Again, But Better by Christine Riccio – Spoiler-Filled Book Review

Happy Sunday!

Today I will be discussing ALL my thoughts about Again, But Better by Christine Riccio, not only now an author, but a very prominent figure in BookTube with over 400,000 subscribers.

Sorry for not having my usual Saturday post, but I ended up not finishing this book until mid-Saturday rather than Friday and I really wanted my next post to be a book review. I was actually reading Again, But Better for the Reading Rush, and let’s just say I am a little behind with this readathon.

Anyways, it is read and I am ready to spill all my spoilery thoughts, opinions, and ideas related to this debut contemporary, but first, here is a snapshot of the book.

After doing her first two years of college wrong, 20-year-old Shane is determined to flip things around when she goes on study abroad trip to England, not across the world, but doing a completely different major than what her parents think.

Right away, things appear to be actually working out for Shane: she becomes fast friends with her flatmates, she is finally getting to study something she is passionate about, writing, and there is a cute boy named Pilot who seems to like her. But the smooth sailing is cut short after a series of spontaneous weekend trips, advancing in her internship, and almost kissing Pilot, and things suddenly begin to feel almost as bad as they were in America. 

Can Shane flip things around herself or will college take two be as much of a flop as she feared?

CAUTION: SPOILER THOUGHTS NEARING AHEAD

Okay, I have a LOT of thoughts to share about this book on everything from the story, the characters, to the author.

First off, I have been an avid watched of Christine (PolandbananasBOOKS on YouTube) for many, many years now. I honestly don’t even know how long. Maybe five? Anyways, the point is, over the years, I have definitely gotten a good idea about who she is, what type of person she is, and I even followed her ENTIRE writing journey for this book.

Because of that, I can CONFIDENTLY confirm that Shane is LITERALLY Christine.

I am 100% the type of writer who makes their main character (at least in the first novel) a reflection of myself, but if anything, a very murky reflection. I will take bits and pieces from here and there, smashing them together with what type of character my main character needs to be. However, Christine literally took herself, maybe toned it down a bit and then gave us Shane.

CHARACTER COMPARISON:

Christine Riccio – white, blonde, socially awkward, reader, writer, enthusiastic, nerd, ENTHUSIASTIC NERD, studied abroad, Italian, blog name: FrenchWatermelons19, etc, etc

Shane Primaveri – white, blonde, socially awkward, reader, writer, enthusiastic, nerd, ENTHUSIASTIC NERD, studied abroad, Italian, YouTube channel name (2nd account): PolandBananas20, etc, etc

Hmm, something looks familiar…OH YEAH, EVERYTHING.

Now again, I’m all for putting some of yourself in your main character. We writers do it, but there is a fine line between writing a fictional character and literally selling people an autobiography disguised as a YA/NA contemporary.

That said, I didn’t hate Shane, but I was not her biggest fan. I found her very cringey and awkward dialogue with, oh, everyone, very relatable but her overly enthusiastic and childish personality just did not click with me. Apparently, I was reading from a 20-year-old’s POV, but to me (an almost 18-year-old girl), it felt more like a 15-year-old and her immaturity really annoyed me.

“I’ve never used these sugar cube things before, and I’m very amused by them. They should make sugar stars! And other shapes! Sugar octagons!” – Shane Primaveri, a 20-year-old woman

Character development was also really lacking. When a difficult situation came up, Shane or Pilot would run the other way and ignore each other…for THE ENTIRE STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM. When I looked back at the book when I finished, I realized that they all arrived at the program in January and then left in April. The thing is, the first time around, Pilot, THE MAIN LOVE INTEREST, stopped speaking to Shane was back in February and then they never spoke again before they all left back to America…and then Shane did the exact same thing in the second go around. It was super repetitive and while the aspect of having a “do-over” would have provided an EXCELLENT opportunity to show how both of the characters grew over the past six years, that did not happen.

Shane and Pilot both felt very flat and basic to me. There was nothing special or interesting about either of them or any of the characters like Babe, Sahyra (Sahra?), and Atticus! (I am not even going to TALK ABOUT the names, okay?) Side characters are really the best name for these people because they all felt like they clung to the walls every time they appeared on the page in front of my eyes. I could barely see them because Shane or Pilot were jumping in my face. We barely got any dialogue from any of them, and when we did, it honestly all sounded the same to me, and the dialogue held almost no importance to the plot or anything.

That goes for a lot of this entire book – every plot point, drama, or piece of dialogue, I asked myself why it had to be in there.

LIKE THE MAGICAL ELEMENT.

When Shane and Pilot are suddenly whisked back into 2011, I was a little confused, but to be honest, intrigued. It is a very cliche plot point, but I was curious to see how the characters would react.

Let’s just say I was disappointed.

When I finished reading the book, I realized how unimportant and uninteresting the plot thread of having them being able to re-do their study abroad session was. One, because having BOTH Shane and Pilot go back in time together made it seem like they were sent back ONLY so they could live happily ever after together in love when it was so much more than that. And then two, apparently over the course of six years, neither of these characters learned ANYTHING!

Shane and Pilot return to 2011 and Shane does the same thing that Pilot did to her! She pushes him out and ignores him until he forces her to listen to him. Yeah, okay, she turned everything else in her life around. She became a better friend to Babe, Sahra (Sahyra???), and Atticus. She also pushed to the top in her writing internship, landing her own article, but when it came to Pilot, her immaturity really shone through. OH WAIT, there was no closure with her parents either. They reacted the same way and so did Shane. She only TALKED about making sure she would fix things with them.

