Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil
by  Soman Chainani
Date Read:  9/27/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

I listened to this in audiobook during my commute to and from work. It was a LONG book; I actually had to re-request it from the library in order to finish it.

I really enjoyed this book.  I was so intrigued by the plot summary that I had some high expectations.  It reminded me a lot of Harry Potter with the magic and the lessons, etc, and of course I absolutely love anything relating to fairy tales!

The main theme of this book was that you don’t have to be who people think or want you to be. You can choose your own path and make your own decisions.  Beauty is on the inside.

Sophie was utterly horrific. I hated listening to her. She went from annoying to completely evil over the span of the book.  Agatha was such a good, loyal friend to Sophie, and Sophie just used her.  She is really a terrible person. It’s frustrating that Agatha just won’t let go of that friendship.  Sometimes friends go opposite directions and that’s ok. That’s life. But Agatha fights till the bitter end to save her friend.

Agatha – I LOVE Agatha. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a main character so much. She isn’t your typical heroine. She loves to wear black, she hates conforming to what people want her to do, she doesn’t realize that she has a good soul underneath her not as pretty exterior. She has very low self-esteem and it takes her almost the entire book until she realizes her worth and her goodness.

I really liked how the book focused on friendship.  Even though Sophie and Agatha were told that they could never be friends (a princess and a witch can never be friends), they never stop fighting to get home together.

There were a few times that the story seemed to move slowly and there were some points where it seemed to wonder to things that didn’t seem important. In the end Agatha’s trip to Sader’s office is important, but I feel like it was just thrown in there for Agatha to have the revelation at the end of the book. It wasn’t written in as seamlessly as it could have been.

I hated the way the book ended!!!  It just ENDED. There was ZERO, I mean absolutely NO wrap up at all. After such a long book I wanted some closure for our characters but there was none. The author obviously knew he was going to write a series.  But I would have appreciated just a little wrap up.

Overall I really enjoyed it.  Looking forward to where the author takes the series. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Book Review: The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner #2)

The Scorch Trials
by  James Dashner
Date Read:  9/14/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

The entire time I was reading this story I was blown away by how different it was from the movie. For both “The Maze Runner” and “The Scorch Trials” I had watched the movie first.  I love the movies, I’m just wondering why they chose to make the second movie so vastly different from the book. It’s almost just loosely based on the book.  But that also made it fun to read the book because I still wasn’t sure what to expect.

I feel like this book was a little slower than the first book. Most of the book was about the gang traveling across the desert.  Yeah, there were some action scenes here and there, but it was still basically just a traveling book.  I wish it had been a little more exciting and diverted from the Scorch more often.

Thomas also passed out or slept (and dreamed) a LOT throughout this book.  It really slowed everything down. While I get that the author is making it real, it just really stopped the story and jarred me out of my rhythm.

The change between Thomas and Teresa in this book was done really well, I thought. It was very believable and just like Thomas, the reader has no idea who to trust. I definitely have some strong emotions about this and I tend to side with Thomas.

Several new characters are introduced in this book. Aris is an interesting character. I’m still on the fence about him. I liked Brenda a lot…but I didn’t like how forward she was. But once I got past that I really liked her.

We get a little bit more information on what the world is like now. There are still plenty of questions left open. The main ones being “What the heck is the killzone?” and “How is torturing children going to create a cure?”.  Dashner does a wonderful job of giving you just enough to keep reading and wanting so much more. Curious as to what this is all really about.

I hated the ending. It felt like the author just had a long story and decided to chop it right there. There was absolutely no wrap up at all. The story just ended. All of a sudden there were no more pages. What the heck? Ok, I get that you want a cliffhanger, but you can still successfully have a cliffhanger in your book while still having a little wrap up in other areas.

A little disappointed in this book following The Maze Runner. It’s still entertaining enough to get through, but it definitely took me a while to get through it … i.e. had to re-request from the library several times before I finished it…  I’m looking forward to reading The Death Cure to finally get some answers and see how this series ends.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Book Review: Max at Night (BLOGTOUR)

Max at Night
by  Ed Vere
Date Read:  9/8/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

I received a copy of Max at Night from the publisher, Sourcebooks, in exchange for an honest review. I’m so thankful they sent me this because my daughter and I will enjoy this story for years to come!

