story was that it instilled quite a bit of culture around Natalie’s choices. It’s a lot more than just strict parents with lots of rules – it has to do with the background of why there are rules. So when she went around trying to hide her choices from her family it was understandable. Here she was trying to live a life as a modern teenager in Australia, when her life was shrouded by religion, tradition, and expectation. Her life at home at school was so drastically different that it was just so much easier to separate the two rather than merge them as one life – her life.

The Characters-Natalie could be the biggest hypocrite. Like here she was complaining about how traditional her family was, and then flip out and unfriend her best friend because of a modern choice she made, that frankly didn’t actually affect Natalie in any shape or form.
I did however adore how unsuperficial she was when it came to her judging people, especially when it came to including one of the unpopular girls at her church.

The Connection-I was raised in a fairly strict household, so I definitely get how she would feel when it comes to not being allowed to do a lot of things. I honestly got a little annoyed at how much she was complaining about her different lives. Like, dang girl, you’re the one who made it that way. At least she admitted she needed to grow up. I also found it a little weird how open she was to changes in her life once a boy was involved. It was a big relief to see that at some point in their relationship she realized the choices she was making was drastically different than how she was raised. Now while I do not agree with some of the way the orthodox religion is, I do not agree with someone just flip flopping without a thought – and I was incredibly happy that she didn’t just get carried away with the moment.

All in all, I thought the book was okay, but nothing to really grab my friend and rave about to.

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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. ❤

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Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han


2 Stars


“At college, when people ask us how we met, how will we answer them? The short story is, we grew up together. But that’s more Josh’s and my story. High school sweethearts? That’s Peter and Gen’s story. So what’s our then?
I suppose I’ll sat it all started with a love letter.”
 

So this was my first official buddy read, and it was with the rocking Emi. And thank God it was her, because turns out we had a lot of similar comments. Hooray for BR’s and hmming and haawwwing about things as they progress. This was just a first for me doing it via the interweb, there is definitely something about reading right next to my love Amanda though and seeing her face light up at the same time as mine.

Okay, to the book. This ended exactly how I expected it to, even if I wasn’t exactly happy about it. I may have an unpopular opinion about this book, which surprised me since I enjoyed the first two…however, now that I’ve read this one I think I would notice all the stuff that made me cringe through this one in the first two.

I am not sure how I didn’t notice it in the first two books, but I really just think LJ is super immature. I am not sure if it’s because Peter is her first fake/real boyfriend. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been 18 and young&inlove in a long time. But I really just wanted to strangle the girl and tell her to stop being dumb. This isn’t going to be a great review because I just don’t care enough. 
Here are the particulars about what really ruined this book.

-LJ’s ridiculously possessive of Peter & sort of treats him awfully getting him to do stuff he doesn’t want to do. But then again, Peter acts like a little whipped puppy.
“Is there anything more intoxicating than making a boy bend to our will?”

-LJ & Peter pretty much don’t ever have any serious conversations. In fact, at one point they quipped back and forth about boys taking 2 steps at a time vs girls taking just 1 step at a time.

-There was so much nothing happening in the book that all 325 pages can be summed up in probably a sentence: LJ struggles to figure out what to do for college and how to handle her relationship with Peter post graduation. You can honestly read the synopsis of the book, and be like okay great, that’s what happens. That way you don’t have to read in the filler play-by-play of LJ’s days including stuff like sitting around sorting shoes with Margo…THIS scene drove me nuts, because I wondered, hmmmm maybe something about this is important to the story…it wasn’t though, just a half page of text.

-I had a very hard time relating to LJ. I know it happens, truly I do, but can we just point at LJ and say you’re whole family is spoiled and you take it for granted? She bought a 2lb bag of chocolate for $30! She puts a deposit on a university like it’s no big deal, all the while her sister is studying in Scotland! I’m pretty sure LJ hasn’t ever had to wonder, if I ask my dad for money for X, will he say no? NO! Because he also apparently funds her to go stay at a beach house for a week with a bunch of other teenagers. I CAN HARDLY AFFORD THAT AS AN ADULT, WHAT IS A TEENAGER GOING OFF TO DO THIS SHXT FOR?!

-And then there is Peter. There is one other character I have encountered that I hated as much as Peter. Dean Forester from Gilmore Girls. Here’s this all around well liked guy that is, lets face it sweet, but super boring and doesn’t have a thing in common with LJ. He likes to eat cookies. But is super clingy and is a little bxtch about her going to college. MKAY bye Dean #TeamJess

-Scrill

Carve the Mark

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth


2 stars


This review is going to be fairly unexciting, as I have nothing really re-mark-able to say about this book. (ha, see what I did there? I know, I’m lame.)


Carve the Mark tells the story of rivaling nations on a single planet. From alternating POV’s of Cyra, a Shotet, and Akos, a Thuvheien, we see how are two enemies grow to accept the fates they were given by the Oracles.


