BOOK REVIEW: Eleanor Brown “The Light of Paris”

Light-of-ParisTitle: The Light of Paris

Author: Eleanor Brown

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

This contemporary read follows Madeleine, who struggles to meet the expectations of the culture she’s grown up in. Go to cotillion, debutante, college. Get married, go to social gatherings, and put on your best face. So after several years in a loveless marriage, Madeleine realizes how suffocated she feels. This was never the life she wanted for herself; the only reason she got married to begin with was to appease her mother.

In alternate chapters, this book also follows Margie, Madeleine’s grandmother, who faces the same type of social pressures in 1924. Already in her mid-twenties, her mother is fearful that Margie will never marry and thus throws every available bachelor her way. Margie can’t justify marrying anyone for any reason other than love, though, and wishes that her parents would leave her alone to read and write.

My thoughts:

This book was nice. It was rather slow, so I felt myself skimming through much of it, but it was a pleasant read, showing the importance of living life the way you want to and not simply to please others.

Both Madeleine’s and Margie’s voices were good to read, both curious but cautious, with adventurous natures and stifled upbringings. It was heartbreaking to see the misery Madeleine now found herself in when all she wanted to do was make her family happy. It was fun to see Margie experiencing new and beautiful things; to see the way this foreign place changed her and brought her love and joy.

Unfortunately, not much happened. Margie’s time in Paris was a span of about 3 months, and nothing too terribly interesting occurred. We follow Madeleine for an even shorter amount of time, maybe a week or two. The story is, I suppose, more about the lessons these women learned rather than what they actually accomplished, but it took an awfully long time to get there.

I enjoyed the way that Madeleine and her mother’s relationship changed over the course of this short time, and I was happy to see them grow closer through it all. I wish that Margie’s story had a similar, heartwarming ending, but it didn’t so much.

Really, this was a meh read. Hallmark movie material, perhaps, but not enough substance to really satisfy.

 

Eleanor Brown: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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The Best Books I Read in 2017

This year was full of many duds when it came to new releases or even old releases that I finally got around to, but there were a few stand-outs that really caught my attention and became new favorites of mine, the first of which was Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.

CpH4ANsVUAE5OwOGilmore Girls is one of my favorite TV shows, and Lorelai is one of my favorite characters. She’s sassy, spunky, quirky, and hilarious, and I hoped that reading Graham’s memoir would make me love the actor who played her. (PS – it did.)

This reading experience was so much fun; Graham’s voice was so clear through her writing, and I can only imagine how wonderful this audiobook must have been. I loved reading about her life and some behind the scenes tidbits from Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, and A Year in the Life. This was my first 5 star read of 2017 and really just made my heart so happy.

29772863Next up was a graphic novel by none other than Marissa Meyer, a personal favorite of mine and a staple in the YA book community. That book would be Wires and Nerve, which is a sort of spin-off of the Lunar Chronicles following the adventures of Iko the android. Seeing as Iko was never a favorite character of mine, I was surprised by how much fun I had reading this and how much I now anticipate book two! This was my second experience reading a graphic novel and it has also given me a thirst for more. (PS – if anyone has any recommendations for other good graphic novels, comment below because seriously, I need more.)

DocumentAnother surprise was Caraval by Stephanie Garber. You can read my full review for this book here, but basically this book was incredible. It had everything I ever wanted and checked all of my boxes and was absolutely amazing. There was magic and mystery and action and romance and twists and family drama, and truly I cannot recommend this book enough. I want to buy copies for everyone I know and force them to read this except I don’t have that kind of money, so all I can say is: do whatever you can to get your hands on a copy of Caraval.

9781250050748Another book that I loved was This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. For some reason, this received a 4 star rating according to my Goodreads, but that may change upon further inspection because really, this book was so incredibly moving. Not only did I relate to the main character, I felt that it was a beautiful story of redemption and growth and moving past the pain of your past. I wrote a full review for this book here, so feel free to check out my complete thoughts on it and then hopefully pick up the book for yourself.

34538054The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones is another book that snuck up on me and became a quick favorite. The story was very unique and sucked me in fairly easily, but ended up really tugging on my heart-strings as well. I didn’t expect this to be such an emotional read, although I should have based on other people’s reactions. This was such a special book with such a heart-wrenching ending, but I can see myself rereading this for sure. Definitely check this pick out, and also my original review for it.

