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Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5) – Brandon Sanderson

Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: October 17, 2017 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: November 17, 2017
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2)

Three years ago, Lift asked a goddess to stop her from growing older--a wish she believed was granted. Now, in Edgedancer, the barely teenage nascent Knight Radiant finds that time stands still for no one. Although the young Azish emperor granted her safe haven from an executioner she knows only as Darkness, court life is suffocating the free-spirited Lift, who can't help heading to Yeddaw when she hears the relentless Darkness is there hunting people like her with budding powers. The downtrodden in Yeddaw have no champion, and Lift knows she must seize this awesome responsibility.

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Sooooo I didn’t like Lift’s interludes in WORDS OF RADIANCE so I was worried about reading this novella. LIft’s voice is young — a little too young for me, especially with the way that Kate Reading narrates it (I listened to the audiobook for all of the Stormlight Archive novels) — and I have a hard time with characters who are meant to intentionally sound young/uneducated/use a lot of slang so I knew it wasn’t going to be a… pleasant listen, but if there’s a practically full-length novella for a Brandon Sanderson series, obviously it’s important.

… Except EDGEDANCER really wasn’t as important as I had hoped. I am glad to have this piece of world-building and character development but to have a whole story aside didn’t really seem to add that much to the current world that couldn’t have been included in OATHBRINGER. I heard in the notes of one of the books (it’s been a couple months by now so I’m not entirely sure which one it was) that Brandon Sanderson felt that Lift was very important and wanted to include her actual sort of “origin story” with how she discovered and came into her abilities. Personally, I didn’t think this piece was crucial to the main storyline but since she does become a bigger character in OATHBRINGER, I do understand the feel for it. Even though I read this before OATHBRINGER, it’s been a couple months since I’ve read them both and Lift’s narration isn’t as bad with Michael Kramer’s narration. He always does a much better job with younger voices, having them sound more jaunty and upbeat versus Kate’s narration which is usually just irritating.

I also found Lift’s interactions with her Spren irritating as well (or maybe it was Kate Reading’s voice. Or both.) due to her actions and Wyndel’s overreactions to them. They just weren’t jiving for me. I did like seeing a new Radiant/Spren relationship though and it was an important piece of the magic system.

This extra character arc just didn’t seem as important as I had hoped and the character herself is a little irritating. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad in OATHBRINGER and I wouldn’t say I regret reading it or would have skipped it but I’m also not super invested in it either.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Radiant/Spren relationships. I meannnnnn I didn’t really love anything in this novella but it was nice seeing more of that Radiant/Spren bond.
Left Me Wanting More: Adults? The whole voicing was young and in an unpleasant way. I think Brandon Sanderson’s adult works are definitely better written although I have enjoyed some of his middle grade novels as well. This just didn’t jive for me.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

I didn’t feel it was SUPER important but usually if Brandon Sanderson includes a novella, there’s a reason for it. Maybe others benefit more from it? I was more distant because I didn’t love it.

Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) – Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) – Tricia LevensellerTitle: Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) by Tricia Levenseller
Publishing Info: February 28, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Audible, Owlcrate
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: http://December%2020,%202017

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

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I was told how much I’d love DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING since it’s full of banter (which it was – woo!) and I definitely did enjoy that aspect of the book, but I just didn’t seem to connect with it like I had hoped. My biggest hang-up was that I felt like there was very little plot. I absolutely love character-driven books and I don’t need a book to be full of action and while the characters were fun, they weren’t enough to carry my momentum through the whole book.

Alosa is fierce, clever, and skilled and she uses everything she’s learned at every opportunity. I really enjoyed watching her in action because piracy is cons on the open seas so naturally, I love it. Riden is a little broody and dishes the sass right back to Alosa, but I felt like his character was less consistent. Sometimes he was super broody, other times he was super sassy, and then other times, he was just a jumble of things in between. Humans are quite the kaleidoscope of emotions but it just really didn’t feel cohesive when it came to Riden’s character and he felt like a few different pieces instead of one round, whole person.

It’s true, the two do have great banter but it felt very choppy. They’d be dishing it out to each other and then pull back, and there was something that just didn’t quite feel natural about it. I think it felt like this book lack transitions in many ways, mostly in character consistency and in dialogue. It was a little jumpy and didn’t really flow.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading too many epic adult fantasy novels that are over 1000 pages long, but this book felt like it was the first part of a book, not the first part of a series. The plot didn’t really progress much. We do find out more about Alosa that brings another element to the book and sets up the next but that element didn’t grab me like it should have. Even the romance didn’t really feel like it had the substance there. The banter added to the meat of it but aside from that, I didn’t really feel like Alosa and Riden really clicked. The banter added to the chemistry but something else needed to seal the deal and I wasn’t feeling it.

