Thursday, December 3, 2020

Eartheater by Dolores Reyes, translated by Julia Sanches: A Review



That was the first impression I had once I flipped to the last page of this story on my tablet last night. Whoa and I need to sleep on this.

I read this book in one sitting. Literally opened my tablet, loaded the book, and started reading. Less than two hours later the book was over and was just....stunned? maybe? Speechless? It's been 12 hours since I finished the book and I'm still sitting here trying to figure out what fascinated me the most, why I'm rating this so high but then not high enough.

First off, the writing style might irk some people. It's a rhythm that is necessary and before long, I barely noticed it. The voice of the story is very no nonsense, clear-cut almost because the impression given is that our lead, Eartheater, does not have the time or the energy to deal with anything that is not essentially important. She might ignore things but she has a reason for it and really, readers can't fault her for that.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey: A Review

Just a bit of an aside before we get into the whole review I wrote.

I call this my review that just keeps on giving. I read this book earlier in the year, just before the lockdown hit, and I really wanted to like it. Instead, once I finished it, I went on a word rampage, typing everything that came into my head, just this long stream of gripes that I just had to put down on Goodreads before I could really put the book away in my mind. I was happy when so many people liked what I wrote because I kept checking reviews while I was reading, searching for someone who had the same issues I had with the book. The representation in the book made me want to adore this story but I couldn't get past, well, the story, which is not the takeaway you want from a book. So I wrote it all down, tagged it with a spoiler alert, and hoped other readers would find that they could relate to the so many issues I had within the story.

And so with that out of the way, onward to the review I wrote that I have to admit, turned out pretty okay in my opinion.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert: A Review

Sorry but I just barely got through this book. I even changed my rating from 2 stars to 1 star after finishing this review because yeah, I am not ever reading this one again.

My first issue was the character of Dani Brown. The book opens with Dani making a request to find the perfect friend-with-benefits and while fine, it seems reasonable, this is a romance after all, I knew I was probably not going to be happy when the rest of the scene played out.

Apparently, the perfect person for this request will be someone who follows all of Dani's specific rules, the main one being that said person will not attempt to pursue a relationship with Dani, they will not expect her to develop feelings for them, or else she will move on to the next happy candidate. Dani believes that the other person will not only attempt to change Dani, because she "knows" she is not an ideal relationship partner, but that they will also eventually find her lacking as a girlfriend and then the fighting starts so why not just never allow said scenario to happen?

Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee: A Review

*I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways*

I remember reading Tolstoy's Anna Karenina in high school and writing an important paper on it but other than the bare bones of the story, which is about a woman and the tragic consequences of her affair, I honestly can't tell you anything else about the book.

For that reason alone, I admire Jenny Lee's efforts in writing a book inspired by that Russian classic and setting it in today's modern times.

However, while I could appreciate the efforts that went into placing these characters in high school, showing their actions and mistakes with the use of technology and what not, I also feel like the scope of the tragedy does not translate well inside of a high school setting. The whole plotline of Anna K. and her being stuck between Alexander and Vronsky just did not resonate with me at all.

What I did truly enjoy were the side characters. I wanted to know more about Dustin, Kimmie, Lolly and even Anna's brother Stephen. I think the storyline with Dustin and his family life and how it intersected with Stephen and Anna made for a more compelling plot. I didn't care for Kimmie in Part One but as the book continued, I found myself waiting for the story to return to where she was and how she was growing as a character. I wanted these characters to get a happy ending.

I do like the biggest change that Lee used in her book. Part of me thought it was pointless, maybe even didn't have to happen, but I was touched by the appearance of a character in the epilogue that put, maybe not a "nice spin", but at least a different perspective on the events of the novel that I truly believe makes it worth reading.

In the end, I did like the book and I believe it did a truly admirable job of bringing a classic to a new audience. 

Rating on my Blog Scale: 8.5 Stars.

So apparently there will be a second book in this series, currently scheduled for release April 27, 2021. I don't feel right posting the title here because of SPOILERS, but hey, I'm in for book 2. Definitely on my list of books to keep an eye out for.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey: A Review

Overall I thought this was okay. I thought Georgie was the cutest lead character which just made it glaringly obvious how horrible everyone else was.

