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Book Review: To Kill A Kingdom

To Kill A Kingdom Book Cover

Rating: 4 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?

I originally heard about this book after reading Tiana’s book review on her blog The Book Raven. The premise of the book sounded really interesting to me so I decided to give it a read. And I enjoyed it so much.

I found To Kill A Kingdom to be quite an engaging story. What made me so interested in this story was reading it from the perspective of two characters who have a lot more in common than they know. While Lira and Elian both were fighting the same war on two different sides, it becomes obviously clear that they are more similar to each other than different. When Lira and Elian meet each other for the first time, you as the reader can see that both characters want the same thing: for the war between the sirens and humans to end. You can also tell that they’ll both do whatever it takes to achieve that goal even if that results in their own death. I found seeing this story being told from both of their perspectives to be interesting, but also enjoyable because I found both characters delightful. I found Lira’s perspective especially enjoyable for me because I’ve never read a book where the point of view in the story was told from the perspective of a siren. But at the same time, I enjoyed reading the story from Elian’s perspective too as a siren hunter/pirate.

Another reason I’ve enjoyed reading this book so much is because I love stories featuring mythical creatures such as mermaids and sirens. I especially love the way sirens were portrayed in this story because it made you sympathetic to Lira’s character. As a reader, you originally recall sirens from stories as being creatures who would sing to lure their victims to their death. While that origin story is an important part of the plot in the book, you find out that there’s more to sirens because of Lira. She gives you a better understanding of why sirens kill people to begin with and does her best as the story progresses to work on bringing peace between humans and sirens. She isn’t your typical siren and I love her for it.

I also love this book because I haven’t read too many books that feature sirens as a main character, especially ones like Lira who start questioning their upbringing. She and many of the other characters in this story go through a tremendous amount of character development that allows them to question their morals. The two characters who face development the most are the two protagonists, Lira and Elian. Lira has grown up her whole life believing humans to be her enemy and taking the hearts of princes to prove her worth as the next Sea Queen. Whenever she becomes human, however, she begins questioning her choices and realizes that everything she’s grown up believing about humans is wrong. Elian, the prince of Midas turned siren hunter/pirate, discovers siren hunting as being his true calling in life despite being heir to one of the most powerful kingdoms. Then one day he saves a mysterious woman from drowning in the ocean after he’s already plotting on finding an item that’s said to destroy sirenkind for good. This woman he barely knows agrees to help him and while he’s reluctant to trust her to begin with, he starts warming up to her as they get closer to what he’s searching for. As the plot of the story continues and he realizes who the woman really is, he still trusts her when the plot reaches its climax. It’s when he trusts Lira with his life despite her being a siren that he starts realizing that maybe not all sirens are bad and that if they work together, they can kill the Sea Queen and create peace between humans and sirens. Both of these characters overcome their initial beliefs about each other’s kind which allows them as characters to develop and do exactly what they need to make things right between humans and sirens.

What I’ve found I love the most about To Kill A Kingdom is the references to The Little Mermaid you can see throughout the book. First, there’s Lira and Elian who both are very similar to the main characters in The Little Mermaid. While Lira isn’t a mermaid, there are definitely quite a bit of similarities between her and Ariel, such as both of them being princesses and getting turned into a human. Elian is like Prince Eric in that he’s also a prince who also seems to love traveling in the sea. Then there’s the Sea Queen who punishes her daughter by turning her into a human who’s robbed of her siren song, just like Ursula turns Ariel into a human without a voice. The Sea Queen is also a lot like Ursula too in that she wants to make sure she gets what she wants but also does the best she can to destroy both Lira and Elian once her original plan is thwarted. While the overall plot in To Kill A Kingdom isn’t at all like The Little Mermaid and there are some obvious differences between the characters, you can still see similarities between the two stories and I really enjoyed seeing them while I was reading this book.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy when reading To Kill A Kingdom was when I finally finished reading the book. I really loved reading this story so when I was finally done with it, I was sad to see it all end. It was a book I was enjoying immensely so I didn’t want to leave the tale behind.

Other than being sad when this book ended, I overall loved reading To Kill A Kingdom. The story as a whole was interesting because of the two unique perspectives of the characters telling it. I loved hearing this book from Lira’s perspective who let us know that not all sirens are bad, which allowed us to see these mythical creatures in a different light. I appreciated that both of the main characters had character development that made them realize that they could work together to bring peace to their world. And I really loved seeing the references to The Little Mermaid story that I love so much, but was glad to see that this book didn’t follow that plot completely. I believe this book along with The Night Circus are my two favorite reads of this year so far, and I highly recommend giving this book a try.