This book was cute and fun, but it almost felt too cute and that there just wasn’t enough on the pages to really suck me in. The characters were enjoyable and I LOVED the atmosphere but I’m not sure if that’s enough for me to really want to keep reading, BUT it’s only a duet so I might as well see how it ends! It was enjoyable enough to invest my time in reading another book but if it was more than that, I’m not sure I would have continued.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Pirates! I feel like we just need more books about pirates.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. The book was fun but I expected a whole lot more from it, to be honest.

Addiction Rating
Try it

The book was fun but it didn’t wow me like I thought it was going to. Everything just seemed to fall a liiiittle bit short.

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BOOKS LIKE DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING

          

Passenger (Passenger #1) – Alexandra Bracken

Passenger (Passenger #1) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 5, 2018
Related Posts: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

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I obsess over time travel books so I was really excited to read PASSENGER! I had only read THE DARKEST MINDS before this (not the whole series yet — just the first book) and really loved it and connected with Alexandra Bracken’s writing. I have yet to go back and finish The Darkest Minds trilogy but I was really in the mood for time travel and had this audio from a sale so I wanted to give a whirl!

My first impressions upon finishing (and throughout the book) were that of… disappointment is a harsh word, but I did feel disappointed that I personally didn’t enjoy it like I had hoped. The concept was great but it just didn’t move despite traveling to so many times and places. The characters themselves moved but it didn’t seem like the plot really pushed forward as much as it could have despite having plenty of opportunity to do so. I did like that it wasn’t just different times but also different places. It was fun to travel the world and through time! I could really picture each place and time pretty vividly.

The characters were what really did it for me, though. They just fell super flat for me and I had trouble connecting with any of them and didn’t feel that spark in the romance either. Etta was feisty and strong, but it seemed to be on a surface level and I just didn’t really feel like she was this well-rounded character who felt it. I think of characters like Puck from THE SCORPIO RACES and it just is her entire being and personality to be this feisty, strong, independent character. She feels like a real person and I just never got that from Etta. The romance seemed abrupt, the character personality developments seemed abrupt, and I just didn’t think those character developments really flowed throughout the book. Throw in an evil villain and I just started getting lost. I would have loved a bit more of a grey area, whether by controlling leader or by simply the concept of breaking the time travel rules, and I would have been more interested. It gets a little boring with purely evil characters.

The ending actually got a lot better and things got interesting but I started to feel bored towards the middle. It just kind of felt like so many other plots and characters that I’ve read before and I thought this was going to be something that would really surprise me and sweep me away. Since it’s only a two book series, I’ll likely finish it but I’m just really bummed that I didn’t fall totally in love like I had expected.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique time travel. I really did like the time travel concept in this book! It wasn’t just travelling through time but also to different places around the world. It was fun to visit so many new and exotic locations and it kind of reminded me of Claudia Grey’s Firebird trilogy, really expanding out of that box that we see so many other books take.
Left Me Wanting More: Character development. I just really didn’t feel it! I didn’t really connect to Etta or Nicholas at all and I was just really hoping for more there.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I seem to be in the minority on this one because I’ve see so many rave reviews! I’m not sure why I didn’t connect the way so many others have but it’s worth a try because you may love it like everyone else!

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BOOKS LIKE PASSENGER

          

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) – Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: March 4, 2014 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 31, 2017
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5)

Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

The Assassin, Szeth, is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin's master has much deeper motives.

Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

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Whew, 48+ hours of audiobook! That was intense! 

The Stormlight Archive are the longest books I’ve ever read, followed shortly in number by A Song of Ice and Fire. What I love about these enormous books and series is that there’s just so much going on and authors like George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson have a way of spacing all of the characters out enough so that each one has their own individual story but then when they unite or cross paths with other characters, you find out exactly how their stories were meant to line up all along and we just weren’t seeing the bigger picture yet!

WORDS OF RADIANCE starts crossing all of those paths set up in THE WAY OF KINGS so it was great to see how these stories are coming together and where the big picture is going! I enjoyed WORDS OF RADIANCE more than THE WAY OF KINGS because I was better able to see this big picture. I’m so used to shorter series, both in number of pages and in number of books. Since The Stormlight Archive is currently planned to be ten books, there’s so much to explore throughout the whole series that a lot of secrets need to be kept in the first few books before reveals start happening, so at times, this series does seem a bit slower than other series I’ve read. It’s not really a bad thing, because I love really getting into this world and having this fantasy world feel so incredibly real with all of its detail, but it just doesn’t have me falling in love with this series as much YET since I’m still learning so much about it. 

