Book Review | The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Tropes and archetypes make reading really fun for me. Okay.. back it up a little bit. I majored in English so picking apart and analyzing different pieces of literature is really a fun time for me. I’m definitely not against tropes and archetypes – if they’re done correctly.

The Chosen One is a trope present in almost every piece of young adult fantasy I’ve encountered thus far (also hello Harry Potter! Also, this was the main premise of my senior thesis)

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a book by Patrick Ness about the regular people – the Not-Chosen One’s in fantasy.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions…

Chapter Headings

I am all about books that don’t give chapters title. I prefer “Chapter One” because honestly, I don’t have time or patience to read chapter titles. Seriously.. I can probably name ONE chapter title from Harry Potter. Also, the only chapter I remember from the 15 Cassandra Clare books I’ve read is Chapter 1: Pandemonium (from City of Bones).

The thing about this book is the chapters have little sentence long stories about the Indie kids that I. Lived. For. If more books had headers like this one, I’d definitely consider reading the chapter headings. It was my favorite part of this book.

Anxiety and OCD

It’s not every day that I encounter books that showcase anxiety. Mikey’s anxiety is not like my own. Like, I related to him because I also feel like I’m the least wanted person in a group, but at the same time I didn’t because my anxiety doesn’t present itself like Mikey’s. While his is a loop of compulsive behaviors, mine is more of a physical thing. I shake, I pick my skin (face and arms), and I pull on my own hair. I don’t get caught in loops of compulsion, but I do often get caught in loops of negative thinking.

The point is, I thought Mikey’s anxiety and OCD were really well thought out. I like that Ness walks us through how he breaks out of the cycles and I enjoyed the interaction between Mikey and Jared and Mikey and his therapist over his issues.

I’m not an expert, but I thought this was handled well. I enjoyed being able to relate to a character on a mental well-being level. It was different than my normal “I relate” mentality.

Character Development

Honestly, the characters in this were all really well thought out. Ness wrote his non-indie kid characters so well! Everyone was relatable – even Jared with his one third god self. I really enjoyed reading a book focused around the Muggles of fantasy – much more than I thought I would.

Meredith was probably the best developed. For some reason, I think Ness hit the nail on the head when it comes to an overachieving 12 year old girl. She wasn’t annoying; she was perfectly written.

Also, I enjoyed that we go nearly a whole book referring to Mel’s doctor boyfriend as Call Me Steve. It’s oddly hilarious.

Concluding thoughts

Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary is really hard to do. Patrick Ness did a really great job with this book. Although I don’t think this should have been the first Ness book I picked up, I did enjoy his writing style and the humor found within this book.

Having read multiple other review on Ness’ work, I would tend to agree – this wasn’t the best piece of literature I’ve ever encountered, but it didn’t turn me off from reading Ness in the future. I guess what I’m getting at is I wish I would have read something else by the author first, but I don’t regret reading this book.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟💫

I found this piece to be oddly compelling and oftentimes hilarious. I would recommend to other readers who are interested in a satirical writing on The Chosen One as a trope or archetype.

What’s your favorite Patrick Ness book? I’m looking to add more of his work to my mountainous TBR.

Book review | The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

As a 28 year old lady, I understand when books aren’t written for me. That doesn’t stop me from reading them anyway. The Kissing Booth was definitely not for me in that it is probably more geared toward middle and high school girls, but I’d watched the movie (several times) and thought it was best if I also read the book.

Honestly, I wanted to read the book because I couldn’t decide if I liked the movie. Like I said, I’ve watched the thing several times and I still can’t decide if I like the movie! It was definitely time to give the book a shot.

I have some v opinionated thoughts.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Meet Rochelle Evans: pretty, popular–and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile–and a total player. And also Elle’s best friend’s older brother…

When Elle decides to run a kissing booth for the school’s Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer–this romance seems far from fairy tale and headed for heartbreak.

But will Elle get her happily ever after?

Thoughts on the Movie

I’d like to start by voicing my main issue with the movie. Elle, quite literally, brought Lee’s wrath on herself. She was whiny and annoying throughout the entire film. I get it; she’s a teenager and we’ve all be through our whiny teen phase, but this was over the top and a little extreme.

Also, if Lee was really Elle’s bestie, he wouldn’t have been mad that she fell in love with his brother. Disappointed? Maybe. But the level of pissed-offedness in the film was.. Overdone.

Lastly, my issue with Noah in the movie is that he hardly freaking attended school. He is a stereotypical bad boy who gave no indication whatsoever that he even cared about his grades. How in the heck did he get into Harvard?!

Thoughts on the Book

The movie definitely took some liberties in deviating from the book. It’s fine. Here’s my problem… LEE.

