‘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.

‘Waking Gods’ Bonus Book Review

A young girl in a small town in South Dakota rides her bike one day and discovers a large hole, where a giant metal hand is at rest. Seventeen years later, more of these artifacts are being discovered and the mystery is still unsolved. What are they? How old are they? Who made them? The young girl mentioned earlier, Rose, is now an adult and a physicist who had a military team and the backing of the American government to find out the answers.

At first, it’s a little confusing, getting used to who is who, coming into this sequel. You never realize how much these characters mean to you until stuff starts hitting the fan. We only get dialogue in this series, so it amazes me how close we get to these characters. I loved them and was worried for them.

As stated, before this is only dialogue, a file format. We do not really have an atmosphere only names of locations. However, Mr. Burns, my favorite character, gives us a lot of world building by the history and what not.

We were kind of thrown into this book and that’s the only reason why I am not giving it a full five star. I think we are something like eight years after the events of ‘Sleeping Giants’. I was very confused for the first quarter of the book. However, this was fast so fun to read but I did skim over the parts that were filled with science as that just went over my head.

The plot was amazing! Neuvel is an author who is not afraid of what he is writing and that will only tug at the heartstrings of the reader. Simply amazing with believable plot twists. The constant of having to make theories and then change them. The reader will never be left bored.

It truly amazes me how connected we get with these characters as this book is only dialogue, it’s in a file format. You never realize how much the characters mean to you until they get thrown into the action and then it’s just crazy. We don’t really have an atmosphere as this story is told through diary entries and files. However, the character of, Mr. Burns, really brings in a lot of world building by telling the history. The only reason why this isn’t a full five star is because we’re just thrown into the story. I was confused the whole first quarter of the book. I skimmed over a lot of the in-depth science talk, but I did enjoy the scenes with genetics. With this being a multimedia book, it is very fast, and you could probably read it in one day. The plot was just plain out amazing, the author is not afraid of what he is writing and that only leaves us getting out heart strings pulled. I loved this book.

‘The Poppy War’ Book Review

“It was somehow beautiful, … lovely and terrible all at once.”

Rin was a war orphan, a shop girl, poor and unloved. the only way to get out of that life is to marry an old man or get an education. She does not want to marry a man who is three times older than she is, and she does not have the money for a tutor, but she studies on her own, endlessly, to get herself into the highest-ranking military academy in the empire. Once at the academy, she must deal with the prejudices that other students hold against her. She is too dark, too poor, a girl. They judge her for everything that is until she shows them what she can do. That she is committed and willing to learn the powers of those used by shamans. She is willing to end the war that is yet to come.

These characters are not likeable in the slightest, but I could not help but care for them. I was so scared for them and just emotionally connected overall. No one was black or white, these characters were realistic with strengths and weaknesses. Rin was the one that was an annoyance to me at first, but she did develop more and more throughout the course of the story. I do love the feminist vibes of her though, the woman wanting power and going after what she wants was amazing to read. I have never read a story with a female character like that I am honestly shocked by how much she developed as a character. At first, I did not think this was a character driven story, I am still not sure if it’s more character or plot but for the most part the characters were well written. I did confuse a lot of the ‘Cike’ guys as I feel like none of them had any real defining traits and just blended into one another. I am impressed with how the main characters developed throughout the novel, though.

I was not a fan of the school setting in part one of the story. I did not realize that I am not a fan of academy settings in fantasy until this one. There was nothing wrong with it, but I just found it boring as we were just following a tedious routine. Though, as Rin learned with her studies, the reader did as well and it was a good form of world building. However, I am fascinated how this is inspired by Asian history, the Second Sino-Japanese War, as I do not know much about that part of history, so I am going to read up more on that now that I have finished the book.