 

Confessions of A Reader #4: I Reread Books

Oscar Wilde Book Quote

Hello everyone! Welcome back to yet another one of my Confessions of A Reader posts. For today’s topic of discussion, I’ve decided to confess to you all about my love of rereading books.

Ever since I discovered my love of reading, I also came to realize how much I love rereading books I enjoy. I think part of the reason why I love it is because I feel like you discover something different every time you read a book. Even when you’re reading a book you’ve read once before, you notice something different than the previous times.

The reason I enjoy rereading books is because it allows me to relive some of the best moments in a book I love. It reminds me of the reason I enjoy a particular book and helps me notice story elements I didn’t see before. I also find with rereading books making even more memories so that whenever I do reread a book again, I have more memories associated with the book.

I also love rereading books because it’s nice to see myself enjoying a book all over again. Whenever you read a particular book and see that you really enjoy it, sometimes when you read it a second time your feelings aren’t the same. As you get older or change as a person, your perception of a particular book might change along with you. I’ve noticed this happen to me, but discover myself still enjoying the books I’m rereading. I just see certain moments in the book through different eyes than my first go around.

There isn’t anything a book in particular needs to do for me to consider rereading it. If there’s a book in particular I enjoy and find myself wanting to read it again, I’ll do it no questions asked. As long as I enjoyed reading it the first time chances are I’ll read it again.

But I sometimes also give a book I never finished reading a second chance. The reason I attempt to read a book I never finished a second time is because I want to like the book and want to see how the story turns out. I also wonder if my thoughts on a book will change at all if I read it at a different point in my life. Or if I’ll still not finish the book once again.

I really love rereading books. It allows me the opportunity to notice something different in a book I love while also letting me relive the moments in a book I enjoyed. I also find that with time, rereading a book has benefits, such as giving you a different perception of the book you love.

But what about you? Do you enjoy rereading books at all? If so, what do you look for when deciding on a book to reread? Or are you like me and just reread books whenever you feel like it?

Please let me know your thoughts and feelings in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts on this blog post.

Book Review: Cujo

Cujo Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

“Once upon a time, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine.”

Cujo used to be a big friendly dog, lovable and loyal to his trinity (THE MAN, THE WOMAN, and THE BOY) and everyone around him, and always did his best to not be a BAD DOG. But that all ends on the day this nearly two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard makes the mistake of chasing a rabbit into a hidden underground cave, setting off a tragic chain of events. Now Cujo is no longer himself as he is slowly overcome by a growing sickness, one that consumes his mind even as his once affable thoughts turn uncontrollably and inexorably to hatred and murder. Cujo is about to become the center of a horrifying vortex that will inescapably draw in everyone around him—a relentless reign of terror, fury, and madness from which no one in Castle Rock will truly be safe… 

As an avid reader who doesn’t mind horror novels, this book didn’t meet my expectations. I didn’t mind the premise of the story because I love dogs and a dog turning rabid with rabies sounded right up my alley. Instead, Cujo made me feel more sad than horrified, which wasn’t something I was expecting.

However, I did have some enjoyment with this story. What I liked about this book was the premise. A dog who’s very loyal to his family one day goes chasing after a rabbit only to get rabies and tries to kill any human that gets close to him. I found this plot to be interesting because as someone who loves animals, I was invested in finding out how Stephen King was going to make this story more horrifying for his readers.

I also enjoyed how Cujo became associated as the monster Tad was starting to see in his closet in the beginning of the story. When Tad, Vic and Donna first meet the Camber’s dog Cujo, both Vic and Donna are weary of their son interacting with him. Both of them already saw him as a monster before he became infected with rabies. So it made sense later on in the story that he was the monster Tad saw in his closet. It was a nice parallel for these characters who already began seeing Cujo for the creature he became.

While this story wasn’t all that frightening, I did enjoy the horror elements King incorporated into the book. From monsters in the closet to somnambulism and a dog that turns wild, I thought these elements in the story made it a much more interesting read. You see all of these elements of horror in this book via the characters in the story. For example, you find out from Charity that her son Brett used to have a serious case of somnambulism that seems to return in the book while they are away from home. He’s seen walking around the house in a trance feeding their dog Cujo. This scene foreshadows that something bad is about to happen even though none of the characters have any clue what that’s going to be. It’s horrifying because you as the reader already know that Cujo is infected with rabies.

