The Reading Quest Update #2 + Reviews

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I proudly participated in my first reading challenge this past month, and I feel as if I was pretty successful!! I took part in #TheReadingQuest hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight. It ran from August 13 to September 10. (Yesterday, I know). You got to pick one of four characters to be and follow their reading path. I chose to be the Knight, and you can read all about my book reading decisions in my sign up post!

Final Update:

EXP: 60

HP: 183

Total Points: 243

Level: 2

Total Pages Read: 1716

Number of books read: 5 (and a quarter…)

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (First book in a series)
  • Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland (Book with a verb in the title)
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (Book with a weapon on the cover)
  • I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (Book with a red cover)
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Book with movie adaptation)
  • Because You Love to Hate Me by Ameriie (Potions- two or more authors)

 

Reviews:

16069030The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

  • It took me a really long time to read this book, hence my being behind in the challenge.
  • It was good, but not a favorite.
  • Kestrel was pretty interesting, as was their society. (The world building was probably the best part). She was a piano player, and the general’s daughter. Her mind was sharp, but in their society, she is expected to be a good fighter.
  • So, she buys a slave? I’m not really sure why she did that, nor is it ever clarified throughout the story.
  • Arin is her new slave, and he has a secretive, mysterious past. I liked him, but he was kind of boring at first. I needed more from him.
  • Many of the characters have the potential to be great, but they often fell short. I just wasn’t connected the way I would like to be. I DID enjoy how many of them were not who they seemed. That added a much needed aspect to the book.
  • The book grew more interesting as it went on, as more things are happening and being revealed and twisted into crazy plots.
  • I actually did not like the ending. I found it to be boring and drawn out. Much of what was happening was not vital to the story, and it just made the book longer.
  • All in all, I like the book, but I would not call it a favorite. I might continue with series if the opportunity presents itself.

 

a_wrinkle_in_time_digest_2007A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

  • P.S. I know there is not a movie currently, but it is coming very soon, and now I am super excited!!!
  • I would have considered this to be a classic, so I did not know it was more of a middle grade book. That said, I really liked it!
  • It was totally not what I was expecting, though I’m not sure what I was expecting. It was a bit strange, but the story was really fun.
  • We’ve got a genius 5 year old boy, whom I would LOVE to know in real life. His name is Charles Wallace, like that’s his first name. So sophisticated.
  • The main character, Meg, sounds like your classic nerdy middle schooler, fully equipped with glasses and braces and a knack for mathematics. (AKA me and her would have been BFFs in middle school).
  • There are these three crazy ladies who lead the kids around on and insane adventure to find their father.
  • Oh, I forgot about Calvin! He was pretty cool, too, and he seemed smart as well.
  • All of the characters were fantastic! They completely made the book what it is. Though the plot and setting were really great as well.
  • Generally, their newfound universe is basically insane. There are some majorly crazy things going in the various places the kids go, and I found it a bit strange at first. After a while, I began to enjoy the craziness that is A Wrinkle in Time.
  • If you have not read this book and like science fiction or fantasy, GO READ IT before the movie comes out!!

 

Because You Love to Hate Me by Ameriie

This is not actually a review because I have only read 96 pages so far. It is a bunch of short stories, and some have been better than others. I am really excited for the one by Marissa Meyer, though! Maybe I’ll get a full review done when I have finished…

If you participated in #TheReadingQuest, how did you do? Have you read any of the books that I chose? Are you excited for the A Wrinkle in Time Movie?

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The Reading Quest Update + Reviews

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Hello, hello! We are halfway (and a litte more) through #TheReadingQuest hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight, and I think I’m doing pretty good! I’m sure there are people reading far more than me, but considering the speed in which I usually read, I’m quite happy. (During this Quest, I am reading each book in about four days, when usually it would take me over a week with school going on.)

I have really enjoyed the books that I have chosen so far and have been able to keep up with my original schedule. I have read three books so far: Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, and I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter. I am currently reading The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, but unfortunately I am a little behind. If you’re interested in what I plan on reading for the rest of the Quest, check out my sign-up post!

