‘A Treason of Thorns’ Book Review

England has six great and magical houses. Burleigh, being one of those houses. The house belongs to the Sterling family. Violet’s father was arrested for treason as he tried to free the house from the king’s rule. Leaving Violet as the last in the Sterling line. She has the chance to complete her father’s mission or do as the king says and let it be.

Violet was like any other seventeen, they’re always seventeen, year old young adult, fantasy heroine. She was immature and selfish at times but again, we have to remember that she is a teenager and that comes with the territory. I just felt like she did not change or grow throughout the novel, she was rather stagnant and that can be said for the side characters as well.

I always enjoy an English setting. This book never states when it explicitly takes place but I would say sometime in the 1800s by the art that is inside of the dust jacket. I could be wrong though. Again, that could have played a lot into the plot by giving us a time period and letting the readers imagination of that time add more to the story.

The writing was fast paced and this was an easy read. It is obvious this book does not take place in modern times so I wish that the dialogue did not have a modern twist to it but that did not really take anything away from the story; just a personal thought.

The plot that is given to the reader is a fascinating one. It is unique the only thing that it could truly remind me of is ‘Time Keeper’ by Tara Sim. I had so many questions thought and that results on not enough world building and not enough knowledge on the magic system that is at play here. It would be more understandable if this was the first book in a series but it is not, this is a standalone novel. There just needed to be more information for the reader to get a better understanding of this universe.

The characters were not anything new to the genre, if you have read any other recent young adult fantasy than you are more than aware of these traits. The setting of an English manor is always one that peaks my interest and if you like gothic or classic British literature then you will probably enjoy this setting. The writing was fast paced and easy to read. The plot was something new but just was not none properly, there was not enough building or foundation. An average read.

2 out 5 stars.

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‘The Secret History’ Book Review

A friend is murdered and that is how our story begins. A group of college students are inspired by the stories and lives of the ancient Greeks. Things get taken too far, they feel as though they are superior to everyone else in their small Vermont, college town. They are destined for great things to be remembered as Achilles or Hercules. One sin leads to another and another.

The characters, wow, just the characters. They are so well written. At first, I was scared that I would get this character list confused but that I did not do. Your favorite is constantly changing throughout the book until you realize that they are all morally gray, none of them are amazing people but they all have some kind of logic behind their actions. The fact of how developed these characters are, are the highlight of ‘The Secret History’.

Everyone seems to love the atmosphere of this book. I think it is fitting for the plot but it was not anything that stood out to me. A small New England college town, its quaint and I think a good setting for a mystery novel but I was not amazed by it.

Tartt’s writing is like Pat Conroy’s but throw in some Stephen King into the mix as well. At first, I was like this writing is amazing and so poetic but then it just got tiresome. This book could be half the link than it actually was. It is wordy and just felt overall too long and that is the biggest downfall for me. If you are a fan of the other two authors that I mentioned, though, you might find this writing enjoyable.

This plot instantly intrigued me but as the story just went on and on I got bored with it. The first and last quarters are the best. Yes, we need the in between but it was just tiresome reading through wordy paragraphs that I think the author just wanted to sound intelligent. I get it, we’re in a fancy college town and these students are supposed to be top notch. Now that I think about it, maybe this writing was intentional. The twists did shock me, some times they were predicted and some times they were not, but I never felt any real emotion towards them. The plot would have been much more enjoyable if the book was shorter.

The characters of this novel were amazing and well developed. Throughout my time reading this, I was thinking of actors who could play them . (Anya Taylor-Joy for Camila, by the way). I will be thinking about them for a while. The setting was very well fitting for a story such as this one. The writing was poetic but it dragged and seemed to go on for ages. I would really recommend to fans of Pat Conroy. This plot was interesting and I was wondering how it would end and what would happen but the writing just wore it down for me.

3 out of 5 stars.

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‘Runaway Max’ Book Review

A somewhat prequel to Stranger Things, we will get to that, all about our favorite skater, Max. This story shows what Max’s life is like before she moves to Hawkins and then what her first months in Midwest, Indiana are like. We really get to know her more as a character as she is the main character in this novel and not a side one like on the Netflix series.

