We Are Okay — Review

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Christmas break has begun, and the students have all gone home, but Marin has chosen to spend the holiday all alone in her college dorm. Orphaned when her grandfather died last summer, Marin not only has no place to go, but isn’t sure she wants to return to the home they shared in San Francisco. Staying in New York keeps the ghosts at bay, and helps Marin keep from slipping back into the emotional abyss she fell into when she discovered her grandfather was gone.

But New York is so much colder than California, and while snow is pretty, it’s a bit much for a girl raised near beaches and sun. And now that her best friend, Mabel, has come to visit, Marin finds herself facing some tough questions. Will she stay in New York or come back to California? And, if she does return, who exactly will she be?

Told in chapters that alternate between the present and the summer prior to Marin’s coming to college, this novel explores the events leading up to her grandfather’s tragic death and the subsequent grief she chooses to navigate on her own. While Marin and her grandfather had lived together since her mother died when she was three, the two navigated in separate circles that overlapped in the shared center space of their home. Marin does not question the fact that she has never entered her grandfather’s bedroom or study, nor has he ever ventured into her rooms at the front of the house. She simply believes it is because they both like their privacy, and doesn’t think the arrangement odd until her friends question why she doesn’t even know how many bedrooms her home contains.

This separation and the revelation of several secrets Marin discovers after her grandfather dies leaves her not only grieving his death, but questioning their relationship and whether she ever even knew who her grandfather was. In addition, Marin must face the fact that she had been deeply lonely her entire life, and that she is worthy of the love and support Mabel and her family continue to offer her.

This novel, which was selected as the 2018 Printz award winner by the Young Adult Library Services Association, is a very strong novel that I would recommend to any teen reader.

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The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom – Review

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a very entertaining twist on four fairy tale stories:  Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel. It describes the four Prince Charmings and their backstories, and how they all became, well, Prince Charming. Of course, everything has to go wrong. How else will the four princes learn how to save their kingdoms?

Christopher Healy created a world where everything about these “normal” fairy tales is lopsided, in the most hilarious ways. The princes and princesses are endearing characters who happen to mess up, well, a lot, and you can’t help but love them for it.

The main characters are:  Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rapunzel. Or, rather: Prince Liam, Princess Briar, Prince Frederic, Ella, Prince Duncan, Princess Snow, Prince Gustav, and Rapunzel. (I suppose Ella and Rapunzel are princesses – the book changes that up a little. Makes it more fun that way!).  All of these highly impressive characters eventually run into each other and become an unlikely band of heroes, striving to set wrongs right.

I really enjoyed this book and the rest of the series. I love fairy tales with creative turns, and I have to say, this is one of the better ones. It doesn’t go much into the actual saving of the princesses, but more into the “happily ever after” that the tales never include. The series tells of the group’s subsequent adventures and their path to becoming real heroes.

The other books in the series are The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw and The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle, also by Christopher Healy.

I would give this book – probably the series – a 4.25. It was very entertaining, creative, and detailed; my only complaint is that sometimes it was a little too detailed, leaving the plot behind a little. There were just a few scenes that got a little boring. Otherwise, I loved the series, the characters, the storyline, the humor, everything!

Jingo

 

 

In Jingo by Terry Pratchett, tensions are running high between the rival cities of Ankh- Morpork and Klatch, and it’s all over an island that has appeared in the ocean, right in the middle of the two cities. As the dispute rages, war is imminent. That’s a problem, because even though Ankh-Morpork is a rich city, the money is owned by the people. And the people got the money by selling weapons to Klatch.

So it’s up to Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork Watch to stop this crime called “war”, by any means possible. He must use new technology, like Leonard of Quirm’s “boat that goes underwater” (if he doesn’t, he will suddenly find that he is no longer living) to discover what’s really behind everything.

In “the boat that goes underwater”,  they discover that Jingo is a strange island. For one thing, it floats. And it’s appeared before. What’s more, it has a city on it- but the city looks wrong, as if it was built by people who had no idea how, but tried anyway. Can Commander Vimes of the City Watch and the Patrician, tyrant of Ankh-Morpork, stop the war in time? Find out by reading Jingo!

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms is the fifth installment of the Throne of Glass series written by Sarah J. Maas. This novel follows the main character Aelin Galathynius and the viewpoint of many others imperative to the plot and looming war. The different points of view make Aelin fall into the shadows more and allow her to do things that the reader wouldn’t expect, which I quite liked. With writing many different points of view, you often find that the plot went dry, a certain point of view was boring, or it just wasn’t needed to advance the story, yet Maas was able to avoid this by adding layers and interesting plots to add lovable depth to each character. The way the paths of each character intertwined was fun to follow, and if their stories had not been developed properly throughout the series I would have found myself overwhelmed with the amount of characters.

Maas’ writing is beautiful and dramatic, which works wonderfully with the high fantasy genre. She can create such vivid scenes and creatures throughout her series such as the wyverns and the different geographical locations. The map at the beginning of the book was very helpful, and the sheer length of the series allowed us to explore nearly every part of Erilea (the novella The Assassin’s Blade also helps with this and additional back story that I would recommend reading before the first book Throne of Glass so you can understand a few subtle references placed throughout the series) and I often found myself thinking as the characters would to predict where the best place for them to go next would be.

Despite the charm of her series, I do find that when the story slows down, it really slows. I would find myself painfully trying to read through a chapter or two until I gave up and set the book down for a month or two. These slow parts aren’t usually that long, and I was probably a bit impatient as some of my friends got through the book without having to stop. When the slow parts are over, Empire of Storms becomes incredibly fast paced and intense. The final one hundred pages were the most enjoyable and action packed for reasons I can’t reveal for sake of spoilers.

