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Book Review: Cross My Heart, Hope to Die (The Lying Game #5)

Rating: 3 stars

It’s not easy being me.

But my twin sister has no choice.

When I died two months ago, my killer told my twin sister to become me – or else. Now Emma has it down to a T. She tosses her hair with the signature Sutton Mercer flip and can lead a Lying Game prank with the best of them. She’s even repairing my relationship with my adoptive family. The only thing she hasn’t done is solve my murder.

Then our birth mother, the woman who abandoned us, showed up in Tucson. Emma hasn’t seen Becky in twelve years, but Becky recognizes Emma immediately – as Emma. Is it mother’s intuition… or does Becky know I’m already gone?

Out of all of the books in the series so far, I’d have to say this one is my least favorite. Now, it’s not a bad read or anything. I just wasn’t able to immerse myself into it like I could the rest of the books in the series. But before I talk about why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the rest of the series, I’d like to mention what I did enjoy with Cross My Heart, Hope to Die.

One of the aspects of this series I continue to enjoy is how Shepard develops her characters. In this book in particular, Emma has become close to Sutton’s family. She’s repaired Sutton’s relationship with Laurel to the point where they aren’t arguing anymore. The Mercer family is finally acting like a normal happy family, somewhat. Yes, there are some secrets and lies being told. But they are doing a whole lot better than before. I think the family’s development is important in this book in particular because this book is heavily focused on their family, which is something I do like. When Becky comes to town, you know there’s going to be some trouble. You as the reader just don’t realize how much. 

Along with her character development with regards to Sutton’s family, her friendships also continue to grow and be tested. When Emma allows her twin’s rival to help with a prank, she befriends another person her sister wouldn’t have thought of giving a chance. You’re also introduced to a new girl to the school named Celeste whose character is pretty strange in some ways. She supposedly is very in tune spiritually and warns Emma several times throughout that she’s in serious danger. I really like her character because despite her odd personality, I honestly believe she cares about people even those she’s not friends with. I have a feeling Celeste is going to play a significant role in the final book, though I don’t yet know how that’s going to take shape. 

One of my favorite parts of this book is how it ends. Emma is having a really happy moment with her family when she receives some really bad news, the type of news nobody wants to get. Then the story ends with you wondering how Emma and her family are going to react and how this all plays into what’s going to happen next in the story. I love it because you’re reminded that Sutton’s killer is still out there watching Emma’s every move and that the killer is far from being done with her. 

What I don’t like with Cross My Heart, Hope to Die is that I feel like the plot is really slowing down. Out of all the books in this series, the pace in this book moved too slow for me. It was like Shepard put brakes on this book so that the story wouldn’t move too far along. I didn’t like it because it made me not want to finish this book, even though I really want to know how this all will end. 

But even though the pace was slow, it’s not my least favorite thing in this book. I absolutely hated how mental illness was portrayed through Becky in this book. It’s pretty obvious that she has mental health issues with the way Emma was raised by Becky before she abandoned her. But I feel like the way Becky’s illness is portrayed is really terrible. What made it so awful to me is that she’s never given the help she really needs. In the book, she escapes from the hospital only to find Emma so she can tell her she’s leaving Tucson. She apparently also finds Mr. Mercer to tell him the same thing, yet they are both completely okay with her leaving them despite that she really needs help. Yes, Emma does show more concern for her well-being, but it’s very obvious that neither of them are trying to get her any help. I get with Mr. Mercer that he doesn’t want his wife to know Becky is back, but to me it just seems like he doesn’t care about his daughter’s well-being. He knows she’s very sick, but does very little to really give her the help she needs. 

I also find the portrayal of mental health in this book to be awful because Emma does suspect her mother of killing Sutton at one point. This brings up the stigma that only really sick people with mental health issues are the only ones capable of killing someone, though there’s no way her mother was capable of the crime Emma was suspicious of her committing. And it also uses mental health as an excuse for why people do terrible things, which makes it even harder for people with mental health issues to actually want to get help. This is pretty apparent when Emma finds out Ethan has a file at the hospital and wonders why he kept it secret from her. While I appreciate Shepard writing about mental health, I don’t necessarily think she portrayed it properly. Or in a way where the reader could really sympathize with Becky and understand what she’s going through. 