Because they were horrible. I wanted to enter the world of this book and take a baseball bat to their knees. Georgie deserved so much better.

First star off is for the family. Good grief, they were horrible/despicable/insert similar adjective here. Dismissive in such a way that I honestly wondered why Georgie even bothered to still communicate with them. The worst was her brother Stephen, who over the course of the story has several plot points involving him that made me want to throttle him. He forgot about a brunch that Georgie wanted him and his wife to attend but the point that bothers him is not that he hurt his sister's feelings by being a jerk; what bothers him is that Travis, Georgie's love interest, was the only one to show up and was therefore alone with his baby sister. He finds out their other sister, Bethany, wants to be more involved with the actual construction part of the family business and he not only denies her the chance to try but he also makes it so that Bethany can't do her own jobs outside the company so she can prove to her darn family that she can do the job. But the real kicker was at the end, where Stephen runs to Georgie and helps to break her heart after he misunderstands something he overheard Travis saying at a bar. Given that Stephen and Travis were supposed to be best friends and he should have been able to use context clues to help figure out why certain words were said, this last straw just made it seem like Stephen sincerely wanted everyone to fail, even if he had to make it happen himself. He was like this the whole book. It's hard to forgive a character when their every move proves they suck.

Second star off for the combination of bad nicknames and the constant referring to Georgie as a child. The name "Two Bats" for Travis was ridiculous, worse still the fact that this was both revealed and then explained in detail within the first few pages of the book. Not charming and maybe also too much info too soon for hooking me in for the romance. Then there was the fact that Travis calls Georgie "baby girl", a nickname that was just wrong to me. You guys see the cat in my profile picture? Her name is Lydia and she is my spoiled princess/dragon monster and I call that little creature "baby girl" on a daily basis. The fact that a grown man decides to call the woman that he is interested in "baby girl" when she is actually a 23-year-old woman and not a "girl child" or even an "awkward kid" like the book actually stated at different points, just makes the wrong emphasis for me. It's not endearing and it bugged me that Georgie seemed to love the nickname so much. There also was the fact that Travis stood up for Georgie at a family dinner where everyone in attendance had a hand in undermining Georgie, treating her like a kid that needs to keep quiet while the "adults" are speaking and I am just confused. Why couldn't he call her something else? He is basically saying, "They can't treat you like a baby, baby," and it does not make any sense to me in the long run.

Now for the final star off. When you throw in the fact that Travis only paid Georgie better attention after she changed her wardobe, cut her hair, and got another well-meaning man to ask her out, it all just goes meh to me. I am not a fan of love interests who had a chance to make a move and only act on their feelings after someone else has taken a chance. The truth was that Travis was the childish one and if he cared, he would have tried to fight fairly for a chance with Georgie, not manipulate her into choosing him. Unfair in so many ways.

In the end, the story is not the wonderful, heartwarming romance I thought I was in for when I opened the book. But I did love Georgie and I want Bethany to succeed and I want Rosie to get her dream restaurant so I guess I'm in for book 2 to see if those women get what they want. 

Rating on my Blog Scale: Still 2 stars. I look at this book cover and turn away to find something else on the shelf whenever I see it in stores.

To continue though, I did read Book 2, the one about Rosie and her restaurant.


So color me baffled that I would rate book 3, the one about Bethany, 7.5 stars on my rating scale. I'm even keeping it on my list of paperbacks to eventually add to my insanely huge library. I was quietly charmed by the events of the book and I'm still surprised that I liked it so much. Enough that it will get its own review soon.

Hopefully, anyways.

Kissing Ezra Holtz (and Other Things I Did for Science) by Brianna R. Shrum: A Review

2.5 Stars rounded down to 2 Stars

I wanted to really like this but Amalia needed a smack over the head. She talked about being judged for her choices and for her interests and then turned around and did the same thing to Ezra over and over again. She sometimes mentioned how she knew what she said was unfair, that she was being a jerk, but in the end, for me, she didn't show enough growth.