Update:

Overall EXP: 40

Overall HP: 115

Current Level: 1

All of this is according to the info I have entered into this lovely spreadsheet created by Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews. (Thank you sooo much, Lauren, for creating such a helpful tool in my reading adventure!!) Also, don’t judge for my rather low level/EXP, I am doing this for FUN, and I am not concerned about the points!

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Reviews:

25669098Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller

  • I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I had been anticipating it for quite a while, but it was better than I imagined it would be!
  • I included this book in my Top Ten Tuesday post about Star Wars read-a-likes, but I was not aware of the extent of their similarities. I found Shadow Run to be very VERY similar to Star Wars, which is not a bad thing. There is an ominous force controlling people, a rogue pilot with an awesome ship, adventurous royalty, similarly dressed guards, and even light saber like weapons!
  • Qole was a really awesome pilot, and I would have loved to be a member of her crew. Even though the work they did with Shadow (a mysterious substance that can poison people) was rather dangerous.
  • I don’t know how to pronounce Qole, but I keep saying it in my head like “Cole”.
  • All the members of Qole’s crew were really cool, and they all had mysteriously complex backstories. They seemed very real and each played an important role in the story. I love complex minor characters, as they add depth and personality to the story.
  • And next we have Nev. Interesting, strangely knowledgeable Nev. There’s not really a whole lot I can say about him that won’t spoil the book, but he was a pretty cool character. I kind of didn’t like him at first, but by the end he was tied for favorite (with Qole of course).
  •  Now, Qole and Nev had an interesting relationship. There was no “insta-love” or anything like that, and it seemed they didn’t really like each other at all for a while. The story wasn’t focused on romance, which was kind of nice. (Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance, but sometimes it’s refreshing to have something without.)
  • I loved their universe! It was very Star Wars-y and full of multiple planet systems. They traveled through space several times, which sounds kind of fun! Each planet was described differently, so I felt I was right there, too!
  • The universe had a lot of history that was hinted at, but never really expanded upon. Maybe we can get more of that in the next book.
  • In the end, I loved it!! Shadow Run is a really fun, fast moving sci-fi book for fans of all kinds!

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny15749186 Han

  • I have been wanting to read this one for some time now, and The Reading Quest was the perfect opportunity!
  • It focuses on Lara Jean and some of the boys that she has “loved” before… hence the title. She has written, but not mailed, a letter to each of them, and someone somehow mails them without her knowing.
  • One of the boys who receives a letter, Pete, is the local popular guy, while another is her sister’s boyfriend AKA their neighbor.
  • Now, I didn’t really like Pete. He was just kind of a jerk. He seemed to be your stereotypical jock who doesn’t really care about anyone but himself. Fortunately, he’s changing, which is good.
  • I personally was rooting for the neighbor, Josh. He was nicer and cuter and generally better than Pete.
  • Boys aside, Lara Jean has two sisters, both of whom are really awesome! One of them has gone away to college, but the younger one is still around to bother Lara Jean and do what sisters do. The three of them had such a wonderful relationship! It would be wonderful to have sisters like that, who always care about you and will always have fun.
  • Their dad was pretty cool, too, even though he was very much your typical book dad. He loved his daughters and made sure they were taken care of.
  • Overall, the characters were a bit meh personality wise, but it was still a good book! I still felt for Lara Jean and wanted to her to be happy!

 

28646502I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

  • Hello, secret spy school! Cammie has such an awesome school full of secret passages and interesting classes.
  • Other than the school, Cammie has two wonderful best friends. They each have personalities as vivid as Cammie’s, and they are important to her work and the story.
  • I really liked both Liz and Bex, whom are both fun, lively, and wonderful friends. The three of them work extremely well together, and I love when best friends are included in books and are given an important role in the story.
  • Cammie’s mom is really cool, too, as she is also a spy. She is the headmistress of the school, yet she always takes time to eat dinner and chill with her daughter. She has the best of intentions, and clearly loves Cammie.
  • Josh is a bit stereotypical and boring, but I still want the best for him and Cammie. (Wow, I didn’t realize I read two books with a love interest named Josh!)
  • He is showing her what it’s like to have a normal life, even though he doesn’t exactly know that he is.
  • Overall, I enjoyed this book! It was fun and interesting, given the spy school aspect. I loved the involvement of best friends and a loving mom!