But despite these problems with Cross My Heart, Hope to Die, I’m still planning on reading the last book in the series. Since the next book in this series is the last one, I’m planning on talking about the series as a whole and give you my thoughts on who I thought could’ve killed Sutton and why. I have a couple people I suspected and really can’t wait to share with you my thoughts on this series as a whole. 

Book Review: Hide and Seek (The Lying Game #4)

Rating: 4 stars

My friends and I used to play lying games. Now my twin sister is living one.

When I was alive, my family seemed picture-perfect. My adoptive parents adored me, and my little sister, Laurel, copied my every move. But now that my long-lost twin, Emma, has taken my place to solve my murder, we’re both learning just how flawed my family really is.

Laurel is shooting Emma nasty looks and sneaking around with my ex-boyfriend. And it turns out my parents are keeping a huge secret – could it be the reason I’m dead?

How far would they go to keep the truth buried? No one can harm me now, but Emma is still fair game. And if she’s not careful, she’ll end up buried, too…

Like the rest of the series, I found Hide and Seek to be such an enjoyable read. After ruling out Thayer as Sutton’s killer, some of those she holds dear become the next suspects on Emma’s list. Each has a potential motive for killing Sutton, but when Emma finds out what they’ve been hiding, she learns more about her and her twin than she knew before. But knowing these truths helps her realize there just might be someone she never expected to be behind Sutton’s death. 

I like this book in the series for different reasons than its predecessors. For one, you learn more about Emma and Sutton’s family, secrets you didn’t expect to uncover about their mother and how Sutton’s adoptive parents are connected to her. I like how this is included in this book in the series because we as readers actually don’t know too much about their family at all. I also think it gives this story more character development because Sutton continues to grow as a person when she realizes how little effort she put in to try to connect with her family. I honestly think family is the central theme in Hide and Seek because as Emma begins to bond with Sutton’s parents, she forms a stronger connection with them, which opens up to her being able to have a family to call her own for the first time. I find it to be a part of the story I truly enjoy because family is one of the most important things to me. So I’m rooting for her to finally have a home to call her own. 

Another aspect in this book I enjoyed is that there were a lot of surprising moments I didn’t see coming. These moments in the story made me want to continue reading in order to see Emma and Sutton’s reactions to what was going on. You discover the secret Sutton’s parents are keeping and how it reveals a new suspect to them that we all didn’t expect, someone who plays an important role in this series. 

I find with each page I read how much I love Shepard’s writing. The story is intense, full of mystery whenever it needs to be and she does a wonderful job of bringing detail through the flashbacks we experience. I find them to be interesting because she does a good job using them to bring new information to light. What I do wonder with them though is if Emma experiences them too, or if Sutton is just slowly recalling memories to unlock her murder. From what you read, I don’t think Emma is a part of those moments, since Emma and Sutton can’t communicate on their own right now. It’ll be interesting though as I get closer to the end of the series to see how Shepard decides to end Sutton’s part of the story. 

The one thing with Hide and Seek I don’t like is the same thing I don’t like with the rest of the series. The reason I hate this pattern so much is because I feel like she’s revealing a little too much to us. Because with each person eliminated as a suspect, we have less of a chance in feeling surprised when the suspect is finally revealed to us. It also makes these books a little predictable too because the reader already knows to suspect the person Emma and Sutton are suspicious of to be innocent of the crime committed. However, there is still a good side to this too. We get to know these people a little better, watch their character develop as the story reaches its climax. We get to better understand why this character is important in Sutton’s life while watching Emma learn something new about her lost twin everyday. It also eliminates people she knows, taking us one step closer to the actual killer. So while at times this pattern can be so predictable, it does have its benefits too. 

However, despite this one flaw in this book/series, I’m still enjoying it and can’t wait to see what befalls Emma next. It’s definitely been worth the read to me. 

Book Review: Two Truths and a Lie (The Lying Game #3)

Rating: 4 stars

Sutton Mercer watches from the afterlife as her long-lost twin, Emma Paxton, takes over her identity to solve her murder. But after ruling out her early leads, Emma still hasn’t found Sutton’s killer. A lot of people wanted her dead—but one name keeps popping up: Thayer Vega. When the gorgeous and mysterious Thayer returns to town, Emma has to move fast to figure out whether he’s back for revenge…or if he already got it.