I think what I enjoyed the most about Cujo is that I felt sympathy for him. He never had a clue that his whole life was going to change all just because he chased after a rabbit. In this story, I felt sympathy for him because he was just so care free up until the point he got bitten. He was just a normal dog who suddenly turned into a monster. And I felt for him once that happened. He was in pain from that moment until he died, which to me was more sad than terrifying. In essence, this book made me sympathetic to Cujo because it made me more aware of how rabies impacts animals. It gave me a better understanding of rabies as a disease so I feel like I learned something new while feeling for Cujo.

However, there are a lot of things with this book I didn’t particularly enjoy. For one, I hated how the story switched back and forth between characters. While I normally don’t mind books that have multiple points of view, I felt like in this story it just dragged the plot along. Once Cujo was infected with rabies and started his killing, I felt like there were certain moments that didn’t need to be in the story. You as the reader know already that certain characters aren’t going to be in town when everything really begins, but I didn’t feel like we needed to see exactly what they were doing. This bothered me because the plot of the story didn’t pick up or interest me until close to the middle of the story. So the rest of what I was reading just felt like filler up until Cujo’s rabies took over.

I also didn’t like most of the characters in the story besides Cujo and the two children in the story Tad and Brett. None of the adults in the story had much in the way of character development and I just didn’t particularly care about anyone in the story. I liked the children in the story because they still had their childhood innocence, but none of the adults were people I really wanted to get to know. I think it had to do with the adults having no idea what was going on around them while the children seemed to have more of a sense that something bad was coming. Either way, I wasn’t fond of too many of the characters so I didn’t really care what happened to them.

I especially didn’t care for how it all ended. I was hoping that the ending would be seriously grim with Cujo killing all of the characters in the story, minus Tad and Brett. Instead, it was sad because Cujo deserved a lot more than what he was given and I felt a little terrible for Vic and Donna. I think this is why I had a hard time seeing this book as horror because all the moments I wanted to feel scared I felt sad instead. I felt sad for Cujo who went from a friendly dog to a monster in the blink of an eye. And I felt bad for Tad and Brett, both for different reasons I can’t reveal without spoiling the story.

Overall, I did enjoy reading Cujo because the premise is interesting and the horror elements King did incorporate into the story made it a more fascinating read. But the plot was bogged down with too much information , characters I wasn’t particularly invested in, and an ending that made me more sad than scared that I did have a hard time continuing to read the story to find out what happened next. The idea behind this book made me fascinated to read it, but its execution didn’t meet my expectations at all so I came away from this book disappointed that it didn’t meet its full potential. However, I haven’t read too many of Stephen King’s books so the way I feel about this one isn’t going to stop me from reading more of his work.

 

Book Review: Look For Me

Look For Me Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner’s latest twisty thrill ride, Detective D. D. Warren and “Find Her“‘s Flora Dane return in a race against the clock to either save a young girl’s life . . . or bring her to justice. 

The home of a family of five is now a crime scene: four of them savagely murdered, one—a sixteen-year-old girl—missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case—but so is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, whether as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, look for me.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I thought I would. But at the same time, I wish I’d read this book later after realizing it’s the ninth book in a series. It made this read a little difficult because some of the characters in the story more than likely played an important role in earlier books.

However, I still enjoyed reading this book for a number of reasons. Part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much was due to the characters and the story. I found the detectives involved in the case to be enjoyable because I loved seeing them really put their best effort into finding out the truth of what happened. I also enjoyed Flora Dane as a character. I know part of that is due to my own experiences in life (in particular being a domestic violence survivor) and I felt like I learned a whole lot from her. In essence, I felt like I could really relate to her character and the rest of her little band of misfits. I also loved what she brought to the story with regards to finding out information and trying her best to help others who’re dealing with their own personal traumas, like Sarah. I really enjoyed watching her help detective D. D. Warren but also trying her best to make sure Roxy was safe. I also loved her relationship with D. D. Warren despite their characters being portrayed as different from each other. Their interactions with each other made me chuckle , made me interested in seeing what trouble Flora was going to get herself into next.

What I also enjoyed when reading Look For Me is the case as a whole. A sixteen year-old girl goes missing during the murder of the rest of her family while she’s taking their two dogs on a walk. You as the reader begin to learn more about Roxanna Baez’s past, which involves a lot of emotional twists and turns. You learn how terrible the foster care system can truly be, how it can affect the children involved as well as how cruel the world can really be. You start to feel for Roxanna like I did as D. D. Warren and Flora continue uncovering the truth of why her family was murdered. The reason I enjoyed this case so much is because it’s emotional. D. D. Warren goes back in forth on her belief that Roxy is someone involved in the shooting of her family and Flora does whatever it takes to uncover the truth of it all. It’s an emotional rollercoaster with an unexpected twist that hurts your heart even more, making it a read I really enjoyed.

