‘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.

I filmed my experience reading this book, you can check that out here: SHATTER THE SKY: READING VLOG | MARCH 19 – 22, 2021 – YouTube

It will up on my Facebook page later this week! Izzy Rain | Facebook

‘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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‘Lilac Girls’ Book Review

Caroline works at the French consulate in New York City. Her job for years has been helping French people get adjusted to life in America. She had also helped by sending care packages to orphanages across France. The work gets heavier and harder when war breaks out in Europe in 1939.

Kasia is a teenager in Poland, the country that Hitler has set his eyes on. Her youth is taken from her as her country is taken over by Germans. She does everything she can to help her country overcome these attacks. She joins the underground resistance.

Herta is a female German doctor who is just trying to get by and help her family. She finds a job within the government. She comes into a world filled with horror and secrets.

All of these women’s lives come together through the concentration camp of Ravensbruck.

The characters in this story just took it to another level. I felt so many emotions towards them. I am not certain how much I just felt such a connection with all of them rather it be hatred or love. They were all so real and sometimes I was yelling at them and other times I was just so worried for them. This book was an emotional ride and I think that has to do so much with these characters. I did not know when I started this novel but two of these women were actual people in history. I am definitely going to be reading up on their Wikipedia pages tonight!

The atmosphere of this book was just pure haunting. It was dark and emotional. It really showcases how evil this world can be but also how strong we can be as humans. It is a setting that I will not forget.

My only complaint is that in some of the chapters, mainly Caroline’s, I felt that the pacing was sporadic. It was just big time jumps between paragraphs. I am assuming it’s because she was always at a different setting, for the majority of the novel, unlike the other two viewpoints. The chapters did flow together nicely though and that was noted between the first two chapters.

The plot of this novel was unlike any other war novel that I had read. I feel like most take place in France. I had very little knowledge about the happenings in Poland in WWII, only that Hitler invading is what set the wheel rolling. I learned so much from this book, it was so moving. Obviously, I knew that terrible things were done in these labor camps across Europe but this just opened my eyes so much more to the true horrors of it. If you are a fan of The Book Thief or The Nightingale then you will like Lilac Girls.

I was on the edge of my seat throughout this reading experience. I did not realize that until halfway through. The read just gets so immersed into this story. I was constantly wanting to read more to know what would happen to the characters.

Some of the best logic that I have seen in a book. The character’s actually had consequences from their actions. Every little detail meant something, I loved the foreshadowing. There were no loose ends.

I thoroughly enjoyed my three day dive into the World War II era. I had medium expectations for this book as it does have an average 4.27 star rating on Goodreads. Lilac Girls definitely does live up to those standards. I cannot wait to pick up the next book that is in this series and to do my own research on the women featured in this story.

5 out of 5 stars

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‘The Paris Hours’ Book Review

“Paris is always there, waiting for him on the other side of the door.”

Chapter 39.

Paris, between wars, everyone has lost something. Camille has lost a dear friend, the one who held her biggest secret. The notebook where it was written is now missing. Her reputation depends on it not landing in the wrong hands. Souren is a refugee from Armenia, he has lost his homeland and his family. Then there is the artist Guillaume he has lost a great love and is in a serious debt and has to find the money to pay it or his life could be taken from him. Finally, there is Jean-Paul, a writer, who dreams of America but cannot leave France because he truly believes his daughter is not dead but lost in the streets of Paris.

This is a character driven novel and those are my favorite kind of books to leave. Usually, shorter books seem to be more plot driven but that was not the case for ‘The Paris Hours’. This book is less than 300 pages but I feel like we got to connect with the characters so well in that span of time. (The book only lasts the course of a day.) I will be honest though and tell you, that not all these characters had entertaining chapters. I think Souren and Camille have the best chapters and they were my favorite to read from. I feel like Souren had the strongest story out of all of them and I think it can be applied nicely to the refugee crisis we have seen in recent years. I might have connected with Camille more since she is our only lead female character but I just enjoyed her chapters and her mission to protect herself and her family. Guillaume is our lovesick character. I just did not connect with him and I still do not understand why he was in the debt that he was in. Yes, sometimes I did feel for him but at other times I felt he might be a tad selfish but that is better than having a novel filled with Mary Sues, I just did not connect with his character. Lastly, Jean-Paul, he was not one of my favorite characters but I could really feel the emotion in his chapters. His plot left me with my jaw dropped at times. You could just really connect with him. The characters are getting a five out of five.

‘The Paris Hours’ is a love letter to the city of love that is in its title. This book just gave off such a French aesthetic or vibe. You just instantly feel like you are walking the streets with the Eiffel Tower towering in the smoggy skies of the French capital. The atmosphere also gets a five star.

The writing, the writing! Oh my gosh, the writing is so good in this book. I think it will be an acquired taste, much like other French things. This writing was just so beautiful and so romantic. It never dragged but it never got too fast either. It was such a breath of fresh air to read. I think this writing goes perfect with the setting of France and especially at this somewhat of an awkward time in the country’s history. There is so much I could say but I just cannot get the words out. I think you will understand more when I tell you that the writing is a five out of five star.