When I first started reading this series, I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about it. The Lying Game was an intriguing read, but it lacked direction and character development, making me wonder if deciding to give this series a chance was a mistake. But I continued on anyway, knowing I could call it quits if I felt the need. Never Have I Ever upped the ante, bringing with it stronger writing, the character development The Lying Game was missing, and moving the plot further in ways I wasn’t expecting. As a reader, you finally could see where Shepard wanted the story to go and we’re looking forward to go on the journey. 

With Two Truths and a Lie, I still feel like the story continues to be enthralling. In this book, Madeline’s mysterious brother Thayer returns to town. While Emma doesn’t know too much about him, she’s heard of him and is immediately suspicious of him. She wonders whether he’s involved with her death, doing whatever means necessary to figure out what connection he has with Sutton the night she’s murdered. 

What I like about this book in the series is the reader gets introduced to Thayer and learns more about him. He’s someone we don’t really know too much about so it’s exciting to see him reappear and see how everyone reacts to his return. It’s also good he’s come back because you learn he’s with Sutton briefly on the night she’s killed and that it’s possible he could hold the key to who killed her. I also like his character because he’s the bad boy guy in this series.  You can also tell from the flashbacks that he had a strong connection with Sutton, to where you have a better understanding of his character and all he’s gone through to get to the point where he decides to return. 

I continue to enjoy Sutton’s flashbacks. They provide an interesting perspective on the characters. And when she has one, I always wonder what we’re going to see, what piece of the puzzle that’s Sutton’s death will be revealed. I also like that she’s been going through her own development while these events unfold. While Sutton was alive, it’s clear she didn’t cherish the life she had. But since her death, she seems to realize her own shortcomings and becomes better because of it. 

I also continue to enjoy the plot in this series. I think it’s continuing to move forward in incredible ways, bringing plenty of conflict for the reader to want to read more. It’s also well-written because I’ve yet to truly figure out who killed Sutton. I have a couple potential suspects in mind, but want to wait and see how this series ends before voicing them aloud.

I still don’t like Emma and Sutton’s process of elimination when it comes to who killed her. While it intrigued me because we get to learn more about the people Emma suspects killed Sutton, her suspects are never solid, sure picks. In many ways, suspecting these people has begun to show signs of Emma being paranoid because she feels like she can’t trust anyone around her. But then she finds a small amount of proof, believing she’s cleared someone’s name and everything becomes all right in her universe. Until she stumbles upon more information that makes her paranoid all over again about someone else. I don’t think this is the best way for Emma to find her sister’s killer, though I understand there’s only so much she can do to find this person without putting other’s lives at risk. But I think this is the pattern in this series, from what I’ve read so far. 

Even with this key issue for me, I still really enjoyed reading Two Truths and a Lie. It was a page turner that just kept me going because I want to find out what really happened to her and how this series will ultimately end. 

Book Review: Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2)

                                                                

                                               Rating: 3 stars

The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams.

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dream world to save the city?

Lair of Dreams was a great read for me because the story and characters made me want to find out more. I enjoyed this book because the story centered around the ability for Diviners to walk through dreams. In particular, it centered around my favorite character’s friend Henry and introduced us to Ling, both whom can walk through dreams. I found this part of the story to be interesting because readers found out more about Henry and also learned how the dream world played a role in the events that followed. I also find dreams to be a fascinating subject, which allowed me to enjoy this book even more. Especially when Ling discovered a new ability she could harness in the dream world. I liked learning Henry could walk through dreams because it’s a nice tidbit of information that Libba Bray didn’t include in The Diviners. It also allowed me to learn more about his character before he and Theta had become friends. I also liked learning more about Theta and how she plays an important role in the story. 

I also enjoyed this story because the dream world felt so real. Bray really did a good job of making dreams so powerful that nobody would want to wake up from them. She really made the place Henry and Ling went to feel so real as if I was there myself. But she also did well at showing the dark side of dreaming and how it can affect the mind. This can be seen through Henry who starts visiting the dream world more frequently because the love of his life is there. He then starts staying in the dream world for longer periods of time to the point where it affects his everyday life. You as the reader also see this through the sleeping sickness. This sickness is the main root of our character’s problems as the sickness spreads and affects one of their own. It’s up to them to stop the cause before the sickness can spread through the whole city. 