This book follows Max, a little kitten, as he is ready to go to bed, but he can’t find the moon to say goodnight. He goes on an adventure trying to get as high as he can to find the moon to say goodnight. Then he follows his steps back home to bed.

This sweet book is a wonderful bedtime book for toddlers and preschoolers. There aren’t that many words on the page and the length is perfect to help get a child ready for bed but not too long that they get bored. The illustrations are large and simple with a subdued color palette which keeps it from being too stimulating before bed. The repetition is perfect for preschoolers…you can ask the child what does Max have to do next to get back home?

My daughter and I really enjoyed this story and we are so thankful to Sourcebooks for providing us a copy.

Enter below for a chance to win your own copy of Max at Night and an original sketch by author and illustrator Ed Vere!
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If you’d like to learn more about the author and illustrator of Max at Night, you can find him by any of his social media below.
Twitter: @ed_vere

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Book Review: Toothiana: Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies (The Guardians #3)

Toothiana: Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies (#3)
by  William Joyce
Date Read:  9/3/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

The first thing I noticed about this book when we finally got the audiobook from the library was that is significantly shorter than the previous novels. Well, just be warned, that is because it ends on a huge cliffhanger and it just says “To Be Continued”.  SERIOUSLY?!

This book was actually much slower in pace than the previous books as well. It has a lot more background on Toothiana than we’ve gotten on the other characters.  Between this and the shorter length, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of action in this book. I did really enjoy the background story on Toothiana. It’s pretty tragic and yet hopeful also.

I’m really interested to see what happens to Katherine and also to our heroes as their journey continues. Pitch is a pretty sympathetic villain – while he’s doing evil now, he wasn’t always that way and he lost his daughter.  Will Pitch and Katherine end up having some sort of connection that helps save him from the evil?

I really enjoy these storylines but I’m disappointed that book 4 in the series is not on audio. Someone needs to remedy that FAST.  My husband and I have both been listening to these on our commute to work – so having to read a physical book will be much more time consuming for us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Review: How to Fight a Dragon's Fury (How to Train Your Dragon #12)

How to Fight a Dragon's Fury (#12)
by  Cressida Cowell
Date Read:  8/5/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

I completely forgot I never wrote my review for this either!!

Alright, I’m first going to bring up that if you hate amnesia stories, then you’re going to hate the first half of this book. I’m one of those people. I think it is a cheap cop out for authors. While I know Cowell likely used it as a way to recap the entire series (11 books), it was super frustrating as a reader.  Once Hiccup got his memory back, it got a lot better. Hiccup knew what he was fighting for and why it was so important for him to become King of the Wilder West.

What I was probably most disappointed in was the fact that Fishlegs and Comikaze were barely a part of this book. Hiccup was on his own for most of the book, and even when they began the war, he was still fighting by himself.  They have been such a strong part of Hiccup’s story that it was really disappointing to see him not require their help in this situation.

I really enjoyed the war at the end of the book. I think every single dragon we encountered along the 12 book journey was mentioned, and every single character we’ve encountered was participating in the war.  It was nice to see some characters that had iffy morals make the right decisions, and it was nice to see the bad guys get their comeuppance.

The Dragon Furious’ transformation in this book was pretty impressive and she did it pretty well.  It didn’t seem forced or too fast. His ending is heart-warming and heart-wrenching. I’ll say no more to this.

While you initially get the ending you want, it wasn’t as epic as I was hoping for. It’s still really good and definitely worth the read through the entire series. This is one of my favorite book series, and by far my favorite audiobook I’ve ever listened to. David Tennant is incredibly talented and I hope he reads more books because I will listen to them all!!!

My favorite part of this book was the epilogue. Holy. Cow. Probably one of the best I’ve read.  It was probably a little longer than it needed to be as Hiccup repeated the moral of the story over and over again about the human race, but it’s a good message. You get the answer to the question: What happened to the dragons??