This book was just FILLED with telling rather than showing, but this blog post is already long enough as it is.

I really thought after six years, Shane would have been more mature and ready to work things out with him and her parents right then and there because of how strong her feelings stayed after six years. Also, because she knew EXACTLY how things could, and probably would pan out if she did not patch things up.

But nope.

I really would have preferred for Shane and Pilot to have stayed in 2017 and try to work things out there after six years of going down the wrong path. It would show people that we all make mistakes in our lives, but we always have the power to change them which I think is a really positive and powerful message.

But because that did not happen, and instead, these two for WHATEVER REASON out of all the other people in the world got a re-do with their love life (and I guess professional lives too), I have NO idea what message or theme I could yank from these pages.

It was a good, fun time? A fast read?

While I did pick this book apart, it actually was a fun time and I enjoyed it as a quick, one-time read. I would not read it again, but I will definitely pick up Christine’s next book just because I know she will only improve from here. Her writing was a little juvenile and I felt like I was reading a book for pre-teens rather than adults, but I can’t judge her too hard for that because it is only her debut. She has room to grow!

I feel like if this book was not an exact replica of Christine’s college experience (minus the magic part…I think), I would have enjoyed it more! But because that’s not the case, it sadly felt like a creative rip-off. Again, I am 100% okay with taking things from our lives and writing about them, but you got to twist them a bit.

Anyways, overall, I still gave this book 3/5 stars because it was what I (kind of) wanted: an easy and fun read.


That is all for my review on Again, But Better by Christine Riccio and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as all my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel – Book Review

Happy Monday!

Today I will be giving my honest, non-spoiler thoughts on Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel which was kindly sent to me from his publicist as an ebook in exchange for this review. All of these thoughts are what I truly felt while reading the book!

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In this adult science fiction, dystopian novel, Jared Cartwright is adventuring across the wasteland of his world that was destroyed in a nuclear war. Sealed off from the last remaining flickers of human life and society, Jared has to level up beyond normal human limitations using nanites in order to survive the cruel realities of this world. On his quest of survival, Jared comes to learn that dragons really do exist when he accidentally steals a dragon egg, facing companionship of it rather than punishment by its mother. Together, Jared and his new dragon, Scarlet, tackle a new task: finding the lost dragons and restoring them to their former glory. 

Firstly, I am not a huge sci-fi fan or even dystopian for that matter. However, I did think this book was a fun step outside of my usual reading taste. I think it is good to explore, or in this case, re-explore other genres apart from the ones you constantly read. While reading this, I did remember that I don’t usually pick up sci-fi because of the science aspect of the novel. Sometimes, it is hard for me to grasp if it is poorly explained and other times, I just don’t want to read something heavily influenced by science. That is just my preference though.

The wasted world we are taken into was interesting to explore, and despite my lack of adoration for science in novels, I found the whole using nanites to survive intriguing and easy enough to grasp. Along with the “levelling up” aspect of the novel. At first, I was worried that Jared levelling up would mean he became closer to being invincible, but luckily, the author did not take that route. Instead, Jared had to rest after each level up and learn how to harness his newfound abilities. However, he could still be beaten. I hate when characters are seemingly invincible in books because that is unrealistic and completely throws me from the story. In Radioactive Evolution though, Jared is anything but invincible and while he needs a reminder from Scarlet sometimes, he realizes that too.

As for Jared and Scarlet, the two main characters in this story, I couldn’t find a way to connect to either of them. Scarlet is a dragon who often, didn’t even seem like a dragon to me. Yes, she was slowly growing at the beginning of the book, but I often found myself having to remember that she was in fact, a dragon. I did enjoy her sassy and witty personality though, and how she always called Jared out when he was acting too tough. Jared, on the other hand, just did not leap off the page enough for me so I could not feel as if I knew him. Instead, I felt disconnected from him throughout the entire novel even as we dove into his backstory.

Before I get into my overall thoughts for the actual plot in the book, I wanted to talk about the writing in this book. I thought Richard Hummel had a very simple, yet effective style of writing that allowed me to visualize each situation pretty well. It was polished and professional which is obviously, what every reader expects when they pick up a novel. This made for a quick and easy read because I was not re-reading sentences trying to figure out what was going on. However, there were quite a few formatting errors throughout this book that definitely, because of the amount, threw me out of the story. There were several times when Scarlet’s dialogue wasn’t big or bold like it usually was, and it took me a while to realize it was her speaking. There were also times when Jared’s internal thoughts that he was communicating to Scarlet were not italicized and once again, confusion pulled me from the story. Other than those simple flaws, the writing was clean and crisp.

Now for the plot.

In the beginning, I felt as if we were not getting anywhere within the story. We were wandering around, following Jared and Scarlett as they met some low-risk obstacles. However, it did pick up as expected as the story continued on. Most of the obstacles and problems our characters ran into along the way didn’t pose too much of a high-stress threat to me. My experience reading this book was easy going and rarely did I find myself worrying about what would happen next plot-wise as well as to our characters. That isn’t to say the plot wasn’t interesting though. It moved at a medium pace and while learning about the world, the plot enticed me to learn more about this post-apocalyptic world. It just didn’t bring me to the edge of my seat.