What also made this book an emotional read for me were the chapters that involved Roxy writing about the perfect family. These chapters were actually mostly about Roxy talking about her own family, including the problems they were dealing with, such as their mother being an alcoholic and having to go into foster care. I really enjoyed reading these chapters because I felt like we as the reader were introduced to Roxy even though you don’t meet her in the story until close to the end. It made me even more sympathetic to her character and everything she was going through. These chapters also made me believe like Flora that Roxy had nothing to do with the death of her family.

However, there are some problems I have with Look For Me. In this book, the twist of discovering who actually killed Roxy’s family and why wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The killer also wasn’t someone I wanted to be heavily involved in the case either. I was already emotionally invested in this book because Roxy lost her whole family and had no idea who killed them. But I feel like making this person the killer made me feel terrible for Roxy. I felt terrible for her because she’s pretty much lost every person who’s ever cared about her. While I do understand the killer’s motivation, I really hated how this was done and wished it was someone else entirely. While it made for a neat twist in the story, I just truly wish someone else was involved because I didn’t want Roxy to lose anyone else in her life.

I also feel like while we learned a lot about Flora Dane and her past, we didn’t particularly learn a lot of information about D. D. Warren. Maybe that’s because this is the ninth book in the series and all of the information you learn about her as a detective has already been uncovered, but she just seems like someone I want to know more about. I feel like there might be some similarities between her and Flora that would allow them to become friends, but the author just hasn’t disclosed them yet. Again though, I haven’t read the rest of the books in this series so this criticism mostly stems from what I’ve read from this book.

But overall, I really enjoyed reading Look For Me. I thought the characters were really interesting and sympathetic, and the case as a whole was a huge emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. I loved hearing from Roxy via the chapters that centered around her writing about what it means to have a perfect family. The only criticisms I had for this book were the twist of uncovering who the killer is and not learning as much about D. D. Warren as I’d like. But overall, reading this book just made me want to read the rest of the series so I can see what all I’ve missed. Because I believe with all my heart that this series is probably a really good one that I need to one day invest in reading.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Two star-crossed magicians engage in a deadly game of cunning in The Night Circus, the spellbinding bestseller that has captured the world’s imagination

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Before I begin with my review, I’d like to quickly thank Shalzmojo for her review of The Night Circus, which can be found here. If she hadn’t written about this book, I don’t believe I would’ve been inspired to read this book recently.

Her review made me interested in checking out this book to see what it was all about. And I’m glad I did because I enjoyed each minute I spent inside Le Cirque des Rêves. I found this book to be such an enchanting read for me. I know it was due to the author’s vivid details about the circus, which allowed me to feel like I was actually there. I felt like I was in a circus of my own imagination, like I was seeing all of the tents mentioned and experiencing those same feelings and emotions. It felt really real to me and I couldn’t get enough of it. I also loved that this circus was only open at night. I feel like that truly added to the enchanting magic I felt when it came to the circus.

Besides the circus itself, I loved how magic was implemented into the story. It was fascinating to see magic coinciding with circus performances. I feel like it opens up you as the reader to the possibility that a magician’s tricks are actually real, not at all something fabricated. It isn’t at all an illusion, but something real that can be done. I also loved seeing the competition between Celia and Marco while learning more about their character background. I loved seeing both of them creating masterpieces in the circus for others to explore and enjoy and how they both collaborated together on tents.

As the reader, you also saw how Celia and Marco’s magic affected the other characters. I really enjoyed seeing that in The Night Circus too because it shows that magic has an effect on us all. While in some ways it was unfortunate how it impacted their lives, I was glad to see how important their part in the circus played into the events that transpired. I also loved meeting these other characters too from the different points of view the narrative took. I feel like multiple POV’s added a lot more to this story than it does to most of the other books I’ve read. You learned more about the circus from these characters and I enjoyed seeing how it changed their lives.

I both loved and hated Celia and Marco’s relationship. What I loved about it is that you could tell there was a connection between the two of them so much that it caused physical sparks to fly. I also loved it because I love both of their characters. They both have different backgrounds, which I found interesting because they both turned into powerful magicians. But I also hated it too because I felt like it was obvious that they were going to fall in love with each other. To me, it also felt like it was an instant love connection even though they didn’t really start being with each other until after the competition went underway. It wasn’t something I was particularly keen on happening in the story, but at the same time I had moments where I enjoyed seeing their love grow.

