BOOK REVIEW: Karen M McManus “One of Us Is Lying”

22091443_1815491551814261_406256347_nTitle: One of Us Is Lying

Author: Karen M McManus

Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

Five students enter detention. None of them are connected prior to being here today. They’re here under suspicious circumstances, having each been found with a cellphone that didn’t belong to them. By the end of detention, one of them is dead.

The dead student was none other than the school’s most notorious gossip, Simon. Up until his untimely death, he ran an app that he posted on frequently, typically using the platform to reveal other student’s secrets and to humiliate them.

Some suspicious evidence comes to light in the wake of Simon’s death, and police look to the 4 remaining classmates. They all had reason to want him dead, especially when the police find a queued post with juicy gossip about each of them. Could one of them have found out what Simon was planning to reveal and wanted to silence him? Or did they all band together to take him out before he ruined their lives?

My thoughts:

My review is going to be a little spoiler-y only because I feel I need to complain about the way this author went about revealing the killer and everything leading up to it. I won’t talk about who the actual murderer was, but you’ll probably be able to tell who didn’t kill Simon based on what I have to say; so if you want to remain unspoiled, steer clear.

I’ve heard this book described as The Breakfast Club + murder, and I can get on board with that. You have your typical, cliché high school stereotypes: Bronwyn, the Ivy league-bound brainiac; Nate, the drug-pushing trouble-maker; Cooper, the beloved all-star baseball player; and Addy, the pretty blonde one. People who are irritated by these character formulas will be glad to see that some of these characters break free from these models. Unfortunately though, characters like Cooper do little to develop in their character. Cooper remained “MLB-bound star” throughout the book, and while there is a small twist to his story, it’s not enough to break the popular jock-type pattern.

Because Simon’s queued post about these characters is eventually posted and seen by their classmates, they each have to deal with the repercussions. Fortunately, they all ended up with good outcomes and came away from it as better, stronger individuals.

Unfortunately, while this is a positive thing character-wise for the book, I felt it was a bad call mystery-wise. This aspect of the story made it really easy for me to assume that none of these four characters committed the murder. I feel that the author made it too obvious, like they each had too much evidence going against them, so there was no way that one of them did it. Does that make sense?

Because of this, the 4 end up getting together to go over everything they all knew in an attempt to catch the real killer and to clear their names. I enjoyed the bond these characters had, I just hated that it meant none of them did it. I mean, it just invalidates the title of the book; it doesn’t even make sense anymore. They all were lying, but not about killing Simon. It’s misleading, but not in a good way. As in, I wanted to be misled by the contents of the book and be wrong about who the killer was, not by the title and the entire point of the story.

I ended up guessing the ending, which is good because I love being right, but also bad because I love to be shocked as well. I wanted to be surprised by this book, and I just wasn’t. This was an easy read and I ate it up because I was excited to know the ending, but I wasn’t happy with it.

Additionally, I didn’t like the way that the author revealed the killer; if I hadn’t guessed who had done it, I still wouldn’t have been shocked because the moment wasn’t even gasp-worthy. I mean, there was no “wow” factor to the big ending, so I was disappointed in all regards.

Choosing to read this book was easy because I was in the mood for a good mystery, but I just wasn’t pleased. I expected more and was let down.

Karen M McManus: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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BOOK REVIEW: Rick Yancey “The Monstrumologist”

22053363_1813681091995307_358929244_nTitle: The Monstrumologist

Author: Rick Yancey

Genre: Horror

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

This is actually a TBT review, something that I posted on my Goodreads account a few years ago but want to now share on my blog. So here it is in all it’s glory, readers:

I’m not really into horror.

Well. I say that. But I’m kinda into zombie movies and I watch the Walking Dead. My mom will watch the occasional horror, and I will stand by, gaping.

So I really don’t know why I wanted to read this. I saw it at a bookstore and thought it looked very interesting. However, when I went home and looked at it on Goodreads, I noticed that more than half the reviews mentioned the blood and gore. So why I picked the book back up when I saw it at the library a few weeks ago, I still don’t know. Probably just morbid curiosity.

It’s probably a good thing I watch the Walking Dead, because if I didn’t, I’m pretty darn sure I would have been shell-shocked by this book. It is very gory.

A good thing about Rick Yancey: he is incredibly descriptive. I love his writing a lot.

A bad thing about Rick Yancey: he is very very very very descriptive.

