‘Spoiler Alert’ Book Review

Marcus is an actor who has his big show coming to an end. An unsatisfactory ending, that is. April is a fangirl but has never shared her interests with anyone in her life. That is until there is a tweet from Marcus’s show that asks fans to send in their best cosplay pictures. April sends in her picture and it definitely gets a lot of attention, and not all positive. Marcus takes note of this and invites her out to dinner from the kindness of his heart. Little do both know that they both already know each other through their secret online identities and that there might actually be real feelings.

I did not hate the characters but I also did not connect with them. First we are introduced to Marcus and he started out like a jerk but somehow when he is with April he is a completely different person, yeah, I don’t know. April started out good, we got some backstory on her and building on her personality but as the novel went on she was a stagnant. At times, she did annoy me but I could only find it relatable, of being insecure about yourself and also trying to date. It isn’t easy and I am glad to have read about a character going through something similar.

In romance books, atmosphere plays little part so there is not a whole lot to say for the atmosphere category in the CAWPILE system. It is set in Northern California, scenes in the Bay Area and Sacramento.

The writing was lengthy, this was something that I was shocked by. Usually, romance reads fast even if I am not a fan of one or two elements that the story has. Here, I was constantly having to check how many more pages that the chapter entailed. This could have been diced down a lot and not include, or just dice down, the bits of scripts and fan fictions between chapters.

Where this book will be a hit or miss for people will be the plot. I mean, is the star of a show like Game of Thrones really writing fan fiction about his own character and cast mates? I mean, it is kind of creepy to be writing dirty stuff about your coworkers, if you ask me. Still, this book is every fangirl’s dream. The other fan account you are talking to ends up being the guy your are a fan of? I think all fangirls have dreamed that at one point or another. All the talk of servers, fanfiction sites, and just the dynamics of a fandom, is spot on. Especially if you are apart of the Game of Thrones or ASOIAF fandom, I think that you will have at least a little fun with this one!

I did not hate the characters but I also did not connect with them. April was a relatable character and it was nice to read to someone who has the same fears of dating and relationships that I do. In romance books, atmosphere plays little part so there is not a whole lot to say for the atmosphere category in the CAWPILE system. The writing was lengthy, this was something that I was shocked by. It could have been diced down a lot and you would still get the same story. Where this book will be a hit or miss for people will be the plot. An average, three star, read.

‘Medici ~ Supremacy’ Book Review

In the mid to late 1400s, the new leader of the Medici family is having to come to terms with ruling and giving up the woman he loves to marry a woman from a high-ranking Roman family. Lorenzo is torn between love and power and making the right choices for the city of Florence. There are enemies from his family’s past and then those who have come out the shadows, trying to come for the young Medici’s neck.

Strukul’s writing of characters improved tremendously in this installment in the Medici trilogy. In the first book, I was connecting more so with the side characters than the actual Medici. Here, all the characters are enjoyable to read from and all so different, they are each going through their own thing, Lorenzo ruling a city, Clarice in a loveless marriage, Leonardo wanting to discover things that are against the church’s beliefs. This book really showed off how people were advancing during the renaissance. I liked that it did not paint the Medici like gods, no, they all had flaws and did make wrong choices at time. This book made historical figures into real people.

 Atmosphere is made by descriptive writing, in my opinion. The reader really gets to see how Florence and Italy has changed from the first book. It is interesting to see how the politics of the leaders changed the republics around them as the series continued. This story takes place in the peak of the renaissance with a Medici and then Leonardo Da Vinci as two of its main characters.

The author has never lacked with his writing skills. In the first book, there might have been some errors in translation, but I did not see any of that in this installment. As stated before, Strukul is a descriptive writer, but he does not overdo it in anyway. This was fast and easy to read and if historical fiction is not your main genre, I still think that you would find this enjoyable. The dialogue was great as well, I really hoped it would be for the characters that the story focused on, I was not let down.

This is my favorite time in the Medici family history I was super excited for the plot of this book. This book only spans about ten years, yes, I would have liked to see more of Lorenzo’s “reign”, but I was not disappointed with what I got. I truly was not expecting to get Da Vinci as a point of view, and it was so interesting to see his thoughts on the Medici and his process of making his inventions and masterpieces. Lucrezia is one of my favorite characters on the Netflix series about the Medici, this book gave her so much mor depth though of how she was seen in Florence with Lorenzo and Leonardo. Clarice has not been someone in the family’s history that I ever connected with but her portrayal in this story was so much more harrowing than we usually see. Strukul does not paint the renaissance as this beautiful and bright time, he showed the hardships and violence that was happening as well. I think there could have been so much more added to the story like Giuliano, Botticelli, and Simonetta Vespucci but I understand the author did not want to linger too far from the facts and I respect that.

