Book Review – Heartless

IMG_20170301_220400_621.jpgI know, I know. I said I’d be back to my scheduled posts this week, but that obviously didn’t happen. My brother graduated from university today, and I forgot how much my family loves to spend time together. This is literally my first moment alone since I woke up this morning (well, not counting my morning shower!). So, I’m a bit behind with my posts, and I’m hoping to play catch-up over the next couple of days. Up first, a book review!


Heartless is the first book I’ve read by Marissa Meyer, but this book has inspired me to add her other work to my ever-growing tbr list!

The story is basically the origin story of the Queen of Hearts, a story of love and loss, promises made and broken, friendship, and betrayal. . Catherine dreams of opening a bakery with her dear friend, but fate does not seem to favor young Cath. Nor does her mother, who wants Catherine to be Queen, and her mother is quick to point out it’s not seemly for a queen to spend her days covered in flour, even if her lemon tarts are the best in Wonderland. Her delectable delicacies (and the not-so-subtle dealings of her mother) draw the attention of the King. Not that Cath wants anything to do with the King, especially after she meets Jest, and he introduces her to a world she’s never before experienced.

It was an enjoyable read, I only wish the pacing were a little bit better, and sometimes I think the descriptions were overdone/drawn-out. That might just be a personal preference, though!

Overall, I give this book 3.5/5 flowers, and I look forward to reading more by Marissa Meyer in the future!

Must-read: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

IMG_20170416_142615_974.jpgTitle: Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Publication Date: Originally published in two volumes – 1868 (Little Women) and 1869 (Good Wives). Published as a single work in 1880.

Brief Synopsis: Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters–Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth– and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War. (Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 flowers!

Why I think this is a must-read: Some may call it old-fashioned or outdated, and the author herself famously described it as “moral pap for the young,” but there’s no denying the timelessness of this great classic. First published nearly 150 years ago, Little Women has taught generations of young girls that internal grace is more important than external elegance, that it is better to give than to receive, that sisterly love is stronger than any force known to man, and that everyone, even young ladies, should strive for independence and work diligently towards success in whatever they most desire.

To those who are quick to point out all of the outdated messages throughout the story, especially those detailing a woman’s place in society, I suggest doing some research about the life of Louisa May Alcott and then giving the book a second chance. It may read like a totally different story. And, if your daughter/sister/niece has questions about this book—written in the 1860s—it’s a great time for a history lesson.

Favorite Quote: “I don’t pretend to be wise, but I am observing, and I see a great deal more than you’d imagine. I’m interested in other people’s experiences and inconsistencies, and, though I can’t explain, I remember and use them for my own benefit.”


Have you read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott? What did you think?

Monthly Wrap-up – April 2017

IMG_20170430_131929_030I know it’s been a few days since I last posted, but I had a migraine that lasted nearly three days, and it is basically impossible for me to use a computer when I have a migraine, so I wasn’t able to post much this week. Sorry! Regular posts will start again on Monday!

In April, my goal was to read nine books, and I technically completed that goal by reading a total of ten books, but I did not read two of the books on my April tbr list. Instead, I read seven from my planned list and added three different books. The first book I added was the next book in the Sigma Force series, Bloodline by James Rollins. And then, I re-read A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas in preparation for the release of the third book in the series, which was released on May 2nd.

In April, I’d say my favorite read was A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this story until I re-read it. However, even though I have a favorite, I enjoyed all of the books I read this month…more so than in other months! I’ve written reviews for two of these books so far–make sure to check them out–and be on the lookout for the remaining reviews!

Books I read this month:

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – 5/5🌸

The Devil Colony by James Rollins (Sigma Force series #7) – 4.5/5🌸

Bloodline by James Rollins (Sigma Force series #8) – 4.5/5🌸

Heartborn* by Terry Maggert – 4/5🌸

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – 4/5🌸

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – 4/5🌸

Duels & Deception* by Cindy Anstey (ARC- published April 11, 2017) – 3.5/5🌸

The Circus* by Olivia Levez (ARC – published May 4, 2017) – 3.5/5🌸

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken – 3.5/5🌸

Fade Away by Harlan Coben – 3/5🌸

*I received free copies of the books with an asterisk(*) next to their title. I won a free copy of The Circus through a Goodreads giveaway, and I received free e-book copies of Duels & Deception and Heartborn from their publishers via NetGalley for review consideration. Receiving a free copy of a book in no way affects the honesty of my reviews!

 

Must-read: Asking for It by Louise O’Neill

Image result for asking for it louise o'neill

Title: Asking For It

Author: Louise O’Neill

Publication Date: 3 September 2015 (UK), 5 April 2016 (USA)

Brief Synopsis: It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes… (Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 flowers! You can check out my full review of this book here, if you want to!

Why I think this is a must-read: This book is a powerful story about rape culture in the digital age, and 1) it will make you angry; 2) it will probably make you feel uncomfortable; 3) it will force you to confront your morality; and 4) it brings to the forefront issues our society tends to hide in the shadows: rape culture, slut-shaming, and sexual assault. Louise O’Neill knows these topics can no longer be taboo if we are truly to move forward as a society. And she didn’t pull any punches, practically slapping the reader in the face to start the conversation.

Favorite Quote: “I am not falling apart. I am being ripped at the seams, my insides torn out until I am hollow.”


Have you read Asking for It by Louise O’Neill? What did you think?

Book Review – Heartborn

 

I know, it’s Sunday, and I said I’d be posting reviews on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but I fell asleep before I could post this yesterday. It’s only a day late!


Heartborn by Terry Maggert is a book about love, sacrifice, and family, filled with unique characters, an interesting plot, and enough intrigue to keep you engaged from beginning to end. The amount of head-hopping done as the story is told is a bit difficult to keep up with at first, but once I found the rhythm of the story, I was hooked.

