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Rainy Day's Books, Video Games and Other Writings

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rainy day’s books video games and other writings

Book Review: The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1)

The Hazel Wood Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away–by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began–and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

This book is one of many books I’ve read in my life that I was sad to put down. I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t want it to end. What I loved about The Hazel Wood was all the elements of fantasy embedded within, such as the dark/grim fairytales told within its pages and the world of the Hinterland where refugees and Stories resided together. I love how dark the fairytales mentioned are because real life isn’t always so pretty. So, for me, it was refreshing to read a book with fairytales that were grimmer than what they usually are. I also liked seeing the world of the Hinterland because you see all these different characters from different stories, but you also see real people in this world too. I found it really fascinating to read about.

What I also enjoyed when reading The Hazel Wood is how the author explained where Alice’s bad luck came from with regards to why the characters in the Hinterland world wanted her back there so badly and how this led to the events that happened within the book’s pages. I found it interesting to discover how Alice connects to this terribly grim world and to get a logical explanation as to why bad luck was following her and her mother everywhere they went as she was growing up. While I felt bad for Alice when she finds out the truth about who she really is, it also made sense to me because of the way things were happening in the story.

I also love this book because you can see the effect the magic of the written word can take through Alice’s grandmother Aletha when she writes her book about the Hinterland. The written word is so powerful that it bridges two worlds together. When she writes about a world that she herself went to, it allows characters from that world to get out. And as Alice explores this world, she learns what type of effect that had on the Hinterland as well as the world she grew up in.

But what I loved most with reading this book was how I felt like I was there in the book with all these characters. Most of the time I was reading this book, I felt like I could picture myself with Alice as she’s going on this journey to rescue her mother while simultaneously discovering the truth about her own story and what she needed to do to guarantee a happy ending for herself and her mother. While the Hinterland isn’t necessarily a world I’d personally want to live in, I found myself when reading longing to get a chance to see this world for myself and to learn more about the Stories in this world. If anything, I would want to be like the refugees in this book, exploring the world of the Hinterland before finding my way back home.

If I have any criticisms when it comes to this book, it would be that I didn’t want the story to end along with wishing there were more stories from the Hinterland that we could read about. I overall enjoyed reading The Hazel Wood and was sad to see this story end. I just wish we learned more about the Hinterland while Alice was stuck within that world. Luckily, there’s a sequel called The Night Country that came out this month, which I’m definitely planning on giving a read.

I recommend The Hazel Wood to all fantasy lovers like me, especially to people who want to read darker fairytales and find themselves immersed in a world unlike any I’ve read about before.

 

 

Book Review: Rivers of London (Rivers of London #1)

Rivers of London Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Whenever I first started reading this book, I was really excited. The premise of the book sounded right up my ally, like a story I could sink my teeth into. However, while I overall enjoyed this book, it wasn’t the read I was hoping for.

What I enjoyed about Rivers of London was how the supernatural and fantastical were introduced into the story. I found the concept of vestiga interesting. The idea that you could pick up on imprints intrigued me. Especially with the way it was used by the protagonist to help solve crimes. I also liked the idea of the rivers in London were each a character within the story and the conflict between the two main rivers who were trying to gain even more control. I thought that was an interesting concept to read about.

I also enjoyed reading about the hierarchy regarding the police force in this book. Since I don’t live in London, I have no idea if it accurately represents the different branches of the police (if there are any), but I thought it was interesting to read Peter talk about these different police units. I also loved how Peter was able to use his skills as a constable and combined them with magic to stop the protagonist from hurting more people.

It was also interesting seeing how magic impacted people to where it could affect your brain if the person is using more magic than they can control. And I liked the effect magic had on technology in this world to where it could result in killing your phone battery or damaging your electronic devices so you couldn’t use them anymore. The idea of magic having that much of an affect and being that powerful really fascinated me.