Strukul’s writing of characters improved tremendously in this installment in the Medici trilogy. This book made historical figures into real people. The reader really gets to see how Florence and Italy has changed from the first book. This story takes place in the peak of the renaissance with a Medici and then Leonardo Da Vinci as two of its main characters. The author has never lacked with his writing skills. The dialogue was great as well, I really hoped it would be for the characters that the story focused on, I was not let down. This book only spans about ten years, yes, I would have liked to see more of Lorenzo’s “reign”, but I was not disappointed with what I got. Although this did not feel like a five star, I still enjoyed my time reading this book. I will finish up the series next month, in April.

4 out of 5 stars.

‘A Lite Too Bright’ Book Review

Arthur Pullman’s famous grandfather passed away shortly before this story begins. He believes there is more to the story and his family is too greedy and self-absorbed to investigate it. When clues start to appear at the family’s cabin, that makes Arthur set off on a grand voyage across the United States to find out what truly happened to his grandfather.

The biggest downfall here, for me, was the characters. I think they might be made to be unlikable but even so, I should still enjoy reading about them. We have a bit of an unreliable narrator here and that is something that I have not read a lot of, so it was something interesting and new for me. There was no connection there for them, but I will say, this is one of the young adult books that I have read where I have found the adults to be annoying and the kids to be less so.

The atmosphere in this novel was cool. In America, our train system is not the most used source of transportation, so it was awesome getting to see it being used in this story. The reader also gets to see the small railroad towns of the west and Midwest, somewhere that the average person probably has not visited. I liked getting to explore some of these places that I have never heard of.

The plot started out strong and I loved how Arthur was going out and discovering this mystery of his grandfather’s disappearance and then death. The atmosphere and literature played into the plot nicely. Towards the middle, we get these ‘cult’ aspects and that turned it off for me. It brought this from being a 3.5 to a three star.

The writing was albeit strange. I should say it was more formatting than anything, just a guess. We would randomly have a flashback scene with no break in the page or anything, so it was quite confusing for the reader. There should have been a break in the page or maybe even starting a new chapter all together. Other than that, this writing was above average for a young adult novel.

The biggest downfall here, for me, was the characters. I liked getting to explore some of these places that I have never heard of. The plot started out strong and I loved how Arthur was going out and discovering this mystery of his grandfather’s disappearance and then death. This writing was above average for a young adult novel. This book touched on a lot of important subjects like the protests of the Vietnam war, capitalism, police brutality, mental health, and Alzheimer’s. I knew of some of these subjects before but for the ones that I did not it has given me a good place to start on my research.

3 out of 5 stars

‘The Sun Also Rises’ Book Review

In, ‘The Sun Also Rises’, we follow a group of friends who are expats in Europe after the end of the first world war. I feel like this book was supposed to be a character driven one, but I just could not get connected with them. There was a lot of dialogue, something I have found common in books from this time period, rather than internal thoughts. Overall, they were dull like much else in this story.

The atmosphere was cool and really reminded of books like ‘The Nightingale’ and ‘The Paris Hours’, Hemmingway is a character in that one. I really think this book did a good job at showing us what life in post war Europe was like and all the angst and questioning that came with it.

The writing was quite descriptive at times, and I think it was the highlight of the novel. Especially the descriptions of the travel between France and Spain, I could see the rolling hills and how beautiful they were. There were other parts with how a person was described maybe something as small as the look in their eyes, but I thought that it was beautiful and rather emotional in writing.

The writing might have been great, but this was a dull story. I just do not know what the plot was and that’s why I could not even write a synopsis for it. We just followed the lives of these characters day to day. Even with their dramas, I did not care because I could not connect with the characters. This book was boring and after reading it, I just wanted to go to sleep.

I feel like this book was supposed to be a character driven one, but I just could not get connected with them. I really think this book did a good job at showing us what life in post war Europe was like and all the angst and questioning that came with it. The writing was quite descriptive at times, and I think it was the highlight of the novel. I just do not know what the plot was. I have read two books from this author now, if I do not like the next one that I read from him, then I will not read anymore.

