The Wonder of Audiobooks

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Hello, my name is Devyn, and I’m addicted to audiobooks.

I mean, it took long enough, right? Audiobooks are amazing. Everyone has been telling me this for years, yet every time I tried ended in failure. I’m not sure why this was, but I just felt like I wanted to be able to clean the house or do laundry while I listened, and I guess I just have a one-track mind. I couldn’t focus on one or the other.

Maybe I wasn’t listening to the right books, but for whatever reason I didn’t discover the wonder of audiobooks until about a week and a half ago. Something just clicked in my head and all of a sudden I got it.

I was listening to The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli and I was suddenly like, “Hey, this is awesome.” It helps that it was read by Pearl Mackie from Doctor Who, so there was an extra level of interest there.

After that, I was a goner. I’ve been listening to audiobooks nonstop ever since then and it has become a problem. But it’s so relaxing! I can lay in bed next to my husband while he’s playing video games, listening to books and coloring. I don’t understand why it took me so long to discover this, but I’m so glad I have now. I’ve been able to blow through my TBR and I’m killin’ it.

Some have been better than others, that’s for sure; but I have to admit that it’s been doing wonders on my reading times. I can listen to an entire book in less than a day. I can go for a walk and listen. Go to the gym and listen. Clean the house and listen. It’s amazing, okay. 

I know I sound like a broken record and many of you are like, “Um, okay crazy lady. I’ve been listening to audiobooks for years.” Okay, hipster reader person you, that’s awesome but I’m just learning it.

And listen, if you’re someone who has been apprehensive about listening to audiobooks or you’ve tried it already and thought it might not be for you, I beg you to reconsider. It’s possible that the books you were listening to just weren’t good. I listened to at least a dozen before this week that just weren’t for me, and even in the last week I’ve listened to one or two that I wasn’t a fan of. So I put them away. It’s okay to quit if you’re not feeling a certain audiobook; just pick another!

Of course there will be some people that never find the right audiobook and will never get into them. That’s cool, and they’re not for everyone. I just think that readers should know all the resources available to them, and audiobooks are a game-changer. I’ve just been checking them out from the library on the Overdrive app, so there’s a good chance that your library does the same sort of thing.

Just try it! You may find that it’ll change your life.

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BOOK REVIEW: Christina Lauren “Roomies”

34466910Title: Roomies

Author: Christina Lauren

Genre: Contemporary/ Romance

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

In this adorable read, Holland Bakker is the niece of one of Broadway’s biggest musical directors. While she doesn’t have a talent for music, she works alongside her uncle at his theater doing odd jobs and taking photos, and over the years has developed a love and ear for beautiful music.

Cue Calvin, the gorgeous Irish subway performer who Holland has been crushing on from a distance for the past 6 months. She knows that her uncle has been searching for a replacement musician for his show, and after a chance meet-up with the handsome busker, Holland decides it’s to bring it up with him. Only one problem: Calvin is an illegal immigrant.

So on a well-intentioned but spontaneous whim, Holland proposes an arrangement with Calvin. No, literally, she proposes to him. This way, Calvin can stay in America and her uncle gets a new star.

Soon though, the line is blurred between Calvin and Holland about what is friendship and what is arrangement, and soon it’s obvious that this has become more than just a marriage of convenience.

My thoughts:

There was a lot to love about this sweet, huggable little book. Before starting this, I worried that Roomies would be boring and flat since the “married first, fall in love later” trope is so worn out. However I will say that the authors have managed to keep it fresh and unique and oh so adorable.

This is the first book I’ve ever read by Christina Lauren (Christina and Lauren, respectively), and I was very impressed by the readability and the easiness of the writing. I flew through Roomies and never did it feel like a chore to read. Holland, our narrator, was funny, sweet and most importantly, relatable. At first you question the unrealistic nature of the plot and the motives of a woman who would willingly marry a stranger, yet these authors made me believe in it. Before you know it, you’re thinking, of course Holland would offer to marry Calvin.

