Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: A World Without Princes (School for Good and Evil #2)

A World Without Princes (#2)
by  Soman Chainani
Date Read:  11/17/16
Rating: ★ ★ 
  

I’m going to start by talking about the length of this book. It was over 400 pages. Do you know how heavy that is to carry back and forth from work? How hard it is to keep a book that size opened and on the correct page while you’re eating lunch? I lugged this sucked around for WEEKS because my only reading time is during my lunch break at work these days (I love my 2-year-old to pieces, but she definitely has drastically changed my life)! 

There were times I felt like this book kind of dragged on…but that’s easy to do when you’re 400+ pages. About 300 pages in I was ready for answers.  I had a wait a little longer until things started piecing together and much longer for Agatha to put it all together. However, the positive to the length of these books is that nothing feels instantaneous. There is NO insta-anything. Everything is very believable through both books.

I also felt like I was able to relate to Sophie a little more in this book. Or at least I understood her motives more in this book than the first. I couldn’t stand her in the first one. I still don’t condone what she did, but at least she had good intentions (for herself anyway).  The only thing I wasn’t happy about was how long it took for Agatha to figure it out.  Sure, it had more impact having her make the realization at that point, but as the reader who has known since the beginning of the book, it was super frustrating. It would have almost been better if this book was told only from Agatha’s POV and we hadn’t known.

I also wasn’t a fan of how quickly Agatha and Tedros lost trust for each other. And did the honestly never think Sophie’s name when the mentioned the pink spell? I mean, honestly!
I did enjoy Agatha’s relationship with the witches. I really enjoyed every time the 4 of them got together. It also showed that good and evil can work together. There are blurred lines. Not everyone is black or white.

I thought it was an interesting concept that the towers of Good and Evil became Girls and Boys. It was also interesting how quickly they hated each other – though I suppose if I was evicted as rudely as the boys were, I’d be pretty upset also.

I think the concept that the author is working around about love vs friendship is so unique. Everyone always thinks you can’t have these best friends anymore once you get married. I love one of my best guy friends when I got married. So I’m really interested to see how this works out in the end.

I’ve really enjoyed the concept and I enjoy most of the characters. The world is super interesting. Looking forward to what is in store for Agatha and Sophie in the final installment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ebates Referral for Black Friday Shopping!!


Hi all! I know I've been a bit absent lately. Once November hits, our lives get pretty busy and time gets away from me. Black Friday ads have been leaking all over the place, so I've started putting my list together. The best part? I can do most of my shopping online and get cashback through Ebates!

I wanted to share this with you all. Most of the major stores do extra cashback for Black Friday and throughout the holiday season.  Most years, I end up with at least $50 cashback just from my Christmas shopping. It doesn't require any work. You just need to sign up, and then you can either just go to ebates.com and click on the merchant link from there, or you can install the Ebates button on your browser so you'll never miss an opportunity for cashback - it notifies you when you are on a merchant website offering cashback.

The best thing about Ebates is that you still get the same amazing deals but you get a percentage of it back just by clicking the button!

TIP: Sign up through my referral link here and you will get a $10 bonus after you make your first purchase over $25 using Ebates.

So check it out and sign up before you start your shopping! I know everyone looks for great, easy ways to make extra cash, and this is a great way! You don't really have any extra work to get this cashback!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Usborne Book Party!

I hosted a party last night on facebook showcasing Usborne books. Have you heard of them? They have super unique and interactive books for ages infants through young adult!  If you haven't heard of them, you should follow this link to browse all the books they have to offer. These books would make great Christmas presents for the kids in your life (think your own kids, nieces and nephews, grandkids, godchildren, etc).

Here is the link to my shopping page. The shopping link will be open until midnight tonight!  Make sure when you check out to select my name, Kristen Ray! I hope you find some amazing books your kids will love!
https://w4960.myubam.com

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!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/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.
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