Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Young Adult

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Kaz and his crew have pulled off the heist of a lifetime. They should be rolling in riches by now, but instead they’re back to fighting for their lives. They’ve been double-crossed and need to come up with a plan quickly before they all get arrested (or worse). 

Some of the most powerful influences in the world are after them and the secrets of jurda parem, a drug that could ruin the Grisha. Old rivals team up, new enemies are made, and loyalties are tested as the clock runs out. 

The first book in the duology, Six of Crows, was pretty damned good. Naturally, I had high expectations for the second book. Not only were my expectations met, but they were surpassed with flying colors and hand grenades. I found myself staying up late and getting up early, just to get in a few more pages. It’s that freaking good.

The characters that we were introduced to in the first book become even more intriguing as you learn more about their backgrounds and the complexities of their personalities. It’s an amazingly diverse group of characters, all with pasts that have left them scarred. The way they all fit together and support each other, despite their differences, is incredibly inspiring.

I loved the themes that were present in this book – fear, thoughts being challenged, past experiences haunting the present, questioning loyalties. There was way more insight into what drove the characters and gave you a much better appreciation for each of them.

Normally, I find romantic feelings in YA books to be cheesy or over the top. Bardugo did an amazing job at factoring this in without it sabotaging the story. The relationships she built were realistic and complicated, rather than being hormone-fueled.

I cannot praise this book enough! Read it. Then read it again.

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Sci-Fi

Book Review: Shada by Gareth Roberts

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

When The Doctor’s old friend, Professor Chronotis, retires to Cambridge University he brings some souvenirs with him that he should have left behind. One of them, “The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey,” is far too dangerous to be left unguarded. Even worse, it’s fallen into the hands of the sinister Skagra. 

The Doctor, Romana, and K-9 must figure out what Skagra’s up to and get the book back before something terrible falls upon the universe. 

Shada is based upon some of Douglas Adams’ original scripts for Doctor Who that never made it to air. Like the previous Doctor Who novel I read, this one is based off the 4th Doctor.

The story invoked some of the quirkiness of Tom Baker’s character, which is always entertaining. It was nice having Romana and K-9 present, also, even if it’s just for nostalgia purposes. The rest of the characters didn’t do enough for me though. Even the villain was kind of lackluster.

Some of the “details” of the backstory were a little shoddy. I understand that there’s a lot to explain as far as the history of Doctor Who goes, but I still felt like there could have been less half-assed explanations.

Aside from those things, the story was enjoyable. It was’t as good as City of Death, but it wasn’t terrible either. The novels are a fun way to kill time while I wait for season 11 to come out.

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Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Non-Fiction

Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I didn’t need to buy another book, I really didn’t. However, after finishing Furiously Happy, I had to read Jenny Lawson’s first book. I had to. The universe demanded it. Who am I to say no to the universe like that?

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a memoir, sharing the mortifying, bizarre, and hilarious things that have happened throughout Lawson’s life. It’s different than Furiously Happy, as in mental health is not the sole focus of each chapter, but it’s still a present topic throughout.

I loved getting to read more about Jenny’s life antics. Even her more serious stories will make you laugh out loud and wonder what the hell you just read. (There were a few evenings in which I laughed out loud while laying in bed reading this book. Boyfriend may or may not have been trying to sleep next to me. He is now most likely questioning why he ever asked me to move in with him.)

The book has more stories about Lawson’s fondness for bad taxidermy, the “joys” of motherhood, the zombie apocalypse, her pets, and the time she overdosed on laxatives during a home invasion…just to name a few highlights.

I swear, this woman is my new hero. I fucking love her.

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · mental health · Non-Fiction

Mini Book Review: Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself

I dislike self-help books. I’ve mentioned it enough times on my blog now that I won’t make you suffer through that rant again…Seriously though, why are self-help books usually so text-book like? Odds are, if you have a problem you already know what the problem is. You don’t need someone over-explaining anxiety to you. In fact, that in itself is likely to cause more anxiety. OMG, ARE WE GETTING GRADED ON THIS?!?! I DIDN’T STUDY.

Recently, during one of my frustrating visits to the self-help aisle, I picked up this tiny book:

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It’s a compendium of stories and self-revelations submitted to TinyBuddha.com by its readers. If you know me personally you are probably laughing right now, given that this is so not me. I am not the spiritual or enlightened type. I hate dislike yoga and anything that is remotely new-agey. I’ve never even been to TinyBuddha.com and I don’t want my chi cleansed. When I saw the title and cover of this book I almost put it immediately back on the shelf. Given that I was in a messy state that evening, having just lost my cat, I clearly wasn’t thinking properly. I flipped through a few of the stories, expecting them to be spiritual and full of all those things I typically scoff at, but was incorrect. (Funny how things can surprise you when you let go of your preconceived notions for a moment, no?) Enough of what I saw resonated with me that I decided to bite the bullet and just take the tiny little Buddha book home with me…and hide it so that nobody would laugh.