I loved the relationship between Holland and Calvin, of course, but I also really enjoyed the non-romantic relationships in this book, both positive and negative. The relationship that Holland had with her uncles and her brother was very sweet and authentic. I also especially liked the representation of Holland’s toxic friendship with her “best friend”. It shows the very realistic truth that not all friendships are meant to last and sometimes you outgrow people, and that’s okay.

Holland is a college graduate who has no idea what she wants to do with her life. Obviously, she’d love to write her great American novel but so far feels stuck and uninspired. I relate to this as well, even though I’m not a college graduate exactly but I can definitely feel the pain of being so unsure and aimless in this adult life.

Altogether, as mentioned before, Holland was an all-around extremely sympathetic and engaging character to read.

Warning: this book does contain some mature content. This is basically one of the only reasons I knocked a star. I realize that this isn’t an issue for many people, but I rate my books based on enjoyment and I personally am not a fan of that sort of content. Otherwise, the story is very entertaining and the characters very lovable. Very excited to read more from these authors!

 

Christina Lauren: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Devri Walls “Magic Unleashed: Venators”

36192231Title: Magic Unleashed: Venators

Author: Devri Walls

Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Six years ago, Grey Malteer was attacked by creatures he thought couldn’t possibly exist. They repeated a word, calling him a name he’d never heard before…Venator. Since then, his life has been a hellhole of secrecy—hiding old pain alongside strange new abilities.

Rune Jenkins has an itch, as she calls it, but it’s more than that. It’s an anger that builds up like the inside of a boiler whenever she’s around anything remotely supernatural. The pressure is growing steadily worse and she can’t understand why. All she knows is—her control is slipping.

By order of an unknown council Grey and Rune are pulled through a portal in the St. Louis arch, landing them in an alternate dimension where creatures of myth and legend exist. A realm that calls them, Venators.

Made up of centuries old fae, vampires, werewolves, elves and succubi the council’s corrupt nature becomes obvious as they seek to wield the newly returned Venators as weapons. Wedged in an impossible position, Grey and Rune must decide their fate—do they go against the council’s wishes and help the innocents of this unforgiving land, or face the possibility of execution by the council.

This book was given to me by Brown Books Publishing and author Devri Walls in exchange for an honest review; thank you!

Venators was such a fun ride, especially since I have very much been on a paranormal kick lately; I’ve been binge-watching The Vampire Diaries for the last two weeks. This book, however, weaves so many different kinds of folklore and creatures and mythological races, all coming together to make this awesome fantasy mash-up. We’ve got vampires, werewolves, wizards, faeries and even some creatures of Devri Walls‘ own creation.

Walls has done some serious world-building here in Venators and it’s definitely something to take note. While our main characters are originally from our world, they’re taken through a gate into another dimension filled with new and interesting creatures and places.

I enjoyed Grey’s character quite a bit: self-proclaimed loner who has dedicated his life to studying folklore after his run-in with goblins when he was 13. Now he’s sucked into this world that he could only dream of and it’s confirmed for him: that everything he’s been studying for the last 6 years was real.

I liked Rune’s character a bit less. She was stubborn and temperamental and sometimes bordered on annoying. I was also confused by the contradictions in her emotions: the new world they were in supposedly made her calmer because of her Venator nature, yet she still felt fear and panic and frustration, which are all emotions far from calm.

All in all, if you’re interested in paranormal or fantasy, featuring alternate dimensions and interesting world-building, definitely give The Venators Series a try!

 

Devri Walls: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Seanan McGuire “Down Among the Sticks and Bones”

51MKK7uzyVL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

For those who read the first book in this series, Every Heart a Doorway, this book follows the twins and the world that they found and spent 5 years living in.

For those who didn’t read the first book I would say that it’s probably not imperative that you do, especially since this book is actually set before. However, the first book does give some important information about the different doorways that children enter and the toll that it takes on them, which is why these children stay at Eleanor West’s. It’s a type of “home for troubled teens”, but it’s for the kids who come back and find themselves now lost.