Also, I was not a big fan of her attitude towards school. She had her big art school dream and didn't have a single back-up plan in place? Seriously? And she honestly thought coasting through her classes doing the bare minimum was okay because she was going to be an artist, what did she need school for, and just no, she must have had her head in the sand to believe her grades didn't matter. I think she was too selfish and I am honestly glad she had her dreams shattered. I just wish readers had been shown that she really understood why her plan to get into art school didn't work out like she envisioned and why she really needed to make changes for her future.

There were a lot of cute moments. The representation in this book was awesome. In the end though, I wanted this girl to understand that caring for people does not make you weak, working hard does not make you lame, and you don't always get exactly what you thought you wanted would make you happy. But guess what? You can be insanely happy with completely different choices and be eternally grateful that you did not go that different route.

After a whole book of this personal crisis of if Amalia is not an artist, then who is she, the conclusion of maybe 20 pages having her realize she loves Ezra and might be able to make chemistry into a career was not enough of a payoff. It almost feels unfinished because the book just ends and maybe she makes something out of her relationship with Ezra, maybe she keeps up with her AP classes and proves she can handle the workload, maybe she makes it into a good school and is happy on her new path but readers will never know that for certain. Because the book had not yet reached Thanksgiving in their timeline and Amalia had not truly accepted the need to work harder to get what she wants, it might be that she just gives up and goes back to blowing everything off again. I just wanted something a little more concrete out of this character at the end, since I spent the whole of the book waiting for something more than just a couple maybe getting together. 

 Rating on my Blog Scale:..........

Yeah, still 2 stars, even with the way I sparse it out for my ratings. It just really disturbs me that a kid in high school believes they can get their dream with a minimum amount of effort and no fallback ideas. Just ARGH, tell me kids are smarter nowadays? Or don't, and let me have hope a little longer.

The Ghost Wore Gray by Bruce Coville: A Review

I have finally gotten the chance to read this story. When I was about 11 years old, I was wandering around Waldenbooks when I found a book called The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed and chose it as my new must have read. The following week I saved my allowance and bought The Ghost in the Third Row. I loved the idea of kids my age helping ghosts, finding clues, being all around awesome. I used to put both books in my bag and carry them around everywhere, and I honestly mean everywhere, these books meant that much to me.

I always knew there was a story between those two books but I never had the chance to find it. It might be trivial, but I am happy to say that the copy of this book that I managed to find matches my old paperbacks that I have kept safe for the last twenty years. It makes elementary-school-aged me very giddy.
I mean look at that cover art I managed to find. That's the cover that matches my old paperbacks and I just love the way they look compared to the new art that I've seen around. I did not want those covers, I wanted THIS cover. Yes, I am picky, I've learned to manage it by writing about it in these blog posts. So there.
In terms of story, this one was what I expected it to be, heartbreaking and a little wistful when the story wraps up. For the fun of it, I am reading these in order, so it is nice to see the development of Nine and Chris's friendship the way I was supposed to experience it. I enjoyed the back and forth with Nine and her dad, and the support that Nine knew she had with Chris at her side. I do wish there were more mysteries to read in this series but these three books will always have a safe place on my bookshelves, no matter what. 
Rating on my Blog Scale: 8.5 Stars.
My guess is my rating reflects the fact that the child inside me still demands more Nine Tanleven stories. Seriously, I can't be the only kid who read these and wanted more. I refuse to accept that.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers: A Review

*I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways* Really and truly, when I received the e-mail that I'd won a copy of the third Wayfarers book, my reaction was giddy triumph mixed with a lot of squealing. I may or may not have woken up every day and waited for the mail to arrive to see if my book was there. It was a long wait (maybe?) but worth it (definitely)

When I finished reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, I thought of my Dad and how he would love the book. I raved about the book to him, telling him everything it reminded me of, and he bought a copy to read not long after that conversation.

When I finished reading A Closed and Common Orbit, it was close to 5 in the morning, and I immediately felt the urge to call my Mom just to see how she was doing. I convinced myself to call at a more reasonable hour and then told them all about this wonderful book.