Empire of Storms has lots of romance to accompany the action, which is good, but I found myself a bit upset that every single one of her characters had to be in romantic relationships, even the ones that seemed best single or good friends with each other. The book does have a warning on it for explicit scenes and although there are only two, it’s worth mentioning if you aren’t a fan of that or a younger reader.

Overall, this was an entertaining, action packed book that really built up anticipation for the war and fear for beloved characters that will be front and center in the final installation Kingdom of Ash coming October 23rd, 2018. The next book in the series is called Tower of Dawn which follows Chaol, who wasn’t present in Empire of Storms. I have not read this book yet but will review it when I do.

I would rate Empire of Storms a 7.5 / 10.

The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle Book Review

 

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Hello readers!

My name is Rachel and today and in my next few posts, I am going to review Rick Riordan’s Trials Apollo series.  First off, if you have not read his original Percy Jackson series and the Heroes of Olympus follow up series, then please do so and come back, since there are many spoilers to those series in both this review and the Apollo books themselves. 

        To start, in this series is the book that Riordan set off with, The Hidden Oracle.  I would highly recommend this book and here’s why.  In this book, Riordan creates a wonderful new spinoff using the fact that the god Apollo has angered his father Zeus, in the last book of the Heroes of Olympus group, and because of this has turned human and is now enslaved to a little girl named Meg.  He uses this idea to run wild with a new danger to Earth and a whole new character.  I believe this helps the book in creating a concept that is not boring since it is a fresh idea.  Looking at the plot, the problem that is presented is the fact that all of Apollo’s oracles are not functioning in the way they should because three evil emperors have captured them under the order of Python, an ancient snake.  This creates a sense of suspense in that the reader, knowing how selfish and kind of wimpy Apollo is, questions if Apollo can defeat them.   The first emperor they run into is Nero at Camp Half-Blood.  Not going to go into too much detail, as that would spoil the book.😬  The fact that this is set in a familiar place(Camp Half-Blood) shows two things: one, is the sense of familiarity in the readers’ minds; two, is  the after effects of the huge war v. Gaea, and creates some side things that will stress Apollo out, but also leaves some closure to the other series.  Similarly to this, he also cameos old characters from previous books and further evolves their personalities and lives, giving them a better conclusion and many old questions about certain myths are answered.  Lastly a simple note to his change in writing style.  I have talked to people about this and not many people noticed it.  In his original series and even the Kaine Chronicles, he establishes a serious tone but uses jokes to make it light hearted.  In the terrible and stressful times he remains serious and doesn’t make too many corny jokes and a lot less frequently than in normal times.  This contrasts to his new series which have more of a goofy feel to them and creates the silliest of jokes during both sad and serious moments.  This doesn’t, however, change the quality of these books.  That being said, this could be his style or the fact that this is a first person story of a new character. 

       Well to sign off I will say I hope you read this, as it is a great book and if you still need more convincing then I will also review the other books in the series in future posts. Please note that more books will be coming out in the future! 🤩Thanks for reading, Rachel.

The Runaway King – Review

book cover for "The Runaway King" - a broken sword on a green background

The Runaway King is the second book in the Ascendance Trilogy.

Jaron has just barely become king when an assassination attempt forces him to begin making plans. As pressure mounts on his shoulders, he finally concludes that deserting the kingdom is likely his only chance to save it. Or, in other words, going to the Avenian Pirates is the only lead he has on how to begin saving his country. Resuming his old identity of Sage, he is forced into dangerous situations in hopes of pulling off a miraculous save. Jaron must face his past, learn his friends from foes, and who he truly can trust, or more correctly, who he cannot.

I really enjoyed this book. Jaron is the sort of character that you love and cannot help but be driven up the wall by at the same time. This new adventure is full of exactly the sort of ridiculous things I could see him doing, and he does them perfectly. Or not perfectly, I guess, but incredibly well, given what the actions themselves are. He is hilarious and determined to save the day,  no matter the personal cost.

I would give this a 4.6/5. Jaron is determined to save everyone and everything, and this book shows that determination perfectly.

Edenbrooke – Review

Edenbrooke book cover: girl in a long dress standing in an orchard, above a picture of a historic estate

Edenbrooke is definitely one of my favorite books. The perfect blend of adventure, daydream, action, romance and humor makes it a book worth reading again and again.

Marianne Daventry is a witty young woman living in Bath with her grandmother after her mother passed away while her father is grieving. She is a proper young lady-in-the-making, and an unwilling one at that as she would much prefer horse riding or painting or simply twirling in the countryside, with its natural beauty spinning all around her.

Marianne’s twin, Cecily, was sent to stay with their cousin in London, and asked Marianne to come visit her on her quest to become “Lady Cecily” by making the rich brother of her friend fall in love with her.

While Marianne doesn’t care much for the romance part, and is a little skeptical of the fact that she would be any help on this quest, she is elated at the chance to leave the confines of Bath and escape an unwanted suitor’s relentless attentions.

Unfortunately, a few things do not quite go as planned. Marianne soon finds herself in quite the unexpected adventure of the heart, mind and wits and struggles to keep on her toes.

This is a truly humorous, sentimental and clever romance book that keeps the reader interested in the plot and greatly entertained.  I definitely recommend Edenbrooke as more than a love story, but an intriguing and entertaining must read romance novel for romantics who love to have a good adventure brewing in the background.

I would give Edenbrooke a 4.8 out of 5 review.