29385546Marie Lu’s most recent release definitely made it on the list; Warcross exceeded my expectations. I didn’t want to get too caught up in the hype lest it let me down, but this book is well-deserving of the praise. It was cool and modern, with interesting characters, a steamy love interest, and an awesome concept. This book made me want to get sucked into video game culture and participate in this world of virtual reality and technology. Check out my full review for Warcross here.

81uGB-QT1hLGeekerella by Ashley Poston was not a surprise favorite for me. I went into this book 100% certain that I was going to love it, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. This fairytale retelling of a fangirl Cinderella was adorable, funny, fresh, and such good fun. I wrote a review for Geekerella here, but you can just take my word for it: this retelling is so worth it. You may think that this story has been wrung dry, but I think there are still so many new and special ways to tell this classic tale.

Xpress-YA-Bardugo-TheLanguageofThornsThe last favorite of 2017 was The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. Sometimes I have issues with short story collections because typically, there are a few in the batch that aren’t as good as the others. This was not the case with this compilation. Every single story included in The Language of Thorns was exceptional, and I was so pleased with the entire reading experience. The illustrations on every page were stunning, and the stories were all beautiful and unique. Check out my review for this book here, and then buy it for yourself because you know you want to.

This was such an incredible batch of books and I’m so excited for the new stories I’ll be introduced to in the coming year! What are some of your most anticipated 2018 releases?

BOOK REVIEW: Beth Revis “Across the Universe”

8235178.jpgTitle: Across the Universe

Author: Beth Revis

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 1/5 stars

 

Across the Universe has a very Disney’s “Wall-E” vibe to it: a space ship on it’s way to another world in order to start over. The trip is supposed to take about 300 years, so several generations will live and die before the space ship will arrive at it’s destination. However, there is a section of the ship dedicated to more “essential” personnel, people who will be needed on the new world and have been cryogenically frozen until the 300 year mark.

Amy’s parents are essential personnel, and they were able to pull some very important strings in order to get her on the ship and frozen along with them. Unfortunately, she seems to have been intentionally unplugged about 50 years too soon, by someone who may have wanted to hurt her. Amy wakes up to a completely different environment and world than there was on Earth.

The passengers on the spaceship are monoethnic, without political or religious beliefs; basically to eliminate any reason for dispute on board the ship. There are exactly 20 years between every generation because reproduction is regulated, and everyone either acts like robots or animals, depending on the circumstances.

Elder is being trained by Eldest to eventually be in charge of the inhabitants of the space ship, but Elder is now distracted by Amy who is so different from anyone else on board. She has tales from Earth about how things used to be, which threaten the sameness lifestyle the Eldest is trying to cultivate.

My thoughts:

I’m not going to lie: I bought this book strictly because of the cover. You may find this petty, or silly, or frivolous. Yet I have been just lusting after this cover ever since I first joined Goodreads and discovered it. I recently purchased the book just so I could bask in the beauty of that cover in person, but obviously intended to read it as well.

This book was a shipwreck.

Amy wakes up from her cryogenic sleep, understandably terrified and asking for her parents. She wakes to a new world and a new way of life, intimidating people and scary circumstances… and she’s sassing everyone. Literally anyone she comes into contact with, she’s talking crap, bad-mouthing, insulting, being an all-around unpleasant person, and it is not at all how you would expect a young girl to react in a situation like this. Some people may think this makes her strong or fearless, but I think it makes her stupid and annoying.

Elder just wants to have sex. He sees Amy and his hormones are on the fritz. He can’t possibly be attracted to her character since she has the personality of a troll. It doesn’t help that this story takes place during the time of the “season”, which is when everyone is allowed to reproduce. However, in this world, the “season” is when people are allowed to pounce on each other and have animal-like sex in public, which is creepy and weird.

So Amy gets unplugged, and it’s clear to at least two other characters that the act was intentional and it’s vocalized that the possibility of this happening again is high. “Oh no, whatever shall we do? Oh well, let’s leave.” So they leave and then some alarms go off and, “Oh no, someone else has been unplugged! How unfortunate! Why don’t we have some type of security? Oh well, time to go.” Then someone else gets unplugged. It’s freaking ridiculous, you guys, do these people have no brain cells?

Honestly, I couldn’t handle the stupidity of the book and these characters. I hated every moment of this book. I’ll keep it because it’s pretty, but I won’t be buying the rest of the series and I certainly won’t be reading it.

