Thursday, June 30, 2016

#LilBookishJuly

On Instagram, two of the bookstagrammers I follow are Lisa and Becca. I really love their posts; they're full of color, fun books, and extremely interesting! I am jealous of their beautiful book collections and knick knacks.

Since April, they have been hosting photo challenges, and this month, I have decided to join in!

In case you'd like to join along, here is the challenge. Use the hashtag, #LilBookishJuly to see everyone's posts!


See Me by Nicholas Sparks

So this book has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a while. Last October when it was published, I purchased the audiobook of it and then never listened to it. My thought process was that I would buy a book that was kind of long and then listen to it while I worked out; that didn't happen, and the book went unread/un-listened to. So this last weekend, I was sitting around reading different things, and I saw it sitting in my Audible account and decided I would buy the actual book and maybe I would actually read it. And that is exactly what happened. I started listening to it at work yesterday and when I got home, I picked up the book and kept reading until the very last page. I don't know why I waited so long to read it because yesterday, I could not put it down, and I am still reeling with excitement on how wonderful the book is.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

Colin has a troubled past; he likes to fight, he is quick to anger, and he's been in trouble with the law more times than he can count. Maria is the total opposite; she is a new lawyer who spends her free time with her family and taking pictures and isn't exactly looking for her soul mate at the moment, but it wouldn't hurt. When Maria first meets Colin on a dark, rainy night on a road in the middle of nowhere while her car has a flat and he is fresh from an MMA fight, she is frightened of him; but with the help of her sister Serena, Maria and Colin become the most perfect couple. But as Maria learns more about Colin's questionable past and anger, she begins to falter in her feelings, until Maria's past comes back to haunt her. Everything comes to the ultimate climax when Maria's sisters life is on the line and Colin has to save her, which might just cause him his life.

(Source: Giphy)

Likes and Dislikes
  • Colin is amazing. He has the bad boy exterior while being a sweet, loving guy. Where is this man in real life? I'd really like to know where Nicholas Sparks finds his inspiration for his characters so I can go find him. Although, I would get tired of his standard response of "okay."
(Source: Giphy)
  • I had no clue where the story was going, and I loved it! There were a couple things that were predictable, but every avid reader knows that happens, but for most of this book, I spent every chapter wondering what was going to happen next. I love when I find books that continue to find new ways to surprise me.
  • The characters all felt real, tangible. I could clearly picture them, their mannerisms, their facial expressions. Sparks is a brilliant author, and this is one of the reasons why. 
Wrap Up

This is only my second Nicholas Sparks novel, my first being The Notebook which I read after I saw the movie. I have seen multiple movies based off of his books, and for me, Nicholas Sparks is synonyms with tear jerker, bawling my eyes out for days on end, my heart being ripped out and shred into three million pieces. So needless to say, that's what I was expecting with See Me. I did not shed a single tear with this book, but not because I'm heartless, but because this book is suspenseful; it's like a mystery and a romance and so many things. There are so many layers to this novel, it's just brilliant! I really loved that it wasn't pure romance because I thought that's what I wanted, but it really wasn't. I wanted this. 

The other part that I loved about this book was Maria's family. In so many ways, they reminded me of my family. My family is all about spending time together. Do we own a restaurant and have brunch every Sunday? No. But we spend insane amounts of time together, we know everyone's everything, and I know that if anything that happened to Maria was happening to me, my family would rally just as her family did.

This book held so many surprises and was so wonderfully written. I feel so lucky that I have read so many brilliant books lately. My LOVE shelf is quickly filling up with more and more books!

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
Rating: 10/10
Pages: 486 (hardback)
Genres: Romance, Fiction, Chick Lit, Mystery

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

The Argonauts is the book selection from May for Our Shared Shelf. I know, I know, I'm behind. I'm working on All About Love from March as well, but hey, at least I'm reading them. Originally, I didn't read the book because I had a lot of other books I was working through since May was Mental Health Awareness Month. But upon starting this one, I became extremely glad it was short because I am not liking this book very much. I wanted to like it, but I am really just disappointed with it.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Two Sentence Summary

The Argonauts is a memoir about Maggie Nelson and her partner, Harry Dodge, who is gender fluid. The novel is focused on Nelson's journey with pregnancy and Dodge's journey with transitioning, as well as their journey together. 

