Book Reviews · Books · Fiction · Middle Grade · Mystery

Book Review: The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

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My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Orphans Molly and Pip have been through some rough times. When they show up at the strange Windsor manor they are hopeful that their lives are about to get easier, but instead they only get weirder. Neither the house nor the family are what they seem. The family is pale and sickly, there’s a giant tree coming out of the house, and there’s a man roaming the halls at night. Molly can’t figure out exactly what’s going on, but she knows that if she can’t figure it out soon she and her brother will be the next to fall victim to the sinister ways of the Night Gardener. 

I really enjoyed this book. I definitely would have been creeped out by this one when I was a kid. It felt like something that belonged on the pages of Grimm’s or Poe’s tales.

Molly and Pip were good protagonists. Neither of them were the “hero” type or the “chosen one,” which I appreciated. Despite the young ages of the two, Molly and Pip struggled with some very adult problems (poverty, losing their parents, disability, etc.) and, as a result, interjected some real wisdom into the story.

The tree and the night gardener were spooky and weird. I liked the way the way the “monsters” and the house were all tied together.

Overall, this one gets a thumbs up from me. The story is good, the characters are great, and it was a fun read. The only potential problem a young reader might have with this is understanding the Irish dialect.

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That’s one book down for the Halloween read-a-thon. On to the next one!

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Book Review: Wendy Darling (Shadow)

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Wendy finds herself once again in Neverland, back in the arms of the maniacal Peter Pan. This time, however, things are different. No longer under the influence of Peter’s illusions, she’s there for one reason only: To stop him.

Working with Peter’s arch-enemy, Captain Hook, Wendy has some dangerous and seemingly impossible tasks ahead of her. It’s a cruel game she’s playing, complete with pirates, mermaids, fairies, and ancient evils as old as Neverland itself. Even more complicated is the fact that Booth, her childhood sweetheart, the boy she actually loves, gets captured and thrown in the mix. 

War has arrived. Can Wendy stop it in time to save the lives of her brothers, Booth, and everyone in Neverland? 

First and foremost, I’m going to start this review with a confession: I burst into tears upon finishing this book. It was all just so perfect and so beautiful. 😩 I adored this series so much that I honestly never wanted it to end.

At first, I was a bit skeptical as to whether or not Booth’s appearance would enhance the story. Surprisingly, it did. I really liked Booth’s character and his relationship with Wendy, plus the maturity that it added to the story. (This one may not be appropriate for younger readers.)

All of the relationships throughout this story are wonderfully complex. Most interesting are Peter’s relationships with Tink and the Lost Boys. I feel like Oakes really made a statement here in showcasing how dangerous relationships can get when you became enamored with the wrong type of person. Peter’s mind games are sick and twisted, yet he’s charismatic enough that everyone falls in love with him. At times, you forget that you’re even reading about a “boy” and not some abusive cult leader.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Wendy visits the Forsaken Garden. The imagery in this scene is so real and downright eerie that it sent shivers up my spine.

I was worried about the ending of the story, as there is always the chance of re-tellings to get all “fairy tale” on you. I didn’t feel like that was the case here. I felt like the author created the perfect ending to this truly amazing story. Whether you’re a fan of re-tellings or not, I highly recommend this series.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Book Review: Wendy Darling (Seas)

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

After her near brush with death at the hands of Peter Pan, Wendy finds herself aboard the ‘Sudden Night,’ the pirate ship sailed by the notorious Captain Hook. Aboard the ship, Wendy finds herself in situations she never expected. She rubs elbows with mutinous pirates, harlots, mermaids, and Indian princesses. She becomes part of the elaborate game between Peter and Hook, only this time around Wendy is in cahoots with Hook. Worried about both of her brothers’ safety and the fate of Neverland, Wendy has to figure out a way to stop Peter and get back home before it’s too late. 

This was a fantastic sequel to the first book in the Wendy Darling series. I love the flow of Oake’s writing style and the way she makes you feel like you’re there right alongside the characters. I think this is technically a YA book, but it doesn’t feel like it because the characters and the subject matter are so mature.

I love how different this version of Peter Pan is from the original, child-friendly Disney version. In Oake’s twisted spin Peter is a sadistic, manipulative leader, obsessed with exerting control and power over everyone around him. His relationship with the Lost Boys, Tink, and Wendy are cruel and abusive. A far cry from the fun-loving boy who refused to grow up in the original tale.

It was interesting to see how Wendy’s relationship with the pirates, particularly Hook, develops throughout the story. I found the bond between her and Hook far more compelling than the one between her and Peter in the first book. It was also interesting to see how Wendy’s character evolves throughout the book and how much maturing she does, due to all the harsh things she’s seen and terrible choices she has to make.

I would love to say more about the particular details and events of this book that I enjoyed, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. I am looking forward to reading the next book, which should be arriving tomorrow. (I’m not stalking the tracking page or anything…)

 

Book Reviews · Books · Young Adult

Book Review: Because You Love to Hate Me 

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My Rating: KILL IT WITH FIRE

I wanted to like this book, even just one little thing about it. The concept was a decent one: thirteen short stories told from the villain’s perspective. What was actually delivered was thirteen tales of mediocrity (at best) and complete immaturity. Several of the stories were too high school for me. The best example being Gwen and Art and Lance, a modern-day “story” about Guinevere and King Arthur. Gwen wants to go to prom with Arthur, but he doesn’t want to ask her out because his buddy Lance likes her. Oh, did I mention that the whole thing is told through text messages and annoying teenage lingo? UGH.