I really liked the character development within this booke. Shalan grew a bit in THE WAY OF KINGS but she really starts to develop as a character in WORDS OF RADIANCE. Her role in the series is much more obvious in this book and she gets tied to many more characters and having already ready OATHBRINGER now as well, it’s great to see how much she grows and becomes more involved in each book, looking back on where she first appeared in THE WAY OF KINGS.
I still love Dalinar and Kaladin and I’m enjoying their characters even more as the series progresses and the supporting characters, like those of Bridge Four, are outstanding additions to the book to bring some levity, camaraderie, and so much more.

I liked getting more hints about the world but I’m still thirsty for so much more world-building! I have SO many questions that I know will get answered but again, I’m used to shorter series where I get more reveals much quicker so it’s hard to tell myself that they will be coming! Brandon Sanderson’s world-building is so incredibly interesting and now that I’ve learned so much about the Cosmere in general, it’s easier to see how each book of his set in this universe are starting to tie together. Things that I’ve read in other books are really starting to connect in The Stormlight Archive and this series has the most information about this universe, in my opinion.

I also like how there are interludes in these books, allowing other important POVs to come in. Some I liked, some I didn’t. I hated Lift’s POV interlude and was upset that she was going to become a main part of the series, being the main character in the EDGEDANCER novella, but I’ll get more into that with OATHBRINGER since that’s where she starts becoming more important. I really like the interludes that offer small pieces of important things later on, or ones that fill in some missing pieces of what we’ve already learned.

So far this isn’t my favorite Brandon Sanderson series but it certainly has potential! The more I read, the more I get into this story and fall in love with the characters, and clearly we’re going to be spending a lot of time together! I don’t know if it was a good or bad idea to read the first three books in one year since I’m going to be waiting very, very long for the rest of the series but I’m also glad I was able to do that so I could really get a solid feel for this world and have the characters stick in my mind so well!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Super long series. I haven’t ever read a series this long that wasn’t something light and easy, like a cozy mystery series. It’s so interesting to see the plot develop for a series that’s so big!
Left Me Wanting More: Reveals. I’m just greeeeedy. I love Brandon Sanderson’s twists and I want themmm!

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s a commitment… that’s an understatement! But I will always recommend Brandon Sanderson’s books!

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BOOKS LIKE WORDS OF RADIANCE

          

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria Schwab

I’ve been very hit-or-miss with Victoria/V.E. Schwab but my friends loved this series so I wanted to give it a shot! It made it easy to read with my library having copies of the first audiobook and I ended up purchasing the second to finish it out.

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria SchwabTitle: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: July 5, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 17, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1), A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2), A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I wrote a pretty quick collection of thoughts on Goodreads and since it’s been quite a few months since I actually read the book, it’s interesting to read these thoughts and look back on my experience reading the book… which is that I don’t remember as much as I had hoped. THIS SAVAGE SONG was a solid read, but it didn’t really stay with me. The book kind of had a feel like THE 5TH WAVE except more of a paranormal/urban fantasy concept with monsters instead of aliens. (I mean, it’s not a direct comparison because a lot is different but that kind of post-apocalyptic feel is there.)

I was entertained the whole way though and I enjoyed the characters of August and Kate. I really liked Kate’s toughness and I appreciated August’s situation but I was always left feeling like I wanted a little more background. It’s only a two-book series so I was hoping there would be more world-building and set-up included in THIS SAVAGE SONG and there wasn’t, so I was left waiting for that in book two.

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria SchwabTitle: Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 19, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1), A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2), A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn't afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she's good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims' inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

OUR DARK DUET was a less enjoyable read for me. I kept hearing about all of the FEELS here but since I didn’t really have them for the first book, I really didn’t keep anything moving to the second book. I felt like the author was relying on feelings to carry the book through and still, I was really lacking that development of the world and the background of the story. I wanted so many more details on how the monsters are formed, WHY they started forming in the first place. I mean, this isn’t a fantasy world — it’s our world and monsters have changed the way we live in it… so where did they come from? Why did they start forming? The concept is there of the reason that they do but what changed that this process creates monsters? There’s a difference between an urban fantasy world in which these creatures have always existed and or own world in which a change has been made that created an urban fantasy setting. It’s SUCH an important part of my reading experience and without it, I just didn’t believe the story.

SERIES THOUGHTS

I find myself disappointed again with the lack of development from Victoria Schwab. Just a bit more thought on the background of things could make any one of her books so much richer. There was plenty of space for it and ample opportunities but she doesn’t seem to go that extra step to really make her worlds that much deeper.

I did enjoy THIS SAVAGE SONG but I lost something with my read of OUR DARK DUET. I just have a really hard time when I like the conclusion of a series less than its beginning because it ends on a lower note and I have a hard time wanting to recommend the series.