While I enjoyed reading Rivers of London because a lot of the topics discussed truly fascinated me, I also had some issues with the story too. For starters, while I found a majority of the characters in this book interesting, Peter Grant wasn’t the protagonist I wanted for this story. When I originally started reading, I was fine with his character. I even was rooting for him to find out what was going on. But in comparison to the other characters in the story, such as his female counterpart Lesley and the Inspector he became partnered with Nightingale, he wasn’t as interesting a character. If I’m to be honest, I would’ve preferred Lesley as the main character because she was someone I could more relate to. I felt like Peter was trying to use logic to explain the existence of magic too much instead of just enjoying being a part of the police force that handled cases involving magic.

Another criticism I have with this book is the plot. It originally started off really fascinating with Peter talking to a witness that he later discovered was a ghost. However, as the book continued, I felt like the plot just started rushing forward. It went from a story where magic was being explained to one ridiculous event with magic after another. The plot essentially started out interesting to where I wanted to find out what happened next to then become absurd. I wouldn’t have minded so much if there was context with these events or if the main antagonist in the story faced his retribution. But while there is context explaining why these sequences of events happened in the order they did, the antagonist just vanishes at the end of the story. While I understand why (without saying anything that could spoil the book for those who’d be interested in reading it), a lot of the end felt very messy to me.

In the end, the plot just didn’t work for me. Yes, I still enjoyed what I was reading because the way magic was explained truly fascinated me and I loved solving crimes involving magic. But I feel like if the plot of the story near the end wasn’t so gummed up, I’d have enjoyed it more. I know there are more books in this series so I’m willing to give them a chance in the hopes that they’ll be an improvement over this one.

2020: The Year of Me

2020 Happy New Year Pinterest
Image from Pinterest.

2019 has been a rough year for me. I lost one of the most important people in my life, someone I never imagined I’d have to face life without. My best friend who while I know is no longer in pain, I still miss as if she passed away just yesterday. Dealing with the grief I feel over her loss has been one of the hardest things I’ve gone through, especially knowing as I experience 2020, she won’t be here this year. While I’m currently doing fine right now, I won’t say her loss hasn’t changed me in some way like losing someone you care about tends to do.

Erin and I At the Beach
One of my favorite pictures of my best friend and I at the beach for her birthday.

It’s made this year difficult. As I experience certain moments in life, I’m constantly reminded that I can no longer talk to her about what’s going on and it sucks. It reminds me of how short life is for all of us and how much I wish she were here experiencing life with me.

2019 hasn’t been all bad though. I’ve had some good moments during this past year too, like starting my new job at China Jushi USA in May and being one of the bridesmaids during my sister’s wedding in November. I’ve also made some new friends through a video game I’ve recently been playing on my PlayStation 4 I bought for myself in 2019, Final Fantasy XIV that I talk to on almost a daily basis along with reconnecting with some old friends too who’ve also had the same loss I’ve been experiencing.

Laney and I At Her Wedding 2019
My sister and I at her wedding reception.

So, while 2019 has been a rough year, I’ve also seen some good come out of this past year for me too. Yes, 2019 wasn’t the year I was hoping it would be, but I know it helped shape me into the woman I am today. So, for that, I’m grateful, even though it means beginning a new year without one of the most important people in my life.

What I want 2020 to be for me is a year of taking care of myself. I spend so much of my time and energy worrying about other people that I don’t stop and think about what I want out of life. So, I hope for 2020 to spend some time doing things for myself that make me happy, like continuing writing here on my blog and continuing pursuing other passions I love.

I also want 2020 to be a year of learning and growth for me. With that in mind, since I work for a Chinese company, I want to learn Chinese. I’ve already started the process a little by downloading Duolingo on my phone and using it a little each day. However, I also plan on looking into other avenues for learning Chinese so if anyone here has gone through the process of learning another language and knows a good tool I can use, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section of this post.

So, for 2020, I hope to continue growing into the woman I’m meant to be while pursuing passions I love and putting my genuine self out into the world.