In Down Among the Sticks and Bones, we get to see the way the twins, Jacqueline and Jillian (or Jack and Jill), were raised and the sort of upbringing they have. Their parents never actually wanted kids and thought they were altogether too messy, yet ended up decided they wanted children after seeing the way that some of their peers and coworkers received attention and recognition for their kids. They wanted a child that they could mold into whatever they wanted them to be.

Unfortunately, they didn’t allow their daughters to develop personalities of their own and instead forced Jacqueline to wear frilly dresses and be cooed and coddled, and Jillian to be athletic and boyish to replace the son they wish they’d had. Their parents didn’t seem to understand the complexities of their children and forced them into boxes, when Jacqueline would have loved to be more active and Jillian longed to be pretty and adored like her sister.

So when the sisters find themselves in The Moors, they’re given the choice to start anew, even if the new life they’re to lead is terrifying and full of strange and terrible things. They’re given the choice between the luxuries of the castle they are taken into or the hard work of an apprenticeship outside the city walls; Jack chooses to live under a harsh apprenticeship while Jill longs to be loved by the dark stranger who rules over the castle.

To see these characters grow, particularly Jack, was so interesting and satisfying. I was so happy to see Jack break out of the mold that her parents had forced her into and flourish. She had a thirst for knowledge and longed to learn everything she could from the man she worked under, who was a sort of doctor.

Jillian on the other hand, while having her wish to be beautiful and adored granted, had gotten a little more than she bargained for from her strange, terrifying new guardian.

Still, both sisters found happiness and belonging and acceptance in this new world and I think that is such a beautiful thing. This story was heartbreaking and creepy and beautiful and I enjoyed it so much more than Every Heart a Doorway.

Sadly, these books are so short that it’s hard to say much about them without revealing important, spoiler-y things, but this book left me feeling so sad and broken and torn up. I definitely prefer my happily ever afters so this book was a huge bummer for me, but I could still appreciate the way this was written. Seanan McGuire is a majorly talented writer, and I’d be so interested to read more of her work after this series is through.

 

Seanan McGuire: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Leigh Bardugo “Crooked Kingdom”

9781627792134_custom-87433fa92146030d7e670837720f99c53b84f112-s900-c85Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

There are definitely going to be spoilers in this review so if you have not read Crooked Kingdom, I’m begging you to leave. Like seriously, you don’t want to find out what happens from some poor sap rambling about the book on her blog. Go away.

This book freaking tore me up. Like it made me want to throw myself off a bridge and die. Just why does Bardugo want to kill me with her sad, dark endings? Why?

Yet I can’t say enough good things about this duology; I understand now why people rave about it. Six of Crows and the characters and the genius story… it’s all together a work of art. I never thought that Bardugo could write something better than the Grisha trilogy and yet fortunately, I was so wrong. She has created such a beautiful and unique world with amazing abilities, in-depth characters and the intricately weaved stories she tells.

I didn’t think that Bardugo could top the awesomeness of Six of Crows, but Crooked Kingdom was still incredible. Kaz was still coming up with amazing plans and still causing trouble and it’s just so much fun to read.

Serious spoiler warnings ahead:

So.

Matthias.

Him dying.

Can we talk about that and how much it tore me up? Like, he was definitely in my top three favorite characters, and while I so appreciate the poetic nature of his death, still why did it have to happen? I was so ridiculously heartbroken.

No, seriously. My husband has perfect timing and called me in the middle of my sob-session, and he was very alarmed.

Me: HELLOOOooOO? (obviously crying) 

Him: Babe, what’s wrong?

Me: (Unintelligible crying)

Him: Tell me what happened?! What’s going on?! (becoming slightly panicked)

Me: A CHARACTER IN MY BOOK DIIIiiIIED (continues to cry)

He proceeded to laugh at me because apparently he thinks my crying over a fictional death is funny. He comforted me over the phone but there was definitely a joking tone behind it.