It was gross, but I had to hand it to Rick: he is an excellent author. I loved his writing so much, from the bottom of my heart, to the core of my being. I thought it was incredible. I liked the main character, Will Henry, and while I at first didn’t like him, the Monstrumologist himself ended up growing on me.

I have to say that the character Kearns was my least favorite. He was witty and funny and, at times, even charming. But he was very sick in the head, and he gave little regard for the lives of others (although it must be noted that he didn’t particularly care if he, himself, died either).

It was a sad book at times, too. In the midst of the blood and guts and gore, children are attacked and slaughtered, and it hurt my heart.

I don’t really know what my final verdict on The Monstrumologist is. I liked it at times. Hated it at times. Loathed it at times. Wanted to throw it across the room and scream at times. But all in all, I think this book did exactly what the author intended it to do: it scared me.

I finished the book late last night, and I turned off my lights and crawled into bed. And I have to say that it was the first time in a very long time that I’ve been genuinely scared that there was a monster hidden under my bed. After a few minutes, my childish fear subsided and I was able to sleep, but I can’t shake off the fact that I was legitimately afraid.

 

Rick Yancey: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Book-to-Movie Adaptations: the Good, the Bad, and the Unpopular Opinions

While booklovers get hyped when their favorite books get turned into movies/TV shows, most will swear that “the book is always better than the movie”. And in many cases, this is true. There are lots of amazing books that have been made into crappy movies. I’ve had my fair share of disappointments. However, some fellow bibliophiles might accuse me of blasphemy for saying: I actually like some movie adaptations better than the books.

*Gasps all around*

In all seriousness, it’s all a matter of preference. Some people won’t agree with the movies/books that I enjoyed, and I won’t agree with some of theirs. That’s just that. People have their opinions, and I have mine. This is simply a collection of several book-to-movie adaptations and my thoughts on each of them.

1.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is a less controversial adaptation among book lovers, so I thought it best to start with this. The Hunger Games took the world by storm and was quickly adapted into what I believe is one of the better interpretations I’ll be talking about here. Many will agree that this series was successful, swooping in in the wake of Twilight’s final installment. These movies skyrocketed Jennifer Lawrence’s popularity as a person and an actress. I found that the movies were accurate enough and that the casting was well done. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Josh Hutcherson, but I believe he played the part of Peeta Mellark well.

My one complaint was the splitting up of Mockingjay into two parts. Even though it ended up turning out okay, I still think the two could have been easily condensed into one, seeing as this was the installment that had the least amount of action.

I give this adaptation a 4/5 stars. Definitely good, but not better than the books.

 

2.) Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

Ah, I’ve had many a conversation about this particular series and the movies that followed. Generally, most can agree that this was a horrible adaptation. The movies didn’t really stay true to the books as far as accuracy or casting. And don’t get me wrong, I love Logan Lerman. I love Alexandra Daddario. In fact, 95% of the cast were, like, A+ actors and actresses that I really enjoy. But, Lerman is not Percy, and Daddario is not Annabeth. I mean, come on; her hair’s not even blonde. Get with the program, producers!

So yeah, this movie sucks as an adaptation. However, it’s quite entertaining, and because I like the actors so much, I really enjoy the movies. And I’ll watch the movies on occasion because I choose to think of the books and the movies as separate entities. As long as I don’t compare them, they’re both very enjoyable on their own.

3/5 stars, and definitely not as good as the books.

3.) Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein

There’s a good chance this section might get me murdered.

Let me start this off by saying I think that Tolkein is a very impressive author, and I admire him a great deal. He created an immersive, unique world and I am amazed by his skill and imagination. Which makes what I’m about to say very tough.

I just don’t like his books. 

I love the world and the characters and the different creatures and species he has created. But every time I try to pick up one of the books, I swear I start snoring. The series is just not for me. He manages to make the fight scenes bore me, and I just can’t get through his books without nodding off.

To all the hardcore LOTR fans out there, I’m truly sorry. It’s simply easier for me to remain engaged to the story when it’s in movie format, and that’s why I give the adaptation 4/5 stars and why I prefer the movies to the books.

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4.) Paper Towns by John Green

This may come as a surprise, but I actually quite liked the movie. This adaptation didn’t do as well as The Fault in Our Stars as far as the critics are concerned, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. It was funny and sweet, and it still had the same emotional impact that the book had on me, but with a much better ending.