Character development is the high point of this book. If you have not seen the show then this would be irrelevant for you and I think for this installment in the books you have to see the show to enjoy the book. Max is a new side character in Stranger Things 2 but in this book she is the main character, it is at her point of view. We get to learn so much about her especially, and then her step brother, Billy. I think it would be awesome if we get more of these books that are from the point of view of side characters and during the events of the show because we get to learn their thoughts and then see what they are doing in scenes that they are not included in. I really hope we get more of these. I cannot wait to read Rebel Robin.

The previous Stranger Things books all take place outside of Hawkins in such places as Bloomington and New York City. This one actually takes places mainly in our beloved small town in Indiana. I loved that we actually got to read something in Hawkins as it just makes the book feel all the more like Stranger Things. We do get some scenes that flashback to Los Angeles and San Diego but those are necessary for the character building and I enjoyed those as well as it helps show why Billy and Max are the way that they are.

The writing in this really felt like the reader was hearing Max’s thoughts. I could truly see this being Max’s perspective. Sometimes it is hard to translate that coming from a show or movie and then making a book adaptation but the author does a fantastic job here. It was easy to read and fast paced. The chapters did get longer towards the end but it was never a hassle to get through them.

The plot is where this might fall short for some readers. This book is advertised as a prequel to Stranger Things but it’s really a few flashbacks before the fall of 1984. I would consider this a contemporary to season two as we are mainly seeing the events of season two, of the show, through Max’s eyes. This might be repetitive to readers and they might find the book as a waste of time as they had already seen these events play out.

I really enjoyed this installment in the Stranger Things books. Max was already one of my favorite characters and this just made her feel a little bit more relatable. (I still think Robin is the character I relate to the most by the Rebel Robin podcast.) We really get to see Max develop through this story and we get to see how her relationship with Billy got to point it is at and why they are so tense with one another. The reader also gets to immerse themselves into Hawkins as that has not been done in any of the previous books, it feels like home in a way. This book was fast paced but I would not say thrilling, I almost wanted to binge read it but I stood my ground and kept my read a book in three days going. The plot might throw some readers off but I thought it added more to season two as we got to see it through another set of eyes.

4 out of 5 stars.

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‘The Death of Vivek Oji’ Book Review

The body of Vivek Oji is left on his mother’s doorstep in southern Nigeria. After that our story unfolds, of who Vivek was and what lead to his death. A family, who is not certain if they are raising their son properly. Friends, who want to support their friend but do not know if they should speak up. It all leads to the death of Vivek Oji.

Each character in this is well developed and they do not all feel like the same person. We are seeing Vivek’s life from those around him. I was particularly drawn to the characters of Juju and Osita, I think they were the most developed of the lot. The parents were well written as well but I did not connect with them as much as I did the younger characters.

The Nigerian atmosphere was interesting as it is one that I have not read before. This year I have read more books set in Africa and I have enjoyed getting to learn about another culture even if it is not always through pleasant events but that is history and society.

The writing was flowy, easy to read, and it was quick paced. However, this book has no real set time line. I usually like that in stories but I do not think that it was executed properly in, ‘The Death of Vivek Oji’. I was was often getting confused of when a scene was taking place as it was all within a short time frame. The book would also randomly change from first to third person with no real rhyme of reason.

Our main themes in this book were coming of age and dealing with grief. We follow Vivek and his friends as they go from teens to young adults. Those are crucial years for finding out who you are. Sometimes we are not always pleased with who we are because of the society around us and want to change but sometimes we just want to stop caring what others think and just live, I think that is so important to do what is best for you even if it is putting a lot at the line. The other side of things is the dealing with the grief of losing someone. Chika, Vivek’s father, wants to forget that all of it happened, burry it deep inside himself. He goes and does things he has never done before, things he is not proud of doing. While Kavita, the mother, wants to dive head first into it and find out why this happened. She wants to find out what went wrong and why her son died because of it. It is interesting how we all, as humans, handle different situations differently.