Him: He’s just a book character, honey-

Me: NO THEY’RE ALL MY BABIES.

I definitely felt like I needed some therapy after that scene.

And then I’m going to be super honest, the rest of the book was a blur for me because I was still so upset. I read it, but everything had sort of resolved itself by then and none of the other characters were in danger anymore so the story closed and I was just still heartbroken over Matthias. I still feel like I need someone to console me, and it’s been several days. Literally all the tears.

So I mean, that’s how I came away from Crooked Kingdom: amazing world, amazing storytelling, amazing characters, oh my gosh Matthias is dead.

Alright, someone provide me the number of a therapist who can help me work this out because I am not alright. Why did I give this book 5 stars? Oh wait because it was still amazing. Why am I like this?

So, turns out I’m not emotionally stable enough to write this review yet, but I may never be so I’m posting it anyway because it’s a super accurate representation of my feels. You’re welcome. Come cry with me if you need to.

BOOK REVIEW: Alexandra Christo “To Kill a Kingdom”

34499221Title: To Kill a Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts: 

This is how you write a retelling, people. It doesn’t have to be the same in every way and it’s okay if it’s a looser portrayal. To Kill a Kingdom is a re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, and I have to say that I loved it even more than the original.

Now truth be told I don’t actually love the original Disney adaptation with Ariel’s insisting “but Daddy, I love him” and claiming she’s “not a child anymore” when she’s 16. (You know you’re getting old when you start to side with the adults in kid’s movies?) I also can’t say that I’m all too familiar with the original original story, except that I know it’s quite sad so I have no interest in it. Happily ever after or bust, man.

Yet Allie Christo’s adaptation was everything I need from a good story: morally grey MCs, hilarious secondary characters, a psycho villain, slow-burn romance, clever banter and action.

I had my doubts about this book considering I have no love for Ariel and Eric, but Lira and Elian are bae and I say this unironically. From the very beginning, I rooted for them both and they were such believable characters. Even though they weren’t likable right of the bat, I connected with them and in turn, grew to love them.

The world that Christo created was fascinating, both on land and in the water. I loved the world of the sirens and mermaids and also loved the different kingdoms and cultures that Elian’s crew encounters. Plus, the dynamics between Lira and Elian were amazing: Lira, siren, Princes’ Bane and Elian, pirate, prince, siren hunter. And yet throughout the book, only Lira knows both of their identities since Elian still believes that she’s human.

Also let’s talk about the writing: it was incredible.

… Oh, I thought I had more to say about that. Moving on.

In conclusion, To Kill a Kingdom was such a fun, satisfying romp and Christo has been added to my list of authors on my auto-buy list. My wallet says thanks.

 

Alexandra Christo: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Seanan McGuire “Every Heart a Doorway”

51QNWyKjJAL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Every Heart a Doorway

Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: Fantasy/Mystery

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts:

Every Heart a Doorway ended up being not at all what I expected. I thought this was going to be a light, atmospheric fantasy, but instead ended up being altogether darker and heavier than I would have imagined.

Now obviously, I can’t blame my expectations on the book and I was able to set them aside after the initial jarring reaction. Still, I’m not sure I would have read this if I had known because I was not in the right frame of mind for this.

The story follows the children living in Eleanor West’s home for “troubled” teenagers, but this isn’t exactly true. This is what Eleanor allows the parents to believe, who would never understand the truth: that their children had visited another world and had come back very different.

“… You know, I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when I was a kid, and I never thought about what it would be like for Alice when she went back to where she’d started. I figured she’d just shrug and get over it. But I can’t do that. Every time I close my eyes, I’m back in my real bed, in my real room, and all of this is a dream.”