(Spoiler in next paragraph.) That was my main complaint about the book, that I just hated the end. Up until that point, I enjoyed the characters and really loved the lesson that the story had to teach us, but I was torn up about the ending. When Quentin found Margo, she reacted horribly and I hated the way she treated him for it. He thought he had been doing a good, noble thing, and she made him feel bad. Their story just doesn’t wrap up good enough for me and I felt so dissatisfied. Yet in the movie, Margo was so much calmer and it made it easier on Q and easier for him to understand, and things were tied up so much nicer by the end. I wasn’t left with a yucky feeling when the credits rolled like I had when I had closed the book.

For these reasons, I liked the Paper Towns movie better than the book and I would give the adaptation 4.5/5 stars.

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5.) Divergent by Veronica Roth

This one could go either way with the YA crowd. Some thought this was a good adaptation, and some did not. I am one of those that did.

At the time, Divergent was such an important story for me. I loved Tris Prior with all that was in me. She was everything that I thought a heroine should be and seeing her in action in the Divergent film? It was amazing.

Divergent still holds a special place in my heart regardless of the small problems that I find with it today. Certain scenes from that movie still make me cry to this day, particularly when Tris runs with the Dauntless and jumps onto the train after the Choosing. I always watch it and think, “This is when Beatrice becomes Tris. This is when she’s born”. It moves me so deeply.

So maybe Divergent didn’t have the best special effects or dialogue; I got to watch a selfless girl from Abnegation become brave, and that’s why I love this movie. Still not better than the book, but I give it a 4/5 stars.

PS – don’t even talk to me about Insurgent and Allegiant. Those movies were train wrecks and I want them to burn.

 

I know there are many, many other adaptations that I didn’t include in this post, but I plan on posting a sequel in the near future. Let me know what you think of my observations, whether you agree or disagree with them. If you have suggestion for the follow-up post, let me know!

BOOK REVIEW: Sandhya Menon “When Dimple Met Rishi”

22052971_1813647668665316_1985424413_nTitle: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

 

Dimple Shah is independent, fierce, and she knows exactly what she wants from life: to go to school, learn, grow, and pursue a career in a field that she’s passionate about. On the other hand, Dimple’s mother thinks that the only reason young women should go to college is to find a husband. Joke’s on her though, because Dimple isn’t planning on getting married for a long time.

Rishi Patel, on the other hand, is all about the traditions of his culture. He plans to go to school, get a practical job that pays well, get married to a nice Indian girl, and have kids soon after that. His parents have arranged for him to meet the daughter of some close friends at a 6 week web developing program over the summer, and Rishi is beyond excited. Except the girl is Dimple Shah, and she has no idea.

My thoughts:

There was definitely a part of me that liked this; there was something undeniably charming about both characters, and I loved their complexities: Dimple for her passion, fire, desire for independence, and ambition, and Rishi for his humor, humility, patience, and his own amount of zeal.

I was actually very interested in the stuff about coding, web developing and the like. Dimple and Rishi’s rivalry with a few fellow students was fun, and it was easy to cheer them on. I also liked learning a little bit about Indian culture and tradition.

As much as I liked Dimple’s spirit, her character irritated me. When she discovers who Rishi is and what her parents have done, she’s livid. Understandably so. However, she keeps Rishi around anyway, and they end up becoming partners throughout the program. Throughout the story, Dimple constantly grows closer to him, then pushes him away.

She doesn’t want to date him, but she’ll kiss him anyway.

Okay, it’s okay if she dates Rishi, so long as he understands that she’s still not going to marry him.

All of this occurs after, like, 4 days of even knowing him. She can’t seem to make up her mind.

(Spoiler in following paragraph🙂 Dimple tells Rishi that she loves him 3 weeks after meeting him, which fine, okay. I’m not going to judge, I suppose. Yet 3 weeks later when they lose the competition, she secretly blames Rishi and decides it was his fault, that if she hadn’t been so distracted then she would have won. That’s some weak love, girl.

I wanted to like Dimple. She was a fun character, she was just too much for me. Unfortunately, it’s my dislike for her that kept me from loving this book more.

 

Sandhya Menon: Website | Pinterest | Twitter | Instagram

BOOK REVIEW: Sarah J Maas “Tower of Dawn”

22016302_1813523355344414_1272837128_nTitle: Tower of Dawn

Author: Sarah J Maas

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Disclaimer: possible spoilers from previous books in the Throne of Glass series and Tower of Dawn. Proceed with caution. 