But enough about me. What all do you hope to get out of 2020 and how has it been treating you so far? Leave a comment below because I’d love nothing more than to hear from you.

Personal Blog Post: Apologies Are in Order

Sorry for My Absence Blog Post

Hello everyone! How’re you all doing today? I know it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me. For that, I extend my sincerest apologies for my long silence. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart I didn’t intentionally stop writing on my blog. There wasn’t anything going on here in the blogging community that made me not want to write anymore. I just—needed to be away for a little while.

As you all know, I mentioned back in February that I lost my best friend to a disease that has yet to have a cure. While I’d love nothing more to say I’ve gotten over that loss and have fully moved on with my life, that would be a lie. The grief I feel over her death comes and goes with some days being easier than others. She was someone who was really a big part of my life so having to live without her hasn’t been easy. But I’m managing the best I can, one day at a time. One of the things I’ve started working on to help deal with my grief is writing personal letters to my best friend, talking about the different things going on in my life. I’ve found that it helps even though there are a lot of times I don’t really know what to say.

However, that isn’t the only reason I’ve been absent from my blog. This year in general has just been very busy as well. I have an older sister who just recently got married so I’ve been helping prepare for that.

And to be honest, I just haven’t been writing or reading quite as much lately. I guess you could say for the past couple months I’ve been in a reading and writing slump that I’m slowly working on getting myself out of. I have a lot of books to read, just need to pick one up and start reading again. But it’s been difficult to get out of because I just haven’t been feeling like reading lately and I don’t know why. So, I’m going to try and figure out what’s causing this slump for me and what I can do to remedy the situation so I can read the books piling up in my room that remain unread.

With that being said, I’m hoping this blog post can be the start of me getting back to being involved with my blog again. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy writing on my blog and have missed being a part of this community. Hopefully writing this post will motivate me to get back into blogging again like I was doing before I took this unexpected absence.

Again, I apologize from the bottom of my heart for being absent for so long. I can’t guarantee I’ll immediately be active on my blog again, but I’m definitely working right now on getting out of this slump so I can get back into it. And I truly believe this post will be the start of that for me.

I hope you all are doing well and can’t wait to continue blogging where I left off! Please let me know in the comments below what all you’ve been up to since my unexpected hiatus because I’d love nothing more than to hear from fellow bloggers.

Book Review: Smoke & Summons (Numina Trilogy #1)

Smoke & Summons Book Cover

Rating: 3.5 stars

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.

Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…

I’m having a hard time deciding on what rating to give this story. I overall enjoyed reading it because I found the story and world-building interesting. The author does a wonderful job creating an immersive world to pull us into with a story and unique characters that you as a reader can get behind. I especially enjoyed reading from Sandis’s perspective and learning more about her abilities as she runs away from the man trying to capture and control her.

But at the same time, I personally sometimes found the story itself to move at a very slow pace. Not because I didn’t find the story interesting or wasn’t enjoying what I was reading. It just felt at times like the plot was moving too slow for me like I was always waiting for something to happen to Sandis and Rone. Even during the moments when they were just resting and had successfully managed to avoid capture.

What I enjoyed with regards to Smoke & Summons is the world our protagonists are in. I wouldn’t necessarily call it grim, but it’s not exactly what one would call one of the safest universes to be immersed in. Especially for someone like Sandis who had no choice in the matter in being able to control an ancient spirit. In their universe, her abilities are considered something to be feared. So, she’s not only on the run from the man who’s controlled her powers but the authorities in their world.

I also enjoyed reading about her powers. Especially since you as the reader discover that Sandis has started forming a connection with the ancient spirit she’s been a vessel for. I found learning about her abilities interesting because it’s a power I haven’t read too many stories about before. It’s also very interesting to read about too because her abilities with this ancient spirit aren’t like all the other vessels her master Kazen has control over. She has more control over summoning this spirit than any of the other vessels does and has a memory of what the spirit does whenever it takes over her body. None of the other characters in the story with her abilities have that type of control so I found that interesting to see.

