Books: A true story

I like to read young adult and classic literature and think about them too much and look up random tidbits on google.

Elizabeth Street: A Novel Based On True Events

Elizabeth Street: A novel based on true events - Laurie Fabiano This was one of those books where I had to know what happened. I was reading while I was making dinner, and eating dinner, and when I should have been sleeping. I couldn’t put it down until I knew what happened. I mean, I knew what happened at the end because it’s told in non-chronological order and I knew who died and when. But I couldn’t stop until I knew how it got there. Markus Zusak was right – “Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. It’s the machinations that wheel us there that aggravate, perplex, interest, and astound me.” – quote from The Book Thief.I’m not one to cry, but Giovanna, the main character, was very inspiring. I loved how she found humor in the little details of life. And the tragedy that she faced just tore me up inside. I hope that if I’m ever faced with a family crisis that I would act just like Giovanna. Giovanna fights for her family in so many different ways: with money, literally, for justice, for protection, and, most of all, with love.Great historical fiction makes you feel like this could be your story. And this was great historical fiction. Telling the story across multiple generations was a little confusing at first (I referred to the genealogy chart a LOT), but the whole story made me feel like knowing your anscestors and your past helps you know who you are.I felt like I was living the immigrant life. I could picture the beautiful small town in Italy and how it could sound like a dream home but at the same time understand why so many people left their home and immigrated to America because of the prevalent poverty. And then you get hit with the reality of America that was portrayed as a dream land to the immigrants but the reality was much noisier, crowded, and dangerous.Overall, it was a beautifully told story that left me thinking about family and how it’s the one thing people never stop fighting for. There’s tragedy, the brave honesty of moving on, true love, and a reminder for me to cherish the family I’ve got.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices)

Clockwork Princess - Cassandra Clare This is how a series should end. You should be glued to the pages and so invested about what is going to happen next to these characters. There should be a twist that shocks you so much you feel like whacking your sleeping husband with your kindle so you have SOMEONE to tell at 3 a.m. even if he has no idea what you are talking about. There should also be some melodrama that makes you roll your eyes but you care about the characters so much that you keep reading anyway. And a little cheesiness never killed anyone (In fact, it tastes darn good on bittersweet sometimes). There should be lots of sweet romantic moments that make you go “awwwww.” And that is how you end a love triangle.I do have one teensy complaint. I’m happily reading along and then some random letter out of no where appears. Maybe it was an ebook thing, but it was not very obvious when the narrative ended and when these inserted letters began. The letters were also abrupt and strange and it took a while to see what purpose they served.Clockwork Princess ended exactly how I thought it would….100 pages early. The rest of the ending was fascinating and the epilogue blew me away!!Before I say goodbye to this series, I’d like to give a shout-out to my favorite characters. I want to hug you, Bridget the cook, singer of depressing rhymes. Will and Jem, my favorite duo who are kind of like Sherlock and Watson if Watson was a little more sarcastic and slightly feminine like Will. And Tessa you reading nerd, you are adorable.Overall, it was beautiful, bittersweet, but the perfect way to end this series.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Life in the Pit

Life in the Pit - Kristen Landon Life in the Pit was a cute, quick romance that piqued my interest because the main character is a cellist and I love the cello! The story revolves around a play that isn’t real, but sounds like a mash-up of every Jane Austen novel ever written with a dash of Clue. Brittany is playing in the orchestra pit for the play while her best friend Amanda stars in it. The plot was a little over-dramatic and cheesy sometimes but still entertaining, cute, and fun.Amanda and Brittany felt like frenemies at first. I had one of those in high school. But their relationship grows as the story grows on and I could see that they cared about each other. The boyfriend is cute, impulsive and thoughtful. Brittany is insecure but relatable. And Brittany is a terrible detective. Like laughably bad. But oh well. Brittany really grows by the end of the story and I enjoyed watching her become more confident.It was pretty obvious who the “mystery” sabatoger of the play was, but when I found out the motive it was so bizarre that I was just like…..okay….. I have no words, really.Overall, a fun contemporary romance that was only a little cheesy from a lovely local author of mine.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Taken