 

Beth Revis: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: C.J. Tudor “The Chalk Man”

519g-w0P6xL.SX316.SY316Title: The Chalk Man

Author: C.J. Tudor

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

Eddie and his friends used the chalk figures as a secret code to use amongst them; they’d draw on each other’s driveways to invite one another to different areas of the little English village they all lived in. That is until one day, the figures led the boys into the forest to the remains of a young girl’s body.

That was back in 1986. It’s 2016 now, and Eddie is a school teacher, still living in the village he grew up in. The events of 1986 still haunt him, though, and he’s determined to forget everything that happened; even when he and the rest of the old gang receive chalk men in the mail.

Except one of them dies. It seems that Eddie and the remaining gang members must work together and face their demons in order to solve the murder, or else more of them may die.

My thoughts:

This is going to be a difficult book for me to review. Let me start out by saying that I really wanted to like this, and I found myself justifying several things that made me uncomfortable throughout, hoping that it would turn out better. I hoped that the end would just blow me away and it would make everything else seem inconsequential. Unfortunately, the end was not mind-blowing, and the parts I had concerns about remained concerning.

First of all, I’m a religious person. I’m a Christian, but I am also aware that there are many people in the world that consider themselves religious that are also horrible people, and they tend to ruin it for the good people. So to be clear: just because you call yourself a Christian does not make you a good person.

So one of the adversaries in this book was the village vicar, who was an absolutely terrible person. I do not dispute this. He did awful things throughout the duration of this story and he should have suffered major consequences. Still, the author seemed to make anyone who was remotely religious out to be evil, spiteful, hateful people, and all the non-religious characters were understanding and kind and knowing. And I have issues with that.

I won’t get into it more than that. I only feel like I need to stick up for the people in my life who associate themselves with this type of belief system and say that neither I nor any of my peers are like the religious folk in The Chalk Man.

Moving on, the pacing of this was very interesting and well done. The chapters alternate between 1986 and 2016, and each chapter ended in some sort of cliff hanger. So if you wanted to find out how the events of the previous chapter play out, you have to read at least 2 more chapters. This is an interesting strategy but all in all I think it worked out nicely. I finished the book quickly due to both this aspect and of course wanting to get to the end to find out what happens.

Unfortunately, the author made the villain out to be quite obvious from the very beginning. Whenever this happens, I tend to guess that it’s a character you wouldn’t think of, somebody you’d least suspect. I ignore the villain that the author is trying to throw in my face and distract me with because no, it can’t be this guy, it has to be the goofy, side character that no one thinks twice about.

No, it was the character the author was trying to throw in my face.

This is so frustrating for me as a reader who likes to be surprised and see major twists occur. The author did include a morsel of a twist in the final chapter, but it was definitely not enough to satisfy me. The Chalk Man was creepy and at time good, thrilling fun, but was ruined by a disappointing conclusion.

 

C.J. Tudor: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian “Burn for Burn”

1442440759Title: Burn for Burn

Author(s): Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 1/5 stars

 

As I may have mentioned before, I don’t typically write full reviews for books that I’ve DNF’d. However, there have been an awful lot of DNFs on my book log lately, so I at least wanted to offer an explanation about this one.

Burn for Burn is a book about three of your high school stereotypes getting revenge on more classic “mean girl”-esq characters. I knew this before going into this book and I even predicted that I was going to hate it, but I opened it anyway in hopes that it would surprise me.

It did not.

Maybe it’s because lately I’ve been reading more adult books, but I’m just no longer drawn to this high school scene where everyone is stabbing each other in the back and doing horrible things to one another. However, if I were honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been drawn to stories featuring this kind of high school.

Sure, are there people in my life that have wronged me or made me feel like less that I would just love to get revenge on? Yes. And I think that’s what this book tried to be. Han and Vivian probably wrote this with good intentions; to stoke a fire and give strength to the beaten and downtrodden.

However, I can say for certain that I’ve never had any desire to harm any of the people that have hurt me. All I’ve ever really wanted was the courage to tell these people how they made me feel, and for them to magically understand my pain and be genuinely sorry. Obviously, this is just as much a fantasy as anything this book had to offer, but I think that the message this book is sending is dangerous.

Instead of plotting horrid schemes and wishing ill on the people who commit cruel acts, we should teach today’s young people to instead speak out against these acts and to use their words to create good.

As for this book, maybe the three protagonists were able to build a special relationship amongst themselves and somehow redeem this story, but based on other reviews that I’ve read, I don’t think this stops them from their spiteful plotting of revenge. People get hurt, emotionally and physically, and overall it’s not the kind of message we should be sending to teenage girls.