Eleanor West provides these children with a safe place for them to come to terms with their current situation, and the entire experience is treated like therapy. There are two kinds of homes for children who have visited other worlds: one for children who wish to forget, and one for children who wish to go back. Nancy, our main character, wishes to go back.

The book is beautifully written and extremely quotable, I will definitely give it that. I loved the whole idea of it and loved hearing about the worlds that each child had visited, for they were all wildly different. I wanted to hear more about this, but instead, the story shifted into a murder mystery about halfway through the book.

Suddenly, students started turning up dead under very mysterious circumstances, and it’s obvious that there is a murderer loose in the school. Under normal circumstances, I would think that the administrator would decide that the student’s lives are more important than anything else and have them sent away until the problem is dealt with. That is not how Eleanor West handles the situation.

To a certain extent, I understand why. Part of the reason that many of the children are staying in the home to begin with is because they come from toxic households that would not make for good healing environments for the children. However, I think in this case the choice is simple: either stay at the school and potentially die a horrible death, or go home for a short time while the murderer is tracked down. Or don’t even send the children home, just get them somewhere safe? But no, after every murder, Eleanor pleads with the children not to alert the outside world to the murder problem so the school doesn’t get shut down. This was very frustrating to me and I felt it selfish to value a “safe place” over the lives of the children.

Not only that, I felt the reader wasn’t given enough time to connect with any of the characters before people start getting murdered, so I couldn’t even bother to care if any of them died. I wasn’t invested in the story and overall, I wish this had taken a different direction.

Don’t get me wrong, I still adore the idea and I definitely plan to at least read the second book before deciding if this series is a lost cause. I hope that Down Among the Sticks and Bones is an improvement on this book and focuses more on the worlds that the children visit and their journeys to recovery.

 

Seanan McGuire: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Tricia Levenseller “Daughter of the Pirate King”

33643994Title: Daughter of the Pirate King

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Genre: Fantasy/Action Adventure

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts:

This had all the makings of an entertaining, action-packed read: snarky female character, swoony love interest and unique magical elements. Instead, all I felt was frustration throughout this entire reading process.

Alosa is, as the title mentions, the pirate king’s daughter. This makes her incredibly well-trained, smart and quick, so her father sends Alosa on a mission to steal a piece of a map which is hidden on board an enemy ship. To do this, she purposely allows the ship’s captain to take her prisoner so that she can then escape and search for the map piece. At any point, Alosa could supposedly easily escape if she wanted to, except she obviously wants to stay on board until she completes her mission.

See, but here’s the thing: if she could so easily escape undetected, why is it that every time she broke out of her cell to search the ship, she ends up getting caught? If she’s so dang good, why does she continue to be found out? Every time someone finds her out of her cell, she makes some half-hearted attempt to escape so that the crew continues to think that she truly doesn’t want to be there. Yet after the third, fourth, fifth time, it just became pathetic.

So in this barely 300-page book, Alosa spends practically the first 225 pages escaping, unsuccessfully searching for the map piece, getting caught and being thrown back in her cell. Over and over and over again. It just became so old and repetitive that it took away much of the enjoyment for me.

Otherwise, I feel I would have loved this. Alosa and Riden (the captain’s brother and first mate) exchanged some hilarious flirtatious banter that made me laugh out loud several times. I loved the siren abilities that Alosa is eventually revealed to have later in the book; her ability to see people’s emotions as colors in her siren vision and the things she was able to do with her song was so cool.

Things finally started to pick up and start happening in the last 75 pages or so of the book, but by then I was so done that I couldn’t bring myself to care. It’s really unfortunate that I didn’t like this more. However, I’m fully planning to read the sequel, Daughter of the Siren Queen, because I have hopes that it will be a significant improvement on the first book. Hopefully Levenseller focuses more on Alosa’s abilities and on creating a more engaging plot. For now though, this remains an unsatisfactory debut.