This is a coming of age story, finding out who someone is as they do as well. We see where this path takes them, and those around them, as a person. The characters were all well developed. The setting was interesting in seeing a non westernized culture. This was a quick read and did not take a lot of time and I never felt bored while reading it. The themes were hard hitting and important to read about it. This book was an average read. It was not bad but it did not really hook me either.

3 out of 5 stars

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‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ Book Review

This was an interesting read. My classic of this cycle of books was Tess of the D’Urbervilles. This book had lots of good things about it and I would say only one downside that isn’t a major issue.

First and foremost I think the main plot or theme of this book is how trauma can impact a person and cause them to go into an endless cycle if they do not get the proper care. Now, this is set in the late 1800s where women did not get that care and were blamed for their issues or blamed for crimes committed against them. One thing that I find interesting is that a man wrote this novel, I think there are hints of feminism throughout the novel and how hypocritical Victorian society was to women. I wonder if there would be more of an outrage if a woman published this book in 1890 or if she would even be able to find a publisher for it at all.

Now that I have finished, there was a lot of foreshadowing and symbolism throughout the story. I won’t go into too many details about it as I do not want to spoil the book. Those are two of my favorite literary devices and I think they were well used in this story.

My one and only complaint is in the middle part of the story it seemed to drag. The start and end were quick but the middle just had really long and tedious sections that I didn’t feel like were necessary for the development of the plot.

I really liked that Wessex was the setting as this book takes near and around the same place that my family came from even though this is set roughly two hundred years after they were there. I thought that this book gave a good look into Victorian times as often we see London during that time period and not the smaller towns in England. The plot was fascinating as it was calling out the societal standards of the time. I need to research on how this book was received when it was first published over a hundred years ago. This book used plenty of literary devices and is a good example of what classic literature is. It did get stagnant at times but I think overall that this was a good read.

4 out of 5 stars.

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‘Path of Destruction’ Book Review

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 has to 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.

Karpyshyn knows how to develop a character and that is obvious from this book and others that he has written. He really shapes the character and shows that there is reason behind each of their actions and that it is not just random and on a whim. Everything has a reason and every action has a consequence. That makes the characters real even if they do reside in an alien universe.

Each Star Wars book shows us a new planet, in this one we see a planet that we have seen in the author’s previous work of, ‘Ravan‘. I love how each planet has it world’s building and some even have their own species or race of people. It is really interesting to see how diverse the universe is. Another thing that I love is how each of the books in this saga build off one another even though you don’t have to read every book to get an understanding, but for me it is just so much fun getting to see connections between previous books that are by different authors.

I love the trope of how the villain became the villain. I think it just interesting to just see how their minds work and just the mental aspects of it all. I think it mainly falls into the life situation, how a person was raised, and that really all impacts how they turn out to be as an adult. I think in Star Wars, all the people who become villains have their reasons why and its not just because they were born evil or something like that. They all have their building on why they are the way that they are.

This might be one of my favorite Star Wars books yet, but Drew Karpyshyn is my go to for Star Wars books. I loved the trope of giving the backstory to the villain and then the pairing in this, I really shipped them. I will be continuing this trilogy, but do not expect reviews for the other books as they will be spoilers for this one. I have a reading vlog coming out on Tuesday at nine o’clock, eastern standard time, for those of you who would rather hear my thoughts than read them!

5 out of 5 stars.

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‘The Book of Lost Friends’ Book Review

Our story starts out in Louisiana in the year of 1875. Lavinia is the daughter of a plantation owner, her half, illegitimate sister is Juneau Jane, and then lastly there is Hannie who is the former slave of Lavinia. The three have set out on a quest that sends them to the wild frontier of Texas. Lavinia’s father has gone missing and they have to find out who the plantation and other lands that the Gosset family owns, will pass down to.

In 1987, the same Louisiana town, Benny Silva has moved in as a first year teacher. From living all over the United States she has a hard time understanding how hard the lives are of her students in this poor southern town. She tries to connect them all with the history of the old planation right in their hometown.