Taken - Taken reminded me a little of The Maze Runner - they both had this engrossing quest for answers. The plot delivers on answering a lot of the questions that come up. The story moves quickly and kept me glued to the pages. The interesting world was the strongest part of this book. But, sadly there were a few things that kept me from really loving it.I have mixed feelings about the plot. I loved how it was so fast-paced and surprised me once or twice, even if it had a few minor plot holes. I like fast moving plots in books, but I think this was a rare example of the plot moving too fast. It's amazing the amount of ground this 360 page novel covers. Since so much is happening, there is a lot of "monologuing" if you will (to use a term from The Incredibles). Instead of getting to experience the newly discovered layers of this world, the characters would often have mini-speeches explaining the newest development. Then the characters would immediately act on the new revelations. It made for an addicting and zippy plot, but I found myself missing the fleshed-out little details that would have made the world rich and believable. Sometimes things felt over-explained and sometimes the characters are running for their lives when they feel the need to monologue something new and explain the world a little more. I wanted to strangle all of them and remind them that they should be running for their lives. If this book would have taken it's time with building the world naturally and not skipped over so many details, it would have been an incredible book instead of just an average one. The matriarchal society structure that Gray grew up in was so interesting. I so wish that it had gone into more detail about the society!The main character Gray was so likable at the beginning, but I felt his character progressed into kind of an unforgiving jerk. There were a few cute, romantic moments at the beginning - like them talking about wanting to be like the birds - that were so adorable. But I found the way the love triangle unfolded to be very unappealing. It's possible that I have a gender bias that love triangles are okay for girls and not boys, but I still felt this "love triangle" was more like unfairly dragging two girls along. Another reason I felt Gray was a jerk was when he has to make decisions through the story that could potentially hurt those he cares about, he completely justifies his actions without some much-needed honest indecision. It gave me the impression that he didn't care as much as he said he did.I didn't like some of the language used in the writing. There are a few descriptions of his chest "heaving" when he's attracted to a girl. Gross. And the word "slatings" for dates? That's such a bizarre phrase. The word pairing used later on in the book was much better.Overall, it had a fast-paced action filled plot that was addicting to read, but it was at the expense of building a fleshed-out world. This book started out so strong at the beginning and sadly fizzles out towards the end.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson Take the beautiful, imaginary world of Neverland and make it a literal place where everything is messy and covered in dirt and that is the uninteresting world where Tiger Lily is set. I didn't think it was possible to make Neverland so completely boring. A few magical elements remain like fairies and mermaids but they felt very flat and unoriginal. There's also a poorly explained excuse for why some people get old and some people don't. If you're curious the reason some people don't get old is because it just happens when something important happens in your life for no logical reason whatsoever.The plot felt very been there done that in the way that Avatar was. It's kind of a tired plot line to have new people come and mess everything up for the indigenous people. I also felt like there was nothing new or interesting added to this retelling of Peter Pan. I personally like my retellings to have new twists otherwise what is the point of the retelling? I'm not really sure what the overall conflict even was. It felt like the plot just kind of dragged along with an ending that kind of baffled me. Honestly, the whole book felt a little preachy. There were a few cute scenes between Peter Pan and Tiger Lily but not enough to make me really love this book.The writing was good though it wasn't my favorite. The word choice stood out to me sometimes and felt a little awkward here and there like it was trying too hard to be poetic or something, but there were a few quotes I really liked. Like this one:“I’m not myself,” [Tiger Lily] offered, guilty. . . .“You can never say that. You’re just a piece of yourself right now that you don’t like.”-Jodi Lynn Anderson, Tiger Lily (p. 69)My favorite character by far was Smee who sadly shows up in the book only a few times. The rest of the characters I had a hard time connecting with, especially Tiger Lily and the very strange decision she makes at the end of the book. I honestly found it hard to tell some of the characters apart.Overall, I did not enjoy the world building in this book at all. It had a tired plot line with a cast of characters that I ended up not caring much about.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Peter Pan