I also enjoy the mystery of the series surrounding Project Buffalo and Blind Bill. Bray gives us little details about Project Buffalo that make us continue to be invested in the series. I also like the way Blind Bill’s character is portrayed and can’t wait to find out what his main role will be in the rest of the series. 

While I don’t particularly like the ending of Lair of Dreams, it has many more flaws that’ve caught my attention. One of my biggest criticisms of this book is Evie’s character. In The Diviners, I really didn’t mind her character too much. However, I feel like she’s devolved since then. She’s now famous because of her powers and goes on the radio to show off her ability to read objects. She also no longer wants anything to do with her uncle and starts going to parties almost every night because of her celeb status. I feel like all of these things made me like her character less because she becomes shallow, vain and selfish and allows her fame to get to her head. While I understand why she’s doing all of these things, I just had a hard time sympathizing with her and wanting to read her role in this book. She becomes so caught up in city life she fails to realize how much danger she and the people she loves are in, causing her not to play as much of a vital role in the story. 

I also disliked the role Will’s character plays in the story. I hate it because Bray doesn’t really tell us where he’s gone off to and the only time we see his character after he leaves causes the reader quite a bit of confusion. I find this to be a serious flaw in the story because it leaves me with a lot of questions that don’t get answered by the end of the book. It would’ve been nice to have some answers instead of feeling more confused than when I started. 

While I very much enjoyed reading Lair of  Dreams, there were so many issues I had with it that I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I’d hoped. 

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

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Rating: 3 stars

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

I remember being introduced to this book by an old friend of mine when I was in high school. At the time, I remember reading it, becoming so engrossed with Hannah’s character. She was a mysterious girl because when reading, you didn’t really know too much about her. She told you about the things that happened to her during her freshman year of high school and that she wasn’t the type of girl the rumors portrayed her to be. But I also felt a connection to her, having been in high school at the time and understanding the struggles she was going through.

I felt that I could relate to her. Even though I never had rumors like that about me flying around school, I was bullied during my early years of education. So I completely understood where she was coming from and could see how the events that transpired turned her whole world upside down. Even though I’m no longer in high school, reading Thirteen Reasons Why a second time around didn’t change that perception for me.

Hannah Baker is a very sympathetic character. She attends a new high school, trying the best she can to fit in only to find her peers never taking the time to get to know her as a person. They are so busy believing the rumors about her to realize how alone she was and to see that their actions unintentionally lead to her death.

Another reason this story pulls at my heart is because it’s a very sensitive topic. Suicide isn’t something a lot of people feel comfortable talking about, due to people not understanding how the smallest things can have a big impact on a person’s life. Like mental illness, people don’t know how to talk about suicide and don’t understand it as well as people who’ve felt that pain before. Despite how hard suicide as a topic is to discuss about, these discussions need to be had and I appreciate Jay Asher, the author of Thirteen Reasons Why, for writing about it. It makes me hopeful that one day, suicide won’t be such a big stigma.  This book also brought up a lot of other key issues, such as rape and drunk driving, which aren’t heavily talked about either and are just as important to discuss.

I also enjoyed this book because of the way the story is told. The novel is from the perspective of Clay Jensen, who receives cassette tapes one day after school with Hannah’s voice on them explaining why she killed herself, saying the responsibility lies with those who receive the tapes. The people involved also receive a map of their town, marked with stars of locations where the events Hannah mentions take place. I enjoyed reading this book through Clay’s thoughts and actions and Hannah’s voice. It made it seem more in depth and personal. I also liked that Asher used cassette tapes for Hannah’s death note. As a 90s child, I grew up using cassette tapes and a Walkman whenever I wanted to listen to something on the go. It made the story a little nostalgic with those elements, considering how far technology has advanced in today’s day and age.

However, I do have a couple criticisms for Thirteen Reasons Why. While I enjoyed the way this story was told, I felt like Asher had Hannah more telling the story than Clay. Yes, he’s the one who had the tapes and his thoughts about what transpired where pretty clear, but I felt like there was more telling in the story than showing. I also didn’t really see a whole lot of character development in any of the characters in this story. I think part of that is because of hearing from Hannah her thoughts about the people who affected her life made it hard for us to really get a good understanding of the other characters. We knew Hannah didn’t really like them, but I wish we could’ve learned more about them and why they were such terrible people.