However, I do have some criticisms for The Night Circus which contributed to my four star rating. While I enjoyed all of the details Erin Morgenstern put into making this circus come to life, I still feel like I needed more from the story than was given. For instance, you as the reader don’t really learn all that much about the competition between Celia and Marco. You get all the information the main characters know about it, but you don’t truly learn all that much about the competition. Like knowing how long these competitions have been going on, who started them and why. I also didn’t as a reader feel like it was all that much of a competition. It was more of an endurance test to see which one of them could last to perform the most powerful magic.

I also feel like I just needed more of the circus as a whole. I feel like I need to know more about the minor characters who played a major role in creating Le Cirque des Rêves. I was curious about them and their role in the circus, but I feel like you as the reader don’t really get to know them as well. I also wanted to learn more about the other circus tents that weren’t heavily talked about in the book. I wanted to see the whole circus, not just the tents that played a crucial role in the storyline.

But at the same time, there were some characters whose stories I didn’t really care all that much about and would’ve been perfectly fine without. Bailey was a character with an interesting storyline, but I didn’t really care to hear that much from him in the story. I know his role in the circus is important and completely understand why he’s in the book. But I was more interested in hearing from the other characters in the story about the circus and why they love it so much.

I also wasn’t particularly fond of the way The Night Circus ended either. I completely get why Celia and Marco make their decision, but at the same time I don’t think it was the way the story felt like it needed to end. I understand it but it just didn’t feel right to me for some reason or another.

Overall however, The Night Circus is an enchanting and delightful read. One of my favorite books I’ve read this year so far because the circus felt so real to me that I felt like I was physically there. While I wanted more from the storyline, from the story itself to the characters and the competition, I still enjoyed reading this book all the same and was sad when I finally turned the last page.

Book Review: I Am Watching You

I Am Watching You Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realizes they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

I Am Watching You is an interesting read, filled with mystery and suspense. It’s not my favorite book of its genre, but it was a nice quick read that I felt like I needed.

One of the things this book has going for it is multiple points of view from different characters who played a major role in the disappearance of Anna, which I both loved and hated. I found switching between the perspective of different characters in each chapter interesting because it made me yearn to find out more about what happened to Anna and the people she cared about. But at the same time, it annoyed me too. What annoyed me about it is that there were too many characters whose perspective we were hearing from. It also didn’t really add anything to the story either other than creating more suspense over who could’ve taken Anna. I think I would’ve preferred to only have the perspective of the two characters who played a major role in the storyline, Ella and Sarah. Not only because their perspectives in the story were the most interesting to read, but because they actually contributed to having more information on what happened. Plus, we didn’t really need Matthew and Henry’s point of view because neither of their perspectives contribute too much to the overall storyline.

I did enjoy reading I Am Watching You though because I found the story to be interesting. There was so much mystery surrounding Anna’s disappearance that I really wanted to find out what happened to her. I wanted to find out what secrets Sarah was keeping and to find out who was leaving the postcards to Ella. This book had so much mystery to it, making it a page turner for me because I wanted to find out the truth. Even if the truth of everything was too ugly to handle.

But at the same time, when I finally finished reading this book, I was disappointed. The story was interesting enough to keep me turning the page, but didn’t fully deliver. I think what made me disappointed in reading this book is that there are no hints at all to who the antagonist is going to be. Every time I thought I had an idea of who was responsible for Anna’s disappearance, the person was cleared of having nothing to do with her whereabouts. Then when we finally do find out the truth, it completely catches me off guard. It’s not at all a character we’d expect, a person with motives that nobody had any inkling of a clue about. The clue that reveals who really took Anna isn’t revealed until the end, almost as if the author had no more story left to tell so she just put it in the end to get the reader turning the page. So I was very disappointed when the mystery of this story was revealed to us because it just didn’t make all that much sense to me as a reader.

Another aspect of I Am Watching You that I didn’t enjoy was the overall storyline itself. It’s interesting, makes you want to turn the page. But with each different character’s perspective, certain moments in the story start becoming repetitive. It’s also very rushed, especially after the anniversary of Anna’s disappearance. You find out more information about what happened, secrets are revealed. But none of the secrets or information you find out is really that revealing to where Anna could possibly be. For example, the information Sarah was keeping secret wasn’t really that big of a reveal to the reader. It wasn’t anything that would’ve really helped the police have any clue as to where Anna had gone because we already knew she left Anna on her own while in London. I do feel sympathetic to her because of the other information she reveals to us, but none of that really helps find Anna.