Peter Pan - Right away I fell in love with the writing. It was fascinating with it’s deep thoughts one minute, biting sarcasm the next and some very amusing honesty. It’s visual, easy to imagine and I could tell that it was a play first before this novelization came out. And the voice was just bursting with personality. A charming example:If she was too fond of her rubbishy children she couldn’t help it.- J. M. Barrie, Peter and Wendy (p. 131)The whole story is this beautiful blend of imagination and reality. I was a little surprised at how similar the plot was to the Disney version. Disney usually chops those stories up until you can barely recognize them. Although the plot is technically the same, the book had a slightly darker tone than the Disney version. And I had to smile at the few unexpected Shakespeare references.A theme that kept popping up was that children are carefree, innocent, and happy yet heartless. In a way they can’t leave the bad qualities behind without growing up and losing the good ones, too. The fact that Wendy stays away so long is because all children are completely confident that they can do whatever they want and they will still be loved. They are cocky in a way, like Peter. Another thing I found kind of shocking was the casual way in which they talked about killing on Neverland like it was some sort of game. Another example of heartless children. I also found it interesting that most of their make-believe games in Neverland were pretending to do adult things in an innocent and unexperienced way. It’s a harsh truth of childhood that they really can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination. Peter has nightmares that trouble him a lot mostly because they feel real to him. What struck me the most was how brutally honest this book was about childhood. As adults, we tend to forget all the bad things we’ve grown out of and glorify all the good things we miss. It’s bittersweet to look at childhood the way it really is because not all of it is pretty.Tinker Bell’s character was quite saucy, naughty and highly entertaining. She mostly swore which I found kind of funny.Overall, it was a beautifully written story about childhood so full of personality that it truly captured my imagination.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

The Runaway King (Ascendance Trilogy Series #2)

The Runaway King - Jennifer A. Nielsen I read this in one day mainly because I love the main character, Sage. I was able to guess pretty well what was going to happen plot-wise, but Sage's unexpected wit and sarcasm are hugely entertaining. He even did a few things that suprised me on the way. I read this right after the first book, but there is a very well done recap at the beginning if it's been a while since you've read the first book in this series (I love it when author's do that!).Sage is annoying, stubborn and sometimes just plain foolish but I can't help admiring him. Way to go to the author for pulling that off. And I loved seeing the double meaning of the things Sage would say this time around and understanding it. Sage is honest to a fault, but he's terribly smart. In fact, Sage's character reminds me a lot in this book of the Dread Pirate Roberts from Princess Bride. Here's one of my favorite examples of Sage's humor.[Erick] tried again. “Take this sword.”“I want the one I came here with." [said Sage]“Why that one?”“The stones in the handle match my eyes.”-Jennifer A. Nielsen, The Runaway King (p. 161)Overall, this was just a delightful as the first book with a ton of wit and sarcasm that was so fun to read. A page-turner that I couldn't put down.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy Series #1)

The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy Series #1) - What a refreshing fantasy book. Yes, it follows the pattern of traditional fantasy but it didn't take itself too seriously. There was a lot of humor and wit. The very best part of this book is the anti-hero, Sage. He had every characteristic that a hero shouldn't have. And somehow they all came in handy. He was very much a young Han Solo that lived in a kingdom instead of a galaxy far, far away. Sage's character contrasted so well with Tobias, who seemed like the kind of character that would have been the hero in most other fantasy books. Sage is the most well-written character I've read in a long time. Just when you can't take any more snark or cheek from him, he shows an incredibly human side. I adored his character.Honestly, I saw the end coming. The plot seemed somewhat predictable which I usually frown upon, but I still enjoyed the story a lot mainly because of Sage and how utterly fascinating he is. I found as the story came to the end, it had a beautiful, bittersweet tone to it that I wasn't expecting.Another thing I found quite intriguing was the theme about our expectations of people based on how we label them. Do we see certain characteristics as virtues or vices because of the label we've given them?I also loved the little ways that it reminded me of Annie, Aladdin and Pirates of the Caribbean like in the opening scene where Sage is running through the streets being chased by guards because he stole some meat.Overall, though it had a slightly predictable plot, it was a sensational and entertaining fantasy book with a stunning main character that you shouldn't miss.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder (Missionary Reference Library)

Marvelous Work and a Wonder - LeGrand Richards A Marvelous Work and a Wonder is an explanation of Mormonism in an outline format. It uses a lot of Bible passages to explain what we believe. It was a nice way to show what Mormons believe with an emphasis on logical arguments. I enjoyed reading it and learning more about my religion.