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Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

SO many people seem to love this series but it wasn’t a hit for me. I had some issues with the structure that really bothered me and it affected my whole read. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend these books but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to tell anyone not to read them. It was just very middle-of-the-road for me.

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BOOKS LIKE MONSTERS OF VERITY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia Grey

I had been eyeing The Firebird Trilogy ever since I saw the cover for A THOUSAND PIECES ABOVE YOU and fell instantly in love! NO WAIT. I’ve actually been eyeing the trilogy ever since Claudia Grey gave a sneak peek of it at a signing for SPELLCASTER. (Seriously. I made a note of it.) Anyway, I finally got around to reading the books and decided to binge all three for a cohesive series read!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: A Thousand Pieces of You (The Firebird Trilogy #1) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 4, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible, Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Alternate Reality, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 26, 2017

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father's killer through multiple dimensions.

Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul's guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

This book had been on my TBR and on my shelves for a very long time (I mean, hello, one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen) and the concept was something that instantly drew me in. I finally grabbed the audio for this, wanting to read something more sci-fi and what better to pick up than an multi-dimension story?

The book started off abruptly for me. It kind of starts right in the action and things immediately start happening. I really wished Claudia Gray had taken the time to set up a little backstory before throwing readers into things because it permanently messed up my feelings towards some of the characters, without giving away any spoilers, and once that happens, it’s really hard for me to go back and “correct” that. The first impressions stuck with me and I didn’t even have time to learn a little backstory, but more importantly, see some character history and personality, before the action took off.

The concept was exactly what I was looking for! Hopping from dimension to dimension and travelling between worlds. I have to say, I was super impressed with the different universes that Claudia Gray created for these characters! Most books, when dealing with alternate universes, focus a lot on things that are very close to the life that we’re living now but a few major or minor things have been changed to have a significant impact on a character. Here, Gray set up worlds where the main characters have a whole lot more to figure out. From a world where technology has progressed much faster to a world where technology has progressed MUCH slower so that the world is essentially still in the dark ages. A world where Marguerite ends up in a place almost exactly like her home to a world where she lives in a different country and has an entirely different upbringing. It’s easy to create a setting for a book a tamper with it slightly to come up with an alternate universe. Claudia Gray really gets into the different possibilities and how anything minor can create a huge major difference!

I also really love the family aspect and how tightly knit this family is. There’s a great dynamic, the parents are loving and supportive (although I guess it depends in what universe, right?), and the graduate students that work with Marguerite’s parents have become a part of the family too.

What I didn’t love was the romance. It was set up a little awkwardly and there were some… things that happened that really turned me around right from the start. I won’t get into details because that heads into spoiler-ville but the set-up and execution of the romance felt really clunky to me and even heading straight on to the second book (which I’m reading now), I still can’t shake that feel because of how it was set up in book one. Again, with no backstory for these characters when the book started, I had no sense of who was supposed to be what to Marguerite, the history she had with them, her feelings for them, and why she should trust anyone. I just really needed that chapter or so in the beginning to introduce all of the characters. The book felt like it was the second book in the series, not the first, with the way that it started and threw the story and characters at me right away and that made things a little difficult. The book does offer flashbacks so readers are still able to see things from “before” but that didn’t really make up for what I was wanting in the very beginning.

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU didn’t exactly go how I had hoped but it was still an enjoyable read and I’m so impressed with the different worlds that Claudia Gray has built! I’m already in the second book because I’m interested in bingeing the whole series and I’m loving her creativity so far.

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: Ten Thousand Skies Above You (The Firebird Trilogy #2) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2017

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

I think I enjoyed this book better than the first! I liked having everything established and it was neat to see these concepts expanded even more. One thing I love about good fantasy/sci-fi writers is when they make the readers think they’ve gotten all of the reveals and then something totally new is revealed and it’s like a whole new world opening up!

I’m still not the biggest fan of the romance, but I don’t think I will be at this point. It’s kind of just there for me and I don’t love that it’s the main reason why Marguerite is doing what she’s doing, but I guess I also like that her guy isn’t someone she just met and that it’s someone who’s been in her life for a long time. There’s just something about it that still feels like instalove for some reason, and I think it’s the way it was all set up in the first book. I don’t have a problem with instalove when it’s executed well but I’ve just never been a fan of this relationship.

The further development of the multiverse is fascinating! We get to know the same characters but in different dimensions and how their lives are different, as well as how one dimension may be affecting another. Things dig way deeper in this book and the plot was even more fascinating!