What I enjoyed the most when reading Smoke & Summons was there was no forced romance between the two protagonists. Yes, it’s clear that they both have feelings for each other. However, Charlie N. Holmberg never forced romance into the story with Sandis and Rone. Most books of this genre always try to include romance into the story in some form or another. So, it was nice to see that not occur in this book.

But while I enjoyed this world and the overall storyline, the biggest criticism I have I already mentioned earlier, with regards to the pacing of the story. I found there were some moments when reading that the story just moved too slow. Most of this book I noticed involved Sandis and Rone on the run from Kazen and the numerous Numen and people he used to help catch them. There really wasn’t too much plot that moved the story forward involving Sandis discovering her connection with the ancient spirit that controlled her body. While I overall didn’t mind because when reading the story, you understand why that’s the case, it sometimes made the story drag on a little too much when you wanted to know more about Sandis and her abilities.

I overall enjoyed reading Smoke & Summons and am definitely planning on reading the next book in the trilogy Myths and Mortals. I just hope the next book improves in the pacing of the story so that this trilogy continues to interest me enough to want to read the next book to see what happens to our protagonists.

Acquiring a New Opportunity

Brave Leap of Faith

I know it’s been quite a while since my latest blog post. I just haven’t had as much free time to read and write blog posts though. But it’s for a very good reason.

I know I haven’t mentioned this on my blog at all because my blog posts have been laser-focused on books. But I just recently acquired a new job, once again. I think the last time I mentioned a job was last October on this personal blog post where I talked about a position one of my dear friends from college recommended me for.

The reason for the job change is because the company I was working for due to my friend is very soon going to be done with the project I was working on. From what I’ve heard, their last day on site will be June 14th, which is next week. As a result, I would’ve likely been unemployed if I’d stayed until the very end of the project. BUT it’s actually because of the company I was working for that this opportunity came to me.

You see, the project I was hired on for with this company is on a construction site. Most of the people I’d worked for were electricians on this construction site that were hired to do work for a fiberglass plant here that’s in the process of opening. Well, someone in the maintenance/utilities department on site was looking for someone to help with some of their forms.

My previous employment was very pleased with my work for them. So, when they heard the maintenance department on site was looking for someone to help with their workload, they told that person about me. This opened the door for me to interview and then be offered this position, which I started officially on Monday, May 20th.

While I’m still sad to have left that job behind, I feel extremely thankful. I had no idea that working for them would give me this opportunity. Would give me the chance to get a more permanent full-time job that gives me even more work experience in an industry I’m still learning more about.  I feel like I’ll never be able to thank them enough for getting me employment after they’re gone from the site.

And so far, the job itself has been going well for me. Yes, I’m still learning all my responsibilities and it can sometimes feel overwhelming because there’s a lot I’m going to be doing. Like I’ll be handling our department’s payroll because I mentioned in my interview that I have payroll experience. I’ll also be responsible for keeping track of the equipment that’s on site as well as different forms of paperwork that our department will need to get approved to get the equipment we’ll need. A lot of my responsibilities are essentially administrative tasks and data entry work. But I’m still learning what all I’m going to be handling right now in this position so if the details sound vague to you at all that’s probably why.

I can tell you for sure that I’ll be a lot busier than I was before. Since I’ve started, I’ve yet to have an unproductive/slow day where I’m not handling some aspect of my new job, which I don’t mind at all because I love being busy and feeling challenged at work.

So that’s why I haven’t been blogging quite as much lately. I’ve been so busy with this new job (even working on Saturdays, which gives me overtime pay) that I just haven’t had the energy or time to focus on much of anything at all.

But I’m not going anywhere, I can promise you that. I’m still planning on blogging, continuing reading books I love, playing video games I enjoy, etc. I just wanted to explain to you all why I haven’t been quite as present on my blog lately and wanted to share the good news. Because I’m extremely thankful for this new opportunity and can’t wait to see where it takes me.

