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My thoughts on what I've been reading!

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April 2016

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater- 4.5 Stars

the raven boys

 

What would you do if you saw a boy who was destined to die, and the only reason you saw his spirit is because you either are the one who killed him, or you’re his true love?

The Raven Boys chronicles the story of 4 boys- Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, and a very non-psychic girl from a very psychic family, Blue. The boys belong to Aglionby Academy- a private, high-society school. Blue goes to your basic public school. They live in Henrietta, Virginia, a place teeming with magical/paranormal aspects.

All of the characters were superbly developed. Their present lives, backstories, physical descriptions, all of it. I think my favorite raven boy so far is Ronan, and Blue made for an excellent female protagonist. She was strong, sassy, passionate, and loyal. Gansey’s life mission is to find the corpse road/ ley line and wake Glendower- a welsh king. He who wakens Glendower can ask for anything. If you’re confused, it’s okay. I was too. You will began to understand as you read further in.

Trees that speak in Latin, little pools of water containing fish that can change with just a thought…walking through all four seasons in one place, time moving so slow that 45 minutes is really 7? What is Cabeswater? And where is Glendower?

For like 120 pages I was seriously confused and tempted to quit reading because I was so lost. I felt the book was lacking detail, or leaving out a lot of key information. But then it got GOOD, and I started to figure out what was going on! It’s funky and creepy but oh, so entertaining. I loved the relationship between all the boys, even though it seemed a little strange at times, but I really liked how they all fit together, each with their own uniqueness.

 

The writing and general world building was so descriptive and magical! While this is a pretty dark and creepy book, there’s lots of snarky sass and humor tossed in that lightens it up a touch. I love Blue and her raven boys. I can’t wait to go along with them in the remaining books!

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Book Review: Trivial Pursuits by Aven Ellis-5 Stars

 

trivial pursuits

TriviaPlayOrPass!: Who writes the best contemporary hockey romance novels?

What does a tattooed, cat loving, elementary school volunteering, sexy black haired hockey player and a beautiful platinum blond, jewelry making, Zingers addicted, kale loving girl have in common? The addictive online trivia game, TriviaPlayOrPass! It was fate that brought them together one day at an after school program. They realized they had been playing against each other in TriviaPlayOrPass! Landon loves the witty, sarcastic fun he was able to have with Livy over the trivia questions, the fact that she saw LANDON, the goofy, trivia addict and not LANDY, the flirty, popular hockey player. Livy can’t believe she’s been playing THE Landon Holder in TriviaPlayOrPass!. On the game, they were just two people who’d never met, having fun over some trivia.

Connectivity thus far has been my favorite Aven Ellis novel, but I fell HARD in love with Landon and Livy. Livy had sworn off the athletes, those players who can’t keep their eyes on one woman, after having her heart ripped out in college by a boyfriend, but after one date with Landon, she knows he’s different. Yet she can’t force her feelings of her past out of her heart and mind, and that comes up to hurt both her and Landon a couple times. His dad hurt his mom when Landon was younger, and he vows to never treat a lady like that. He basically doesn’t date but has one night flings that mean nothing- no commitments, no settling down, until he finds Livy. So they both have pain when it comes to relationships, and it takes awhile for them to push their fears aside, but they realize they can’t be without each other. Livy wants to make a career out of making jewelry, and it was so sweet to see Landon be so supportive of her, and helping drive customers to her business.

Aven’s books have this wonderful quality about them, that allows you to simply lose yourself in her world, and find yourself smiling to yourself, sometimes shedding a tear, while reading. Her books are literally the BEST thing, like eating a cupcake with the perfect cake to frosting ratio, on a sunny and breezy Saturday with no cares in the world.

I loved that  we get to catch up with Bree (married and pregnant!) from Surviving the Rachel, and of course Beckett and Aubrey from The Aubrey Rules. If you’re looking for a wonderful romance that will leave you with a smile on your face for days, pick up one of Aven’s books right away! Trivial Pursuits is book two in the Chicago on Ice series and releases April 20, 2016!

 

*I received a copy of this novel from the author. All opinions are my own!*

 

Book Review: If I Run by Terri Blackstock: 3 Stars

 

if i run

I loved this book at the beginning. It starts off with Casey rinsing blood out of her shoes and packing necessities into a bag, ready to run. Her friend Brent has been murdered. The crime scene is covered in blood, which, Casey steps in, moves around in, instead of calling 911. Her friend is dead and she decides the best thing is to go on the run?? From the book blurb we as readers already assume her innocence, but she knows that doesn’t matter. The police have let her down before, so why trust any of them now? When Casey was 12, she comes home to find her father had hanged himself. For years she questioned and doubted that he committed suicide, but no one believed her.

She buys bus tickets for certain cities, but gets off several towns before her destination. She buys several different disposable cell phones at different stores. It seems like she truly is a psychopath, as she knows all the ways to hide. Either that, or she just watches too much Criminal Minds.

Anyway, then I started to get annoyed. Casey was reckless and stupid. Why in THE HECK does she go to all that trouble to hide and then want to help save the missing girl (No spoilers) and risk everything? I get that if she can’t help herself, she wants to help someone else who desperately needs it. But does she really think she can truly ever escape, using a dead girl’s identity, on the lam in the same country, working, and all that, and truly stay under the radar? That will never work!