 

Tricia Levenseller: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

March Wrap-Up

Hey, y’all! I know it’s a little late for a wrap-up, but better now than never, right? I read a total of 15 books in the month of March, and only one of those was a DNF! I’m trying to be better about the books that I leave unfinished, especially since it’s difficult and also frowned upon to review unfinished books. However, it’s also my philosophy that life is too short to read books that you’re not enjoying, so why waste your time? Thankfully, the books I read this month were mostly good!

9781616959555The first book I started and the only book that I did not finish was Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed. I wanted to like this book and I was hoping that it would be more moving and meaningful for me, but the only thing I was feeling was the weird, cringey romances. I couldn’t even see anything beyond the awkward love triangle that the main character found herself in. So unfortunately, a potentially important story was ruined by bad teen romance.

51oGTLiumOL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Istanbul Days, Istanbul Nights by Leonard Durso was sent to me by Smith Publicity and was my second read in March. This was pitched as a Romeo & Juliet reimagining and while I was thrown by the lack of Shakespeare parallels, this is still a lovely story for those who enjoy diverse characters, multiple POVs, love, loss and friendship.

513hgSybYgL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_Next up, in preparation for the movie that came out earlier this month, I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This was a strange but sweet little book that I’m glad to finally have completed, and was also glad to have been able to see the film. It was well-made and surprisingly heartfelt. Sadly though, I don’t think I liked this enough to continue the series unless someone convinces me otherwise.

35422236The biggest disappointment so far this year had to be Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston. This was pitched as an Anastasia retelling which is basically all you have to do to get me to buy something: slap Anastasia on it. I’m obsessed with anything related to Anastasia and this book ripped my heart out, man. It was just so bad. Absolutely no traces of the original Anastasia; just a lost princess story with a weird robot romance. No freaking thank you.

11410430Guilty pleasure time: Defiance by C. J. Redwine was, objectively, horrible. It’s full of plot holes and was honestly sort of ridiculous, but I had so much fun reading it. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait to read the next two books. They’re definitely on my immediate TBR because I’m stupid and want to lose more brain cells? I don’t know, but I’m so ready for more.

51FueHjFskL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Next one was a random read: Pitching for Success by Doug Coates. I won this random little book in a Goodreads giveaway, and when I say little I mean tiny. I read the whole thing in about 15 minutes. Still, I wouldn’t have read it otherwise, but I felt I owed it to the author who I won the book from to actually read and review it, so I did. You can check it out on my Goodreads.

914DeALdMcLAnother quick read was Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. This book was a little too immature for my taste, but I did manage to finish it one less than a day.

Six-of-Crows-CoverDefinitely one of my favorite reads in March was Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Technically, I read this book back when it first released, but I’m pretty sure I was in a slump and I forced my way through the book when I really wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it. This time around, though? It was absolutely incredible and I can’t believe I didn’t read it to the fullest extent sooner! Crooked Kingdom is definitely going to be on my immediate TBR, hopefully to be read sometime in April.

51nKCFTyz9LThe Widower’s Wife was read for a book club and I have to say: while the end was semi-satisfying and justice was served in the end, I can’t say I really enjoyed any of the rest of this story. It was predictable and I didn’t think it was written particularly well, either. Disappointing considering the fact that I love mysteries and thrillers, and this didn’t turn out to be either one.

covers_244928For my Throne of Glass series reread, I read Crown of Midnight for the month of March and it was just as incredible as it was the first time. I’ve been surprisingly really enjoying rereading these books and find that I have a newfound appreciation for the earlier installments. Sarah J Maas is a genius and Throne of Glass is an absolutely incredible series.

ready-player-one-book-GalleyCatAnother favorite read this month was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and I adored this. The movie definitely did not do this amazing story justice so I’d advise anyone who watched the movie and thought they could skip the book to read the book anyway. I promise you won’t regret it.

17838528Next up was Morgan Matson’s latest: The Unexpected Everything. This book had literally everything going for it… except a likable main character. At least for me, I’m sure there are many people who liked Andie, but me? I couldn’t relate to her on any level; not the decisions she made or the things she said or the lies she told, none of it. The book had tons of potential otherwise, and in the end, still a great Matson read.