Again, with the first part, the writing was not special and just felt tedious. I was constantly looking to see how much more of the chapter I had left. Just wanting it to end. Then, we get to part two and in the middle of a war. This book just changed completely once we got to that part. The reader is given lyrical and beautiful scenes that can be vividly imagined. Part two is filled with great dialogue, in my opinion the character of Altan had the best dialogue of the whole book. In part three, we randomly get a scroll, I think this was out of place and not necessary. The writing has a sudden snap between parts one and two but boy am I glad that it did. Kuang really knows how to show the brutalities of war. I have not seen a writer in television or in novels showcase it in such a brutal, dark, and realistic way. She was not afraid of what she was writing.

As stated before, the plot in the first part of the story really slogged by. Get to the second and third part, it flew by, and I was shocked by how fast that I was getting through one hundred pages. This was not predictable; I am looking through my annotations and so many of my theories were wrong! That is fun though because it was a constant page turner and all the twists made sense. The main themes of the story to me are the cruelty of war and what war can do to a person, to a society. The reasons that this book is not getting a five star or even a four and half is because the way that part one was paced and then chapter twenty-three and twenty-four just kind of lost me. I did not like that part of the story.

The main characters are well developed and a new edition to the adult portion of the fantasy genre. No one was black or white, these characters were realistic with strengths and weaknesses. The reader will never expect the people these characters become. The setting did not play a huge role in the story; however, the school setting and the characters learning was a good way to show world building. The author really knows how to show the brutalities of war. I have not seen a writer in television or in novels showcase it in such a brutal, dark, and realistic way. The first part of the story was very slow and then the middle and end were fast paced. I wish the pacing was arranged better. I will be continuing this series, I hope that we can see this story brought to a screen, one day soon.

4 out of 5 stars.

‘Mexican Gothic’ Book Review

Noemí’s father, receives a troubling letter from her cousin, Catalina. The letters entails that the cousin is be poisoned by her new husband and that ghosts float around her new home. Something obviously is not right there and Noemí’s father sends her on her way to see what the matter with Catalina is.

Noemí is a city girl, having grown up in Mexico City. her family is that of new money from their dye and paint business. Noemí lives a life of fine parties and debutante balls. She does not seem like the likely superhero. She goes to the strict country home Catalina is living with her husband’s English family. There are rules of no smoking, no talking at the table, no leaving the house unattended. It is like a prison to Noemí. She is barely allowed to see her cousin and the only one she becomes close to in the family is the youngest son, Francis. He is the one to help her uncover all the secrets of the High Place house.

Starting with the first chapter, I liked Noemí. She is a strong and intelligent woman and not afraid to march to the beat of her own drum. However, throughout the story we come to find that there are not really any negative traits coming from her. She is a Mary Sue. The tension with Noemí and Virgil was so good at the start but just like her, he was only seen in black and white. These characters are one dimensional, either good or evil, no one is morally gray. I wish that Moreno-Garcia would have expanded their stories more so that we could connect with them.

The atmosphere was perfect and exactly is what the title of ‘Mexican Gothic’ describes. In the story, the characters even compare the house to that of the houses in Wuthering Heights and other Bronte novels. This really does read like a book out of the Victorian era even if it takes place in the fifties and was written in 2020. I love stories set at manors and this one did not disappoint with that setting.

The writing did not impress me. It was rather dry and at times I just felt myself skimming through the paragraphs, especially when I was convinced that this story would not be getting any better. Also, there were a few typos, like missing apostrophes and comas! As this is a horror, I expect to be creeped out or made uncomfortable but for that first 70% I was just like; “okay, kind of messed up but moving on”. I did not really feel anything for the writing until the last three chapters when the emotions were flying off the pages and into the reader’s mind.

The author truly took her time with this one. For the first seventy percent of this book, I just wanted something to happen instead of wandering around this manner and having the main character complain about all the rules and the members of the Doyle family. I do think taking time with your plot is a good thing but not when your characters are so flatly written so the reader does not have characters to analyze or a plot to enjoy! The element of horror that was present here was not to predict. I was able to find out the basis of it but not the little details. I wish that we would have had more building on this element and magic as we are just presented it with not a ton of background knowledge, I would like to know more. I was just bored, and I was scared that this would send me into a reading slump.