When Sarah J Maas revealed that she was going to be writing an entire book about Chaol and that we’d have to wait another year for the final Throne of Glass installment, many were unhappy. I didn’t realize this until recently, but Chaol is a very controversial character apparently. There’s a large population of the community that dislikes Chaol, but I really hope that this book changed their minds.

Tower of Dawn is a parallel novel to the last Throne of Glass book, Empire of Storms. Many noticed that Chaol sort of fell off the face of the earth and wondered where he had gone. Well, this book follows him and Nesryn and tells that story.

Chaol is chair-bound, unable to walk due to the events that occurred at the glass castle. Now he travels to Antica for two reasons: to convince the nobles to join their cause and fight, and to find someone to heal him. They send him one of their best healers, Yrene, but unfortunately she holds a grudge toward Ardalan and hence, toward Chaol.

My thoughts:

This book was boring. I hate to say that of a Maas novel, but it’s true. This 600+ page book could have been easily condensed and it still would have been enjoyable. It’s a fine story: one of redemption and love, and the end was very heartwarming, if not a little predictable.

Chaol and Nesryn’s relationship never really made sense to me, and I don’t really understand why they kept acting like they were together or why others treated them as such. They never showed any affection and while they both seemed to care for each other, it was obviously not romantic.

In fact, I think Maas should have just left Nesryn out of this book. I did not like her. I didn’t like the little side-quest she went on and I just didn’t care about anything she did. The only good that came from her POV in the story was some new interesting information that came to light concerning the Valg kings and Queen Maeve.

I enjoyed reading about Chaol’s journey to recovery and seeing his relationship with Yrene develop. I also thought it was good to see Chaol unload some of his emotional baggage too, and now I enjoy his character all the more. Chaol has always been a great character, and while I thought he was sometimes irritating, I liked having him around. Now he’s got a new lady-thing and it’s made him a lot nicer. Good job, Yrene.

One of the things I appreciate about Chaol is that he had so much admiration for Yrene. His love for her wasn’t born from mere attraction, or because she was healing him. He saw how strong and powerful she was, and it didn’t freak him out like it did with Aelin.

I thought this book was fine. Would I have preferred to read the last Throne of Glass book instead? Yes. But this was fine, too. It’s definitely not my favorite Maas book, but I’ll get over it. I do think this would have done better as a short novella rather than this ginormous book.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to hear what others thought of this book, and what you think of Chaol Westfall.

Sarah J Maas: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Straight Up, Just a Collection of Pretty Covers

I don’t know about you, but I have a serious case of lusting after beautiful books. Even if I buy the book and despise it, I will keep it simply because it’s a nice addition to my bookshelf.

How shallow, right? It’s true. The following are some of the prettiest books I’ve ever seen: some I loved, some I didn’t, and some I have yet to read.

1.) Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The cover is what initially drew me toward this book in the first place, but this is one instance where the cover matched the contents. This is a beautiful series, and definitely one of my favorites. In fact, all of the books in the Grisha trilogy are beautiful. Here, just look at them:

grisha-trilogy-covers

Recently, this series underwent a cover change, which I felt was completely unnecessary but oh well. As long as I own the superior covers.

2.) These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

Whoever designed this cover deserves an award. Just holy cow. I borrowed this book first from a friend, and when I ended up loving it, I immediately bought it. (Didn’t hurt that it’s one of the prettiest books I’ve ever seen in my life, right?) However, I wish the rest of this series had been as amazing as the first. This space adventure trilogy started off so strong, and then I slowly started to lose interest. I’ve shamelessly kept the books, though, and still like to take them down and gaze at them every so often.

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3.) Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Holy cow, this book. Before I opened it for the first time, I knew nothing about it. It turned out to be the best book I’ve read so far in 2017. The story, the characters, the mystery; just oh so incredible and engaging. And of course, it has one of the most amazing covers. Mine even shimmers in certain lights, and I could just stare at it all day. However, please read this book because of the amazing story and not because the cover is so beautiful you could die. You can read my review for Caraval here.

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4.) A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I have very mixed feelings about this trilogy. On one hand, the concept and idea of the story is very interesting and showed plenty of promise. I’m all for time travel and talk of different dimensions and all that jazz. This book could have had it all, for me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t pleased with how the story was told. For a story so action-packed like this one, I shouldn’t be bored. I shouldn’t be wishing for the end like I did so often with this series. However, would you just look at those covers?