33643994Another slight disappointment this month was Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levensellar. This book had all the potential: snarky, strong female character, swoony love interest, interesting magical elements. Unfortunately, I felt the book was incredibly repetitive and Alosa spent most of the book doing the exact same things. It wasn’t until the last 75 pages or so that things got interesting, but by then I was so ready to be done that I couldn’t bother to care. Still, I’m definitely planning to read the sequel because I have hopes that it will be better than the first book.

academy-coverAlso, finally trying to continue the rest of the Series of Unfortunate Events! I’m absolutely loving the Netflix show which is inspiring me to want to read the rest of this series, which I started years ago and never finished. So I read The Austere Academy which was appropriately frustrating, unfortunate and dark. I’m longing for a day when the Baudelaires finally get a happy ending.

9780812988079And finally, the last book read in March: Slade House by David Mitchell. This was a haunted house/ghost story that put off some very nostalgic vibes for me, reminding me of some of the scary stories my grandpa used to tell me. I mean, my grandpa’s stories were better, but it’s the feels that count. This book was strange and creepy, and while it had some good writing, I never felt fully connected or invested in the story.

And that’s that, folks! I’m pretty proud of all I read this month and I’m happy with the progress I’m making on my Goodreads reading goal. At this rate, I should definitely be hitting my 100-book reading goal for the year 2018.

How are y’all doing on your reading goals? Let me know in the comments, and let me know if you’ve read any of the books I listed in my wrap-up! Aloha.

BOOK REVIEW: Morgan Matson “The Unexpected Everything”

17838528Title: The Unexpected Everything

Author: Morgan Matson

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

*Summary provided by Goodreads.

My thoughts:

I’ve been a fan of Morgan Matson for a while. I think her writing is sweet yet moving, and I fell in love with the first book I ever read by her: Since You’ve Been Gone. Since then, I’ve read every other book written by her, yet sadly have found nothing that has quite met up to SYBG standards. I hoped The Unexpected Everything could do the trick, but I was mistaken.

That’s not to say this was a bad book in the slightest; just that I have yet to read another Matson book that I thought was as good as the first.

This book had a lot going for it: estranged father/daughter relationship and the struggles associated, strong, realistic female friendships and an adorable love interest. Everything should have fallen into place for me, yet there was something missing: a liking for the main character.

For the life of me, I couldn’t get behind Andie’s character. She did frustratingly stupid things and made frustratingly stupid mistakes. I also couldn’t personally connect with her: she’s this girl who desires physical affection from boys yet is unwilling to make attachments or open herself up, causing her relationships to last never more than three weeks. And she was perfectly okay with it. Obviously, The Unexpected Everything is about Andie finding the kind of love that’s worth being vulnerable for and she eventually does open herself up; however, I found that before this point in the book, I couldn’t understand any of the decisions she made and it was a struggle.

Besides this very significant bump, I did enjoy this book. I loved seeing the healing for Andie and her father’s broken relationship and the importance of family over career. I loved the interactions between the female friends and even loved the eventual falling out between two of them. It was so good to see the realistic side of friendship: that just like a romantic relationship, friends can fall apart and not always fall back together. It’s a heartbreaking reality but one I was happy to see represented here because we have all gone through this.

I looooved Clark. He’s one of my favorite love interests that I’ve seen in YA in a long time. He was an ex-homeschooler, full-time author and totally swoon-worthy. Honestly kind of mad because he could have done way better than Andie, but whatever.

Overall, I hate when characters lie because you know that it’s going to end badly, and I hate watching the horribleness that they brought upon themselves unfold. It’s cringey and annoying and I don’t have any sympathy for characters that get themselves into messes because of their own stupidity. I’ve never enjoyed this trope and I never will. I hope that Matson’s next release exceeds all of my wildest expectations.

 

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