I’m still not tooootally in love like I had hoped to be but these books are proving to be very enjoyable and I’m glad I’m reading them back-to-back-to-back so I’m able to soak everything in and not have a year in between each book!

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: A Million Worlds With You (The Firebird Trilogy #3) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 1, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2017

A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.

I think this may have been the best book of the series for me! I really liked how everything came together and it was nice to follow the story having gotten to know these characters and really get into their histories. I really enjoyed the conclusion and that it included even deeper layers of these worlds and how they entwined with each other.

One thing I always have a hard time with in sci-fi books is how much science the reader should really be exposed to. We knew the Firebirds worked and that there was a lot of physics and science behind them, but I always found myself wanting to know just a bit more about the science behind it. I understand we don’t want to bog readers down with complicated explanations but I always feel that it adds to the world-building (at least personally, for me) and adds that sense of reality instead of just saying “we created these with science and the science works”. Obviously there’s no real technology like that (at least not that the public knows *cue conspiracy theory music*) but I was left wanting just a biiiiit more of an explanation of why the science made it work the way it did. There were descriptions of how the Firebirds worked but I wanted to know how the science made those functions possible. Maybe I’m going one step too far, haha.

Anyway, I found this book really enjoyable! The whole series was a very solid four-star read for me but I never quite fell head over heels for it, and I think that was because of the characters. They were all very good characters with depth (as noted in their different personalities in different dimensions), but I just never LOVED them. I did love all of the different universes and I’m still impressed with how much time and thought went into each one of them.

Listening via audio, I did find one discontinuity which wasn’t a big deal but it really bothered me for the brief moment that it existed and I needed to get it off my chest! If you want to check it out, head over to my Goodreads review and peek between the spoiler tags!

So TL;DR, this series was very fun in terms of concept and set-up! I didn’t totally love the characters — mostly the romance. I don’t know why but I never fully got on board! I think I liked Theo better, to be honest… I love the rakish rogues, what can I say? — but it was a super solid series and I loved the creativity and detail!

SERIES THOUGHTS

The Firebird Trilogy was really enjoyable! I thought it was a very solid series, all quite good with some great characters, excellent settings, and creative plotting. I really loved that the different universes Marguerite travels to aren’t just slight changes but large changes. It was different from the other alt-reality books I’ve read and it was quite fun to experience such alternate realities!

I was on the wrong side of the love triangle the whole time, so that was hard for me, but I did enjoy the characters to a certain extent. When you’re on the wrong side of a love triangle, it’s REALLY hard to fall into the “do anything for love” concept so that became slightly unrealistic for me but I tried to go with it.

I did want a little more detail with the science to better explain some things but I really enjoyed all of the dynamics between all of the characters and how the different worlds shaped them. I never quite fell in love with these books but they were all very, very good reads and I like the way everything wrapped up! It’s always nice to be able to recommend a series from start to finish.

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

These books were so interesting and Claudia Grey did a wonderful job with the different worlds. I’m really glad I finally read this series!!

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BOOKS LIKE THE FIREBIRD TRILOGY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Last Seen Leaving – Caleb Roehrig

Last Seen Leaving – Caleb RoehrigTitle: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Publishing Info: October 4, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, BEA 2016, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 14, 2017

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

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This was another solid young adult mystery/thriller for me! As with most YA mysteries, I did have a little bit of disbelief that the police didn’t get as involved as they should have but that’s been one of my hang-ups in YA mysteries. The police are often shutting kids down (which, fair, they don’t need to nor can they divulge information about cases to teenagers, no matter how involved they might have been) but too often things are left at a shut-down and then there’s no showing that the police were even investigating at all. Anyway, like usual, we’ll suspend that disbelief for the sake of it being a YA mystery.

Let’s also suspend the disbelief of Flynn’s language because like many John Green books, I don’t know anyone who speaks like that, teenager or adult. I’m not saying you have to be a word nerd in order to use “big words” but some of those words aren’t even in my vocabulary much less in a teen’s, so it was noticeable to me.
January also kind of reminded me of Alaska in LOOKING FOR ALASKA in the sense that I think I was supposed to like her but … I really didn’t. Was I supposed to like January? I can’t tell. She was kind of all over the place and obviously Flynn cares for her but there was also a lot of “January is so special” and some clear manipulation here that I ended up being suspicious of her instead of hoping this was all a big misunderstanding. I think it was also the narration and the was her tone was portrayed because it was a very haughty voice and I wasn’t a fan of her character because of it.