2 out 5 stars

‘Rule of Two’ Book Review

(Since this is a sequel, I am only going to give the description of the first book in the series.)  Des lived a rough life, the son of a miner, that was the life destined for him; to be just like his father. Des has always dreamed of escape, to see the galaxy. He finally gets the chance when he gets into serious trouble and must go on the run. He gets sent to war; he joins the ranks of the Sith army to fight against the Republic. All his talents show in this field and the higher ups know that he is destined for far greater things as the role in the Sith empire. Des does not believe the teachings he is given at the Sith academy and goes against it all to find his on role in the galaxy.

I am stunned by this one. In the review for first installment in the series, I will leave a link below, I said that the authors know how to develop a character. In this one, absolutely not. The problem for me was that I had no connection to Zannah, whatsoever. She is the character that is getting the most page time, but I felt like her actions were random and she was one dimensional. I did not hate her, but I did not know enough about her to care. Bane is the one who carried the first book and his development in that was excellent but in this one that is just not the case.

‘Rule of Two’ is not as atmospheric as the first novel but we did get to explore some new worlds. I really liked one of the planets, it seemed to be inspired by Italy by its politics and a few other hints. We also got to see some places that anyone familiar with Star Wars would know, like Coruscant.

 The writing was typical. It was fast and easy to read, I thank God for that because I do not know if I could have gotten through this book otherwise.

I really liked how this started off exactly where the previous book left off. That makes it easier for the reader to adjust and remember the events of the previous story. Again, I felt like the plot was all over the place much like the actions of the characters.

This was a disappointing read as I have loved and enjoyed all the other books that I have read from this author. Bane is the one who carried the first book and his development in that was excellent but in this one that is just not the case. ‘Rule of Two’ is not as atmospheric as the first novel but we did get to explore some new worlds. The writing was typical. I really liked how this started off exactly where the previous book left off. Nevertheless, I will continue the series and my journey of reading every Star Wars book in chronological order.

2 out 5 stars.

My review for the first book: https://izzyreads.blog/2021/05/15/path-of-destruction-book-review/

‘Infinite Country’ Book Review

Elena and Mauro grow up in a world full of violence in Colombia. Once they are married and have a child, Mauro thinks that it would be best for the family to move to a safer environment: the United States. They stay past the date of their visas and continue to move and have children, that is until Mauro is deported and Elena is left in this new country to raise their children, Karina, Nando, and Talia. She must make a decision that will even divide her family more than it already is.

Talia was my favorite character and her chapters really stood out from the rest. I was quite bored as there was not a lot of dialogue coming from the others, just descriptions and a lot of showing but not telling. I did like Elena’s chapters, but we should have got her perspective and the other two siblings’ perspectives earlier in the story as well. Talia’s chapters were enjoyable to read from, but it was harder to connect with the other characters of the story.

I have not read that many books with a South American setting, so I enjoyed getting introduced to a new country and setting. The reader gets great descriptions of Bogota and Colombia as a whole. I will be looking at pictures and reading about the culture and history of the city of Bogota now that I have had an introduction to it.

The writing is where this gets confusing and messy for me. I do think that this story was beautifully told and powerful. Some points have me questioning. As stated before, there was a lot of description rather than dialogue, I would prefer getting to be in the character’s head or having them speak their thoughts and feelings. Randomly, at sixty-four percent of the way into the book we go from third person perspective to second, and then to first. This was random and took me away from the story. The writing is the reason that I am not giving this a four star.

This was a very moving story, and I am glad that I just this as my BOTM pick back in February of last year. The main theme here is immigration but I also think there is a theme of is The United States better than any of the other countries in the world? Countries that the west sees as less than. It really makes the reader think of the violence that we see in the states and how it is civilians while in countries like Colombia it’s militias or other kinds of groups. There are a lot of interesting points to take away from this novel and it really has me thinking. I encourage you to do your own research if you are one of the people to say something like ‘send them back’, think about the families and think about these people as people.

Talia’s chapters were enjoyable to read from, but it was harder to connect with the other characters of the story. I have not read that many books with a South American setting, so I enjoyed getting introduced to a new country and setting. The writing is the reason that I am not giving this a four star. There are a lot of interesting points to take away from this novel and it really has me thinking. ‘Infinite Country’, might not be a five star but it is definitely a memorable read that I will hold with me.

3.75 out of 5 stars.

‘The Call of Chthulhu and Other Weird Stories’ Book Review

The characters in this are nonexistent. Yes, there are characters, but they are interchange for each story. most of the time the character has no time, fears something, and ends up getting mauled by that something. There is no character development, and they are all one dimensional if even that.