I also just didn’t really get how Clay is supposedly a nice guy. He’s included in the tapes and the story is told from his perspective, but you don’t really get to know him as a person outside of him listening to those tapes. Throughout the book, he only interacts with a couple people and even those few interactions didn’t give us a real glimpse of his character. Yes, he did some nice things, helped people out, but that isn’t enough for me to truly believe someone is a nice person. I also didn’t see how this whole thing really changed his life either. I get he had a better understanding of what Hannah was going through after the tapes, but he didn’t seem all that different to me than before. But I did sympathize with him because it was evident in the story how much he cared about Hannah and wanted to help her in any way he could.

I felt like I knew more about where Hannah and the rest of her classmates lived than the characters in this story. Part of that was because of Clay going to some of the locations Hannah mentioned in the tapes and Asher describing those places in perfect detail. While I don’t mind knowing more about the world characters live in, it’s a little frustrating with this story because I wanted to know the characters better other than knowing all the terrible things they did to Hannah.

While I sympathize with Hannah, I sometimes find her character to be very weak. I understand how depression works on a person’s mind, making them feel completely helpless, but I just didn’t always understand some of her actions. For example, the incident with the sign I felt like she could’ve very easily done something about. I know she had called the police, but I felt like she should’ve told them who knocked the stop sign down. I felt this way with some of the other incidents that happened in the book too because they were things she could’ve very easily done something about. Especially all of the things that happened towards the end where she’s still struggling to make up her mind about whether to take her own life. Despite these issues with her character, I understand that she was probably already too far gone at these moments in the story to really do anything about these situations. I feel like that is probably why she didn’t stop certain things from happening and why I feel myself questioning some of her actions.

While I have all of these criticisms for Thirteen Reasons Why, I still enjoyed reading it again. It left me sad knowing the story was over and remembering Hannah being dead, but I still found it as good of a read as the last time I read it. I hope others read it with an open mind and find themselves understanding suicide being a much more complicated issue than it seems. Because even though the reasons Hannah gave seem very small and insignificant, together they created a snowball effect that resulted in her not able to get any help until it was too late.

Book Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

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Rating: 4 stars

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

I remember the first time I read this book. My sister had come home to visit from college and gave me a copy, telling me a friend of hers from school thought I’d enjoy it. I remember reading it, feeling completely mesmerized by the story within its pages, wanting to find out what happened next to Celaena. Reading Throne of Glass again, I still remember those feelings, which have returned just as deeply.

The first book in a series I have yet to continue reading, Throne of Glass made me wonder what it would be like living as an assassin. An assassin well-known for her abilities, Celaena is more than she appears, which is why I enjoy her character so much. She’s very headstrong, good with any weapon in existence, and knowledgeable about the world she lives in. Even though she’s an assassin, she cares very much about protecting the people around her, despite the circumstances she’s currently dealing with. While at times I could find the way she talked to certain characters annoying, I overall enjoyed seeing such a strong character that I can’t wait to see how she continues to develop in the rest of the series.

I also enjoyed seeing this book from Dorian and Chaol’s point of view. Having their points of view allowed the reader to better understand their characters and how they both changed as the competition continued. While both Dorian and Chaol’s loyalty belongs to the kingdom, it gets tested when Celaena’s life is at stake during the final moments of the competition. I also loved their perspectives because you could see how conflicted both characters could be. As prince of the kingdom, Dorian knew he shouldn’t trust Celaena, but at the same time you could see the relationship he had with his father was pretty rough. This resulted in him being conflicted between doing what was right for the kingdom versus his own happiness, which I believe will continue to play an important role in the series as it continues.

I enjoyed reading this book too because of the competition and how magic came to play in the story with the competitor’s mysterious deaths. Sarah J. Maas did a wonderful job at weaving both these elements together to create a unique story that keeps the reader wondering what happens next. However, I did sometimes find these elements could be a little too much because I felt like there was already a lot going on in the story. But at the same time, Maas does a good job of connecting these two things together in order to allow more possibilities to exist in the world Celaena lives in.

I overall enjoy Throne of Glass because it kept me coming back for more. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series to find out what Celaena does next.