I connected more with Hannie as a character than I did with Benny which is kind of funny as a I live in a time closer to Benny’s but it might be because I am closer in age with Hannie than I am Benny. I just felt like the 1875 chapters had so much more emotion to them. I really cared about what would happen to all of the characters. They all developed and changed throughout the novel. That’s not to say that our more modern counterparts were dull, they were absolutely well written as well.

America was at a really awkward stage at this point in history. Well, maybe the whole world was. Technology was rapidly being invented and changing as we had the industrial revolution take way in cities, the old world was becoming the modern world. In America, however, we were just getting out of a civil war. Tensions were still looming (and still are, if you ask me.) and it was not necessarily a safe place, especially for three female travelers like we see here. No one really writes in this time period, at least in American history, you will find a ton of books set in England during this time period but that is a different story. I really think this is an interesting time in our history and that it should be written about more, I applaud Lisa Wingate for doing so.

As I talked about the characters, the plot had a different impact on me. I preferred Benny’s plot to Hannie’s. I think it was just because the digging and the researching of Augustine, Louisiana’s history. As most of you know, I love to research the history of my local area and my family. The plot with Hannie however is powerful and one that I will not forget, it just made me so emotional, this whole book made me feel that way, especially at the very end. Just seeing the stories of different people and knowing that people in real life lived lives so similar to these characters, it breaks my heart. One of the main plots is that slavery separated so many families, mother’s from their young children, and just tearing these families apart. It is so hard to put into words how it feels to read that and to know that it is not fiction. This book really opens the eyes of the reader to the history of our country and that we cannot change the past but we can make the future better so we do not go back and make those same mistakes again.

I did not want to put this book down, I actually had my biggest reading day of the month, around 150 pages read. I was wanting to know so bad how the two plots would really connect. If you are a fan of ancestry, history, and even the game Red Dead Redemption, then you will enjoy this book. However, I think that everyone needs to pick up this book. It is so powerful and moving. It will definitely stick with the reader. I am so glad that I picked up this book on a whim at Target. I can only hope that you will pick up ‘The Book of Lost Friends’.

5 out of 5 stars.

‘Shatter the Sky’ Book Review

Maren’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the Aurati, prophets for the emperor. Maren has to do everything in her power to get Kaia back… that includes stealing a dragon. She becomes an apprentice in a faraway kingdom to one of the women that took her love. Maren uncovers all kinds of secrets about princes and empires all while trying to save Kaia from a terrible end.

The characters in this were like the characters in every other young adult fantasy novel on the shelf. Seventeen, outcast, and on a mission, that describes Maren and most fantasy heroines. In an honesty she a was a bit of a Mary Sue. This book was nothing new and I will continue to say that throughout this review.

World building was one of the pluses for this novel. The start a book really shows you how this world is and how the emperor rules with an iron fist. I just wish that there would have been a map somewhere in this book. There might be in other editions but not in the Litjoy Crate version!

The writing was not anything special. It seemed like the characters teleported a lot. Again, there was no map so I am not sure the distances of each kingdom but the characters made it seem like it would be a long way and then they would get to said location in five pages. I don’t know.

The plot has all the common tropes of the fantasy genre. Saving someone taken by evil forces, a tyrant ruler, a lost prince, the chosen one, love triangles, all of that! Everything that readers have seen and read before. It brought nothing new to the table.

I feel as though this was not intriguing for me. The moments that were supposed to be big plot twists, they didn’t wow me, I was just like ‘okay, cool.” Nothing too exciting. This has just all been done before. Lots of common tropes.

This was an average read for me. It was not bad it was just like I had already read this story before. I think if you are a fan of young adult fantasy novels, like Girls of Paper and Fire, then you might enjoy this one. I will not be picking up the second book, I think it will be very similar to this one just with some of the roles reversed.

3 out of 5 stars.

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‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Book Review

Lara Jean wrote a letter to each boy that she has fallen in love with, she never had the guts to actually confess her feelings to any of these guys. One day. the letters all get sent out, Lara Jean has no idea who sent them. All the guys from her past start to confront her about her feelings and the letters they received.