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5.) Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Long before I ever joined bookstagram or I even dreamed of blogging about books, I ran across this book while browsing Goodreads. I was immediately struck by how beautiful the cover was, and I immediately wanted it. At the time, I had no job and no money, so it went into my Amazon wish list for me to buy at another time.

Over three years later, I have finally bought this book and added it to my bookshelf, and it was one of the most glorious moments. I’ve been waiting to own this piece of art forever, and I finally have it. Have I read it yet? No. Will I soon? Maybe. If I hate it, will I get rid of it? Definitely never. In fact, I need to add the rest of this series to my wish list ASAP, and maybe purchase them in the next few months instead of waiting three years like last time.

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6.) Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

I read this one on a whim and I was so glad that I did. Rebel of the Sands had a unique premise and a unique setting, and also sported some very likeable, interesting characters. My only wish is that I could find this same edition for the second book in hardcover, because so far I have had no such luck. Why are there so many different editions and various covers for the same book? Why can’t they all look the same, even if they’re covers for another country? Can’t you change the language and content of the book without changing the look of the cover? Is this so much to ask???

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7.) The Selection by Kiera Cass

Ah, yes. This infamous series. What to say about The Selection? I hate them, and I can’t get enough of them. I could talk crap about them all day, but if Cass were to release another book right now, I would go out and buy it immediately, no questions asked. Why is this? What is the magic of these books? It’s not even the beautiful covers with the girly dresses, although I love them. I just can’t stop reading them. I want to say that they bore me but they don’t. It doesn’t matter how much I despise America (the main character’s name in the series, I promise I love my country). It doesn’t matter how maddening her decisions are. I just eat these books up, and I am ashamed.

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8.) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

These books have always been a lot of fun, particularly the very first one. The premise is wonderful, and even though I have disliked certain aspects of the story, I still consider these to be good reads. While I prefer the Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy, this is still an excellent addition to Han’s repertoire. Plus, the covers are super cute, come on.

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That’s all for today folks. Just wanted to share with you some of my favorite book covers and feature them here for y’all’s enjoyment and appreciation. Sometimes I like to stare at them dreamily, and maybe that’s a little creepy. I love my books, okay? Not only do I believe they should have excellent content, I’m a firm believer in creating aesthetically pleasing cover art. What can I say, I’m a sucker. Slap a nice cover on a crappy book and I’ll totally buy it. Sue me.

BOOK REVIEW: Leila Sales “This Song Will Save Your Life”

22014863_1813506502012766_621267476_nTitle: This Song Will Save Your Life

Author: Leila Sales

Genre: Contemporary/Fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

I’ve owned the book This Song Will Save Your Life for several years, initially attracted by it’s eye-catching cover and intriguing title. It’s sat on my bookshelves for several years, waiting to be discovered, realized, and felt. I’ve heard this book calling out to me on several occasions since being bought, begging to be read. Finally, for some unknown reason,  I had the urge to pick this up a few days ago, and I am so thankful that I did.

This book was such a journey, and so heartfelt. I understood it’s main character, saw myself in her, and knew her. The story follows this main character, Elise, who’s a social outcast and does everything she can to change it. She spends an entire summer researching all the things that “cool” people do, wear, and know. She reads up on the lives of celebrities that she doesn’t care about, TV shows she doesn’t watch, and to her dismay, popular music that she hates. Then when it’s time to put this newfound knowledge to use, Elise realizes that none of it would ever make her cool. The trendy clothes that she spent a fortune on, the person she’s pretending to be… they always see through it. She can change how she appears all she wants, but she can’t change who she is. She can’t change the ill-timed questions or comments, born from a social cluelessness that she’s struggled with her whole life. Nor can she change the years of loser persona that she has perfected and her peers have come to know her as.

Somehow, Elise happens across an underground nightclub, where music rules the night and the people have no idea who she is during the day. No longer is she Elise, the loser. She’s Elise, aspiring DJ.

Elise’s story hit me so deep. While I was fortunate to be homeschooled and a part of a relatively accepting group of fellow homeschoolers, I was definitely never cool. When I was enrolled in private school for a short time, I was teased, and I absolutely know why. I was actually one of the most annoying kids ever. I liked to raise my hand in the middle of class because I had a comment or story relating to what the teacher was talking about. I picked my nose in public. I wore oversized hoodies and I never, ever, brushed my hair. I was the last of all the girls in my grade to get a training bra. I said things out loud that I probably shouldn’t have. I was a social nightmare.