 

If you’re participating in #TheReadingQuest, how are you doing? Have you read and enjoyed any of these books? Let me know what you think!

Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Image result for defy the starsDefy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction, Action/Adventure

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.


I am a huge fan of Claudia Gray’s A Thousand Pieces of You (and the rest of the trilogy). It is beautiful and captivating, and I expected nothing less from Defy the Stars. Though I really enjoyed the book, I was a bit underwhelmed. By no means was it bad, I just had really high expectations, many of which were still met.

Characters

I will start by mentioning that the book was written in third person, which I am not a fan of. I feel it leaves you disconnected from the characters and less immersed in their world. THAT SAID, I really liked Noemi and Abel. Ironically, Abel seemed to be more lifelike and have more emotion than Noemi, even though he was a mech (their term for an android or human like robot). At times, I would forget that he wasn’t a human. Now that is good writing!

Noemi had her emotional times, but she was very reserved. I just needed a little more to connect with, to make me want her to succeed. I still really liked her personality, though. She was extremely tough and willing to fight for what she believed. That’s admirable, I want to see a girl who’s not afraid to put forth some effort and make a difference, especially one in Noemi’s circumstances. I really liked how she was always willing to do what was necessary.

Finally, Noemi and Abel made a great pair! They worked very well together and learned many, many things from each other. For Abel, it was that humans are far more complex than he ever imagined. Noemi discovered that mechs were more than just artificial intelligence and battle strategies. I did begin to see Noemi grow and progress as the story went on. I felt she became more likable.

“Your soul is bigger than your programming.”

 

Plot & Storyline

Noemi has a specific number of days to complete her mission, and I found that to provide a sense of time to the story. Sometimes books don’t provide the reader with any idea as to how fast time is passing, and you can think that only a day has passed when really it has been a month. And boom! You’ve been left in the dust! But here, I was right alongside Noemi and Abel flying through space.

(*This could be a minor spoiler, but it’s not life changing or anything. Proceed at your own risk!*) Throughout the story, Noemi and Abel travel to all of the different planets in their system. Each one added a little something to the story that wasn’t there before, which kept it moving forward. They meet new people and gain a new reason for continuing with their plan. At times, I wished we could just get on with the rest of the book, but each stop made the story the way it was, and it wouldn’t be the same without them.

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Themes

I found two huge themes in this book: fight for what you believe and be true to yourself. Noemi was powerful and unafraid of doing what she believed was right. She was not going to stray from her plan or do anything to jeopardize it. She was strong and independent and knew exactly what she wanted and how to get it.

Abel spent much of his life being loyal to his creator, but he learns to believe in himself. To me, that is far more important than obeying someone else. He begins to trust his instincts and go beyond his programming and do what is right. Together, Noemi and Abel are basically unstoppable.

“We are this world. Its next generation. If you’re not trying to save us, then what exactly are you trying to save?”

Overview

I found Defy the Stars to be really great! It had many elements of science fiction and outer space. Noemi and Abel became wonderful characters that evolved throughout the story. Their world is incredibly captivating and very well written. You will be sucked in after the first page, and unable to let go even after the story is over! A book about humanity and finding your purpose in a universe filled with destruction, there’s nothing better!

Chat with me! What did you think of Defy the Stars? Have you read any of Gray’s other works?

Spring Bullet Reviews

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Hello everyone, and happy spring! I have been meaning to do this post for a really long time now, and I am finally getting around to it. It is a compilation of mini reviews (aka bullet reviews, because BULLET POINTS) of several books that I have read in the past few months. Hopefully you can find even more books to add to your TBR or discover a new opinion on something you have already read.