It was a satisfying conclusion to an amazing adventure. I wish it was more epic and didn’t have the cheap amnesia plot device and had Hiccup’s friends a much larger part of his attaining his Kingship, but I am still happy with the ending. Thank you for giving us such a wonderful adventure, Ms. Cowell! I can’t wait until my daughter is a little older and we can read this with her again.  Perhaps if we read it to her early enough, she will love dragons as much as we do, and work hard to help bring the dragons back.  ;-)

Book Review: The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1)

The Hidden Oracle (#1)
by  Rick Riordan
Date Read:  8/2/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

I completely forgot that I hadn’t written my review for this yet!  Hopefully I remember everything I wanted to say now…4 weeks later…

Let me start with what I loved about this book: 
  1.  Riordan went back to just ONE POV.  While I enjoyed the Heroes of Olympus series, it was too overwhelming having 4 or 5 POVs in each book. Over the course of that series you had seen at least 7 POVs, but I think it was more than that.  Having just the one POV made it much easier to follow and you really got to connect with Apollo. I feel like Riordan does a much better job with his characters when he is only focusing on one of them.
  2. Percy!!!  While this series is not specifically about Percy, it is still in his world. Percy was in this book for a lot longer than I thought he would be at the beginning.  Percy is by far my favorite character from all of these books so it’s a lot of fun to catch up with him.
  3. Updates on a lot of our favorite characters!  We get to see a lot of previous characters in this book. We also meet a few new characters. You’ll love seeing where everyone is today and what they’ve been up to since the end of Heroes of Olympus.
  4. The Oracles. Having actually been to Delphi and saw where the Oracle actually sat, I’ve always been intrigued with this part of the story-line. I really enjoyed learning about the other oracles and the end explanation for what was going on. Riordan does a good job of making things seem irrelevant to each other, and then bringing them back so it make sense at the end.
  5. Apollo learns a lot in this book.  I didn’t particularly like him much at the beginning, but by the end I was rooting for him. He grows a lot and learns a lot. He makes some connections with his kids and Meg.
  6. Meg was an interesting character.  I can’t say too much about her without spoiling things, but I really liked her and her history.
Things I didn’t like about this book:
  1.  Apollo was way too self-absorbed at the beginning. While I understand that it’s the personality of the God, it just didn’t translate well in book format. I also think that Riordan may have over done it so that it was more obvious the growth that Apollo has in the book.
  2. The book was a little slow in the middle. Not a lot of action happens in the middle of the book and you are not given many answers…which leads me to #3…
  3.  I HATED the plot device Riordan used of Apollo’s amnesia-like situation. Apollo would know everything and have the background info you needed, but then he’d always conveniently “forget” it before he translated that info to another character and the reader. As a reader, it’s infuriating to be teased with info and answers, to only have it dangled there and then pulled away.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I feel like it was a little better than Heroes of Olympus, just because more happened in the book when it wasn’t following 7 characters at the exact same time, and you really got to know the main character much better in one POV.  But it didn’t surpass Percy Jackson.  Riordan just does Percy right, so I don’t think he’ll ever be able to top his original series – unless he goes back to writing only from Percy’s POV.

I’m interested to see how the remainder of the series goes and how often we’ll see previous characters and how involved they will be in helping Apollo with his quest.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Review: E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core (The Guardians #2)

E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core
by  William Joyce
Date Read:  7/26/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

It feels like a long time since I finished this. Though really it’s only been like 1.5 weeks. This one is harder to review for me than the first book in the series. I think it was a little slower, especially to set everything up.

What I did really like about this book though, is how much back story we get on Pitch. It really sets Pitch up to show you he was a normal guy, with a family and he was a hero. But the darkness got to him and transformed him in to the villain we now know today. It really makes Pitch related and creates empathy for him in the reader. These are the types of villains that I love right now. The ones that you really get to see their transformation. While we didn’t actually see him as a good guy, Joyce does a wonderful job making the reader feel as if they did.

Bunnymund didn’t come in to the story until much later. I was surprised how late he entered the story, considering he is the title character…  but he is worth the wait. I really liked his personality.  He was so unique and was the last of his kind. It made sense why he would become part of the Guardians. I really liked his Warrior Eggs. Joyce is very creative. And I loved the little tidbit about Humpty Dumpty at the end of the story. What a master weaver Joyce is.

I’m looking forward to continuing this series. I’m so glad I somewhat stumbled upon it. Next up is the tooth fairy – she’s probably the one I’m the least interested in, so we’ll see how this one goes.
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