When I left school and started interacting with new people, I was so excited to start over and try to be a cooler person. However, I learned the same thing that Elise did: it’s not cool to try.

This book also deals with having suicidal thoughts and cutting, and while I’ve never harmed myself in that way, I’ve had thoughts of killing myself before. However, this story stresses the fact that sometimes, people aren’t driven to kill themselves because something significant and horrible happened to them. Sometimes, it can be because a group of girls forced you to clean up their mess after lunch. It’s not about cleaning up the mess, though; it’s about that and every moment leading up to it. For Elise, it had been every torturous thing that happened to her, every mean thing anyone had ever called her, all the time she had spent trying to be cooler, trying to be better, and all her work being good for nothing. For me, it was every boy I had ever cared for rejecting me. It was finally being in a relationship, and not being happy. It was being treated like crap by the only boy who had ever liked me and wondering if this was how I was going to feel for the rest of my life.

Elise found her happiness, though, and so did I. Her story is inspiring and beautiful, and it touched me in a way that few stories have. I didn’t expect to love this book so much, but now that it’s a part of my life, I’m so happy to be able to share it. Elise’s story mirrors many of our stories, and it deals with some of the same pains and heartbreaks that we have faced.

This is my favorite book I have ever read that deals with suicide. It’s an encouragement to all those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, and an anthem to all those who have overcome them.

Please read this book.

 

Leila Sales: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

PRODUCT REVIEW: OwlCrate “Mythical Creatures”

*Disclaimer: for those who are subscribed to OwlCrate and do not wish to know what the contents inside are, please do not proceed.*

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This morning, I was quite surprised to receive my September OwlCrate box, especially considering I never received my email notification. No matter, it’s here, and I was so excited to open this one. This is the third OwlCrate box that I have received, and this month’s theme was Mythical Creatures, for fans of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones.

For those who don’t know, OwlCrate is a YA book subscription box that typically contains 4-6 items relating to the theme. Each box also carries the monthly hardcover book with an OwlCrate exclusive cover, with both a signed bookplate and a letter from the author. Each box is so much fun to receive and I have loved every item that has come with them.

I was very interested to see what they were going to do with this theme, and I was pleased with it. While the box didn’t have as many items, I’m guessing this is because of the more anticipated item, the Book Beau!

21767599_1802559003107516_689884393_nBook Beau is a company that creates unique and beautiful book sleeves to protect your preciouses. The exclusive book sleeve that we received in this month’s OwlCrate box has two mythical creatures incorporated in the design, fitting perfectly with the theme. I was very excited to hear that this box would include a book sleeve because I’ve been seeing them all over Instagram and have been positively lusting after them. I love the various designs and wish that I wasn’t trying to save money, or else I would buy them all. I was disappointed that this particular size of sleeve will only fit paperbacks and small hardcovers because the majority of my books are hardcovers, but I know I will still find plenty of use for this.

21624236_1802558976440852_1650861161_nOne of the first items I pulled out of the box was this container of bath salts made by The Soap Librarian. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to use this right away because my tub is have some problems draining. However, once this problem is resolved, I’m so looking forward to using this! Inspired by Percy Jackson, these Son of Poseidon bath salts smell of chamomile, lavender, rose, hibiscus, etc. There are even cornflower petals in the mix! I’m not a huge bath salt user so I’m not sure what the benefits are to this, but it seems interesting to me and I’m definitely not opposed to it. It has a very calming fragrance to it and I think this was a very fun, creative item.

21622035_1802558999774183_1078306024_nThe next item I opened was a canvas coin purse created by OwlCrate! I think it’s so awesome that their team is making items of their own. This is such a cute little pouch and I feel I’ll definitely be using this to organize my purse. My one complaint about this item is the material used for the inside lining; it’s made of that crinkly stuff that I’m not super fond of. Still, the print itself is very pretty and again, very fitting with the theme. I’m so excited to see what else the team at OwlCrate continues to create and include in these boxes!