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Replica by Lauren Oliver

  • First, I loved the uniqueness of the two-in-one thing. It really made for a fun reading experience! (I did get tired of flipping it over after a while though)
  • I chose to read it in alternating chapters from Gemma and Lyra’s points of view, though I have heard the stories can be read in any order or combination of alternating views.
  • I really enjoyed the characters! They were all individual and contributed something unique to the story.
  • Things were constantly happening! I was never bored at any point in the book. There was always something going on that kept the story moving forward.
  • Also, Lauren Oliver’s writing is generally just really great, and it makes the stories even better!
  • There were tons of plot twists and unexpected surprises. (That’s one reason I would suggest reading it in alternating chapters, because they go at the same pace, and reading one may spoil the other perspective for you.)
  • The whole concept was great, with the mysterious Haven Institute and its ties to each character.
  • Overall, a really great, captivating read! Here is the excerpt if you are interested!

 

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Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

  • I am a really big fan of Brendan and Kathy Reichs’ Virals series, so I was eager to read this one.
  • I maybe had my expectations a little too high, but I still enjoyed the book.
  • It had a lot of twists and turns that I did NOT see coming. There was one especially big one (in my opinion), but I will not say any more than that…
  • I did not really seem to connect with the characters all that much. Min just seemed very distant and unrelatable, Tack was more like the underappreciated childhood friend, and Noah would change his views constantly.
  • THAT SAID, I still liked all of them, I just was not as connected as I would like to be. However, Ethan and Sarah just got on my nerves. I know they are supposed to be like the “bad guys,” but I just didn’t enjoy their presence at all.
  • I sometimes would get confused about whose point of view I was reading (Min or Noah), and I would have liked to see more of a difference in their styles.
  • As I mentioned earlier, there are a ton of different things going on and many, many twists and turns. It had an interesting plot that kept me waiting to see what was coming next.
  • I mentioned a lot of negative aspects, but I really did like the story! It was not similar to anything I have read, and it was enjoyable!
  • Check out the description!

 

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

  • This has been on my TBR forever, and I finally decided to pick it up.
  • I’m super glad that I did, because this book is really light, fun, and creative.
  • First, I was surprised by the element of dystopian. I did not know that their world was based upon a caste system and interesting history, fully equipped with rebels and battle scenes.
  • The romance was blended nicely with the dystopian, and it made for a unique combination.
  • I really liked all of the characters! They were all really fun and enjoyable. Especially May, America’s younger sister. She always made me happy!
  • America starts out with this really great, loving, kind boyfriend named Aspen. WELL let’s just say The Selection happens and Aspen is not quite so great anymore.
  • Enter the wonderful Prince Maxon!
  • He is so adorable! Like, he’s very intelligent and prince-like, but he’s also funny and provides a fresh perspective for America.
  • I enjoyed their relationship and America’s relationship with the other girls in the Selection.
  • Overall, I’m glad that I started this series, and I hope the rest is just as amazing! It’s such a fun, likable read!
  • Here’s the blurb!
  • I have also finished The Elite and The One as of right now, and I have the next two ready to go!

 

Have you read any of these books? If so, did you enjoy them? Do you ever have the need for a book that is just a simple, fun read?

Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab23299512

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: July 5, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Monsters of Verity, book 1

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I picked out This Savage Song for an independent reading project for school thinking that it couldn’t be terrible. I was quite pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I have not read any books by Victoria Schwab, so I did not really know what to expect. Her writing style is different from what I am used to, but I began to really like it and the characters.

Writing & Plot

I really enjoyed the book, however it started out a bit boring. Personally, I am not a huge fan of books written in third person, and this one was. That was probably part of why I had trouble getting in to it. Once I got used to it, though, I really started to appreciate all of the details and imagery.

The actual story itself did not pick up for a while, either. I was really confused for a while, and did not really know what was going on. There was no explanation of the types of monsters, the characters’ backgrounds, or the history of their city, Verity (unless I just missed it, which is quite possible). More solid information was given later on, but the beginning was confusing.

On a more positive note, I noticed that August would recall things that were mentioned beforehand, and the exact words would be in italics. It really felt like you could feel his thoughts and feelings, even though it was in third person. The words used were powerful and raw, exposing the characters’ emotions. I always love a book that makes you feel exactly what the characters are feeling, whether it be happy, sad, or something in between.