LAST SEEN LEAVING has been compared to GONE GIRL, which is always a huge comparison in my opinion because those are some big shoes to fill, but I also definitely see where that’s coming from. I hate when comparisons are made because then it MAKES me draw conclusions similar to the plot of the book it was compared to which can be spoilers, so boo on that affecting my reading experience, but that’s also part of what drew me in so beggars can’t be choosers! Anyway — I totally see the GONE GIRL comparison except that feel left me thinking it was going to be more sinister than it was. Don’t get me wrong, some very Not Okay things happen in this book and it gets troubling and complicated, but that thought misled me juuuust a bit.

Okay, enough with the complaining. I actually did enjoy this book so let’s talk about the nice things! I really liked Flynn’s character. It wasn’t to the point of gushing but I felt like he was pretty realistic, heroics aside, and I appreciated how he handled all of life’s complications, including a life-changing admission of his own. I really liked how he handled everything, from personal relationships to self-revelations to friendships to murder investigations — it may not have always been in the BEST way, but he always seemed realistic and I thought he did a pretty good job of staying true to himself. The secondary characters outside of Flynn didn’t have as much depth as I would have liked but I also felt them to be pretty realistic as well. I loved his parents and how involved they were in the book. It wasn’t a TON of page time but they were always there to support him no matter what was going on and it’s just always so nice to see that. I wished we had gotten to know Flynn’s friends a bit more and I know some people were upset with how Micah ended up treating him but again, I also don’t think it’s unrealistic. It may have not been the best way to support your friend but what teenager handles everything perfectly?

The mystery was definitely interesting and I was left guessing until the very end! I’m glad I was still surprised at how everything went down but there were a few twists and for some reason the way that they were all laid out, I was still expecting one more (as if that wasn’t all enough for me lol). I was aaaalmost satisfied with the ending but there was just something there that I was missing. Maybe I’ve been reading too many adult thrillers where EVERYONE is so messed up that I’m expecting characters to be even worse than they are. I was very surprised and it was something I never would have guessed, at least how the reveal happened, so that was really cool.

This book has a lot happening and a lot going for it and I was definitely interested from start to finish! There were many complex friendships and relationships, an interesting mystery, and a diverse cast of characters. I think it was a very solid read, even though I had a few hang-ups as mentioned above, but I know they’re more minor things that didn’t really take away from my overall feeling about the book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA mysteries. I enjoyed the way this book was put together! Mysteries can be tricky in YA, especially murder mysteries, but I thought this was done well!
Left Me Wanting More: Shock factor? Being compared to GONE GIRL kind of set me up for a huge shock. The ending was something I wasn’t anticipating but I wasn’t bowled over.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a nice, solid read that I enjoyed and would recommend!

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BOOKS LIKE LAST SEEN LEAVING

          

An Enchantment of Ravens – Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens – Margaret RogersonTitle: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Publishing Info: September 26, 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 26, 2017

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

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Sooooo, the hype ran away with this book a little bit there, didn’t it?
Well, let’s chat. There was a huge hype around this book, especially when you say words like ENCHANTMENT and RAVENS, but sadly I appear to be the black sheep again on another hyped book. From some of the raving reviews, I was expecting so much more when it came to the creation of this world, the depth of the romance, and the pacing of the plot. I was missing a whole lot of world-building, history, and character development. There was soooo much more that could have been done with this book and I felt those gaping holes very noticeably.

One of the biggest letdowns for me about this book is that it just felt so… simple. Everything could have gone so much DEEPER and it all seemed a bit surface-level when it could have been so much more complex and interesting. Isobel is swept away to the lands of the fair folk by the Autumn Prince but it was for a very surface reason and I thought that could have been thought out a lot better. Then there’s some journeying (one of my least favorite things), fleeing from the Wild Hunt, random creatures, and then Isobel is painting portraits of the Fair Folk and… some stuff happens?? It’s not like the plot was lacking in THINGS but it was lacking in following through on any of them. I kept feeling like the things that kept happening were going to go somewhere but nothing really developed into an actual interesting tidbit of world-building or plot.

The Wild Hunt was introduced and Hemlock from the Winter Court who was leading it… but then that kind of didn’t really go anywhere as far as details on what it was, why it was happening, how Hemlock got to be leading it, etc. I won’t get into Isobel and her Fair Folk painting sessions because there are some spoilers there, but same thing — there was so much more story to tell there and unravel some magic and WHY it was happening or WHY it was important but it just kind of… was. I understand with magic systems sometimes you just have to suspend the scientific part of your brain where you need explanations why, but I had a hard time and felt like I was left with the author’s promise that this was just the way it was instead of understanding how a world came to be, its governing systems, its hierarchy, its history, how it functions within a magical realm… It just wasn’t there for me.