21754472_1802558973107519_861444953_nOne of the most beautiful products in this month’s box was the wooden bookmark from the company Ink and Wonder Designs. I’m assuming this was the Game of Thrones inspired item, and while I’m not a part of this particular fandom, this is one of the most gorgeous bookmarks I have ever beheld. Also, I’ve never seen a wooden bookmark before and when I heard that this box was going to be containing one, I was skeptical. I was concerned that it would be flimsy and easily breakable, but it’s actually quite sturdy and pliable. The work done on it is very clean, and you don’t have to worry about getting splinters if you run your fingers across the surface of it.

21744690_1802558959774187_1919960114_nPerhaps one of the cutest items OwlCrate featured this month was this Hagrid sticker designed by Susanne Draws. My husband was curious and wanted to watch me unbox this, and funny enough, he and I were just watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban yesterday. However, we hadn’t quite finished it before he had to go back to work, and we had just finished the part where Buckbeak *spoilers* “dies”. This is his first time watching the movies so of course, he’s a little sad. He is not an emotional person in the slightest, but the sight of this sticker produced the smallest of pouts. “Well that’s cruel,” he proclaimed, crossing his arms over his chest, pretending to not care even though he totally does. I’m going to make a Harry Potter nerd out of him, yet.

The last item before the book was this month’s pin. Each box has a pin, always something that matches the artwork on the spoiler card, both pictured below. On the backside of the spoiler card, you’ll find the names of all the items included in the box and the company’s that provided each item. It also has a synopsis for the book, which I will talk about next.

Keeping with the theme of Mythical Creatures, this month’s book is promised to include many, many dragons. Without further ado, the book is: Before She Ignites, the first book in the Fallen Isles Trilogy by Jodi Meadows. I just want to say that I totally guessed the book; trying to predict each month’s book is one of my favorite things. I love to just browse through upcoming or recent releases on Goodreads and look for books matching the short synopsis provided for us by OwlCrate. I guessed last month’s box, The Hearts We Sold, and I guessed this month’s box. I’m 2/3, y/all.

Also included with this box is something that I haven’t seen from them before: a short little pamphlet with an interview with Jodi Meadows, an interview with the creator of Book Beau, Benita Botello, as well as a sneak peak for next month’s box, themed Find Me in the Forest. As seen in the picture below, they also compare the original cover to the OwlCrate exclusive, which for this particular month was a subtle swapping of silver to gold print.

In conclusion, I’m quite pleased with this month’s box. I believe it’s an excellent value for the money, which is $29.99 for all. I’ve loved this box, even before I was subscribed to it; I used to watch unboxing videos and pictures longingly, wishing that I could order one of my own. Now I finally have, and it’s such a fun thing to anticipate each box every month. You can find links to all stores, shops, and socials below; thank you for reading!

 

OwlCrate: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Beau: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The Soap Librarian: Website

Ink and Wonder Designs: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Susanne Draws: Tumblr | Etsy | Instagram | Twitter

Jodi Meadows: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Leigh Bardugo “Wonder Woman: Warbringer”

22016201_1813513125345437_1510066936_nTitle: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy/Action Adventure

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

This is probably one of my bigger disappointments of 2017. Warbringer was such an anticipated read for me, especially after the success of the film (disclaimer: the book and film are not related), and I’ve loved Leigh Bardugo’s work in the past. Shadow & Bone is one of my all-time favorite series, so of course I was going to read this.

Bardugo begins Diana’s story on Themyscira, the remote island that Amazon women inhabit. Diana struggles to fit in with the Amazons and prove herself, fully aware that she’s different from the rest of them. While the other women have seen battle and proved themselves as warriors, Diana has never had to and is seen as inferior.

While running a race, hoping to win and show her mother how strong she has become, Diana witnesses the explosion of a ship off the coast of Themyscira. Against her better judgement, she dives into the water to survey the wreckage, only to find a lone survivor, Alia, who she saves. Shortly after performing this good deed, Diana discovers that Alia comes from a line of Warbringers, women that are descendants of Helen and are catalysts of aggression and violence among humans. Alia’s presence on the island causes the Amazons to get sick and for the island to begin to die. Unwilling to sacrifice Alia, Diana hopes to end the line of Warbringers once and for all by taking Alia to Helen’s resting place and letting her bathe in the nearby springs. However, this means exposure to the real world, something that Diana has never seen before. Can she reach Helen’s resting place before Alia is killed by those hoping to prevent war?