Overall, I thought this was a good adult, sci-fi story about a man and his dragon trying to survive in this wasteland and save dragons as a species as well as humankind. The story was developed well and the writing was easy to get through. While it didn’t have me on the edge of my seat if you are a fan of sci-fi I would definitely give this book a read. 3.5/5 stars

If you want to check out the book, here is a link to its Goodreads page 🙂 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42514577-radioactive-evolution

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The Harvest by KB Benson Review – Spoiler Free!

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I received an eBook copy of The Harvest by KB Benson in exchange for an honest review, and so today, that is what I am here to do. This review will contain absolutely no spoilers and is just going to be me sharing my overall thoughts and opinions about this book. Let’s get into it!

Personally, this book reminded me of a cross between To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo and the Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout and here is what it is about:

The Harvest follows two characters, Iris who is a siren disguised as a human attending high school, and Jace, a new kid in town who immediately falls for Iris. With her duty to her people in mind, Iris has no intentions to fall for Jace but soon she finds herself tumbling…hard. And before she can stop herself, it becomes too late. A question arises as her heart becomes taken, and that is when it comes down to it, will she protect her family or the boy she loves?

I had never heard of this book before going into it, but I was intrigued by the fact that it is pitched as similar to To Kill a Kingdom which I did enjoy, and also just because of I love Greek mythology. However, sadly, this book did not live up to my expectations. While the first half of this book was enjoyable enough, reading in my opinion, like fanfiction…the last half was where I really struggled. I realized once I finished the entire thing, that I could have read the first few chapters and then the last few chapters, and I would have known the same things about the plot, characters, etc as I do now.

The pacing of this book was fast which was how I was able to fly through this book despite my disappointment in it, but everything else about this book fell flat for me. The characters were the stereotypical “beautiful, mysterious girl” and “hot, surfer dude” that didn’t have anything about themselves that made them unique or interesting to read about. I found Iris and Jace’s relationship to be very “insta-lovey” because they met, I blinked, and then they were in love. Insta-love is not something I am opposed to in books, however, as there are MANY YA novels I adore with that trope in it. With The Harvest though, I just didn’t think it was as well done as other books with the same trope have achieved. On top of that, I also thought the relationship overall was weak. I didn’t really care for it and in my opinion, they had absolutely no chemistry. Jace was too whiny and Iris was too moody. Since the lack of strong characters, it was disappointing too that the other characters in this book felt so disposable and that they brought nothing to the story. We met some of Jace and Iris’s “friends”, yet we barely ever see them interact with one another or become friends even. Instead of providing anything, all of the “friends” felt like they could easily be cut out and nothing in the story would change.

As for the plot, I was hoping for some twist on the classic Siren love story, but it ended up being incredibly predictable and plain. The majority of the story was us watching Jace and Iris in school as Jace pined after her, managed to somehow win her over with some cringey dialogue and then a little bit of action happened at the end. The action that did take place in the book wasn’t visual enough for me to imagine in my head, and I found myself re-reading parts to try to picture it all. As it got to the end of the book and things started wrapping up, I grew really bored despite the fact that those were probably the most “action-filled” scenes of the story.

Overall, I did not love this book and found many flaws in the development of the story. As for the writing, I also thought that it was not the best, but since it was the author’s debut book, I decided to not get into that too much. Despite my disliking towards this book, The Harvest was not the worst book I ever read, and at first, I did find the story a fun read. In the end, I decided to give this book 2/5 stars.

That is all for this non-spoiler review for The Harvest by KB Benson and if it sounds like something you’d enjoy, give it a read for yourself and see if you like it! Anyways, that is all for this book review and I hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Anthem by Ayn Rand – Book Review

Happy Thursday!

In the next few weeks, I am going to be putting out more book reviews than usual so I thought I would reacquaint myself with them by reviewing the last book I finished…which was Anthem by Ayn Rand. Why was I reading this book you ask?? Well, it was for an essay scholarship that I shrugged to and said why not? I know there is controversy surrounding this writer, but I am going to be putting that aside for the moment and instead, focusing on the actual story of Anthem. There WILL be spoilers so if you don’t mind, then keep reading!

Anthem by Ayn Rand is described as a dystopian novel set in a world where society has erased the individuality of the word “I” and has replaced it with a collective “w”, however, our main character Equality 7-2521 dares to defy society in order to regain his individual freedom stolen from him. While at first, this book was confusing characterwise because the narrative of this story is told by “we”, “our”, “they” so I thought Equality 7-2521 and all the other strange names, were collective groups of people. However, I reached the end and realized that was not the case but in reality, society had gone as far to strip people of saying “I” so Equality was only one person. This book will get you thinking about where society has been in the past and even right now, with socialism countries and all, but it also offers you the opportunity to value your individuality that we carry so easily and effortlessly without fathoming its disappearance.

While this book is very short (105 pages), I thought Rand managed to tell a story that ended satisfactorily. Anthem begins with Equality 7-2521 standing in front of the Council with dreams of being allowed into the Home of the Scholars, however, instead, they are placed in the Home of the Street Sweepers. When they tumble into a strange hole in the ground that leads to a cave full of forbidden manuscripts, later on, they read and discover all the things their society has stolen from them: the overall thing being each person’s individuality and freedom of choice. What I found interesting about the first part of the plot, is that once Equality found the cave, his goal didn’t immediately switch to the idea of “fixing the world” that they end with. The plot switched to him realizing that with all this knowledge, he might be able to stand before the World Council of Scholars and be allowed into the Home of the Scholars. It isn’t until the Council cowers at his re-invention of lightning, does he realize that will never happen. Also, by this point, he has fallen in love with the Golden One so he doesn’t need the Home of the Scholars, right? No! He can just run into the forest with her and tell himself that when his son is born, he will be a man who knows of the word and meaning of “I” while the rest of society is a massive dependent group of “we’s”.