While I Am Watching You is an interesting read, filled with a lot of mystery and suspense, that’s all it really is. It’s a good quick read, but will leave you feeling disappointed at the overall storyline and at the final reveal of what happened to Anna. Getting multiple perspectives of the story from characters who knew Anna adds another layer to the story, but is often repetitive, making it more of any annoyance than anything else. I enjoyed reading this book, but was overall disappointed when the truth of what happened was revealed.

 

 

Book Review: The Red Hat Club

The Red Hat Club Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Meet Georgia, SuSu, Teeny, Diane, and Linda–five women who’ve been best friends through thirty years since high school. Sit in when they don their red hats and purple outfits to join Atlanta’s Ladies Who Lunch for a delicious monthly serving of racy jokes, iced tea and chicken salad, baskets of sweet rolls, the latest Buckhead gossip, and most of all–lively support and caring through the ups and downs of their lives. When Diane discovers her banker husband has a condo (with mistress) that he bought with their retirement funds, the Red Hats swing into action and hang him with his own rope in a story that serves up laughter, friendship, revenge, high school memories, long-lost loves, a suburban dominatrix, and plenty of white wine and junk food. From the 1960s to the present, The Red Hat Club is a funny, unforgettable novel that shows the power women can find when they accept and support each other. 

This book was quite an unforgettable read. It allocated laughter and was just a fun pleasure to enjoy.

What made The Red Hat Club such an enjoyable read for me is all of the characters. Each of the five women in this story (including the one who’s point of view the whole story is told from) had a unique personality of their own. You saw their individual personalities throughout the story, from the beginning when Diane is revealing to her close friends that she’s discovered her husband is being unfaithful to the end when Teeny throws a celebration party for Diane and reveals her own hidden secret. I also enjoyed each of these women because this story made me laugh, especially when all five of them were together discussing how they were going to bring Harold down. It’s refreshing to read a story where all of the main characters are enjoyable and have unique personalities so I really appreciated it.

I also enjoyed this book because it was such a fun read. It wasn’t at all super serious, just a fun story about women and friendship. It was a story I could have fun reading and not want to do anything else but laugh. It’s a book that while usually isn’t my genre I found I enjoyed immensely giving a try because it allowed me to have fun imagining all of these different women with powerful personalities. It’s a book overflowing with fun positivity and I was very excited to see how the plot progressed.

What I also enjoyed with The Red Hat Club is how the story went back and forth between the past and present. I enjoyed seeing how these women’s friendship grew from their days in high school to the present time when this book was published. I especially enjoyed the process of initiation into the Mademoiselles and how their friendship grew from being a part of that exclusive sorority. In a lot of ways, their own group in the present day storyline is a little like that because of the rules they made when it came to their friendship and what they could talk about. I really liked that because it made sure nobody in their circle of friendship was excluded and if their conversations didn’t go well, they could start over as if the previous conversation never happened. It also made me want to continue reading this book to find out how their friendship lasted throughout the years and what was going to happen next.

If I have any criticisms for this book at all, its Georgia when it comes to her relationship with her husband John and her ex love Brad. From the beginning of The Red Hat Club, it’s pretty apparent that Georgia still hasn’t gotten over how her relationship with Brad ended, despite being married with kids. It’s still on her mind present day in the story, and all of the things she says about her husband John are nothing short of negative. She talks about their marriage being safe and boring and worries throughout the book whether she’s also going to be getting a divorce anytime soon. She admits that there are problems in her marriage, yet does nothing about it. She thinks a lot about Brad and the way he made her feel, and it seems almost like she’s going to get a second chance with him. But instead, she makes a decision for herself I definitely didn’t foresee, which left me completely confused, considering her feelings throughout the book. I’m not going to go into too much detail because I don’t want to spoil this book or anything, but I was completely surprised by her decision. I also didn’t think it was the right choice, considering throughout the story she still seems like she’s mourning that love.

Other than that, I really enjoyed reading The Red Hat Club. It was such a fun, easygoing read that made me laugh from beginning to end that I was sad when I finally had to put it down. I definitely recommend this book to other women who want to read about women and friendship and who don’t mind reading stories that shift back and forth from past to present.

Book Review: The Blackbird Papers

The Blackbird Papers Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

A rainy night . . . A stranded motorist . . . A Good Samaritan passerby … a Nobel Prize–winning professor . . . The setup for a shocking murder designed to cover up an even more sinister crime . . . 

The Blackbird Papers marks the debut of Ian Smith, a major new talent in crime fiction, and of Sterling Bledsoe, his smart and occasionally combative sleuth. 