 

Book Review: Noughts & Crosses (Noughts and Crosses #1)

Noughts and Crosses Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Sephy and Callum have been friends since early childhood. And that’s as far as it can go. Because theirs is a world full of prejudice, racism, distrust and mounting terrorist violence.

Despite all this, a romance builds between the two friends.

But this is a love that could lead them both into terrible danger…

The summary on the back of Noughts & Crosses doesn’t do it any justice. From the beginning, this book had me hooked, wanting to know how this story would go. It was an emotional rollercoaster that while in the moment didn’t produce any tears from me, it made me have an array of emotions when I was finished.

It tells the tragic story of Sephy and Callum, best friends since childhood who over the years of their lives fall in love with each other. But they can’t be together because of racism and terrorist violence which threatens to tear their lives apart.

I received this book through Blind Date With a Book Club, a website where for the next six months, you get a mystery book based on the genres you’ve chosen. This is the first book of the six I received, and I couldn’t be more pleased with it.

What I love about this book is that it emotionally hooked me into the story. As a reader, this story really pulled me in, made me root for Sephy and Callum to be together despite the many obstacles that stood in their way. I wanted so badly for their love story to work out even though I knew the chances were slim because of how dark this story became.

I also appreciate the honesty in which this story portrays heavy topics such as racism. This book gets seriously dark in the way it shows you as the reader how much racism can affect the world around you. How hatred for someone because of the color of their skin can really cause harm to the people that hatred is turned towards. This book does a spectacular job of showing you as the reader how this hatred can really hurt people, especially those you love. I’m not scared to admit that this dystopia world sometimes frightened me because it felt so real and it wasn’t that long ago that the world we live in acted the way the Crosses do towards the Noughts.

But experiencing that fear helped me because as someone with privilege, I know I’ll never understand what the Noughts went through. Though in this dystopia world, the author turns racism on its head, since Noughts in the story are white people experiencing racism from black people. I thought that was an interesting dynamic because it made me think and I feel like it helped me understand racism better. Especially since Malorie Blackman used a lot of experiences to show how terrible racism can truly be. Before reading this book, I felt like I understood racism, but I truly believe this book really showed me how dark it can get, and that people tend to take it way too far.

I felt like this book really spoke to me too. My partner and I aren’t the typical relationship you expect to see so I feel like I can relate to this story because of it. It made me think about our relationship and made me realize how much I truly appreciate my partner. Our relationship isn’t always easy, but I truly feel like we’re meant to be together despite the obstacles we’ve faced. So, in many ways, I feel like I can relate to Sephy and Callum’s relationship because they both went through some hurdles to be together.

My biggest criticism with Noughts & Crosses is that while I was rooting for Sephy and Callum to be together, there were moments where I didn’t understand why they still cared for each other. Throughout the book, their relationship is put through the ringer. Yet, both Sephy and Callum still end up caring about each other despite the many situations their put in during their romance. Situations that would typically result in one or both people involved wanting to separate from each other. The best example that comes to mind happens close to the end of the story and is the result of the way their romance ends. I won’t go too much into it because I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone, but I really don’t understand why these two characters chose that moment to do that. It was the worst timing on their part and I knew as soon as it happened it would cause the end of their relationship. It also just didn’t make sense to me because the situation they both were in wasn’t an ideal moment for them to give into impulses.

Like I said, I can relate to their relationship, so I do overall understand why they wanted to be together. But there were moments in the story where for their own safety, they shouldn’t have been. Or where they both made rash decisions that they shouldn’t have, which impacted not only them but those closest to them.

Another criticism I had while reading was that while I loved that this story was told from two points of view (Sephy and Callum), there were times I didn’t overall like the writing from their perspectives. I know both these characters are young, so I get that what they said or did sounded childish, but there were times for me when it was a bit too much. I especially noticed this a lot when the story was being told from Sephy’s perspective. Maybe part of that in the story is that Blackman wanted to showcase with Sephy her privilege through the way she acted during certain moments in the story. Either way, it was something I wasn’t too fond of despite liking that this story is told from two different perspectives.