While Elle annoyed me in the movie, Lee absolutely pissed me off in the book. He literally gave Elle every chance in the book to fall for his brother by pushing her toward him every single time the opportunity presented itself! Like, “oh my girlfriend wants to go do this after the carnival, can you get a ride with Noah?” Or how about, “Is that going to take you long to clean up? I have to go be with my girlfriend now… maybe Noah can take you home?” How in the frick is Lee gonna be pissed at Elle when he finds out about her and Noah if he LITERALLY ENCOURAGED IT?

Aside from my major and obvious rage at Lee, can we talk about Elle? She literally could’ve just told Lee she liked his brother and saved herself so much drama. I get that it would be a boring book, but the sneaking around crap is just an overdone cliche.

Look, I get that Beth Reekles wrote this book when she was like 15 or something. I really do. And I didn’t hate it (I think). Honestly, I’m still on the fence. It was a quick and enjoyable, though rage inducing, read so I’d definitely recommend it to teens (like it’s meant for) and not really to my fellow 28 year old ladies.

Rating: 🌟🌟💫

Look, I can’t give it a three. I was too pissed off the whole time.

Have you read The Kissing Booth? Did you feel as ragey as me? Have you watched the Netflix adaptatation? What are some of your thorughts?

Book Review | Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

As I scrolled through list upon list of new releases for 2019, a few books had covers that just jumped out at me. Circle of Shadows was a complete cover buy for me… it wasn’t until after I’d purchased it that I looked up the actual synopsis of the novel.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.

Geminas vs. Parabati

Immediately, I drew a parallel between geminas and parabati. There are some major similarities between the two different bonded warrior pairings. For starters, geminas and parabati are both forbidden from romantic relationships. Having just finished The Dark Artifices, I automatically assumed Sora and Daemon would end up having feelings for one another. It was also immediately evident that I was right, but the feelings are one sided.

Geminas apparently also go through some kind of bonding ceremony, but the ceremony isn’t exactly described. Whereas we get a glimpse into the parabati ceremony with Emma and Jules, we don’t actually learn (in this book) how Daemon and Sora came to be geminas.

Magic System

I love a good magic system. The Society of Taigas has a relatively simplistic magic system. Taigas form mudras with their hands and then chant their spell – which allows them to basically channel all different types of animals. I enjoyed the simplicity of the Society’s magic.

However, this isn’t the only magic system in the book. The Rebels who follow the villain of the story are gifted by the villain with the Sight. This allows them to actually see the magic they’re using. In fact, they have to see the magic otherwise they can’t use it. The strands of magic the Rebels use are emerald green in color and the Rebels do not have to form mudras to use it. This gives them an advantage that taigas do not have.

Overall, the two different magic systems were my favorite part of this novel. They weren’t overly complicated, but they were definitely well thought out.

Character Development

While Sora and Daemon leaped off the pages at me, a lot of the other characters fell short. They were developed well enough, but they didn’t seem as alive as the main characters. Fairy was decently developed and I could picture her in my mind, but I couldn’t even begin to describe Broomstick to you. This might not be a problem for some people, but when I’m reading I like to have a visual of every character so I can cast the movie in my mind.

I guess what my point is here is that Evelyn Skye developed her characters’ personalities well, I just couldn’t visualize them. Oh, and I still really liked most of the characters.

Overall Thoughts

One of the main reasons my rating is lower than normal on a book I enjoyed is it read a lot like a draft. Meaning I found a lot of grammatical errors and it was almost like no one edited or proofed the work. While the plot, characters, and magic were all really interesting, I couldn’t quite get past the mistakes I found. Normally I’m okay with one or two errors in a print book, but I expect a higher quality of editing in physical books than I do in my eBooks. This one was a miss in editing, but I, overall, enjoyed the novel.

Yes, I enjoyed this book. Yes, I will pick up the sequel. Yes, I would recommend it to people who enjoy fantasy. I would also recommend it to people who are particularly interested in magic systems as I feel this novel has a really solid one.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

Are you particular about grammar in books? Does it bother you when you find errors? Have you read Circle of Shadows? What about the Crown’s Game series? Leave me your thoughts in the comments.

Book Review | Golden State by Ben H. Winters

Book of the Month is my favorite way to get new books. Not only do they select pre-releases, they also have introduced me to some of my favorite books at a fraction of how much they’d cost me in stores. I have no complaints and honestly, one of my favorite days of every month is carefully browsing through the five selections to ensure I pick the best book for me.

Occasionally, I pick a flop (for ME). Most of the times though, I end up with a newfound favorite book. Golden State by Ben H. Winters was my January 2019 Book of the Month Selection. It’s definitely a book I’m glad I picked!

Book of the Month describes Golden State as a fast read, action packed, and movie-ish. I can agree… slightly.

It was kind of a slow build for me. There was tons of action and I really liked it, but it took me as long to read this book (319 pages) as it did for me to read Clockwork Princess (570 pages). This being said, I can see this being an really great movie!