World-renowned Dartmouth professor Wilson Bledsoe is returning from a party celebrating his latest honor when he encounters a broken-down pickup on the secluded country road to his home. The next day, the discovery of his body with a vicious racist epithet carved into his chest leads to the quick arrest of two loathsome white supremacists. The local authorities seem ready to accept the case at face value as a racial hate crime. But the murdered professor’s brother, FBI agent Sterling Bledsoe, has inserted himself into the investigation and isn’t ready to buy into this pat solution. A look around his brother’s lab and brief interviews with his students and colleagues pique Sterling’s curiosity about Wilson’s pet project: a nearly completed paper on the mysterious deaths of hundreds of local blackbirds. 

Fast-paced and cleverly constructed, The Blackbird Papers introduces a major new talent in mystery and crime fiction.

I found this book to be an immensely interesting read. It was fast paced and mostly kept me interested to find out what happened to Sterling’s brother. But near the end of The Blackbird Papers, I slowly found myself losing interest. Especially near the end when you find out who kills Sterling’s brother and why.

What made this murder mystery book so interesting to me was going through the process of uncovering the mystery. You have Sterling’s brother who is missing at first until they discover his body. Then when they find Wilson you see the whole process of them examining his body to find out how he was killed and try to find out why. From there, you see Sterling going through his brother’s research, trying to uncover more clues.

I found this part of the story especially to be interesting whenever he uncovered that his brother was trying to discover why an alarming amount of blackbirds were being killed. It made the story that much more interesting because it showed that Ian Smith did a little bit of research to add detail into this book. It also made me want to continue reading The Blackbird Papers to find out who killed Wilson.

I also found Sterling as the main character interesting. Especially since this whole case involved the murder of his brother. I thought the story would be a little different since Sterling was trying to uncover the murder of his brother. But if anything, he seemed more determined to find out who killed Wilson than anything else. I know a lot of that had to do with some emotional problems of his own when it came to his brother, and I appreciated that this book included those details within its pages. While you wish Sterling could’ve gotten some reconciliation with his older brother, you also see his character grow as a result of this case.

I also like that Smith ended the story by Sterling respecting his brother’s last wishes. I found that to be a very touching scene because he goes through a lot in order to solve his brother’s murder and he is finally able to feel peace that his brother is no longer there.

While I enjoyed these aspects of The Blackbird Papers, there was a lot missing from it for me to enjoy the story as much as I wanted to. For starters, while the pacing of the plot started off really wonderful for me, it soon was at a point where it slowed down completely and became predictable. The plot reached this point near the end of the novel when those who didn’t want Wilson’s research to get out tried to frame Sterling for his brother’s murder. Each time Sterling found himself unraveling another piece of the puzzle, he’d have to run away from law enforcement. For me, that started slowing down the storyline because I knew he was close to getting the information he needed. It also felt like Smith added those moments into the story so there’d be action and conflict for Sterling while he’s trying to get to the bottom of the case.

I also found the person responsible for the death of Wilson to be predictable. I don’t know if it’s because I already had a feeling whenever his character was introduced that he was responsible or if the plot in the story was just that predictable for me. The only thing surprising about that part of the story was that more people were in on it than I was expecting. But that overall doesn’t really change the way I feel about the suspect because I still had those feelings from the beginning that this person was responsible.

The Blackbird Papers is an interesting murder mystery novel. I enjoyed it because the overall story kept me wanting to find out what happened next, but I was also disappointed that the killer was too easy for me to predict. I also found the pacing of the novel close to the conclusion to be lacking, but also really enjoyed the ending because Sterling finally found some peace when it came to his own conflict with his brother. It was overall an enjoyable read that I would’ve liked more if the killer wasn’t so predictable to me and if the ending of the story didn’t move so slow.

Book Review: Girls Like Me

Girls Like Me Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

Fifteen-year-old Shay Summers is trying to cope with the death of her father, being overweight, and threats from a girl bully in school.  When she falls in love with Blake, a mysterious boy online, insecure Shay doesn’t want to tell him who she is.   But with the help of her two best friends, as well as an assist by Kermit and Miss Piggy, ultimately Shay and Blake’s love prevails. 
     

Girls Like Me is a fun and fresh poetic take on teen angst, social media and online anonymity, and high school romance.

This book was such a delight for me to read. It was quirky, had a diverse set of characters and the writing style was different from any of the young adult literature I’ve been reading recently. I enjoyed it a whole lot more than I thought I would and was sad when it ended. However, there were some things in the book that were a complete cliché that made the book a little less enjoyable for me to read.