The story is split between two main settings, Earth (or some alternate version of it), and the realm of angels, angels that are power-hungry and scheming, warriors of the sky. Kieron, a young Heartborn angel, falls to Earth where he meets Livvy, a teenager with a defective heart. He knows he is destined to save her, but she knows nothing of the great destiny that awaits her.

The first book in a series, the author spends a significant amount of time describing this realm of angels, the different factions, and the brewing war. And while I liked reading about the blooming relationship between Kieron and Livvy, I really looked forward to the chapters when the story was back with the angels, reading about how Kieron’s family was forced to deal with his departure. The social dynamics, scheming, history, and battle were definitely the parts I enjoyed most.

The ending was a little rushed, but I think that had to do with it being told mostly from Livvy’s POV, and I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say she had no idea what was going on either. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to fantasy fans who want to read a captivating, well-written story.

4 out of 5 flowers!

*** I received a free advanced reader copy (ARC) of this e-book from the publisher through NetGalley for review consideration. Receiving a free copy of a book in no way affects the honesty of my reviews.

5 YA Tropes I’m So Over

These days, I feel like when I start a new YA novel, I know what’s going to happen for roughly two-thirds of the story before I’ve even read the first chapter.  It’s like every YA author was given a formula for a “successful” novel, and they were told not to stray outside of the equation. And while it wouldn’t be so bad if the novels being published had one or two commonalities (I acknowledge that trends exist in the publishing world), almost every book seems to be spouting some variation of the same, tired plot, and I am officially over it.

So, here are 5 tropes I would like to set fire to and gleefully watch burn until they disappear forever.

  1. Love Triangles. Ugh. I don’t even think I need to go into detail on this one because almost every YA fan I know is done with love triangles. It seems that 4 out of 5 YA authors use love triangles as the main source of tension and conflict within a novel, even when it doesn’t need to be. Yes, there have been a few series that successfully use love triangles to further the plot, but they are far and few between. More often than not, this overused trope is misused and unnecessary.
  2. Plain Jane isn’t so plain. Is it just me, or does it seem that most YA novels seem to star an “average” girl, who isn’t actually average at all? And everyone in her life is always commenting about how beautiful she is–and the reader can tell from her description that she is, in fact, gorgeous–but she doesn’t believe it until Hot Guy takes an interest, and she realizes that *gasp* maybe she is beautiful after all. I get that many teenage girls have body issues and tend to nit-pick their appearance, but there are also a ton of kick-ass young women who are confident in their looks. And I’ve known a lot of insecure girls in my day…the interest of one boy isn’t going to so easily convince them of their true beauty.
  3. The Chosen One. This trope is a favorite of fantasy authors. And, sure, it can be done well, but it’s so common these days that reading the Chosen One’s story can be a bit underwhelming. Yes, there is always going to be something to set the protagonist apart, to make them special, but does it always need to be that fate has thrust them into a role that no other could handle? And how do they always seem to be more adept than those that have trained their entire lives to fight the enemy/dark power/evil force? Supporting characters who have the skills the protagonist lacks shouldn’t be shoved in the background so that the Chosen One can shine almighty; a true leader knows when to utilize the strength of others, and I’d love to see that reflected more in YA novels. I’m tired of the clumsy, awkward protagonist suddenly becoming a ninja warrior in times of crises.
  4. Trilogies. When did YA authors get together and decide that three was the magic number for YA book series? I would love to go back in time to that meeting and tell them they were making a huge mistake. Sure, there are a few series that managed three books well and some that went beyond the three book mark to great success. But the majority of trilogies I’ve read could’ve been improved by condensing the story down to two novels or even stopping after the first book.
  5. The Parent Problem. Is there something wrong with a happy, two-parent household? Having a dead parent (or parents), divorced parents, negligent parents, abusive parents, etc. seems to be the only way that YA authors know how to give their young protagonists any real character depth. But, there are other ways to give a main character a tragic backstory or to create some internal struggle. Let’s try something different every once in a while, okay?

Now, do I really want to see these tropes die horrible deaths and never return to the realm of YA fiction? No. As I sort of mentioned above, each of these can be useful to a plot, if handled well, but I hate to see writers rely on these tropes when they aren’t necessary to a story. I want to see authors find unique ways to tell their story: flip cliches, go against what’s “trendy,” fight the status quo. Take what’s old and worn and make it something new and beautiful.

Bookworm Problems: Judging a Book by Its Cover

We’ve all heard some variation of the platitude “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but I think we can all admit that we, in fact, do judge books by their covers. I know I do it, and I recently talked to some fellow bookstagrammers, and they all admitted to it as well. But can you really blame us? We’re only human, and humans are predominantly visual creatures.

It’s not that an ugly or amateurish cover will stop me from reading a book, but it’s definitely not going to draw my eye like the brightly-colored, amazingly-designed cover next to it. When you go to a bookstore or library, unless you’re looking for something specific, you browse by sight, so a unique, pretty, colorful, professional, etc. cover is going to grab your attention over the drab offerings around it. And if you’re more inclined to pick up the visually-pleasing book, it’s likely you’ll expect it to contain a higher quality story within its pages.

Unfortunately, this can quickly become a problem. Because if you only ever pick up the books that you find aesthetically pleasing, you’re sure to miss out on some great stories. And, a pretty cover and snappy summary do not mean that the book will be great. I should know . . . I’ve been let down by some rather beautiful covers, recently. At least they still look good on my bookshelf and in the Instagram photos, right? 😂😂😂

Have you recently been duped by a beautiful cover?