Book Review: The Sight (The Sight #1)

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Rating: 4 stars

In the shadow of an abandoned castle, a wolf pack seeks shelter. The she-wolf’s pups will not be able to survive the harsh Transylvanian winter. And they are being stalked by a lone wolf, Morgra, possessed of a mysterious and terrifying power known as the Sight. Morgra knows that one of the pups born beneath the castle holds a key to power even stronger than her own power that could give her control of this world and the next. But the pack she hunts will do anything to protect their own, even if it means setting in motion a battle that will involve all of nature, including the creature the wolves fear the most: Man.

I remember the first time I read this novel I was in middle school. I don’t remember how I came upon it. What I do know is that the cover intrigued me and made me interested in reading the story between its pages. And so I did, several times throughout middle school and high school. It’s a story I loved reading back in those days that I felt the need to revisit.

Even though I’ve read The Sight before, I found my love for it is still there. The story is just as beautiful and enchanting as when I last read it. It’s rich in detail about wolves, making it clear David Clement-Davies did his research on the wolf pack hierarchy. As someone who finds wolves to be fascinating and beautiful creatures, the story in this book’s pages whispers to me and reminds me of why I love stories with high elements of fantasy.

I love this book too because of those fantasy elements. The story centers around this mysterious power known as the Sight. This power is rare, wolves are born with it and it allows them the ability to do things like see the future through the water’s reflection or seeing things through a bird’s eyes. This power adds a unique element to this story that intrigues the reader into wanting to find out how this ability plays out in this novel. It’s at the center of the whole universe these characters live in and makes me view wolves in a completely different way.

The storytelling in The Sight is very rich in detail and the characters are deeply developed in their own unique ways. My favorite character development in this story can be seen with Larka’s brother Fell who plays a very important role in this novel and the sequel that follows it. He’s the complete opposite of Larka, both in physical appearance and mentality. While Larka’s fur in color is white, he’s completely black. While Larka is the light of this novel, Fell’s character takes a drastic turn you don’t see coming. But in the end, he’s saved by Larka’s love for him when she realizes who he’s become. He plays an important role in the story that causes his character to shift in unexpected ways but that makes changes in his life for the better, leading up to him being in charge of his own destiny.

In this novel however, there were two things I didn’t like about it. I wasn’t particularly pleased that Clement-Davies had different names for the animals in the story, like the Omega wolves in a pack also being known as Silka. While I understand the author’s need to add some uniqueness to the story, I found that having these names without any real explanation to their origins can cause some confusion to readers like me, but also reduce his research credibility. These names also didn’t add anything to the story so I wasn’t able to really see why they had to be included.

I also have a love-hate relationship with the ending. While I understand why Larka’s sacrifice is necessary to keeping everyone free, it makes it feel like what she did was all for nothing. But at the same time, I understand that it was her destiny and she did what she felt was necessary for the sake of everyone else. It still didn’t make it easier for me though to accept, despite how many times I’ve read this story. It’s the one aspect of the novel I sometimes wish was different, but am also grateful because we wouldn’t have the sequel without it.

Despite these two things, The Sight is a beautifully crafted story, rich in folklore and fantasy that I find myself reading over and over again. It’s one of my favorite stories and I highly recommend it to any fantasy and wolf lover.

Book Review: The Diviners

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Rating: 4 stars

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

I forgot how much I enjoyed reading this book for Young Adult Literature class. Reading it again now years later, I find myself feeling reminded of why I enjoyed reading this book so much.

For one, The Diviners is a mixed genre. It’s supernatural, fantasy and young adult literature all mixed into one beautiful package. There’s also some elements of mystery and horror because of all the murders and the way they are described to the reader. But the way these genres are blended together make for a beautiful story waiting to be told. They all work together in a way that makes the reader enjoy these elements of each genre without being overwhelmed by them.

I also enjoy this story because of the time period. Normally whenever I read a story, I don’t pay attention to the time period because it’s not always an important aspect of the story. However, in this book, the time period helps shape the characters. It explains the way the characters respond to certain situations, and gives the reader a better understanding of what’s going on. It helps the reader understand the world they find themselves in and allows them to imagine the character’s part in it. I find myself better able to picture the world around them as the story unfolds.