Some things were explained but really in passing sentences and there was no rich story behind any of it. Being that this book was only 300 pages, I thought that it could have benefited soooo much more from being 350-400 pages and included more of the world-building that I love so much in fantasy novels. Even the title was lacking for me, being that it’s called AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS and then the actual enchantment itself played such a small part in the story. Rook transformed into a raven but that wasn’t the actual enchantment and the enchantment itself was hardly used, and even when it was referenced again, it didn’t even really come into play.

AEOR was also VERY much like A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES when it didn’t have to be and could have been changed in a lot of ways. I understand that this book could have been written 5 years ago and just got published now… but even if that were the case, things still should have been changed maybe a liiiiittle bit to not be so similar to one of the most popular series out there. Maybe that was the marketing strategy — to actually be a little similar? — because I know that some people liked it BECAUSE of that, but some of the main points were just too similar for my tastes and I really wanted this book to stand on its own. Granted, I don’t know a lot about fae folklore/history/culture/origin stories because I haven’t read as many fae books as other high fantasy so it could be that some of these things were taken from common folklore that I just don’t know… but for the average reader who may not know these things (which I guess is me), things just seemed awfully similar and it was irksome. Between the seasonal courts, purple eyes, a main character who paints, a forbidden romance, the involvement of the Spring Court and where that goes, and a spoiler at the end that I won’t share, I just spotted too many similarities to the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and you know how it goes — once you spot a few, you can’t stop seeing them everywhere.

The romance was also very… basic. We knew Isobel and Rook were going to be the romance in this book but I wasn’t sold on their love. It wasn’t exactly instalove since they had spent weeks together (admittedly not really speaking the whole time…) and but it FELT like instalove. I don’t even have a beef with instalove because I believe you can know a person is who you’re meant to be with when you meet them (especially since my husband and I felt that way when we met) but it just felt tropey and I didn’t feel like these characters had a chemistry. They DID have some good banter and then it disappeared, and I was left wanting so much more. The interactions started out somewhat strong, creating that chemistry between them, and then it was “Woe is me, I’m in love with you!” and “Oops, I’m in love with you too!” and I didn’t understand where that love came from. I wasn’t feeling it and it’s a lot to go from not knowing anyone at all and then willing to sacrifice your life for someone many times over. Just because you say two characters are in love doesn’t mean we’re all going to believe it. I didn’t feel that love emanating from the pages or written in the little nuances (something that Rainbow Rowell does AMAZINGLY well — that has nothing to do with fantasy but she is the queen at writing the things that can’t be put into words). I just felt like I was TOLD a lot of things instead of seeing them.

The ending also happened too quickly and easily and I was not a fan. It seemed to happen so simply and was so anticlimactic. After this lead up to a super-villain, I wasn’t feeling the villainy and POOF everything was okay. The ending felt rushed and easy and I didn’t think it wrapped up well. The book closes with finality but also leaves an opening for a series. I’m guessing it was written in case the reactions were good for more books to be added on, or just for readers to be left thinking about the world to come. This book just left me with so many QUESTIONS.

The TL;DR version is that this book could have been so much MORE and it just wasn’t for me. Especially with the hype and so many five-star reviews, I was expecting a loooot more that just wasn’t there so I’m perfectly okay with being the black sheep on not enjoying this one like everyone else. I’m just not seeing what other readers did.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fae, I guess. I used to not like faerie stories at all. Then I loved some. And then I hated some again. I like trying new things and continuing to seek out new and exciting books.
Left Me Wanting More: Everything. I just felt like this could have been so much MORE. I probably wouldn’t have been as disappointed as I am if it hadn’t been so hyped up.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I wouldn’t personally recommend it based on my experience and yet still… people loved it! I guess go check out your regular trusted reviewers on this one!

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Looking for Alaska – John Green

Looking for Alaska – John GreenTitle: Looking for Alaska by John Green
Publishing Info: March 3, 2005 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 2, 2017
Related Posts: The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.

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LOOKING FOR ALASKA is one of the better John Green books I’ve read (the first being WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON) but I just still don’t love John Green’s writing. Actually, mostly I don’t like his characters and their interactions with each other. Each John Green book that I read is quite different and there are things I enjoy and things that I don’t in each one, but ultimately, I’ve just never fallen in love with any of his characters or novels, but I still keep trying!

Don’t hate me buuuut…. Alaska bothered me. Heck, she even bothered her friends. It was another character who was idealized despite her flaws, which I guess happens all the time in books, but there’s just something about the way it all happens in John Green’s writing that I don’t like. I went into this with an open mind and still had a hard time with his characters. I’m also sure that there’s kind of something about Alaska that you’re not supposed to like but there’s still the matter that Miles idealizes her for seemingly no reason and I just don’t like the way these characters come off as I’m reading. It’s just the writing, I think.