For those who haven’t read this book before, Girls Like Me tells the story of Shay Summers, a teenager who struggles with her weight and trying to fit in at school. After the death of her father, Shay is stuck living with her stepmother Kara and tries to cope with her life by eating. She also makes two good friends who don’t fit in at school just like her. Then one day while online, she chats with a mysterious boy who gives her butterflies and knows how to make her laugh. What she doesn’t know is that this boy is actually the guy she’s had a crush on at school. He wants to meet her, but she’s so insecure about herself that she keeps pushing him away. Their relationship gets put to the test, but will their love prevail? Or are they not meant to be?

What drew me into reading this book was the cover and title. The cover is beautifully illustrated, making the reader want to pick up the book and read it. The title caught my eye too because it made me think this book would be relatable to me and that I’d understand the characters within its pages. While I don’t at all understand what it’s like being considered overweight, I feel like I can relate to Shay’s character anyway. I can relate to her because I love food too and I was bullied in school quite a bit myself, which made me lack a lot of self-confidence.

I also enjoyed reading Girls Like Me because of the writing style. It was written in free verse, which reminded me a lot of author Ellen Hopkins’s books, but also stood out from her work because of the use of social media in the story. It was unique storytelling to me because I haven’t seen too many other books written like this. I also enjoyed this writing style because it made this book an easy read for me.

Girls Like Me Text Image
An example of the text from the book. Can be found on page 4.

Another reason I enjoyed reading this book is because of the diverse cast of characters. There’s not only Shay, who is considered overweight, but her two best friends Dash and Boots are also unique characters too. Dash is her male best friend who struggles with being gay because of his upbringing in a Christian household. He especially has a really rocky relationship with his father because of his sexuality so he tries to change himself in order to please his dad. Boots on the other hand has cancer and is trying the best she can to live each day like it’s her last. But she’s dying and wants really badly to have sex since she knows she doesn’t have too much time left to live. She tries the best she can not to worry Shay and Dash with her sickness by trying to hide how unwell she’s doing, but they both know something is wrong.

And of course there’s Shay who struggles to cope with the loss of her father and eats because it helps her deal with the pain. She’s bullied in school relentlessly because of her weight by a girl named Kelly who enjoys nothing more than seeing Shay miserable. Her relationship with her stepmother Kara isn’t too great because Shay feels like she’s body shaming her. It isn’t until later on in the story that you find out that Kara understands exactly what Shay is going through. I like that this story has all of these characters with different problems and you get to see how they are handled. I also like that this book has a character with body issues because I haven’t read too many books that center around a character like Shay.

However, I do have some criticisms with Girls Like Me. While I overall enjoyed the writing style Lola StVil used, there were times where I found being able to understand it a little confusing. This confusing typically occurred whenever StVil had the story being told from the perspective of Dash and Boots. I was usually confused when this happened because their text didn’t at all have a different style from Shay’s. The only reason I was even able to tell the difference between the three was because of the change in font. Otherwise, I would’ve thought the text was just Shay talking about Dash and Boots’ personal lives.

Another criticism I have for this book is that while the set of characters are diverse, they are pretty cliché too. All of the characters that are really close friends are all of the social outcasts at the school, and they just happen to become good friends because of their differences.

Then, there’s the relationship between Shay and Blake, two people on opposite sides of the social pool. Blake is the typical popular kid who doesn’t notice how popular he is because he only pays attention to Shay. To the point that he doesn’t at all understand why Shay is hesitant about their relationship being out in the open. He’s so clueless, especially close to the end when Shay finds out about the website students at the school made about her and she asks him if he knew about it. He doesn’t at all understand why it’s such a big deal to her, which bothers me since they are supposed to be a couple and he doesn’t at all see why her weight is an issue to her. Their whole relationship was just a big cliché to me and I didn’t really like it because it was too much insta-love.

I also wasn’t a big fan of the ending of Girls Like Me. I thought there’d be a big reveal where we found out why Kelly doesn’t like Shay. Instead, we get no sort of reason other than she just doesn’t want her to be happy, which isn’t really much of a reason at all. If anything, it just shows that Kelly isn’t a great person and she’s just a character in the story put in to cause Shay conflict. I also thought it was a little cheesy because even though I like the Muppets, I just thought the whole thing was a little corny. But at the same time, I also liked the ending because we finally see Shay stand up for herself and call Kelly out on her bullying. We also see her act confident in herself for once, which was something we didn’t see a whole lot of throughout the book. And I feel like Blake finally gets to see the real Shay and understand why she’s the person she is in the story.

Overall, Girls Like Me is such a fun, quirky read. It has a style unlike any other book I’ve read with a set of diverse, relatable characters and was such a delight to read. I definitely recommend this book to people with body issues and people who want to read a book with free verse poetry.

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