Bullies (Urban Hunters)

Bullies (Urban Hunters) - Gary Taaffe Another fun short story in the Urban Hunters series. I really liked how we got to learn a little more about Billy and Amber and their personalities. We get to see their relationship grow in little, adorable ways. But I really struggled with the conflict in this one. It just didn’t feel real to me that an adult, no matter how angry, would actually try to physically harm young kids. I mean it was cool that we got to see Amber and Billy take care of themselves, but if I’m supposed to see this guy as a sympathetic character afterwords, it just didn’t work for me. But way to go girl power for Amber! And there was some great humor at the end.Overall, there’s some cute moments at the beginning and fun humor at the end, but the conflict just didn’t work for me this time.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Darth Plagueis (Star Wars)

Darth Plagueis (Star Wars) - James Luceno When I first saw this book at the store, I was beyond excited to read it. I knew right away it would be filled with awesome backstory from the prequels and I wasn’t disappointed. The writing was wonderful. It sucked you in with it’s eery tone and deep thoughts. There were so many interesting revelations that gave some new meaning to a few of the elements from the prequels. For example, it goes into a little more detail of midi-chlorians and what they are. In fact, it even goes into quite a lot of detail about what Darth Plagueis learns about the prolonging life through dark side which ironically, his apprentice doesn’t learn. One delightful surprise was seeing Palpatine as a teen. And his story wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. In fact, it’s the backstory that I thought Anakin had until the prequels came out. I loved that we also get to see a lot of familiar characters show up in unexpected ways.It was also very fascinating to read about Sith training and compare it to Jedi training. Sometimes the dark side in the Sith training was very subtle. Sometimes the dark side was manipulative. And sometimes the dark side was violent and disturbing. The biggest contrast I saw in Sith training was the complete lack of trust and faith that is the standard for Jedi training.The plot towards the end got a little confusing since I couldn’t keep track of who was killing who and who was getting revenge on who for what reason any more. I suppose it wasn’t terribly important, but I felt left out from what was going on for a while.Overall, it was one of those deep books that made me think – especially about the nature of evil. The characters, new and old, were well-rounded and interesting. The plot and the rich backstory for the Star Wars prequels had me loving this book.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Reached (Matched Trilogy Series #3)

Reached (Matched Trilogy Series #3) - More poetic writing from the lovely Ally. In the final book of the Matched trilogy, we get a lot of questions answered, like how Cassia became immune to the red tablet. But Ally doesn’t answer everything which is what makes this book stick with me. In fact, when she signed my book she wrote “Remember – it’s all right to wonder…” I’m still wondering about the Otherlands…We also get to learn where the Rising came from. Each of the narrators work in a different part of the Rising so we can see all sides of it. I felt like there was more plot in this book than the other two in the series. I flew through this book in only 3 days (which is fast for me). This is not a fast, action-filled plot but I loved how it still surprised me along the way.All of the characters are reaching for something. Some of them make it and some of them don’t. I loved how significant the title was to the whole story. The colors red, green, and blue are woven throughout the narrative, tying the whole thing together in a beautiful way. ”I realize now how much courage it takes to choose the life you want, whatever it might be.” – Ally Condie, Reached pg 471Cassia doesn’t defeat the Society in a huge, explosive way. She defeats it in a very subtle and personal way which I found very moving.Overall, a beautifully written dystopian full of depth that I enjoyed.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Pivot Point

Pivot Point - The world in Pivot Point seems like the kind of world that Lois Lowry would write about. It seems contemporary but there is a small paranormal twist to the whole thing. And by paranormal I mean “real” paranormal mind powers and not like werewolves and vampires and crap like that. Everyone has mental abilities and powers in the small world Addie lives in.Addie is faced with a choice of continuing to live where everyone has mental abilities or living in the “normal” world. You get to see each of the choices play out in alternating chapters. It was absolutely fascinating to read.This whole book was written with a lot of personality. I liked the dictionary definitions at the beginning of each chapter. They were funny, witty and gave clues to which reality the chapter was about. I’m convinced that Kasie West is a genius. She doesn’t just tell two completely different versions of the future – she intertwines them in very clever ways. I couldn’t put this book down all the way until the perfect, heart-wrenching ending.The characters were all very well done. Her best friend, Laila, is snarky but likable. And Addie is my definition of a hero – brave, honest, and willing to sacrifice to keep the ones she loves safe.Do not read this book alone – you will want someone to talk to after you are done with it. Witty, perfect, awesome – a must read. My only complaint – I have to wait for book two.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