I enjoyed this book but I do not have any plans of re-reading it…ever. I have read a bit of Fountainhead by Ayn Rand in the past, so I kind of knew what I was getting myself into with this one and I was spot on. All of her books continuously feature male characters with women being faint characters in the background that pop up every so often with no real meaning. Also, whenever she refers to being successful, Rand will write about winning the minds of men or in Anthem towards the end when Equality is ranting about his newfound discovery of individuality, it goes a little something like this:

  • “Many men in the Homes of the Scholars have had strange new ideas in the past…” – pg. 73
  • “And man will go on. Man, not men.” – pg. 104

Yes, so this book is about regaining individual freedom BUT Equality only ever refers to men as the ones who deserve and need it. Never women or generalizing to people. I guess I understand why it is like this to a point, as Ayn Rand is a writer from the 1950s and equality (haha, how contradictory since the main character’s name is Equality) wasn’t super “in” back then. (Wow, that sounded dumb when I re-read it and really sad.) But still! Jane Austen wrote female characters who were strong, independent, and intelligent, not just flimsy things meant to aid the men in the book. So actually, I take that back! I do not understand Ayn Rand’s words at all!

One thing I really wanted to touch on is Equality 7-2521 as a character. Since Equality is unable to have personal likes and dislikes and whatnot, they felt like a bland structure that every author takes to tailor their characters to. However, we do see them having conflicting thoughts to society in the beginning, and that only continues to grow throughout the story until Equality seizes the word “I” for himself. Equality was not likable or unlikable…so I do not have too much to say. They were not the smartest at times, for example, when they brought the “box of lightning” to the World Council of Scholars! Like what are you doing? They know this existed at one point AS YOU READ IN THE FORBIDDEN MANUSCRIPTS, so why are you showing them that you broke all of their laws? Whatever, it’s fine. It’s fine. One thing I did not like about Equality aka Prometheus though was how Rand revealed that the Golden One aka Gaea was PREGNANT. I hope that a few years passed since they met before she got pregnant because um…SHE WAS 17 WHEN THEY MET. Also, I think he was 21 so one, ILLEGAL and two, SHE IS ONLY 17. So yes, really hoping it was like a “five years later” thing at the least.

For me, this was a 3-star read because while I had my problems with it, the story was interesting and there wasn’t a point in the book where I looked at the ceiling with desperation for it to be over. If you enjoy books influenced heavily by philosophical elements, meaning you are fans of Camu, Sartre, or other philosophy writers, I would think about checking Ayn Rand out.

Anyways, that is all for this review and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones – Spoiler Review

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Helloooo. First off, welcome 2019! This is my first blog post of the new year so yay! I hope 2019 is being kind to you so far and I hope it will be a great year to come. Anyways, today I will be sharing my spoilery thoughts, opinions, and comments on the fantasy book Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. If you haven’t read the book I will be providing a quick synopsis of the book and a snapshot of my overall, non-spoiler thoughts before I dive into the deep stuff so check that out below!

Wintersong takes place in the past in a small town in Germany where our main character, Liesel’s sister is kidnapped by the Goblin King; a monster she thought was only a story from her childhood but is now a nightmare come to life. She ventures to the Underground, the land of the goblins, to save her sister and return to the world above intact but like all adventures, it is never that easy.

Overall, I…did not like this book. It was slowly paced for the most part and our main character, Liesel, was not a POV I enjoyed. She was easily manipulated, whiny, and not too intelligent, making it difficult for me to care about whether she died in the Underground or not. I gave it a 2.5/5 stars because of that, but if you want to hear my SPOILER thoughts on it, keep reading!

——————————————————-Spoilers Ahead——————————————————–

Let’s start with the overall story. Reading the back of this book, I was so excited to jump into this story of an evil Goblin King who steals our main character’s sister, drawing her into the Underground to save her sister before it is too late. However, while I was hopeful while reading the first 100 pages (even though they were some slowly paced 100 pages), I soon realized I shouldn’t be. Honestly, I don’t know how I kept reading and didn’t DNF this book. Anyways, back to the point. Liesel (our MC) ventures down to the Underground just before page 100 to save her sister and within a few pages of her being down there…she finds her sister who is fine, a little delusional, but for the most part completely fine. Okay, okay, Liesel apparently has to burn some of her music to find her sister but honestly, that’s a small price to pay for the life of someone she loves. Once Liesel finds her sister, Kathe, they kind of just chill down in the Underground for a few days, right under the Goblin King’s nose. The Goblin King is someone from Liesel’s childhood actually, so that plays into the plot when she gives herself up to him so her sister can safely return to the world above only a ten or twenty pages after Liesel finds her…which was weird to me because it was TOO EASY. Also, we only get a few glimpses into how the Goblin King is evil…most of those glimpses composed of malicious grins and his dark black eyes. Anyways, after this, the entire rest of the book follows Liesel moaning about how the Goblin King isn’t letting her pursue her music just like in the world above (even though that’s not true…he plays the violin all the time and wants her to write her own music/play music), about how ugly she is compared to her sister, and realizing she is madly in love with her captor and the man who stole her sister. But it’s okay because he’s HER Goblin King.