The stories shared in this book all share a common theme: learning to love and accept yourself. They’re about letting go of negativity, embracing your flaws, learning to be comfortable in your own skin, and letting go of the need to seek approval from others. I won’t say that this book changed my life of anything, but some of the stories definitely spoke to me and offered good advice. This is definitely a good tool to refer to when I am having a bad body image day or being hard on myself.

I recommend checking it out if you’re ever in need of a boost.

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Sci-Fi

Book Review: Sand by Hugh Howey

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The old world is gone, buried deep beneath miles of sand and shifting dunes. Life is harsh, and often fatal, in the new world. 

Siblings Palmer, Vic, Rob, and Connor find themselves struggling to cope with their father’s absence, their mother’s choices, and the current reality that they are stuck in. For them, the only hope is in sand diving. Plunging deep below the surface looking for souvenirs of the old world. 

What lies beneath the desert could either bring their family together or tear them completely apart. 

I have mixed feelings about this book. I zipped through most of it on Saturday, curled up in a cozy armchair at Barnes & Noble. It held my attention and had an intriguing plot, but there were a few key things that left me disappointed by the time I reached the end.

What I liked: I am not usually a fan of post-apocalyptic literature, but this one felt different. There were still the common themes of hardship and trying to make sense of the new world, but it was different in that it wasn’t heavily laden with controlling government figures or zombies. I also liked that there wasn’t just one protagonist of the story, but went back and forth between the different points of view of each family member. It was interesting to see the similarities/differences in each person’s perspective.

What I didn’t like: The concept of sand diving is pretty cool. The descriptions of how it felt to be beneath the sand and the effects it had on the body were good, albeit terrifying. That being said, however, I wish we’d have been given more information on how sand diving worked, given that this is not a natural concept that most of us can comprehend. (There’s a special suit that they use to do this, but the actual science of it was somewhat vague.) Another thing that disappointed me a little was the characters. There was a range of them, but I didn’t feel like we got the change to connect with any of them in particular. None of them were bad characters, but with all the jumping back and forth some of the personal details got lost.

Overall, not a bad book. It probably isn’t one I would read again, but if you like sci-fi then check it out.

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Poison by Sarah Pinborough

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My Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

I’m going to keep this review short and sweet: This book sucked major monkey butt.

I was under the impression that this was a more twisted telling of the original Snow White story. If you call mostly the same story with some random sex scenes and profanity thrown into it, then sure, I guess that description applies.

The story was the same as the original Snow White. There was a twist at the end that was a tad unexpected, but by the time I even reached that point I wanted to literally set the book on fire. The wicked stepmother was a evil, as expected. Snow White was a little more interesting, as she was a more rough-and-tumble, outdoorsy type of princess. What drove me nuts though was that Pinborough was telling the story and then randomly felt the need to make a scene lustful or erotic. Most of the time it was oddly placed and just seemed ridiculous.

For example (Don’t read if you don’t want spoilers): After fucking the wicked Queen, whom he had only met 5 mins earlier, the huntsman goes off to search for Snow White in the woods. After he finds her he decides to spare her life. Rather than being grateful for his decision or being outraged that her stepmother tried to have her killed, Snow White decides that she wants the huntsman to fuck her the same way he fucked her stepmother.

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Then there was the addition of a few random fairy tale characters who didn’t belong in the story and were glaringly out of place.

Overall, this was a giant NOPE.

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Since the beginning of time, humans, or Rhunes, have been taught to fear the Fhrey. The Fhrey are invincible. They posses strong battle tactics and weaponry, mystifying powers, and can’t be killed. As long as they keep away from each other peace can be maintained. 

When a Fhrey is suddenly killed by a human blade the rules of the game change. Raithe, the proclaimed “God Killer,” struggles to figure out where his destiny lies. Suri, the young mystic, warns the Rhunes of the impending doom that she sees in their future. Persephone, recently widowed, tries to figure out how to keep her people safe from harm. 

Danger is coming. Rebellion has begun. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this book was to read. I find that with lengthy epic fantasies, they can sometimes lag in the middle. This wasn’t the case at all here. The story was rich with detail and the plot moved at an even pace.

All of the characters were fantastic. There was a huge divide between the different factions of Rhunes and Fhrey at the beginning, but by the end those lines were all blurred. I absolutely loved this aspect of the story. It was so much fun to see how so many different personalities and talents could work together for the same cause.

While all of the characters were great, the females definitely took center stage. (Persephone and Suri both kick some major ass!) It’s refreshing to see women being at the forefront of a fantasy novel, rather than being side characters.

There was one thing that I found mildly disappointing: There was a lot of reference to the Art, which was the form of magic that the Fhrey used. I really wanted to learn more detail about the Art and how it all worked. I had so many questions! Hopefully this will be discussed further in one of the other books in the series.

Overall, this was a great book. Highly recommended for anyone who likes fantasy and needs to get lost for a while.