This book might have the most relatable characters that I have ever read. I could see a piece of me, especially in my teens, in each of these characters. Lara Jean just reminded me so much of myself, being a sentimental person and being too afraid to actually get into a relationship (cue the sweating emoji). She definitely has to be an INFP personality type, a little dreamer. Out of the guys, Peter was my favorite. I just like he had more depth to him and was built better as a character. He was not perfect, he had his flaws. Josh, I felt like was a Gary Sue. He was just too perfect that it annoyed me. I felt like he had zero flaws and was just every girl’s dream guy.

The atmosphere was like any other contemporary romance. I liked that it was set in Virginia as that is a state that I am quite familiar with.

The writing was once again like any romance novel. Some of the things that the character’s said, I think were too childish and not what sixteen year olds would say but that isn’t too big of a deal. Just a small thing to either laugh or roll your eyes at.

Short chapters and relatable characters. That is basically all I need for a book to intrigue me to pick it up and read the next handful of chapters in one sitting.

Logic wise, I think this was all fine. Nothing really stood out as being too totally unrealistic. I think this book is very believable and could happen at any high school. I’m just glad that I never had the idea to write letters to my crushes.

Oops. I just realized that I forgot to leave in what I thought about the plot. This is such a cool plot with the letters and then the guys finding out about the feelings. I think that is very creative and I cannot think of any other novel with that kind of premise. I will admit though, I did predict who sent the letters out and the reasoning behind why they did it.

This book was a surprise for me. It falls under almost all the categories of tropes and genres that I do not like. However, I LOVED it. Going in with low expectations really did me well this time and I am so glad about that. This book and its movie counterpart were really popular, my senior year of high school, so I was nervous that the hype would kill it for me but it didn’t. I will be continuing this series but I don’t think that I will watch the movie but who knows!

4 out of 5 stars.

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‘The Name of the Wind’ Book Review

Kvothe tells the tale of his life. He might seem like your average inn keeper but that is all a secret identity. The story begins when he just a child and how he became an orphan. He had to surive on the gritty streets of a large city. However, Kvothe was more advanced, smarter, than most. His knowledge is what got him going in life. It’s what got him out of poverty and off of the street. The Name of the Wind is Kvothe’s life story.

I started out not really feeling anything for Kvothe, well firstly, we are not really sure who our main character is. The reader finds out a few chapters in. He was not anything special or different for the fantasy genre. I know that this book is well loved and extremely popular so maybe this was different at the time it was published in 2007 but then again I can think of fantasy novels that came out before this one that had similar characters. I did start to feel something for our main man, Kvothe, just towards the last ten percent of the book I started to not like him. I felt like he was using a lot of the people in his life even though earlier in the story he was saying he would never do that. Also, all the female characters basically had the same descriptions, which in one of the interludes that is pointed out.

This book did have good world building, though. I think the religion and story telling aspects really added to that element. The percent, probably the majority, that this book took place at the university enhanced that to as we got to learn about the world and magic system as the characters did. I did enjoy this universe and want to know more about it.

The writing is in a descriptive taste. It never felt too long though even though this book is a beast, it is over seven hundred pages. I never felt like it was dragging at all. I did the audiobook version and had no complaints with that edition.

The Name of the Wind, character driven or plot driven? It’s really hard to say. The plot was rather boring to me, it wasn’t anything amazing. There might have been the character development since I did not like Kvothe by the end of the novel. I’m just not sure, I felt like this plot was a bit all over the place and that there really was not any meaning to it. Please give me your thoughts on this, in the comments!

The plot, or lack there of, is what made me have no intrigue to pick it up. I even took the weekend off of reading. It just was not an exciting read for me. I would like to know why the inn keeper is on the run and in hiding and what those spiders were and how Bast got with Kvothe but that does not push me enough to pick up the next book in the series.

This was an average read for me. I am shocked by this just as much as you, the person reading this. Did this fall into the overhyped category? Maybe, but I do not want to say that because I know that I am in the minority here. I still encourage you to pick up The Name of the Wind since it is so popular and staple in the fantasy genre. It was just not my cup of tea.

3 out of 5 stars.

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