Everything in this book just happened so fast. Kathe getting kidnapped, Liesel finding her, Liesel freeing her, Liesel marrying the Goblin King, and then we had this looooong stretch of Liesel and the Goblin King just hanging around, and then Liesel escaping back into her world. Any action happened in a span of 2-5 pages, and then whatever else we read afterward was fluff and not necessary. There were a few good lines I tabbed, but overall, I was not impressed.

One thing that isn’t big but also really is because it contradicts the character S. Jae-Jones has built Liesel up to be, is when Liesel discovers her brother is dead…or has been dead for a long time and a changeling (I still do NOT understand what those things are honestly) has been acting in his place. Or at least, I think that’s what happened…honestly, lots of confusion occurred here for me. So, the whole beginning of the book it is conveyed that Liesel loves Josef more than anything, and protects him more than she protects Kathe. She gives up her own undying passion for music so her brother can pursue it instead, and grieves for him when she is in the Underground. AND THEN SHE FINDS OUT HE IS DEAD, CRIES A LITTLE BIT AND WE BARELY SEE HER THINK ABOUT IT AGAIN. Like honestly, she finds out the person she loves most has died, and kind of forgets about it because the Goblin King she loves so very, very much is there and he makes her a woman named Elisabeth, not a girl named Liesel. Yeah, I was weirded out too. This just annoyed me because we are made to think she cares about Josef so much, but her reaction to his death is really anticlimactic. I have a younger brother who is literally my life, and if he died…boy, objects would be thrown against walls, my heart would be breaking and my cheeks would be streams of tears.

Let’s discuss the Underground, the land of the goblins, which are ruled by a single Goblin King whose past we learn LITERALLY nothing about. Maybe it and he will be explained in the second book (which ha, surprise, surprise, I’m not picking up), but I still think it’d have been smart to introduce some backstory of him in this book to make him seem less, well, less FLAT AND BORING. I can’t tell you anything about this Goblin King accept he’s not as hot as Hans (who honestly, was such an UNNECESSARY character in this book. Will talk about more though…) but still pretty cute, and he plays the violin. Anyways, we also learn nothing about the Underground. I have no idea what it looks like. The only places down there described to us are Liesel’s room and the room in between her room and the Goblin King’s…that’s all I remember and can kind of picture in my head. So yeah, the Underground to me is composed of two, sometimes three (when Liesel wakes up in the Goblin King’s bed), rooms.

Okay, I need to talk about Hans. 1) Why is he in this book? That’s it. That is my only question actually. Like why, WHY, is he a character? He is introduced as the man promised to Kathe who honestly, couldn’t care less about him, but Liesel is secretly in love with him. Until Liesel is suddenly living a life right after her sister is taken where Kathe never existed in her family, and because of that, Liesel is pursuing music or something (I thought Josef was the reason she had to set aside her dream but I guess not?). In this weird life, she kisses Hans and I realizes she doesn’t love him. Anyways, why bring him in then? It would have been perfectly FINE to not set up the idea of Kathe being engaged to someone because it made no difference to the story, the Goblin King still took her, and it also would have been perfectly FINE if Liesel wasn’t in love with anyone before going to the Underground and realizing she kind of loves him instead. He served no purpose at all and was a waste of space in this book. Maybe he serves a purpose in the second book which then everything I said now would be kind of invalid (also not though because Jae-Jones could have just had Hans engaged to Kathe and that’s it), but STILL.

Anyways, this book had 400-something pages filled with a lot of nothing…oh wait, sorry, filled with a lot of contradicting or useless characters, slow and boring plot, and a flat world. However, I really did like the writing. It was lyrical and beautiful…my favourite type of writing! I apologize for being kind of harsh but this is just my opinion. There were a few lines in the book and even a few scenes I enjoyed in this book overall, again, those were just because of the writing. Overall, I gave this book 2.5/5 stars. Why did I not DNF this book if I hated it so much? Well, I really, really wanted to like it and I just hoped it would get better. It took until page 300ish for me to realize that wasn’t going to happen though.

Anyways, that is all for my spoilery review on Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones, and I hope you enjoyed! If you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts on it because I am really curious. From what I’ve read on Goodreads, people either loved it or hated it. Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Best Books of 2018

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2018 was a good reading year quantity wise. However, as I am writing this, I don’t know if I’ve hit my Goodreads goal of 75 books but I am really, really close and still have time (I’ve read 70 so far). While I read lots of books, a lot of them were re-reads or just books that were pretty good but not AMAZING. So, when it came to compiling a list of my favourites, I realized this was going to be short and sweet. That’s okay though because I did re-read a lot of my most favourite books (I’m not counting those in this post though) and there were a few new reads that I did really enjoy. Anyways, here are my favourite books of 2018.