The stories are usually set with Lovecraft’s native New England. Sometimes we will see stories set in other places like England or Egypt but for the most part, expect the United States. I have nothing to say about the setting, it was there and that’s that. You will see throughout much of this review, I do not have any major thoughts.

At first, I enjoyed the writing. It was descriptive and I was wanting full novels out of the first few short stories. As the collection went along though, the writing just felt as though it was getting lengthier and with little to no dialogue it was growing to be tiresome. a lot of the stories were told in first person, but I feel like so much more could have been done to them if third person had been used as a lot of the time the author used fade to black and we did not really get to see much of these monsters. I think that Lovecraft has a nice writing style but at times he got too carried away with it.

As stated before, I really enjoyed the plot of the first few stories that are in this collection. My favorites being Celephaïs, Dagon, and The Rats in the Walls. Since I enjoyed a few of the stories that is why I am adding half a star to the two-star rating. The descriptions of the monsters or other scary things were quite vague so I could not have a definite picture of them in my head. I do think at the time that these stories came out that they must have been shocking but for the most part they were lackluster for me.

The characters in this are nonexistent. There is no character development, and they are all one dimensional if even that. The stories are usually set with Lovecraft’s native New England. At first, I enjoyed the writing. I think that Lovecraft has a nice writing style but at times he got too carried away with it. I really enjoyed the plot of the first few stories that are in this collection. I do think at the time that these stories came out that they must have been shocking but for the most part they were lackluster for me. It was interesting to see the stories that inspired much of our modern-day fantasy and science fiction stories, but I will not be continuing with Lovecraft.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

‘Horus Rising’ Book Review

The empire of man has been expanding and crusading for nearly a thousand years, but it is finally coming to an end. The emperor has returned to earth and has left the war in the hands of his Warmaster to tie all the loose ends.

We focus on Loken, who is a newly appointed captain in the military, and then a few remembrancers, who are put in place to show the war through their kind of art rather it be photography, poetry, or some other format. This was interesting getting to have the interviews between Loken and his remembrancer, Mersaide, we really got to see him come to terms with the war and overall develop as a character as he was thinking back on his past actions. It was a great way to show development.

Abnett did a great job at putting the reader into the setting. His writing was very descriptive and atmospheric. I did not expect this writing style for a book that is based on another form of media. Each planet that the soldiers or remembrancers visited was unique and they never felt repetitive.

As stated in the section dedicated to the atmosphere; this book had a descriptive writing style that never felt like it was too long or too much on the page for the reader to grasp. the pace of the story was quick, and it is hard to believe that the book was over four hundred pages in length. I would pick up a book by Dan Abnett again in the future simply for his writing style. It is perfect for the fantasy and science fiction genres.

The plot was where this was lackluster for me. For the first thirty percent of the story, I had no idea what was happening. I started taking notes from there and to my understanding we are following a captain who is unsure of what he is fighting for and coming to terms that the empire might not be all that it is made out to be. I think he is too intelligent for his position, at least from my understanding of the story. I did not connect with this plot. At first, I thought it might be because I have never played the video game series that this story is based on, but I read other reviews to find out that it does not matter if you have played the game or not. So have at is as you will.

Abnett really knows how to develop a character and have the development shown in a unique way that is intriguing to the reader. He can also drop the reader right onto an alien planet and make them feel like they have seen that place before. The plot had themes of war, religion, or lack thereof, and coming to terms with what one believes in. Sadly, I could not get into the story. This was another average read for me which seems to be a theme with the books on my TBR this January.

3 out of 5 stars

‘The Half-Drowned King’ Book Review

Since the death of his father, Ragnvald has always assumed and worked to inherit the land that belonged to his father. Protecting his sister, Svanhild, and seeing that the farm is taken care of. That is all changed when he goes on a raiding trip to Ireland. On the way back, Solvi, one of the men of the ship is hired by Ragnvald’s stepfather, Olaf, to kill Ragnvald so he can be the one to inherit the farm. However, Ragnvald is rescued by a fisherman of the coast of Norway. From there he goes on an epic journey of revenge with the help of King Harald to get back what is truly his.

The characters had no development or depth throughout the length of the novel. The focus was put elsewhere in this story, and I will discuss that in a later paragraph. It appears Ragnvald would be our focus in the story but no, this is a multiple perspective historical fiction work. It would be better if there was just one point of view, with that being Ragnvald, so that his character could be more developed. Svanhild was wishy washy, and I never got to truly know what kind of person she was but maybe that was the intention of the author. Solvi, in a way, I feel is the most developed character even though he is our villain. There is a lot to unpack with him. However, the side characters were interchangeable for me and did not really matter in the long-term view of the story. I would have enjoyed this story more if the characters had been developed and not one dimensional.