So, lets tackled that Racism bit. I honestly don’t know what all the fuss is about. And maybe it’s because I give Roth the benefit of the doubt that she wasn’t intentionally making it so. With that being said, I read this after I read somewhere that there were racial undertones and didn’t even notice. I honestly don’t think they’re that noticeable unless you’re looking for it. But if that’s the case you can find stereotyping or racial similarities in a lot of books, but the reality is, SOMEONES gotta be the bad guy, the lesser race, or the unfortunate soul. 


Okay, so now that the nasty stuff is out of the way, I am going to point one other thing about the book that made me cringe.


I absolutely hated that they called their smaller space ships ‘floaters’. Every single time I read it I thought of my brother coming over to me to look at his floaters. in. the. toilet. Yeah. I pictured a bunch of turds hovering around the sky carrying passengers. The comical part was that I also paired it with the bubbly noise for the little space ships in the Jetsons. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Scrill’s imagination.


So, the idea’s behind the book were great. From the current gifts that each person had, to the fates that they can try to change, to the culture created by each nation/planet. Unfortunately I found the story to be slow paced and pretty boring. Chapter 31 suddenly became very YA romance-y and I felt the chapter didn’t fit quite well with the rest of the book or the characters. In the end, I have zero desire to continue the series.

-Scrill

Ella’s Ice Cream Summer

Ella’s Ice Cream Summer by Sue Watson

Publish date: May 11, 2017

Received an ARC from Bookouture via Netgalley for a fair review.

2 Stars

“Was there still time to do something more with my life and get that Facebook fantasy? Should I Just play it safe and not risk losing what little I had, or should I throw caution to the wind and embrace what apparently the universe had given me? Perhaps this was my adventure after all?”


Ella’s Ice Cream Summer was a light story about a pseudo-empty-nester turning over a new leaf in her life. Ella lost her job, her kids are off having adventures in Nepal and Thailand for the summer, and her mother has taken on internet dating all other sorts of social media. The death of her aunt leaves Ella with a portion of the family ice cream business which Ella decides to try out for the summer.

The simplicity of the story was also what brought my opinion down. The beginning had enough going on to get me intrigued, but once Ella was working the ice cream stand I was hardly hooked and had to push through the story. The only element that really kept me going was the curiosity of what had caused the family feud. The actually facts behind the feud was definitely not expected but definitely gave reason as to why there was such a problem. The entire time, we are put off thinking it might be something completely trivial that had three women to have a complete fall out.

The curiosity wasn’t enough. The romantic relationship that Ella developed with Ben is not very developed either as their interactions are short. More time was spent theoretically thinking about what Ella was doing with the future of the business/staying in Devon and how she shouldn’t get attached to Ben than actual time spent with him.

The best part of the book was sadly the descriptions of the ice cream treats. And though it’s called Ice Cream Summer, it’s probably more like gelato. But I honestly don’t have enough knowledge between the differences of the two to definitely say either way. I just love ice cream/gelato.

What I had hoped would be a kick start to my summer beach reads ended up only inspiring me to make my own gelato, which it turns out is harder than this book makes it out to be, there are quite a few steps! I did find it cute to find an easy recipe after the epilogue for a batch of vanilla ice cream.

Now that I have read two books on gelato/ice cream this month I have since decided to take on making some of my own. Post on that after I try a little bit.

-Scrill

The Beast is an Animal

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

“The beast is an animal
Hear it scratch upon your door
It sucks your soul then licks the bowl
And sniffs around for more
The beast is an animal
It has a pointy chin
It eats you while you sleep at night
Leaves nothing but your skin!
 “

2 stars

So, first of all, this book doesn’t really have a lot to do with the beast. I mean…it’s in it yes, but I’m not sure why it’s the title subject to be honest. Second of all, it drags on and is sort of boring. As a whole, the story is sort of good, but the pitch was just, ZZZZzzzzzz.

So this story follows a little girl named Alys. She’s seen the soul eaters and even the beast and feels a connection with them. After the soul eaters ravage her village leaving just children, she and her fellow survivors take refuge in the next town over. There the new village lives in fear of the soul eaters and Alys grows up knowing she is different, that maybe she is just like the soul eaters that killed her parents and have been killing her friends.

I liked the idea of this gated up village that the children take refuge in. It really gave me the same vibe that M Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” gave me. All these God fearing people keeping close tabs on people, controlling them, shaming Alys for being different – all the while there’s this monster lurking in the woods that only hurt people when they’re misbehaving.

The characters themselves were great too. The problem with the book was just that there was so much time spent creating the world, talking about the characters and building up to this point in the story that ended pretty anti climatically. The whole time we get to hear Alys talk about how she thinks she might be bad, when really she’s just being this good timid little girl.

I am not sure what I was expecting really. I was hoping it would at least have something exciting. Unfortunately, the ending was quite like the beginning and middle – drawn out. By the time I finished, I thought to myself, great, finally!

-Scrill