Stephen King: On Writing by Stephen King

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This is a non-fiction book on Stephen King’s writing journey and life. I read this in January and absolutely loved it. It was stuffed to the seams with wisdom and advice that I seethed over, and it all helped to improve me as a writer. I definitely plan on re-reading it in the new year, but this was definitely a favourite out of the whole year for me. It was also definitely my most favourite writing book…probably that I’ve ever read! 5/5 stars

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

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I know, I know. I’ve raved about this book more than a few times, but for good reason because it made it onto my favourites list! This is a contemporary-fantasy, as I like to genereize it, that follows the POV of two sisters, Evelyn, and Philippa who along with their brother, Jamie, have just returned from a fantasy land called the Woodlands where they lived for several years in an attempt to flee from the devastation of World War II. Now they are back to reality, all struggling to find their place in it, but some are struggling more than others. When Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must find her sister and along the way, discover the pain of assimilating into the ordinary she felt. I read this book in the summertime and fell in love with its rainy, English atmosphere and raw characters. I actually have an in-depth review if you want to read it right here, but it was just amazing. 5/5 stars

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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This was another book I discovered in the summertime during the BookTubeAThon and oh my- it was amazing. Neal Shusterman creates such a realistic world with characters I can actually imagine meeting and speaking with, bringing the story to life that much more. Scythe takes place in a futuristic world where humans have conquered everything from ageing, disease to death. However, to keep the population from exploding, there are scythes who glean people at random to do so. Our two main characters are Rowan and Citra, both who are chosen to be the apprentices to the same scythe but this is something neither of them thought they wanted. I love this story and these characters, and just talking about it makes me want to re-read it…which I may do. 5/5 stars

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

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While I had my issues with this book (which will be discussed in my upcoming review), I did absolutely adore this book. I had been anticipating it for so long, and I also know it was supposed to be very open-ended because it is setting us up for the Wicked Powers, another series in the Shadow World. But anyways, this was the third and final installment in my favourite trilogy, The Dark Artifices, following my most favourite characters in my most favourite world. Was it everything I hoped for? Honestly, not really haha, but then again, it kept me interesting, surprised me, and ultimately, I loved it so yes, one of the best books of 2018 hands down. 5/5 stars

There you have it! I only have 4 books on this list because the other books were either re-reads or only 4-star-reads. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like them, they just weren’t the best books of 2018 for me. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed and don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading!

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth – Book Review

 

On October 23rd, The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth hit shelves and I am so excited for you to all read it! If you have heard absolutely nothing about this lovely book, I am going to be sharing my non-spoiler thoughts on this book and hopefully, by the end, you will want to pick it up too!


The Light Between Worlds is a YA magical realism story following three siblings who during the bombing of London in 1940, are somehow transported to a magical kingdom called the Woodlands. This is a place of nature and beauty, but the Woodlands is facing a battle of their own. The siblings vow to help them as much as they can in this war, but in return, ask to be sent home afterwards as if no time has passed at all.

Six years later, it is time for the siblings to finally go home and instantly, they are faced with a brand new battle of their very own. Their internal struggles as they try to adjust to life away from the Woodlands and back into a reality untouched by magic. It is easier for the two oldest siblings, Jamie and Philippa, but Evelyn struggles with making this world home again. When Evelyn disappears one day, Philippa must return to England after studying in America to unravel the mystery of her sister’s disappearance, and the struggles Evelyn faced while she was away.

This book is haunting and whimsical, transporting me into the world of the Woodlands and London post World War II. Despite reading it twice already, I easily found myself losing track of time while reading it, always finding myself pages ahead of where I originally thought. Taking place in 1940s-50s England, the atmosphere created was the definition of coziness; rainy, grey, and chilly. It was the perfect book to snuggle up with on a rainy day and some hot tea and just fall into for a few hours. This world really does take you by surprise with how vivid it is. I could see the trees of the forests standing tall in the Woodlands and the gardens outside the school Evelyn goes to when memories of the Woodlands attack her heart the most.

While this book has fantasy elements in it like the magic of the Woodlands, this book is less about the fantasy and more about finding yourself and coping in the meantime. Because of that, it is very character based, following the story and relationship of the two sisters, Evelyn and Philippa, both who are strong women but also have their own demons and ghosts to face. We learn how they both cope with them, and those are two very different ways that were not the healthiest. This made for a realistic aspect of the novel because often, people cannot find the best ways to cope with loss or the feeling of not belonging. Instead, they resort to other methods and that was a heavy theme woven into this book.

The other characters in this book played a big part in that theme of not always choosing the healthiest ways to cope which is a reality, especially in the modern world today, and listening to the truth beating in your heart and bones. Evelyn juggled with her emotions and thoughts this entire book, knowing she belonged in the Woodlands but sometimes, something, or someone, held her back from listening to that. But, it was never something the other person did knowingly, like Tom. Tom was the love interest for Evelyn and played an important role in this story. That role being the unveiling that sometimes a person’s problems cannot be solved by anyone other than that person themselves. A person is not a project; a jumbled mess of broken bits needed to be fixed, but an art piece that is slowly coming together on its own time.

Lately, mental illness has been something I’ve become more aware of and I noticed this book represented eating disorders and also depression. These were the reasons the characters had coping mechanisms, as one cannot leave a magical world and return to an ordinary one without fault. Nothing is graphic, but it is good to keep in mind when reading it in case you are easily triggered. On Laura E. Weymouth’s website, she goes into more detail about these triggers so make sure you check that out here.

Overall, this book was a cozy fantasy that I can definitely see myself picking for a third time in the future. I highly recommend it for fans of Narnia because it is very similar to that story-wise, however, different because Narnia is for younger readers while this novel is definitely for young adults. After debating it after my second read, I have decided to give The Light Between Worlds a 4.5/5 stars as it was a beautiful and gripping read that holds my interest every time.

Those are my non-spoiler thoughts on The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth and I hope you enjoyed! Make sure to let me know if you decide to pick this book up and what your thoughts are on it! Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts all linked down below. Thanks 🙂

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To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo Book Review – Magical, Mythical, and Yes, Bloody

To Kill a Kingdom took me over 3 weeks to read, but I enjoyed those 3 weeks spent desperately trying to squeeze in time for this gory “The Little Mermaid” retelling. This is going to be a SPOILER review, but before I get into this, I’ll give a quick description in case you are interested in reading it but don’t really know what it’s about! My quick thoughts are that I really did like it and you should check it out if you like mythology, deadly characters, and a fast-paced plot.