Not all of the stories were quite that bad, but I didn’t find any of them even remotely entertaining either. Some of the dialogue didn’t even make much sense, which is highly disappointing given that the stories were written by popular authors. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t even finish most of the stories because I was so irritated. Peppered between the stories was commentary from booktubers. This added nothing to the book other than some random, unneccessary text and just made the layout confusing.

No thanks.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Fiction

Book Review: The Wise Man’s Fear 

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Kvothe is no ordinary innkeeper. He was one of the youngest and most talented students ever accepted into University. He has tackled monsters, slept with a dangerous fairy, and called the name of the wind. He’s survived the streets of Tarbean without a dime to his name, survived malicious attacks from fellow arcanists, and can move people to tears with his lute. 

That’s only the beginning of his story. 

The Wise Man’s Fear was the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles series. After devouring the first book, The Name of the Wind, I couldn’t wait to read this one. The story started right where the last one left off. I was impressed with how flawlessly Rothfuss managed to pull this off.

I enjoyed getting to see more of the characters we were introduced to in TNOTW. Kvothe and his friends are one big group of eclectic misfits. At times, I found myself wishing to be part of their group because they seem like a lot of fun. There were several other new characters as well, although some did not tickle my fancy as much. I loved the addition of Felurian (the Fae seductress), as brief as her appearance was. I’m hoping for another glimpse at the Fae realm in the future.

By the time I reached the second half of the book I felt that the story really started to meander. Big chunks of the story felt more like filler than relevant plot. I’m not sure whether Rothfuss intended to go in a different direction at some point or just lost focus for a bit, but this really bugged me. As I mentioned in a previous post, I really struggled with the second half of the book because I found myself growing bored.

Overall, I did enjoy The Wise Man’s Fear. Rothfuss could tell you the story of The Three Little Pigs and spin it into something epic. I look forward to reading the next book, although apparently I’ll be waiting a while for it to come out.

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

Vacation Reads Update

Happy Tuesday!…Wait, it’s only Tuesday? Ugh. Jet lag is kicking my ass this week. Aren’t you supposed to feel rested after you go on a vacation? :\

Back before I left I did a post on the books that I took on vacation with me. Not surprisingly, given the couple of long traveling days, layovers, and hours spent in the car, I was able to make a nice little dent in my TBR list.

11235712My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I remember when this book came out, back in 2012. I was still working at the library and everyone was raving about this book. I’m pretty sure we didn’t even have any copies on the shelves for months, because it had a reserve list a mile long. At the time I read the blurb on the back and thought “Meh.” Young adult Cinderella meets cyborgs. No thanks!

As I have since gotten over my prejudice against YA novels, I decided to finally give this book a chance and see what all the hype was about. I breezed through most of it while in transit to Canada. It was an easy, but entertaining read. The story wasn’t overly complicated, but had enough surprise twists to keep you guessing. I enjoyed it and plan on checking out the second one to see what happens.

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After finishing Cinder I jumped into The Wise Man’s Fear, which is the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series. I haven’t finished it yet,  but I can tell you that it is definitely living up to my expectations. I’ve had a hard time putting this one down the last few days. I really hope Patrick Rothfuss puts the third book out sometime soon. I don’t know how I’ll be able to wait for it!

I also knocked out a few more chapters of Talking As Fast As I Can. It’s been a slower read for me, but fun nonetheless.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

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Happy Sunday! I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far. I’ve seen this tag pop up on several blogs the past few days, so I thought I would join in on the fun since I don’t have any new reviews to share yet. As usual, feel free to take part if you would like.

  • Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2017 – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah Maas is definitely my favorite so far this year. (After how much I’ve been gushing over the series, I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that.)

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  • Best Sequel of 2017 So Far – I guess I’m going to go with A Court of Wings and Ruin, given that it’s the only sequel I’ve read this year that’s actually been released in 2017.
  • New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To – Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m not sure how this will hold up, given that it’s been pieced together from Tolkien’s unpublished manuscripts, but I love Tolkien and I am excited to check this out.

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  • Most Anticipated Release of of the Second Half of 2017 – War of the Cards by Colleen Oakes. I have been waiting for this book to come out for two years now. The suspense is killing me.
  • Biggest Disappointment – The End of Oz by Danielle Paige. This definitely wasn’t the series finale that I was hoping for.
  • Biggest Surprise – Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
  • Favorite New Author (Debut or New to You) – Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This wasn’t a new release, but it was my first book by Novik and I was quite impressed.
  • Favorite New Character – Rhysand *drools*
  • Book That Made You Cry – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I always cry at the end.
  • Book That Made You Happy – The Graveyard Book! It was a re-read and even though it makes me cry, I love that book so much. ❤

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  • Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation You’ve Seen This Year – Beauty and the Beast!
  • Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year – They weren’t exactly reviews, but I think I had the most fun writing my “Favorites” posts. I love getting to talk about my favorite books with people. (Kiersten’s Favorites: Pt 1Kiersten’s Favorites: Pt 2)
  • Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought/Received This Year – Honestly, I have no idea.
  • Books You Need to Read By the End of the Year – ALL THE BOOKS! 😀