The characters were dry and flat, there was no development to them. Everyone was either good or evil, no one in the middle. Mexican gothic, that was exactly the atmosphere we were given, and it was perfect. It had the eerie feeling of a classic novel even if we were in Latin America. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, and it was the only thing I liked in this story. The writing was like the characters, flat and I found myself skimming a lot, which is never a good sign. The plot took a while to get into, most of the book. The pace did not pick up until the last three chapters of the whole novel. This is the second book that I have read from this author, and I will give her one more chance. This story did not impress me and if I did not have to write a review, I would have marked it as a DNF.

‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ Book Review

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since elementary school, when Gretchen was the only one to show up to Abby’s birthday party. Flash forward to high school, after an experience of trying acid, for the first time, things get strange. Gretchen keeps feeling like something is touching her, she stares off at nothing, and says random things that do not make any sense. Aby concludes that her best friend must be possessed by a demon. She now must set out on a mission to get her best friend back.

The characters were interesting – one of the best parts. Gretchen had a fascinating backstory and was the most developed character, even though she was not the main point of view that the reader follows. However, Abby, was very relatable and my favorite character. One let down is that I wish the side characters had been developed more.

The atmosphere was my favorite part. As everyone knows, I love the eighties. just the fashion and pop culture references were so much fun. Another thing is that the book takes place in South Carolina, my home state. I loved reading about locations that I am familiar with.

The writing was nothing special. The plot took a long time to get into. This is a short book, barely over three hundred pages but felt way longer. It could have been diced down a lot. The writing just didn’t grip me.

By the description on the back of the book the plot sounds interesting. As sate before, it took a while to get into. There was lots of buildup and then the exorcism was only a few short chapters. That should have been played out more as it is the title of the book.

The characters were interesting. Gretchen had a good backstory and I felt as though she was the most developed, even though she wasn’t the POV. However, Abby was relatable, and I couldn’t help but have her as my favorite character. The atmosphere was by far my favorite part. It’s setting in South Carolina and in the eighties, what more could I ask for? The writing was average. It felt so slow even though the book was a little over 300 pages. It just didn’t grip me. The plot had a lot of buildup and then the exorcism was a few short chapters. If you’re a fan of Fear Street, I got a lot of those vibes, mix in IT and Stranger Things season two. Not the best book that I’ve read but I don’t regret the experience.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

September 2021 Reading Wrap-up

In September I read 1,915 pages across five different books. It was an average reading month. One of the books I would consider great, two were good, one was average, and sadly, one was bad. I completed my to be read list so that means next month I get to read a book of my choice instead of one that was pulled out of the TBR jar. Here are my thoughts on the September books!

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.

The characters of this novel were amazing and well developed. Throughout my time reading this, I was thinking of actors who could play them in a film. (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 this 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. (I did the audiobook for this one).

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 piques 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 done properly, there was not enough building or foundation on the magic system. An average read.

I did enjoy this read. The characters did annoy me at times but overall, they were well written, and I can see that sometimes just committing to someone is hard for some people. I like that we did get both women’s perspectives to see what Jake was trying to choose between. I don’t think these characters were likeable, but they were real. Elin Hilderbrand can paint a beautiful setting and really immerse you into it. The writing was fast, but you never truly felt like anything was left out. I don’t think this needed to be a forbidden romance but then it wouldn’t be as exciting, would it be?

Kya is an unforgettable character, and, in a sense, we really grow with her throughout the story and become connected with the marshlands that she calls her home. In my head I can see the shack and have a perfect picture of what the marsh and the small beach community look like. This is a science and English lover’s dream of a book; beautiful writing yet that sense of biology and learning about the ecosystem. The plot is unique like our main character and had tropes that I love. There were some things that I thought were random and some lose ends that I found that did not tie together nicely but I cannot discuss that here as there would be spoilers. Overall, this was a good book to end September with and I look forward to future books that the author might release.

The overall average for the rating of the September books are a 3.5 out of 5 stars!

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