Let’s start with the things I liked about this book. Of course, I loved Diana; she’s such a good, pure, innocent character. Her desire to help everyone and ensure that no one has to die is admirable, and she constantly puts her life on the line for people she barely knows. Most of these sacrifices are born initially from her love for her fellow Amazons, but she could have let Themyscira kill Alia if she cared for only her people. She was also a fun character to read after she and Alia reached New York; poor Diana was so naive and had some very unintentionally funny moments.

And to be honest, that’s all I enjoyed. Alia was a solid character, I suppose, but I just didn’t sympathize with her like I feel I was supposed to. Jason was dull, as were the other supporting characters, Nim and Theo, who were both too one-dimensional. All in all, I just didn’t care what happened to any of them, whether they lived or died. They didn’t make me feel anything.

As far as the story, I kept going back and forth on it. The first few chapters had me concerned, but once we were told Alia’s heritage, I was interested. Unfortunately, as soon as they reached New York, I feel that the plot sort of plateaued. There was no story development, and the characters stayed in one place for too long. They spent too long deciding what to do, and then spent too long waiting to act on that decision.

Honestly, this book had a very Percy Jackson feel to it, but I didn’t like it. With Percy Jackson books, you come to expect some ridiculousness because that’s kind of the point; Rick Riordan parodies some of these gods and goddesses so that they aren’t even intimidating anymore; the whole thing is basically a joke, but in the best possible way. The books are meant for middle graders and are meant to entertain. The characters crack stupid jokes during battles and high-action scenes not because it’s realistic, but because it’s hilarious.

I didn’t want Wonder Woman to feel like a middle grade read. I expected this to be more mature, and while I realize it’s fantasy and there’s no way this could have been completely realistic, there has to be some semblance of practicality in the way the characters react and interact.

Not to mention, there’s a good chunk of about 200 pages in the middle of the book that had me bored to tears. It’s almost as if Bardugo had this great idea for a story (it really was!) and knew where the characters were going to end up, but not how they were going to get there. So we spend the entire center of the book in limbo waiting for something to happen, and by the time we get to the end, I didn’t care anymore.

I feel I was really generous with my 2.5 star rating, mostly due to my love for Leigh Bardugo. This book doesn’t affect my opinion of the lovely author; I just don’t think urban fantasy is her thing. I’ve read many raving reviews about the book and I’m so glad that others were able to enjoy what I could not, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Leigh Bardugo: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

What is “Bookstagram”?

For someone who might not be in on the fads and trends, this might be a difficult question to answer. In the last decade, pop culture has been exploding with the birth of fandoms and the people who are apart of those fandoms, typically called “fangirls” or “fanboys”. While comic conventions have been a thing for over 40 years (the first San Diego comic con occurring in 1970), attendance has been growing steadily in recent years.

Now more specifically to books, there are many platforms in which book fangirls and fanboys can express their loves and passions. Fans who choose to post YouTube videos about their love of books are called “booktubers”, so naturally, the people who post pictures relating to books on Instagram have been lovingly dubbed “bookstagrammers”.

As a semi-recent addition to the bookstagram community, I can confidently say that the community is one of the most positive that I’ve been a part of. Many fandoms, while fun and full of lively debates, can become aggressive where disagreements and arguments are concerned. I’ve found that on bookstagram, most individuals are very accepting of other’s opinions and are generally respectful and friendly to one another. Seeing as I only launched my bookstagram account about 2 months ago and already have made connections and friendships with several lovely people speaks volumes for the love this community has for each other.

While browsing through bookstagram, you’ll find plenty of beautiful pictures of books. We here in this community find the sight of books very aesthetically pleasing. Many bookstagrammer also run their own blogs as well as booktubes.

Another fun perk to being a part of the bookstagram community is seeing the amazing bookish merchandise! You may not have known this, but you can buy book related products of all kinds: candles, prints, themed-bookmarks, pillows, coffee, tea, t-shirts, accessories, jewelry, blankets, pins, stickers, mugs, etc, etc, etc. When I joined this bookish community, I was stunned by the hundreds of Etsy shops and online businesses selling beautiful products. If you become a rep for any of these numerous shops, they will typically send you free items as long as you feature them in 3-4 of your photos each months as a way to promote their company.

All in all, bookstagram is a lovely community filled with wonderful people that I’ve been so lucky to become connected with, and I’m so excited to meet more fellow book lovers through it. You can follow my bookstagram account @spineless_bookwyrm!