“Some things you cannot leave behind. Your history will pursue you doggedly across frontiers and over oceans. It will slip past the unsmiling border guards, fold itself invisibly into the pages of your passport, a silent, treacherous stowaway.”

Chapter 23.

I left the quote above because I think it perfectly describes the plot of this story. We all have a past and there is no running from it, there is no changing it. The past has happened and there is nothing we can do about it except move on. Sometimes we do have to accept it and think about it first though, before we can actually move on. All these characters have a past and that is what is impacting their decisions and the actions that they are taking throughout this day. Again, this is not a real plot heavy book and if that is something that you are into then you probably won’t like your journey reading this I think you really have to dig to find that true plot and story. The plot gets a 4 out of five.

The short chapters really helped with the intrigue. They just leave you wanting more and then you have to wait to get through all the other POVs to get back to the character. It is a good technique. Short and fast chapters will always be the best. I am going to give this a four though because I felt like some we did not really get a wrap on.

I feel like I do have to state that there were some typos throughout the novel, which there are probably some typos in this blogpost so I should not be one to judge but I also do not have an editor. So there were some instances where a space was forgotten and words were pushed together. The biggest however was in the second to last chapter, on page 249; “He is leg is hurting, and he wants to go home.” I am assuming the author meant “His leg is hurting.” I just hate to see things like that in books, maybe there needed to be a better editor on hand.

Time Travels in one direction only. There is no going back.”

Chapter 32.

I really, really, did enjoy this book. I did not think that I would feel that way going on because of the ratings on Goodreads and that I have heard nothing of this book before, I got it from BOTM. This was such a wild card for me, my favorite so far this year. The characters were fabulous, I might not have connected with all of them but that is life, we do not connect for every soul that we meet. I loved the French setting, the author did such a good job dropping us into 1927 Paris. This was the best writing that I have read in a long time. The plot is something that I will not forget. Again, I really enjoyed this book and I will be looking into more books by Alex George.

This book gets the rating of 5 out of 5 stars.

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“Pirate Women” Book Review

Laura Sook Duncombe saw that there was a lack of books on pirates about the females who also sailed ships and looted for treasure across the seven seas. So, she decided to write her own and that is how we have “Pirate Women”. I picked up this book at the Pirate Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. I was not expecting much as it was just one, I had picked up at random with no research on but Duncombe blew me away with this book. This is not just a pretty cover with cool colors, there is so much information inside that I never about before.

This book does go in chronological order, I am so thankful for that as it does not confuse the reader at all. That being said we start in the ancient world on the Mediterranean with the Greeks and Romans, these were ancient queens like most women throughout this book we do not know if they were fact or fiction or somewhere in the middle. That is a common theme here, women were often written over in history and there is not a lot of information to be found on these women. They were just supposed to sit there looking pretty and baring children to their husbands not fighting against other Greek city states.

The next step we take is towards Ladgerda and the Vikings who are trying to reach the halls of Valhalla. The writer debates on if these warrior women should be listed as literal pirates. Most of the fighting was done on the shores of England or other states on the North and Baltic seas. It was fighting and raiding on land and then back on the ship to Scandinavia.  Nevertheless, the tales of these female Viking warriors are interesting and had been pasted orally for hundreds of years.

I did not find the pirates of Brittany in the middle ages as interesting as the Vikings, but I do think some will. There should be a television show or at least a historical fiction book on these women and what they did to protect their thrones and rights. Throughout this chapter I could not help but think that George R.R. Martin, the author of A Game of Thrones, took inspiration from some of these women for his universe in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

And then on and on we go throughout history, the Barbary era of pirates with the sultans, Queen Elizabeth I with the sea dogs she hired to take on the Spanish Armada. The Golden Age of piracy taking place in the 1700s with the likes of Anne Bonny and her crew. The story takes us all the way to China in the twentieth century. There was so much to learn in this book that is so small that it is less than three hundred pages long.

Enough of the summary for now, lets get to my likes and dislikes. As I stated previous, I like that this is in historical order, so I did not have to sit down and write out a timeline for myself. seriously, if you are writing a nonfiction book, please go in chronological order. One thing I loved that the author is a woman, writing about women, and most of the sources that she used were also female. It was just awesome to see! The book was easy to understand and I was never confused. The chapters had a good page length, usually around fifteen pages long. (Another bit of advice if you plan to write a book, never make a chapter fifty pages. I will lose interest.)

Duncombe also does a good job at setting the scene. Yes, this is a nonfiction piece of work, but she does a great time at describing the world that these women were living in and how it might have attributed to their actions. The author also reminds us time and time again that we do have enough information on these women to know their stories full and well. We also must remember that the things we learn in history are never one hundred percent certain as we are not hearing all the sides of it and we were not there. That information is so important to remember as we learn or read anything that is nonfiction.

I only have small complaints. The last chapter about actual pirates, chapter 13. I felt like it was rushed. We had so many women to discuss and only got a few short paragraphs about them and I feel like I did not learn as much about them as I did about the previous women and that is strange as these female pirates were all in the last century, some in my life time. Then there was the last chapter about pirate women on the big screen. I felt this chapter to be unnecessary as these are all known works of fiction. The chapter was basically the full plots of movies that I will never watch. It was a waste of time.