The Diviners is such a good read because it knows how to enthrall the reader. Rich in detail on every page, this book keeps me coming back for more, wanting to know what’s going to happen to the characters next. I can’t put this book down because I enjoy reading it until the very end.

This book is also a good read because of the characters. I find when I read this book that Bray did a good job of character creation and development. Each character has their own set of quirks and a personality that makes you interested in learning more about them even when there’s nothing more to tell. Each character plays an important role in the story even if that role is yet revealed to the reader.

The one thing I didn’t like with this story is that it ended too fast for me. I enjoyed the story so much I didn’t want it to end. But I also felt like the climax of the story was over before it could really begin. And that bothered me because I wanted there to be a huge struggle with the protagonist and antagonist, but it just felt too simple to me.

Other than that though, The Diviners is a beautifully crafted story that I never seem to get enough of. I can’t wait to read Lair of Dreams because I know it’ll be just as good.

 

Book Review: Kalahari

Kalahari Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Deep in the Kalahari Desert, a Corpus lab protects a dangerous secret…
But what happens when that secret takes on a life of its own?

When an educational safari goes wrong, five teens find themselves stranded in the Kalahari Desert without a guide. It’s up to Sarah, the daughter of zoologists, to keep them alive and lead them to safety, calling on survival know-how from years of growing up in remote and exotic locales. Battling dehydration, starvation and the pangs of first love, she does her best to hold it together, even as their circumstances grow increasingly desperate.

But soon a terrifying encounter makes Sarah question everything she’s ever known about the natural world. A silver lion, as though made of mercury, makes a vicious, unprovoked attack on the group. After a narrow escape, they uncover the chilling truth behind the lion’s silver sheen: a highly contagious and deadly virus that threatens to ravage the entire area—and eliminate life as they know it.

In this breathtaking new novel by the acclaimed author of Origin and Vitro, Sarah and the others must not only outrun the virus, but its creators, who will stop at nothing to wipe every trace of it.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it when I first picked it up. Not because it didn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, but due to not knowing what all was going to happen.

What I enjoyed about reading Kalahari is that it’s the third book in a series. A series where each book stands on its own without the reader having to read the previous books to get the gist of what’s going on. I really enjoyed it for this reason because it meant I didn’t have to go back and read Origin and Vitro before reading this one, though I’m most likely going to read those two books now because of it.

I also enjoyed reading this book because it takes place in a whole other world than what I’m used to. The setting takes place in the Kalahari Dessert, which is located in South Africa. It’s a place I’ve never been to and probably will never get the chance to see. But I enjoyed reading about it in this story because I felt like I was being taken to that place for a short while. It’s a fictional story, but its centered around a real place teaming with wildlife and nature. Reading a fictional book that takes place in a real world setting is something I rarely experience, but enjoy every time I do. I especially enjoyed it while reading this book.

Another reason I found this story so enjoyable was because the main characters felt so real and relatable. Even though I didn’t like all of the teenagers Sarah was stuck interacting with, I felt as if I was getting a glimpse into the way teenagers in today’s society would react if they were stuck in a dessert with little to no access to cell phones and other technologies. I found them relatable in that way, even when there carrying on and bickering got on my nerves. But I enjoyed seeing everything from Sarah’s perspective who isn’t used to dealing with human interaction because of her daily experiences in the wild.

I found the story in Kalahari to be enjoyable too. I like the idea of a deadly virus existing in the wild dessert where no one suspects it to be and a group of teenagers being the ones to stop it. I also enjoyed the story because throughout, the pacing was very climatic. I felt as if I was thrown into the action of the story, and loved every minute of it.

The one thing with this book I didn’t particularly enjoy was how neat and tight they ended the story. I felt as if everything turned out too perfectly for the characters that it was completely unrealistic. For example, I felt as if the author made the cure for the virus too easy. She made it where Sarah was able to figure out the cure on her own with a very limited amount of information. To me, that didn’t really suit the story because it made the events at the end happen a lot quicker than the rest of the book so that everything could be tied up all nice and neat. I also just didn’t like how they ended the book because I wanted to know what happened with the characters after the cure spread to the other animals that had been infected. I wanted to see more of the relationship between Sam and Sarah and wanted to know how this experience affected the rest of the group.

Despite this one issue however, I found Kalahari as a whole to be an absolute enjoyable read. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this series at a later date.

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