May Wrap Up 2021

This month I finished five books which equals out to 1,818 pages. I, however, did not finish my ‘to be read’ list for the month. Therefore, I will not be able to mood read a book in June and will have to stay on a strict TBR to get me closer to my goal of 72 books read for the year. I am currently at 29 books read.

An average read, this was new and unique but I could not connect with the characters and found myself skimming through the paragraphs. My min wandered a lot while getting through this 334 page novel. It is more of a plot driven story than one of character development. My opinion is unpopular as many of those I follow on social media really seemed to enjoy, ‘Gods of Jade and Shadow’. I would suggest still picking this book up if you are interested in the fantasy genre or into mythology.

3 out of 5 stars.

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.

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.

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.

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

‘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

Check out my YouTube channel at Izzy Rain – YouTube or follow my Facebook page: Izzy Rain | Facebook

‘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.

Check out my Youtube channel to hear my thoughts on other books here: Izzy Rain – YouTube or see those same videos on my Facebook page: Izzy Rain | Facebook

‘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.

Check out my YouTube channel: Izzy Rain – YouTube or my Facebook page: Izzy Rain | Facebook

‘Gods of Jade and Shadow’ Book Review

In 1929, Mexico, Casiopea opens a forbidden chest that resides in her grandfather’s home. Inside there is a quest that needs to be had with the help of an ancient Mayan god that Casiopea thought was only a myth. She must help this immortal being reclaim his throne or die a slow and painful death.

Casiopea is like any other young adult fantasy lead heroine. This novel is actually listed as adult on Goodreads but in my opinion it falls more into the category of YA. I started out feeling indifferent on our characters. They were average and I never felt any real connection to any of them. Casiopea was a bit wishy washy, hypocritical, but I think most girls of her age and in any decade, can be like that.

The atmosphere was one of the strong suits of ‘Gods of Jade and Shadow’. I loved getting to travel all across Mexico, and a little bit of Texas, with the characters. It is a country that I know only the basics about so it was so cool getting to read about how each city varies with its culture, landscape, and overall personality. Silvia Moreno-Garcia did a great job with descriptive writing to really put you in a location rather it be our world or the underworld of the Mayan gods!

I briefly mentioned the writing in the paragraph above, the descriptions were pretty good in this book. I also like the paragraphs about Casiopea’s dreams and looking up to the stars as if they would have an answers to all of her questions about life, those paragraphs felt so hopeful and dream like.

The plot is very unique with it being Mayan gods, as we get so many books about Egyptian, Greek, and Roman gods, we also seem to be getting quite a few about Slavic mythology. I find all mythology interesting though, so I am not complaining, but seeing something set in North America is very refreshing. I think if you are a fan of Naomi Novik, you will like this novel, it has some of the similar tropes. I have seen this book labeled as a Cinderella retelling but I would take that very lightly. The plot was something new and nice to see in the fantasy market.

This plot did move along nicely as it was quite fast paced. I think the characters always being on the move in their quest was a part of making it move fast.

An average read, this was new and unique but I could not connect with the characters and found myself skimming through the paragraphs. My min wandered a lot while getting through this 334 page novel. It is more of a plot driven story than one of character development. My opinion is unpopular as many of those I follow on social media really seemed to enjoy, ‘Gods of Jade and Shadow’. I would suggest still picking this book up if you are interested in the fantasy genre or into mythology.

3 out of 5 stars.

Be sure to check out my YouTube channel Izzy Rain – YouTube or my Facebook page Izzy Rain | Facebook

‘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

‘She Would Be King’ Book Review

Three people are born into the world in the nineteenth century. They all have the world against them but each of the three is born with a gift. Gbessa is born in a West African village on the day that a terrible event has occurred, therefore she is cursed and exiled from her people. She cannot be killed. June Dey, is born to two people who both foster paranormal powers, both parents die when he is young. His power is super strength which he uses to survive in a Virginia that is known for its plantation slavery. Lastly, there is Norman, his father was a British Colonizer in Jamaica who took advantage of his Maroon slave, Norman’s mother. Norman shares the same powers as his mother, he can disappear. They all come together in Monrovia to use their gifts to fix the rifts that are held between the African American settlers and the native tribes.

There were three main characters and they all felt like main characters. Each and every one of them felt important to the story and they were all equally interesting. A lot of books have that issue when there are multiple point of views, where it is obvious the author had a favorite character and did not build as much on the others. That is not an issue with ‘She Would Be King’, Moore did a fantastic job at making sure all the characters had depth to them and that they developed throughout the story. Another thing that I would like to point out is that their powers did not define them, they had something to them other than their gifts.

The reader really gets immersed into this story. I do not know what did it, I think maybe it was just the history and a world that I did not know much about. I like that our characters all came from different backgrounds but yet were still similar and you could see how they can relate to one another. Even though their walks of life were all so different.

The writing did have a magical feel to it to go along with the magical realism genre that is thrown into this story. I think that the author could really succeed in building her own world in a fantasy or sci-fi novel. This is Moore’s debut work and I would like to see what other ideas she has.

This plot reminded me a lot of One Hundred Years of Solitude, with it being magical realism and then the story has a location building around it. In the case of this novel it is a country rather than a village. I am so happy that all our characters did have to come together as well. I hate when you read a novel with multiple view points but they never connect, the reader will not get that here. I learned so much here. I have, of course, heard of Liberia but I honestly do nothing else behind the name and location. I have zero idea why we did not learn this in school. I think it is important to American history to learn how freed African Americans made their way back to Africa to start a country of their own. Very interesting.

My one complaint is that the ending was not satisfying. It is open-ended. I feel like maybe we, the readers, can have a sense of hope or worry about what might happen to the characters. If this is what they were made to do, if this is how they are supposed to end. We don’t know but maybe that is poetic in a way.

I enjoyed this novel as it opened so many doors of research for me. Trust me, I will be on my phone all night researching this time period, cultures in Africa, and the history of Liberia as a country. I learned so much, that is something I always want to get out of reading and life in general. I want to learn everything there is to know. I want to gain some bit of knowledge out of everything that I do and I gained a lot of that with She Would Be King. I will be adding any other work by Wayetu Moore onto my to be read list as I do think she is a good writer. I recommend this book to all of you!

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Check out my YouTube channel for more updates on my reading: Izzy Rain – YouTube

Or you can like my Facebook page: 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.

Check out my YouTube Channel here: Izzy Rain – YouTube

You can also leave a like on my Facebook page: Izzy Rain | Facebook

‘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.

Check out my YouTube channel at Izzy Rain – YouTube

Or you can like my Facebook page here Izzy Rain | Facebook

‘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

My Youtube channel; Izzy Rain – YouTube

My Facebook page: Izzy Rain | Facebook