I really enjoyed this book. It is probably my favorite nonfiction that I have read this year and I will have to look and see if Laura Sook Duncombe has any other books out that I can have the pleasure in reading. Just learning about how these women got into these situations rather it be that they were born or married into it, joining the sea life, dressed as a male to get out of societies standards. It was just so interesting to read and I definitely want to read more about pirates in the future. Five out of five stars read.

‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Review

I took a week long break in the middle of this book so my thoughts might be weird and I am not going to be doing a deep synopsis.

Usually longer books are longer I assume that they are more character driven than plot driven but with this one, I really do not know. The story is told through Buendia family but the story is about the history of the town of Macondo. The town is the main character rather than the actual people. Back to the humans though, most of the characters had names of their parents or grandparents. The same names were being used over and over and I just kept getting confused if it was junior or senior. I understand that this is common in real life but I do not think it is wise in literature. Two out of five for characters.

I like the idea of following the town throughout its beginning to its end. I liked Macondo. I just do not know if it was executed properly. Three out of five for atmosphere.

Now time for the writing. I was surprised how good the writing was for this being a translated work, from Spanish to English. Some paragraphs were just absolutely beautiful. Gabriel Garcia Marquez really can put a picture of what you are reading into your head. Four out of five for writing.

The plot somewhat ties in with the atmosphere. (That seems strange to type.) I love the idea of the town being the main character and the story being the history of this town but I just do not think it was executed properly. Generational tales are my absolute favorite but when you have characters living to be 122 years old and having the same names it just gets confusing. Plot gets a four out of five.

Logic? Was there really any logic here? That like a lot of things in this novel, I truly do not know. One character living to be 145? I am not sure if that is possible in this time but who knows. Also, there were no dates in this book so I was having to guess when everything was taking place. I still do not know. Logic gets a two out of five.

Before I wrap things up here I want to say a lot of things in this book are unusual, and that is putting it nicely. We do have to remember this book takes place in the past when cousin marriage was common and arranged marriages as well. With that being said some of the things in this book did make me uncomfortable and I would recommend you up the trigger warnings before reading.

I would not say that I did not enjoy this book. It was a classic three star for me. I did enjoy getting to learn about a different culture that I had not known a lot about before. I got another classic under my belt and that feels pretty good. Have you read ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’? Let me know!

3 out of 5 stars.

Into the Black: The Inside Story of Metallica Review

Metallica became the biggest band in the world in 1991. The band was already ten years into their career but the were just now releasing their self titled album, more commonly known as ‘The Black Album”. This album was produced by more of a mainstream producer, Bob Rock, who had done albums with Bon Jovi and Motley Crue in the past. That sounds like a thrash metalhead’s nightmare.

The band received loads of criticism for this album. Some saying they were selling out to Hollywood and forgetting their metal roots.The band was growing and trying different things. The album did sell well, becoming one of the top selling albums of the decade. The band had to ride off of this high and continue the momentum. That was done by touring with huge acts of the time on giant stadium tours, making music videos for MTV, and a last making more music.

The 1990s was an awkward time for rock music. Glam was getting thrown out the door and the Seattle grunge was coming in. Bubblegum pop and bands that wouldn’t last for five minutes were taking over the scene. Metal prevailed, Metallica prevailed though while all others fell.

First and foremost, I should state that Metallica are one of my favorite bands. I knew most of the facts going into this book, therefore, it was easy and fast for me to read and understand. I felt like this book did a good job compiling over twenty years into an almost three hundred page book.

This book is about the music and the industry that it is in. Don’t come to this for a juicy tell all but I really don’t think Metallica fans would be looking for that to begin with. At some points there were little personal paragraphs but only about James. I get that he is the frontman but do I really need to know that his eye sight was getting bad and he needed glasses? Just pure randomness.

As I said, I am a fan of this band, mainly their work in the eighties. I don’t think their later albums are bad, bands need to evolve and grow. I think it is important to try different sub genres. I know that Miley Cyrus gets a lot of hate but one of the awesome things about her is that every album is different, never the same. Metallica are the same and I applaud them for that. I learned a lot about that process in this book. I never realized how much criticism the band got for their more modern albums.

My few complaints are very minimum. The writers did get somethings wrong, example one being “[Lars] had flew from Los Angeles to California to see the band perform at the Woolwich Odeon in south London.” Okay, how do you fly from Los Angeles to California and I don’t think London is in California. Point number two, the paragraph is talking about Ron McGovney driving the band to San Francisco from Los Angeles.. on Interstate 95. I95, is the east coast connector and not the west coast. All these “typos” happen in the last twenty pages, I don’t know if the writers were rushing to finish or what. I thought the writers did at times sound cocky. They acted like Metallica were the only band in the world or better than everyone else. That didn’t leave a good feel with me. If you like heavy metal and want to know more, pick this book up.

4 out of 5 stars.