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To Kill a Kingdom is a magical, mythical, and yes, bloody retelling of “The Little Mermaid” following our two main characters, Lira, a siren heiress who takes the heart of a prince for each year she has been alive, and Elian, the human heir of Midas but siren killer and sailor at heart. When Lira kills one of her own, her mother banishes her from the sea as a human with the task of retrieving Elian’s heart in exchange for her place back in the sea. But what happens when Lira finds a place with Elian and his crew? And what happens when they find out the truth of who she is; a siren on a ship of siren killers.

——————————————————SPOILERS AHEAD—————————————————–

After reading the first 50 pages of To Kill a Kingdom, I immediately thought “The Little Mermaid” meets “Throne of Glass”. It has the core story of “The Little Mermaid” and the initial drive and goal that our main character, Celaena, has in “Throne of Glass”. While I am not a huge fan of the Throne of Glass series, I did enjoy the first book though so I knew I would like To Kill a Kingdom. And I did! A lot!

One thing I appreciated about this book a lot is the consistency of the characters. Lira and Elian are both murderers and don’t flinch at the sight of blood. I was worried that as we followed them through the story, that they would soften a bit because of each other and their growing feelings, but luckily that didn’t happen. Well, I mean they did fall for each other but they were still themselves. Sometimes, authors kind of soften their characters personalities when a relationship forms but luckily, that was not the case for this book. When it comes to our two main characters, I am not sure I could pick a favourite. There were times I liked Lira more than Elian and times where I liked Elian more. I do love their names though, and for some reason that made me love this book even more. They were both strong-willed and brave and intelligent in a lot of similar ways which was interesting because I haven’t read many books where the love interests and two POV characters were THAT similar. It made for a nice connection at the beginning though because them being so similar meant they quickly understood the each other. I was really surprised to like them both equally because when it comes to having more than one POV, I rarely ever like them all.

One thing I was kind of sad about when it came to characters was the rest of the cast in this book. The sailors of the Saad just really fell flat from me and I didn’t connect with them at all. Maybe it was just me but I feel like they were just there. Kye and Madrid were close to feeling like real people to me, but only just when the book was wrapping up. That is one thing that disappointed me and kind of made me not love the book as much as I could of, but since Elian and Lira were such strong characters, it kind of makes up for it. Kind of.

The plot was a lot of fun and pulled me in from page one. I mean kickass sirens and a deadly siren queen? Yes, please. The story was dark from the beginning and for the most part, kept the darkness which was perfect considering most of the days I read this book were cold and wet. As Elian and Lira started actually liking and caring for one another though, the mood and atmosphere of the story got lighter, like the clouds of a storm were finally parting. I thought the pacing of the plot was fast but not too fast for the most part, however, I thought the last 100 pages just happened all at once. The author sped through them and there was a lot more telling rather than showing I found. This threw me out of the story a little bit, but I was so deep already that it wasn’t enough for me to put it down or anything luckily. When it came to that final fight scene though…that was a little fast in my opinion. I mean, I am not saying I want a long, drawn-out fight scene because ugh, boring. I just wanted a little more substance to it so it would slow down a tad. We finally got to the end and it was a battle between the sirens and the humans, mostly focused on Lira and her mother though. We got no insight really to what was happening around her and Elian, or maybe we did but it just wasn’t enough for me to really envision it! And then bam, Lira has convinced the sirens to join her side and turn against her mother. And then bam, her mother is killed. And then bam, story over.

I know I complained a lot towards the end, but apart from those last 100 or so pages, I did really enjoy this book. I just had some problems with it but hey, no book is perfect. Would I recommend this book? Yes! If you love myths and legends, especially The Little Mermaid but with a bloody twist, then give it a shot. If you have read this book, let me know what you thought in the comments! Or even better, if you have a review of this book as well, link it for me to check out. Out of 5 stars..this book would get a solid 4/5 stars!

Anyways, that is all for this review on To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo and I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts. Let me know if there are any specific books you want me to read and review, otherwise, my next book review will (most likely) be The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth sometime in late October! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked below. Thanks 🙂

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Film Review

Yes, I waited until 12am for this movie to drop on Netflix and then happily watched the entire thing because I was THAT excited. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has been a favourite book of mine for about two years and when I heard it was becoming a movie…I was ecstatic. I am happy to say that this was such a great adaptation, staying really close to the original plot, and I LOVED it. Below I am going to be discussing the teen romcom in spoilery depth, but if you for some reason have no idea what it is about, here is a quick synopsis!

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean, a junior in high school who lives in the fantasy world of romance in her head. That is until her secret love letters get sent out to every boy she has ever loved before, and suddenly, fantasy becomes striking reality. To keep one of those boys from finding out the extent of Lara Jean’s true feelings, Lara Jean and the most popular guy in school team up and pretend to date to keep him from finding out the truth.

OK, if you have not read the book or watched the movie then it might be smart to avoid the rest of this post! Go watch it now if you haven’t though!


One thing I loved about this film is how it was shot and pieced together. It perfectly recreated the 80s style, John Hughes romcoms and I LOVED that. I am a huge fan of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, etc etc, so I really appreciated them taking on that style of film and succeeding! It also added to Lara Jean’s amazing vintage inspired outfits that I was so looking forward to in the book and was happily satisfied within the movie.