That being said, I did still enjoy it! It wasn’t amazing and didn’t make me feel all the feels but it was an interesting story and I actually enjoyed every other character except for Alaska (which kind of felt like I was missing whole point of the book). It was a quick read and full of interesting points but I also still had issues with parts of the book and how everything came together. I also feel like I might have enjoyed reading this more as an actual teen (I would have been 18 if I had read this the year that it was released) like a lot of my friends did but I guess that’s something that I can never know!

The “After” didn’t kick me in the feels like I knew it was supposed to (I figured it would be something like that but still didn’t know what was coming) and it felt a little anti-climactic. I’m glad that it read it but it wasn’t a stand-out read for me and while I didn’t find anything “wrong” with it, it just wasn’t a book that I really connected to. I’m glad my curiosity was satiated and that I still know my feelings about John Green’s books despite continuing to try them. It’s like… I’m happy that I keep picking them up but they’re still not impressive to me.

Overall, this story did have more characters that I could relate to than most and felt like one of the least pretentious books so that was a good experience! Still the black sheep on so many things, as always, but I’m okay with that. Sometimes being the black sheep on very popular authors lets me know that I’m still reading for me and understanding what I personally enjoy and not just liking a book because everyone else does, so it’s always an interesting experience!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Attempting John Green. I keep promising to give up his books and yet I also keep trying to read them and hoping to enjoy one a little bit more. I actually have zero interest in read TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN so that’s not on my TBR but this book wasn’t either. I guess we’ll see!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. I just often don’t feel like the characters in these books are realistic. This was a bit better than most, to be honest, but I was still lacking some of that in Alaska. I guess that’s also not fair for me to say because I’m sure there are many Alaskas in the world but they’re also not people I relate to so I just didn’t enjoy it.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Gosh, there are just soooo many John Green fans out there and I still can’t bring myself to be one of them. You’ll get nothing but an honest review from me but I pretty much know where I stand here.

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BOOKS LIKE LOOKING FOR ALASKA

          

Hidden Bodies (You #2) – Caroline Kepnes

Hidden Bodies (You #2) – Caroline KepnesTitle: Hidden Bodies (You #2) by Caroline Kepnes
Publishing Info: February 23, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 3, 2017
Related Posts: You (You #1)

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice...

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I picked up HIDDEN BODIES because I was wholly engrossed with YOU by Caroline Kepnes when I had picked it up earlier in the year. (Last year? I don’t even remember when it was.) It was disturbing and yet interesting all at the same time and HIDDEN BODIES was no different in that respect! I came to actually like Joe, despite his murderous and obsessive ways, and had fun following his crazy story in HIDDEN BODIES as well.

This book, however, wasn’t quite as enjoyable as YOU. YOU felt much more fast-paced (although I do remember feeling like it lagged for a while too) but HIDDEN BODIES felt a little too long. The plot is quite different, starting out a little similar but seemingly veering off-path. I guess there’s no “right” way to write about a serial killer but Joe ended up finding some “normal” and while there were still some very messed up moments and the body count grew, it just didn’t feel as… dark… as YOU.

I love these audiobooks with Santino Fontana narrating (who I did not realize is the voice of Hans in Frozen — thanks to my sister for that tidbit! Although I still heard Joe with his great narration) and I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed this nearly as much without the audio aspect so I’m definitely glad I ended up doing audio for both books! It did feel a bit slow in plot sometimes but the narration kept it moving and I loved the edge in the narrator’s voice.

The ending was… interesting? I didn’t realize that this series was going to keep going — at least I think it is from the way it ended. I kind of liked where it went and yet it also kind of felt untrue to the character we met in book one. I guess there’s always room for growth, and I guess it’s also true that Dexter took this kind of turn towards domestic life and I didn’t mind it. (Okay, I did a little bit.)

I wasn’t big on the Hollywood scene and I much preferred the setting in New York but the book was still very interesting and I did enjoy following Joe on some more horrific adventures. (Is enjoy the right word for reading a book about a killer? Eek.) I’ll definitely still continue on if we get more Joe adventures but I did feel like this book wasn’t as cohesive as the last.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Relatable serial killers?  Okay, is that even a thing? What I’m really saying here is that I appreciate being able to get sort of sucked into Joe’s world. Somehow he becomes an antihero that you want to root for.
Left Me Wanting More: Darkness. Joe was crazy yet easy to relate to in YOU and I missed some of that darker sidein HIDDEN BODIES. I think this book went a little off-course, though I guess that’s just where the story went!

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you enjoyed YOU, HIDDEN BODIES is worth the read! I much preferred the first book but there’s something so compelling about Joe despite the fact that he’s banana sandwich.

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