 

Jenny Han: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Siobhan Vivian: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Carrie Fisher “The Princess Diarist”

9780399173592_p0_v8_s1200x630Title: The Princess Diarist

Author: Carrie Fisher

Genre: Autobiographical/Memoir

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s tragic death, I can only guess how many times this book was probably read by mourning fans so they could hear her true, humorous voice once again. Sure, you can always watch Star Wars to watch the young star in action and in her prime, but it’s not the same. Thankfully, Fisher left us this gift before she was taken from us too soon.

In this “sort of memoir”, Fisher recounts small details from her life before becoming an actress, her first gig, her time in school, and her audition/interview for the part of Princess Leia. Mostly, though, the star talks about her time filming the Star Wars movies and many behind-the-scenes tid-bits. It’s truly a treasure trove of information and fun facts for a fan of the series and for fans of Carrie Fisher.

I will admit that I’m not a lover of Star Wars, but I’ve seen many of the films nonetheless, and I am a fan of memoirs. I love to read about the lives of celebrities that I enjoy or famous individuals that I’m interested in, and I am definitely interested in Carrie Fisher. Daughter of Debbie Reynolds and actress to play the most popular female character to ever hit the screen, her life must have been full of many interesting things.

That being said, this book didn’t include much about her personal life as it did facts about the filming of Star Wars, as I mentioned before. Fisher highlights for a good portion of the book her affair for Harrison Ford, which I’m sure many fans were interested to see her open up about. She also includes many pages of her diaries that she kept during the filming of Star Wars, something I’m sure many fans would find touching and beautiful.

You may see that I keep mentioning “fans of Star Wars”, and unfortunately it’s true. I’m a part of the small population of America it seems that doesn’t love Star Wars, so it shouldn’t be a problem for most; but I do believe you must be a lover of the series in order to fully appreciate this book.

I would have loved to hear more about Fisher’s life, but I still enjoyed reading her voice and character in this book. My favorite part is when Carrie recalls the day that she officially got the part of Princess Leia:

It was raining. It didn’t rain in L.A. It was raining in L.A. and I was Princess Leia. I had never been Princess Leia before and now I would be her forever. I would never not be Princess Leia. I had no idea how profoundly true that was and how long forever was.

This really struck me and I found myself choking up upon reading this excerpt. Carrie Fisher had the privilege to play one of the most timeless characters in film, and she will always be known to us as Princess Leia. Her young, beautiful self is forever captured on tape and in our hearts, and her words here will always be available for us to read. How special that is.

 

In loving memory of the beautiful Carrie Fisher.

BOOK REVIEW: Leigh Bardugo “The Language of Thorns”

Xpress-YA-Bardugo-TheLanguageofThornsTitle: The Language of Thorns

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

After my last two experiences reading the works of Leigh Bardugo, I admit I was beginning to lose faith. Shadow and Bone is one of my all-time favorite trilogies, and Six of Crows is hailed by many. However, after reading Wonder Woman: Warbringer and her short story included in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, I was disappointed to say the least. I thought that maybe she had lost her touch.

I am happy to say I was wrong.

The Language of Thorns is a collection of short stories set in the world of the Grisha, (aka the Grishaverse). While originally meant to be a prequel to Shadow and Bone, Bardugo took a different route: what are some tales that some of our favorite characters may have been told as children? What are some legends or stories from the Grisha’s past that might interest fans of this world?

Each story was beautifully told and left me feeling breathless, gasping, excited, heartbroken, surprised. It’s a series of stories with no real duds; every one of them was enjoyable and well told. Bardugo admits that she drew inspiration from some classic fairytales, but gave either a darker spin or a beautiful origin story.

Without giving too much away, there are stories originating from different regions of the Grishaverse: from Zemeni, Ravka, Kerch, and Fjerda. Each story is unique with stunning illustrations on every page that pertain to the story. Then at the end of each tale is a full-page illustration, also pertaining to the story. All are in the same style, and all are absolutely beautiful. I didn’t think I’d care much for the pictures before I picked up the book, but now that I have, I appreciate them fully.

Truly, this is some of Bardugo’s most awe-inspiring work. I’m ashamed now that I didn’t read it the moment that I owned it. I hate to leave a review with barely 300+ words, but there’s not much I can say that won’t spoil any of the stories. All I can say is that this is worth the read, and it comes highly recommended.

 

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