The Last Jedi: Star Wars

The Last Jedi - Michael Reaves, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff The Last Jedi is about Jax, one of the few surviving Jedi from Order 66. Jax is part of a budding rebellious uprising against the Empire called Whiplash and he’s on a secret mission to move a Whiplash leader to safety. This book felt like one of those dreams that no matter how hard you try to run, you’re just not getting anywhere. I felt that way because the writing was either choppy or tended towards info-dumping which slowed down the pace a lot for the first half of the book. It also took me a while to read, but you know me – I can’t quit a story because the ending might be good. Luckily, about half-way through I was right and the plot starts to pick up and get interesting. I enjoyed the ending that was action-packed and full of tension. But I was a little disappointed that in a book called “The Last Jedi” the Jedi doesn’t die at the end. Maybe I’m morbid. I kept thinking “And then he dies. He DIES. When is Vader going to kill him? What kind of book is this?” Also, since my reviews are technically spoiler free, maybe he does die. I’m not telling.While a lot of the novel felt original, I also saw a lot of tired and over-used story elements from the Star Wars universe. For example, a protocol droid’s head falls off but he won’t stop yapping and oh, look, they are running from Vader’s ship and then they get boarded by him. Although there were some tired plot elements here and there, I really enjoyed learning about the alien race called the Cephalons that could see the future in their own, unique way.I have a few other small bones to pick. Like a drug that enhances force abilities – really? I don’t buy it. The alien races were hardly described at all. I don’t need a huge description each time someone new enters, but I would like to have a small idea of what they look like.I know it sounds like I didn’t like this book, but the characters were enjoyable. Geri was an adorable orphan who loves to build droids. And Jax was a very likable main character who grows a lot throughout the story. The humor was very good and even had the classic joke “I have a bad feeling about this.”Overall, it was an average Star Wars novel that took me a while to get into and felt like it had a lot of recycled story elements. But the ending was a great, action-packed, tension-filled ride that made up for some of it’s faults.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Incarnate

Incarnate - Incarnate is about a girl named Ana who lives in a world full of people that always get reincarnated except for her. She’s never been born before and frankly no one knows where the crap she came from. And no one likes her either. It sounds like an exciting start to a book which is why I was so surprised that I found this book slow and the characters boring. Sam was the most boring character of all. Apparently being 5000 years old makes you dreadfully dull. He seems to have no faults, he never gets surprised or shows emotion to anything until almost the end of the book, but by then it was too late because I could have cared less about him. The plot did not have much going on. A lot of the story focuses on Ana and Sam’s relationship which would have been interesting if I had cared about Sam. There is a very anti-climactic fight scene but in the grand sceme of things, nothing really happens.This book would have gotten 2 stars if the ending hadn’t been good. We finally get some interesting conflict towards the end. I thought the idea of living walls was very new and creative and also creepy. I was full of questions and theories by the time I closed the book, so I will most likely be picking up the rest of the books in the series eventually. My biggest question that was conveniently never brought up was if animals were reincarnated, too. This led to my theory that I have. I think that Ana used to be a butterfly. Like, literally a butterfly.Overall, this was one of those books that redeems itself at the end with some interesting conflict and ideas, but I had to plow through 300 pages of boring Sam to get there.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

Oh No She Didn't: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them

Oh No She Didn't: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them - Clinton Kelly I’m a bookish person who wants to dress better. So what do I do? Read a book about dressing better. I knew more than I thought I would as I was reading it, but I still learned a few style tips. There were pictures for every single example, so this 200 page book is about half as long as it looks and I read it in an hour. It is my New Year’s Resolution to not end up in this book. Clinton Kelly swears a lot and is kind of judgmental, but the whole book was mostly entertaining. I thought it was funny most of the time, but he could be over dramatic.My favorite funny quote:“If you are actively participating in a step class . . . I might be able to tolerate [cross-trainers]. But you’re not. You’re at the mall! You’re at the airport! You’re at the dentist! You are everywhere except at the gym!” – pg 67 HardcoverHere’s a few of the things I want to incorporate into my style:*Mom Jeans = High-waisted, light-wash, taper-leg jeans. It’s nice to have an official definition.*The shoe sets the tone for the outfit. (I need to get better shoes.)*Four rules to make an outfit interesting- color, texture, pattern, and shine.*Have different jeans for different shoe heights. (What. Now I need more jeans)*To start a wardrobe, get a black pencil skirt, gray trousers, dark-wash jeans, khakis, and white walking shorts. Then get colorful and interesting tops.*Dress criteria – v-neck, high, defined waist, and a flared skirt to the knee.Overall, it was a good, fast way to learn some basic style rules, but I’m glad I got it at the library instead of buying it.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story

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