After reading Record of a Spaceborn Few, I thought of my sister, my brother, friends I grew up with and people I know now that I'm older. It's a strong book, carefully exploring the issues of belonging to a family, understanding your place in the world, and realizing the importance of remembering your past while building a better future.

The focus is on a small cast of characters, each working to better understand themselves as the world changes around them. The best part about the characters is that while they are each going through similar struggles about their identity, they are actually each from a different backgrounds, they are different ages, they have different skills and interests. The answers they find are important to them, and in turn to us, because any reader could see themselves in this book and understand the yearning that it seen through each character as the story moves towards its ending. The writing is strong, the plot concise, and while readers could read this as a standalone book and appreciate it, it truly benefits the readers who have followed this series from the start. There is something for everyone in this book and that makes it one of great releases of the year.

I have loved every book in the Wayfarers series and I honestly hope that there will be more books set in this world published in the future. This was a beautiful book.

Rating on my Blog Scale: 10 STARS.

And guess what? There will be a book four titled The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, tentatively scheduled for release on February 16, 2021. I say tentatively because 2020 has been a buzzkill and lots of books have been pushed back for publication this year. Usually only by a few months so brava publishers, books are our saving grace this year and most likely next year. Please continue in your endeavors of keeping us reading folks sane.

Fingers crossed this book is right on schedule because I already have a signed copy on preorder.

Legendary by Stephanie Garber: A Review

2.5 Stars rounded up to 3 on the 1 to 5 scale because I liked this one more than Caraval and I figure the extra star should show that.

To start off with, the story held my interest better than book 1. I wanted to see the conclusion to the search and understand the different threads that circled around Tella. It didn't feel as if there were scenes or characters meandering around and forcing the story to move along to where it needed to go. Instead, it felt more natural, as in of course this is happening, it's the next logical point for the story. I didn't get that sense in the first book but it was there in this one.

Concerning the characters, I definitely like Tella considerably more than I ever liked Scarlett in either book. Scarlett still bothered me in this story but she's barely around so my interest grew in Tella and the people that worked with her. Tella was stronger overall, more focused and aware, which allowed for a clearer sense of the book.

War by Laura Thalassa: A Review

So after really enjoying the first book in this series, I am giving War a hard NOPE.

Seriously, I just do NOT in any way, shape or form, enjoy reading about a couple where one of them is the over-the-top, piece of shit, jackass who makes demands and expects their every whim to be obeyed while the other partner actively hates the other but can't help being physically drawn to the sadistic asshole they were paired with.

Complete and utter malarkey.

It took until at least the 80% mark for War the character to start making the right efforts towards Miriam but by that point, I was forcing myself to finish this because 1). I wanted to see if Pestilence and Sara from Book 1 showed up and 2)..........

Yeah, nevermind, there is no other reason. Maybe I just hate having to mark books as DNFs. There is so much to hate about 2020 already without throwing a DNF into the mix. Let's end the year with a bit of my dignity intact, please and thank you.

Anyways, 80% or more is too far gone to convince me that a couple like this works out in the long run. Just going to mosey along to the next book in this series and hope for the best.

Rating on my Blog Scale: 1 STAR. I'm just so sad that I did not like this book one measly bit. When I started reading this book, I'd already made the decision to order the books in paperback and was patiently waiting for my copy of Pestilence to arrive in the mail. But by the time I hit maybe the 44% mark, maybe, who the hell cares about the specifics, I was very much thinking NAH, don't need this one in paperback just yet.

I mean, if book four really kicks ass, and I buy that one in paperback, most likely I'll get the whole series to sit on a shelf, but the point is that I bought it for the sake of being matchy-matchy and NOT because this book made me swoon.

Just thought I'd point that out.

Across the Void by S.K. Vaughn: A Review

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways*

Overall, an interesting read. I enjoyed May as a character and her journey in the book. I especially liked Eve, whose interactions with May were some of the best parts of the story.

Basically, the reason why my rating is not higher is because of pacing. The story has the main present storyline, with May trying to get back home, which is where the plot was at its strongest. The book moves back and forth in the present between May, out in space, and her estranged husband, Dr. Stephen Knox, back on Earth, as they try to solve how to get May back home. It is all very straightforward, and the suspense is in the fact of not only figuring out a rescue but also trying to discover what caused the demise of the entire crew of the ship. However, the tension felt in response to her plight was cut into by chapters focused on past memories inserted at odd intervals in the book. I understand its purpose but in the end, the jumping back to those points in time did not keep me engaged in the book.