I gave this story 3 stars as opposed to anything less because it sucked me in and kept my attention, but shortly after I figured out who the killer was,  I got ticked off at Casey’s stupidity, and then the ending-that ending made me regret reading this book to begin with. Hopefully this has a sequel and I will probably read it, because that ending sucked and just really did nothing for me. It was completely unbelievable.

Book Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn-3.5 Stars

Paradise comes at a cost.

dyfam

 

Welcome to Gardnerville. It’s paradise! Have a disease or disability? Come to Gardnerville where you will be healed and can live well past 100! Skylar can take people’s secrets. In turn, she has gaps in her memory from all the secrets she takes. Her older sister Piper can make anyone do anything just by saying it. Together they record their days on cassette tapes. Skylar is pretty much doped up every day so she doesn’t have to remember what she dealt with the day before.

Every fourth year in Gardnerville, teens turn magical and deadly, and are committed to a reformatory. However many people die determines the number of years they are committed. This fourth year, Piper sent many to their death by leading them off the trestle bridge. Skylar can’t seem to remember Piper but she can’t seem to forget her either. Is she dead? Is she at the Reformatory?

This book messed with my mind the whole time! It was confusing to keep up with the chapters going back and forth from present day, to 8 years ago, 4 years ago, etc. The world building and character development was just rather jumbled and seemed like it was botched together. The first half of the story moved slowly but I started to become more intrigued about 3/4 of the way through. While I enjoy novels featuring magical realism/paranormal aspects, I couldn’t fall in love with this one because I kept scratching my head and feeling lost and confused. This book was seriously a mind trip with all the different secrets that are revealed, trying to keep up with what character did what…normally I would like that but I couldn’t get a grasp on what was really happening.

On a positive note, the writer’s style is unique so I do want to give some of her other novels a try.  I give it a 3.5 because it was weird and interesting enough to keep me reading, but I won’t gush over it.

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys-5 Stars

BSoG

Between Shades of Gray is a remarkable story of strength during the time of Stalin’s dictatorship. I tend to shy away from war type novels but I have heard so many amazing things about this novel that I knew I needed to read it. Before reading this I wasn’t really aware of the nightmares these people faced under Stalin’s reign of terror.

This book tells the story of Lina, her mother Elena, and younger brother Jonas as they are forcibly removed from their house in Lithuania from the Soviets one day. They are herded like animals in trains with only a rusty hole to relieve themselves from, and a bucket of water and slop for nourishment. Lina’s father, a college professor, never arrived home from work that day, and we later learn he was taken separately and imprisoned.

Lina’s family is a family of intellect and honor. All of the Vilkas family is caring, educated, and show love for family and friends. I don’t know why, but I was thinking this type of family dynamic in the 1940’s in Lithuania would be harsh, poor, and disconnected from each other, but Lina, an artist, was encouraged and praised by her parents for her stories and drawings, except when she became overzealous with hatred for Stalin. Her father tried to warn her to be careful. She was a sneaky thing, always listening in to her father’s meetings, trying to hear what was going on in the countries around her.

 

Lina enters this nightmare as a 15 year old girl and emerges fighting, a strong, passionate, caring young woman.To be shoved into this kind of atmosphere, and not lose yourself to the evil around you, would be extremely difficult. Lina kept her sanity and her strength by drawing and writing. She knew her drawings were unique and, if they made their way to her father, he could locate her by knowing they were from her.

The detail that the author lends to the characters was one of the greatest aspects to this story. Elena, Lina’s mom, was such a graceful, beautiful, kind woman who did not want to give up or give in to the NKVD. She did everything she could to stay alive for her children, all while staying loyal to her family and homeland. I could literally feel the love and genuine sweetness coming from her. Lina was outspoken and had an opinion about nearly everything, but loved her family and pushed through this horrific journey.

Komorov thought he was torturing us. But we were escaping into a stillness within ourselves. We found strength there. 

Lina was not going to let Stalin win. Even in these horrific conditions, Lina and her mother and brother pushed on. They made friends with those they were enslaved with- Andrius, his mother, Miss Grybas, even the grouchy, depressing bald man. They were all forced to work when they arrived in Siberia-digging holes, making shoes, digging for beets-it was extremely hard manual labor constantly with a puny ration of bread as their payment. They were called fascist pigs from the NKVD. The women were leered at, children disregarded. I can’t fathom the measure of strength it would take to still want to survive after being spit at, worked to the point of utter exhaustion where your legs buckle, or starving daily.

What I loved about the characters is how they helped each other. They risked their lives to steal beets to feed a hungry friend, gave up their ration for a sick child, stole wood to keep everyone warm. No one wanted to do this alone. Even if the risk was great, they valued those around them. Andrius was one of my favorite characters besides Lina. He was the light in this dark tunnel for Lina and Jonas.

Don’t be scared. Don’t give them anything, Lina, not even your fear.

When I finished this book, I just held it in my arms and cried.  I strongly feel everyone, teen and adult alike, should read it. It’s obviously a fictional family but the nightmares they endured are true. The death camps, the suffering, it’s all real, and if you, like me, weren’t aware of the horrors the Baltic people went through, I recommend picking this up.

Krasivaya. It means beautiful, but with strength. Unique.

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