Lies are a physical thing

Speculative Service members can, quite literally, choke on lies. Our main character, Laszlo Ratesic is a 19 year veteran of the Speculative Service. His brother, Charlie, was also a member of the Service. The story centers around the fact that Laszlo and his brother were incredibly different Speculators. I can’t quite explain this without giving spoilers. Trust me, it’s interesting!

1984-esque

If you told me to pick my favorite dystopian novel, I would without hesitation say 1984. I read it my junior year of high school and have read it multiple times since. I almost wrote my senior thesis on the book! With that being said, I definitely drew some parallels between the Orwell classic and Winters’ more modern dystopian thriller. For starters, EVERYTHING is monitored in Golden State. There are cameras (not called cameras in the book) everywhere and members of the Government actually wear them on their persons. Nothing goes Off Record because it’s against the law. There was so much detail that went into the concept of this novel, I really admire Winters as a writer.

Twisty, Turny, Unexpected Ending

The ending is one I never saw coming! I was shocked and actually had to rewind and re-read a couple of pages because I was certain I was imagining the ending. It was really unexpected (for me, a thriller lover). The lies, secrets, and betrayals were everything I look for in novels like this.

Conclusion

This book is for you if you’re a fan of dystopian novels. If you haven’t read 1984 and read this and like it, I’d definitely recommend checking out the Orwell novel too. It’s really fun to be able to draw parallels between the two novels. This is very much how I imagine 1984 would look if written in modern times. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟💫

Book Review | Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

No doubt, I’ve said by now, I waited until Queen of Air and Darkness released to read The Dark Artifices. The thing about Cassandra Clare’s book is once I start a series, I need to devour it. The story consumes me and I knew that if the Blackthorns were involved in this trilogy, I’d want to devour the series as fast as I can. Have I mentioned how much I like Mark Blackthorn? He’s the main reason I anticipated this trilogy so much…

Normally, I love the last book of Cassie’s series’ or trilogies the most. Clockwork Princess was my favorite of The Infernal Devices. City of Heavenly Fire was, probably an unpopular opinion, a decent close to The Mortal Instruments. And, definitely don’t get me wrong, Queen of Air and Darkness neatly wrapped up Emma and Julian’s storyline, but left others WIDE OPEN, hence why Lord of Shadows ended up being my favorite of The Dark Artifices.

Let’s discuss the beginning

To start, I thought this book was really good. Long winded, but everything included was somehow necessary. This was, without a doubt, the longest YA novel I’ve read to date. It was long, but it didn’t feel drivelly. That said, I do think it was a slow build.

The way Lord of Shadows ended, I expected Queen of Air and Darkness to come in hot with Julian’s ruthless heart. It did not. It took me about 300 pages to really get invested in this book. It’s not that it was disappointing or anything, it just felt like Cassie was doing more building of the story.

Chapter One was really well written. I cried through the entirety of the chapter because I still wasn’t prepared to say goodbye to certain characters.

This whole book was full of complexities that I really enjoyed. I won’t divulge too much detail, because I try to keep my reviews spoiler free, but there was a lot of detail that went into this novel that I really enjoyed.

Overlapping storylines

One thing I really love about Cassie is she always brings back beloved characters. In this one, we get a lot of The Mortal Instruments gang (mainly Clary, Jace, Alec, and Magnus) and not nearly enough Tessa and Jem. There are happy moments with Tessa and Jem and devastating ones too.

I really liked that Clary and Jace, Alec and Magnus played a big part in Queen of Air and Darkness. One of my biggest qualms with City of Heavenly Fire is that young Emma and Julian were really in it a lot. This was different though because everyone is older so there’s less pre-teen angst and a lot more adultish themes. Also, Emma and Julian as almost adults are a lot less annoying that pre-teen Emma and Julian. So there’s that!

Relationships, relationships, relationships

So much happens in terms of relationships. Deeper connections are made between some of my favorites. Some relationships seem broken beyond repair. Special bonds are formed between two of my favorite characters. This one was heartbreaking in terms of relationships, but in the best way.

The Big Problem

Look, this might be a little spoilery… As much as I love Alec and Magnus, the ending of Queen of Air and Darkness seemed more about them than it did Emma and Julian. I’m not mad, I’m simply stating something I thought when I finished reading. It was nice to see Malec taking strides in their relationship, but I need more closure for Emma and Julian (I’m sure the time will come eventually!).

Here’s my problem… the Epilogue opened the door for a whole other story and I NEED IT NOW.

Here’s what I hope

I felt sad that Kit decided to leave without saying goodbye. I was really hoping he’d stay for Ty. I’m now hopeful for a Kit and Ty story and I need more about Mark and Cristina. I’m hopeful that once Red Scrolls of Magic come out, we will get to see more of both sets of characters.

Overall, I’m not mad at Queen of Air and Darkness and it’s still a really great book. There are just certain things that upset me about the novel because I feel like I need MORE closure. Guess I’m just greedy like that! 😛

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