The author’s focus for ‘The Half-Drowned King’ was on the atmosphere. The setting and culture of this story was so rich. You can tell that Linnea Hartsuyker spent time researching Norse culture before writing this book. I do think that the setting did overpower the other points of the story. Too much time was focused on the atmosphere that the other key factors of storytelling were not able to shine. I do applaud, Hartsuyker for the dedication and research that went into this story.

There was no real consistency to these chapters. There was no order for the point of views and no real set page length that a chapter could be. The story was dense and just dragged on. It could have been one hundred to two hundred pages shorter than it was.

By the description on the back of the book, this novel ticks off multiple boxes for me. It’s a story of a man coming back from a near death experience then going on a tract to avenge his himself and his family. It sounds like a great story. It was just not executed properly on page. It sounds so epic and great, but I found myself bored as I turned from one page to the next. I was often finding myself skimming through the paragraphs or having to constantly reread them to have an idea of what was going on throughout the story. There was a lot happening, but it felt like nothing was happening at all, maybe it is because I felt no connection to the characters.

The characters had no development or depth throughout the length of the novel. The setting and culture of this story was so rich. The story was dense and just dragged on. It sounds so epic and great, but I found myself bored as I turned from one page to the next. I am disappointed in my first historical fiction read of the year. I will not be continuing with this trilogy.

3 out of 5 stars.

‘The Key to Happily Ever After’ Book Review

The parents have retired and the family business of the de la Rosa’s has been left to the three daughters. Rings and Roses is one of the top wedding boutiques in the Washington DC area. It is now in the hands of Mari, Jane, and Pearl. Each who have very different personalities which often ends in conflict. Not always great for the business. The three are not only trying to plan the lifetime of romance for others but they are all trying to find romances of their own even if it does interfere with the business and their private lives.

Buckle up and get ready for a rant. These characters drove me crazy. Marisol or Mari was just not likeable in the slightest, I think she was the one we were supposed to root for, but I just could not do it. She was constantly in petty drama and just would not meet in the middle with Pearl on their disagreements. Jane, like the common stereotype for the middle child, just was not there. This story would be the complete same if she was not a character. Pearl would be my favorite if I had to choose. She was just trying to get out this toxic situation that Mari had them in and she wanted what was best for herself and she knew her worth. These characters were immature, and I could not sympathize for them with their petty drama.

The one way that I can think to describe this writing is random. Now, going into romance novels, I do not expect beautiful and life changing writing like I might find in literary fiction. here the writing was random and all over the place though and I was finding myself confused. In the beginning, I felt like there was head jumping between the characters as we would be at Mari’s perspective but still be getting told what Pearl was doing in the next room over. There was one part where we are with Mari at a wedding, then a random dream sequence, and then back to the present and she is randomly at home a few days after the wedding. I did not understand how we went from one scene to the next and how they were connected. There were a lot of scenes that ended abruptly, a lot of tell but not show. It was hard to find out what was going on throughout the story.

The setting was my favorite part of the novel (other than getting to go on rants.). Washington DC is my favorite city and as this book is set just across the river in Alexandria, there were a lot of places that I was familiar with. You can tell that Marcelo is familiar with the area and just really knows the DMV and the culture of it.

I liked that the romance was not the main feature. I find that with stories that are just romance centric and act as though the characters do not have lives outside of that as boring. However, that is not to saying that this story was not boring. Something was always happening, and the story was fast paced but I found myself bored and not connecting with the plot. I could not get past the petty drama that was always happening amongst the sisters and it led me to just being annoyed with this book.

These characters drove me crazy. They were immature, and I could not sympathize for them with their petty drama. The one way that I can think to describe this writing is random. It was hard to find out what was going on throughout the story. The setting was my favorite part of the novel. I liked that the romance was not the main feature. I find that with stories that are just romance centric and act as though the characters do not have lives outside of that as boring. However, that is not to saying that this story was not boring. Something was always happening, and the story was fast paced but I found myself bored and not connecting with the plot. I could not get past the petty drama that was always happening amongst the sisters and it led me to just being annoyed with this book. This book did get me to my reading challenge goal of seventy-two books, though, and and I am thankful for that.

2 out of 5 stars.