Despite the few changes made in the movie, I was so happy with how much they stuck to the book and kept the original plot. The movie was exactly how I imagined the book in my head to be and I felt all the emotions because of it. I could only pick out a few biggish changes to the storyline but honestly, they did not take away from the story at all. Sometimes things in the book don’t work out in the movie and that is 100% okay. One change that stuck out to me was the first kiss between Lara Jean and Peter K. In the book, Lara Jean jumps Peter in the hallway whereas in the movie, she takes him down on the track and it was hilariously amazing. The stars of the movie talked about how they tried to film the kiss the original way, but it just didn’t work in the movie so they found this alternative. Another difference in the movie was instead of Lara Jean running into Peter after crashing her car, she almost runs him over in a parking lot with Kitty. I kinda loved that even more because I could feel how awkward she felt, but overall it was just adorable like the entire movie. One last difference that I remember is the scene between Lara Jean and her dad in the diner where they talk about her mom. It was so heartwarming and wonderful and gave me the feels for sure.

Next, I have to talk about the characters because the actors were PERFECT. Lana Condor was a fantastic Lara Jean and really captured her quirky personality that jumps out in the book. Her humour was on point and her outfits were on point…everything was just on point. Kitty and Margot were also just as I imagined them in the book, and Josh was too, although I liked him a lot more in the movie than in the book! Instead of being jealous the entire time of Lara Jean and Peter, he kind of accepted the fact that she didn’t like him anymore and told her to go after Peter which was ugh, so great. Lastly, Peter Kavinsky. Let that name sink in for a moment. Everything about Peter K. was AMAZING. I was a little sceptical about Noah because I haven’t really seen him in anything because I don’t watch The Fosters. However, I was blown away by how perfectly he embodied Peter’s confidence and kindness on the screen, and how easily he captured my heart. The characters really made this movie and I was super impressed by them all.

So overall I ADORED To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and easily gets 9/10 stars for me. This book will make you cry, laugh, and gush over all the heartwarming relationships between the characters and a charming plot. I really recommend it if you have read the book or love quirky romcoms because this will be everything you could dream for!

I hope you enjoyed this spoiler review and I did want to get it out sooner but I ended up going camping on Friday so I didn’t have enough time to write, edit and publish this for you all. It is out now though so yay! If you watched the movie let me know what you thought in the comments because I would love to know. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post and all my social media accounts linked down below 🙂

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Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – Spoiler Review

I have been reading so many amazing books lately that I thought I would start doing book reviews! I used to do them way, way back but stopped because they do take a lot of time and effort, and I didn’t have the energy or motivation to pour into them, but lately I have been feeling like it so why not?

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Today I will be giving a SPOILER review on Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire so if you haven’t read it, don’t read much further, however before we get into that, here is  a NON-SPOILER short synopsis on the book:

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children is a place for the children who have gone off to fantasy worlds and suddenly returned to the mortal world. Some hope for the door to their fantasy world to return and some don’t. Our main character Nancy has just returned and is sent off to the home for Wayward Children by her parents, and is one of the children anxious for their door to return. However, her welcome is not entirely pleasant when other Wayward children at the home begin turning up dead, different body parts missing on each one of them every time. With the help of new friends, Nancy and them try to unveil this mysterious killer before it is too late, in the hopes of saving the home and themselves.  

SPOILERY THOUGHTS BELOW, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK…

I had high expectations going into this book because everyone on all different platforms have been hyping it up like crazy. Long story short though, I did really enjoy it and thought it was a strange and unique read that is definitely worth it!

One thing this book did a great job at was diversity. Our main character, Nancy, was asexual which I do not see a lot of representation in YA books so that was great to see! We also had a transgender character named Kade, and queer representation in other characters. While this book is deemed fantasy, it made it feel more real having all this rep of real people, and it made me realize how badly we need more books like this in all areas of literature.

This book was super weird but in a dark fairy tale type of way that reels you in. The characters were strange, the world was strange, and the entire premise was strange, but that is the beauty about this book. It doesn’t follow standard YA rules I suppose you could say, and that was really refreshing.

The one thing I think this book suffered from, and if you read the book you could probably agree, is the length. This book isn’t even two hundred pages…crazy, right? And because of that, this odd and fantastical world didn’t feel fleshed out enough. We learn that there are four main areas of worlds, kind of like how we have north, east, south, and west, with worlds in between like Nonsense, Logic, etc. However, because of the short length, I never really fully grasped the worlds. Especially since we only got little snippets of what these worlds contained, like through Nancy’s flashbacks to the underworld type place she went to. And while I think the relationships between characters were well done because since we only see Nancy with these characters within the span of I don’t even know, a few days, a week? Well, because of that, the relationships weren’t going to be super strong. I did want to see more of Nancy and Kade’s relationship though, because I thought they were really good together!

The short length also made the big reveal of the murderer, being the quieter twin, less dramatic. I was still like “huh, wow”, but I only had a few pages to really feel that way. And right after the reveal, a few pages later, Nancy finds her world again and then bam, done. All within what, twenty pages? Luckily, this short length did not make me hate the book or anything, it just made me wish there was a little bit more. Even an extra fifty pages would have been nice, but at the same time I trust that the author thought this was best.

Overall, I do see myself continuing with this series, and would rate this book: 4/5 STARS

Please let me know your thoughts below because I would love to discuss!

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