But overall, Noughts & Crosses was a really gripping, emotional read for me to complete and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m also happy that this was the first book I was given with Blind Date With a Book Club and can’t wait to see what book I’ll receive from them next.

 

Book Review: Good Me Bad Me

Good Me Bad Me Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

Good Me Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree? 

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school. 

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all. 

When tensions rise, and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

I enjoyed reading this book but was also disappointed with it at the same time. There are a lot of aspects of the book I really enjoyed. However, there was a lot left to be desired too.

What I loved about Good Me Bad Me was getting to see into the mind of a serial killer’s daughter. Getting to see how this trauma of witnessing her mother murdering children affected Milly’s life in her new home. When the story begins, you as the reader can’t help feeling sympathetic to Milly. She’s just a young girl after all who lives alone with her mother, whose story really tugs at your heart and makes you want to cheer her on as she adjusts to a new life that is full of complications of its own. Especially since you get to see into her thoughts and how she reacts to being bullied by Phoebe and her friends while she’s just trying to make it through each day before the trial that’ll forever cement her into her new life. I found this aspect of the story interesting, though Milly’s thought process wasn’t at all what I expected from her, but I understood that because I knew she went through something most girls her age never have to deal with.

I also like that the story is told from her perspective because it becomes apparent in the story that she’s an unreliable narrator. This becomes obvious close to the end of the story when certain truths are later revealed to you. Its also apparent because as the reader you observe her omitting information from other characters in the story because she believes she’s lying to them for their own good, though you as the reader already know exactly what’s going on.

Another thing I like about this book is the different subject matters this book talks about, despite not fully talking about these things in the story. This story talks about things such as cutting, bullying, suicide, abuse, psychology, alcoholism, rape, trauma, and cheating. But somewhat does it in a way that as a reader makes you think about what’s happening in the story even though we’re only hearing about all these details from Milly’s perspective. These different topics add interesting layers to this story and make you as the reader deeply think about what’s happening. Make you question what you think you know and what you think will happen in the story.

But, there’s also a lot of fault that can be found in Good Me Bad Me too. For starters, there are a lot of characters that are hard to like. I especially had a hard time liking Phoebe because she’s such a bitch throughout and Phoebe’s mother Saskia wasn’t very likable either. In general, I didn’t like the whole family Milly stayed with because I felt like the parents were clueless to the bullying Milly endured and it seemed like despite the father Mike being an expert therapist, he seemed clueless about the problems going on in his own family. I liked Milly as a character because she had depth and was interesting to read about, but even she at times could be a little too whiny for my liking. Or acted in a way I didn’t expect her character to act. Even her mother who was a serial killer wasn’t much of a character in this story even though the whole book centered around her. You only get glimpses of her but we as readers never get to really see her character in the way Milly describes.

There were also parts of the plot I wasn’t overall pleased with either. I especially was disappointed with how the proceedings for the trial went. Milly made it out like there was going to be a showdown between her and her mother, but nothing of the sort happened. It was just a short court proceeding with very little conflict of significance. What happened in the trial with the one defense lawyer was the most interesting thing during the trial, but nothing became of it in a way that truly impacted Milly’s life or the outcome of the trial.

Another example with the plot that comes to mind for me has to do with Phoebe’s character and her treatment of Milly throughout the story. While I’m not fond of her character, I thought the way they made this conflict between the two of them go away didn’t add anything to the story. Yes, it was interesting and made me want to find out how this impacted their lives. But I felt like it was the easy way out instead of making the two of them have a conversation and attempt to resolve their differences. Or letting their conflict come to a head and seeing what exactly Phoebe was planning to do. Because while I hated Phoebe’s character and believe she got exactly what she deserved, I didn’t think that’s the way the story should’ve gone for her and Milly. I find that’s my biggest problem with the plot: there’s conflict, but its never talked about or fully resolved in a way I as a reader can appreciate. These two moments in the story, the trial and Phoebe, are two of many examples in this story that have conflict that gets solved in such a simple way it’s disappointing to me as a reader.