“Suddenly normal felt so far away. It was a cruel trick of the universe, thought August, that he felt human only after doing something monstrous. Which made him wonder if that brief glimpse of humanity was really just an illusion, an echo of the life he’d taken. An impostor sensation. Leo’s voice came to him, simple and steady. This is what you do. What you are.  Ilsa’s rose to meet it. Find the good in it.

 

Characters

The book follows two main characters, August and Kate. They meet at school, in unconventional circumstances. Kate is feared by many of the students, due to her father and many of the rumors that surround their family. August goes by another name, Freddie, so he is not recognized by anyone dangerous.

Kate is a very tough, determined character. She wants to prove herself to her father, who is ruthless and extremely powerful over the North side of Verity. I found her a little unrelatable at first, because she seemed very destructive and unwilling to follow rules. Later, though, her true motives are revealed, and she simply wants to be loved and accepted by her father. I really felt for her after that, and wanted her to find her way in the world without feeling the need to impress others.

August is a Sunai, the most mysterious of the three types of monster. There are only three Sunai, August and his brother and sister. He desperately wants to find a path that doesn’t involve being a monster and doing monsterly things. He wishes to be human and live a normal life. His father is in control of South Verity, so his brother works for the FTF, a military-like group that protects the town from the monsters.

August is an extremely lovable character; he’s cute and really relatable despite him being a monster. He has a simple goal in life: to be normal and accepted (which I thought was a prominent theme, so it will be discussed below). Of course, nearly everyone can relate to that. I was rooting for him throughout the book and wanted him to make peace with himself.

Many of the “background” characters were pleasant and had more important roles than I originally thought. Ilsa was very interesting, while Leo was tough and a bit rough around the edges (maybe in the middle too…). I enjoyed Ilsa’s unique and wise personality. She added a nice touch of feminine flair that would have been lacking otherwise. Kate was less girly, so she did not quite fit that role. Anyways, every character turned out to be vital to the story is some way, and they all brought something unique to the story.

As for relationships, there weren’t very many, which was both disappointing and refreshing. I’m a sucker for a  good romance, but it was very nice to have a book where the characters do not jump straight into a relationship. However, I do hope that something happens between Kate and August in the upcoming book(s).

Themes

I found there to be two prominent themes in This Savage Song, one of them being the power of music. Music is depicted as something that is very strong and can make people feel a certain way. August is able to use it to make normal people feel calm or far away from reality, and he can use it to disable and weaken monsters and criminals. Either way, it is a very powerful, tool that he has. It is similar in our lives, too.

As a musician myself, I know that I want to be able to pull the audience into the music that I am making and evoke certain emotions. Everyone listens to music, and we all have a favorite song. That song makes us feel a specific way, and we like whatever it may be. The music and emotions are described beautifully throughout the book, and there is no better way to connect with readers than through music.

Secondly, I found that both characters wanted to find some form of acceptance within their lives. They each wanted to be appreciated, cared for, and given a chance to break away from their stereotypes. Kate wants to impress her father and escape the rumors surrounding her family. For August, it simply means living a normal life that is far from that of a monster.

Everyone has wants to be loved, and has felt underappreciated or unimportant at some point in their life. Especially as teens, readers may feel this way. I think that we can all learn a little from this book: it is okay to be different. This message is powerful. I appreciate the things this book is trying to tell us, and Schwab has executed her plans wonderfully.

“A single, resonant note swept though the tunnel, and everything stopped. Sound vibrated through the air as he drew a second sound, and then a third, the chords fusing together as they formed. The music was like a blade, knifing through the dark.”

 

Overview

This Savage Song is beautiful and captivating. I had a very hard time putting it down. The characters were three-dimensional and realistic, while the futuristic society was described with finesse. There is SO much detail in this book, it was amazing! The ending was full of surprising twists and turns, and I shall eagerly await the next book, Our Dark Duet. (Unfortunately, it is not released until June).