Add in a bit of trying too hard to be funny dialogue that just fell flat, and some villains that could have been anyone thanks to not enough development, and I was left feeling the book was good but not great.

I am grateful for the chance to have read this book and hope to see more from this author in the future. 


Rating on my Blog Scale: 5.5 Stars

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton: A Review

The truth about Kate Morton books is that I get to the end of them and still wish there was more to the story.

I'm also finally making good on my word to follow through on reading all of Kate Morton's books. Honestly, I own each and every one of her books. I just haven't sat down and read them all yet.

This one hurt a little, though it did end on a very wistful final image and that is why I am giving it 5 stars instead of 4. (Side note for Blog Readers: Goodreads only rates on a 1 to 5 scale but I'm more nitpicky about Stars, so I rate 1 to 10 here). The Forgotten Garden left me feeling grumpy and griping about all the unfair things that had been revealed to the reader but not actually resolved in the book but The Distant Hours manages that better than its predecessor. It still has those secrets that readers have to hold onto for the book characters but it does not feel like a burden to know all the facets of this story, only leaving this reader with the wish that more could be had and seen about this world.

At least I still have 2 more Morton books to read before I have to find something to fill the void her writing leaves when I have to wait for a new work to be published. Guess my new goal will be to get a hardback copy of The Lake House so it matches my whole collection. And then wait patiently for a new Kate Morton book to finally arrive.

 Rating on my Blog Scale: More like 9 Stars if I want to be honest. So much of this is just bittersweet, you have to love the characters to be happy with the ending they got. I'm just not entirely happy with the ending they got because I have a mean bone in my body that makes me want to exact vengeance on book characters that deserve some kind of comeuppance. I take my reading very seriously, I tell you.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell: A Review

I'm leaving this unrated. After everything I've seen about issues with the story, the facts behind it and so on, I am just not comfortable rating this.

In the end, I think this book is just difficult to get through. I was considering putting this down as a DNF but I convinced myself to finish it. The shifting timelines, the shifting beliefs, the drawn out story all made me feel like it was too much to handle in one lump sum. I wanted someone to come forward and stop that monster, I wanted someone to believe Vanessa, I wanted more suffering for the villain of the book because yes, I think he was a villain. On the other hand, I thought the book was almost too much, too long, and then I felt bad for thinking that and kept reading.

Despite it all, I did like the way it ended. Maybe it felt a bit abrupt but I think for a story with this subject matter it needed to end in an open way that leaves questions. It can't be summed up and tied off with a bow. It had enough of a note of hope that I did not feel disappointed at the way it finished.

I will say that whatever Russell publishes next, I will most likely end up reading it.

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Something is haunting the Titanic on its doomed maiden voyage. Before anyone can figure out what is truly causing so many disturbing events on the ship, disaster strikes and the story we know of the Titanic takes over the page.

This story follows maid Annie Hebbley, a woman haunted by her survival, who is now on the Brittanic, working as a nurse on the ship that has been made over into a hospital ship during World War 1. Annie's memories of her past are vague but when she happens across a soldier she recognizes as a survivor of that horrible night, she realizes that there was more to the disaster than she realized. Annie needs to figure out what haunted that maiden voyage because now it is following the Brittanic, and it is ready to cause tragedy all over again.

Lack of Updates

So apparently the nice little added help of being able to post your review on Goodreads and have it appear over on your blog does not actually exist anymore?

I've tried going through all of my reviews and checking off the option to post my reviews here at the same time. So far, nothing has appeared here. And obviously I am NOT tech savvy enough to manage how to correct the issue.

Instead, I will have to go through all of my Goodreads reviews and just recreate each review here.

Seriously, it's sad how empty my blog looks, really, I was so happy to have that middle step cut out so I could just believe everything was still coming over here.

I know, it was naive of me, I get it. Moving on.