I also wasn’t fond of the decision Ali Land made with regards to the direction Milly’s character would go. I wouldn’t have minded it so much if Milly’s character overall acted that way throughout the book. But to me, I felt like her character did a complete turn in the opposite direction she was originally heading, and I wasn’t okay with it. While I understand why the story ended the way it did, I also felt like it wasn’t the right call because Milly’s character wasn’t like that through most of the story. I think part of my problem with it is because I was really rooting for Milly to be a better person, to make good decisions and not follow in her mother’s footsteps. This story made me believe she would turn her life around and do things for herself so that she could finally be happy and not have to deal with her mother’s shadow. It also doesn’t help that the story all a sudden ends and we never find out what happens next. We never get to find out whether Milly is going to stay with the family she considers home or if she’s going to be sent to a different home because of her problems.

So, while I enjoyed reading Good Me Bad Me, there’s a lot with this book I didn’t like too. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it, I just can’t say I enjoyed everything about it because there’s a lot in the story for me not to love. It was an interesting read though because of Milly’s character and perspective and because I found the subject matter interesting. I just can’t say though that it didn’t have any problems because for me, it did.

Book Review: The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother’s name. What is the book’s connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history before fate deals its next deadly hand. 

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

This book was quite a fantastical tale. It was exactly what I needed whenever I was reading it because it reminded me why I love reading so much. I particularly enjoyed reading about Simon and his family, their connection to the circus that’s also discussed in chapters throughout this book. I found it particularly interesting that he and his sister Enola both have the tenacity to hold their breath underwater for a long period of time and learning about their family history with that.

What I especially enjoyed with reading The Book of Speculation is the whole mystery surrounding Simon’s family. When he receives this book from Churchwarry, you as the reader watch as he puzzles over why Churchwarry sent this book to him, to begin with. As the story continues, however, and Simon begins to learn more about his family, he starts to understand what’s truly going on and what he needs to do to break the curse that seems to surround the women in his family he cares about. There’s just something about this aspect in the story that really intrigued me enough to continue reading. It was like I wanted to be involved in figuring out the mystery and what could be done to break the curse and I loved it.

I also loved reading about these characters too, especially Simon and his sister Enola. Like other characters in the book said, there’s something about their family that draws you to them and I found myself feeling that just from reading about them. I think part of the appeal was just feeling sympathetic to Simon and what he’s had to go through at this point in his life that I was rooting him on because I wanted things to get better for their family. I also found Doyle’s character interesting because he wasn’t someone I expected in the story and I wish we’d learned a little more about him while the story went on.

What made this book a fantastical read for me was the circus as a collective whole. I found learning about this circus and all the different people in it interesting and wanted to learn more about them. I especially loved learning about mermaids, the curse and tarot reading because all these aspects in the story played a crucial role in finding out how to break the curse. I also found it added an extra layer of magic to the story and I enjoyed every minute I spent learning about this world.

My biggest criticism for The Book of Speculation was not getting to read from the circus’s perspective about the tragedy that befell them and that caused the curse Simon had to break. I also wish that certain truths weren’t a part of the story because it took a little bit away from the main storyline. I don’t want to reveal too much because I don’t want to spoil this book, but reading that certain relationships happened when Simon and Enola were younger really made me dislike a character I was originally fond of, though it made me understand why he was so eager for Simon to not give up on the house. While this aspect of the story added an additional layer to everything else going on, I also felt like it wasn’t needed and would’ve preferred it being left out.

But overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It reminded me why I love the power of the written word so much and it was a delightful surprise I wasn’t expecting.

 

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