Likes and Dislikes

This makes me sad to say, but their really wasn't anything with this book that I liked, and this is why.
  • This memoir is supposed to be about Maggie and Harry's journeys. Instead, I feel like the portions of the book that focused on their lives were few and far between. Nelson talks a lot about other people and very little about herself.
(Source: Giphy)
  • I felt like I was reading a term paper.Nelson quotes other peoples works frequently. I don't want to read a memoir that is all other people's words, I want to read a memoir that is your words. 
  • I feel like the book started at a really awkward spot in Nelson's life and I felt like I was playing catch up. It starts when Nelson told Dodge that she loved Dodge, and how Dodge did not feel love was the correct way to feel so Nelson tries to find different poems and writings to correctly depict her feelings. And then it goes into them finding a place to live for them and Dodge's son. It takes some serious context clues to figure out that it is not their child, just Dodge's. 
  • I feel like the book switches back and forth some. In some portions, Nelson talks about life with Iggy (their son), and then it talks about trying to conceive, and then pregnancy, and then first-time motherhood. Also, towards the end of the book, she starts talking about her parents divorce which took place in her childhood, while the rest of the book took place in adulthood. It felt very inconsistent.
(Source: Giphy)
  • I am seriously irritated that she had to mourn the fact that she was having a son, not a daughter. She wanted a feminist daughter, a mini-me, someone whose hair she could braid. And yet, she is married to a transgender spouse. Not only do I believe that just because you have a son doesn't mean they cannot be a mother's mini me, but she should also realize that just like her spouse, they might be gender fluid.
  • For the majority of the novel, I felt like Nelson was extremely vague. This goes back to the amount she quotes other people. Instead of using her own words and thoughts, she uses others words and thoughts and then sprinkles in how she sort of agrees or disagrees with what was just said, but is never definite in where she stands.
Wrap Up

I was hoping for a book that talked about the life of a family whose lives are changing through pregnancy and transitioning so that I could broaden my understanding and world. Instead, I got a book that was incoherent and felt more like the rambling of thoughts you have while you do every day mundane tasks. Harry and Iggy play a very minor role in the book. 

With some of the quotes that Nelson uses throughout the book, I feel like she put them in their to sound wise and beyond her years. Instead, I feel like they just bogged down the book and drowned out anything that Nelson was trying to actually say. In some cases, it even felt repetitive. 

I've read reviews of people who loved the book and I wonder what they saw in the book to make them love it so much, just as I'm sure people will look at my review and wonder why I hated it so much. But I really do not feel that reading this book added anything to my knowledge, it didn't speak to me in any way; it just took up time and space on the bookshelf.

(Source: Giphy)
Rating: 1/10
Pages: 143 (paperback)
Genres: Memoir, Non-fiction, Feminism

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster & Illustrated by Jules Feiffer

I read a lot of articles about books, because, well, you know, books. One of the articles I read earlier this year was 100 Books to Read Before You Die by New in Books. Every book on the list has in some way shaped literature and they are all, in some way, a classic. Seeing as this year one of my goals was to read more classics, I saved the article, added all of the books to a Goodreads shelf, and wrote them all down. After reading The Phantom Tollbooth, I have now read 13 of the books on the list, so I have some reading to do, but I am excited to read books that are out of my comfort zone and that are well known and will help me become a better reader.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

The Phantom Tollbooth is about a young boy named Milo who rushes through everything and is extremely bored with his life; he finds no joy in anything. One evening when he walks into his bedroom he finds a purple tollbooth with a note telling him that it will take him to The Lands Beyond. So Milo jumps in a car, pays the tollbooth and travels to The Lands Beyond where he meets extremely interesting characters like Tock the Watchdog and the Humbug. Together, these 3 travelers go on an adventure to find the missing princesses Rhyme and Reason who are being held captive in The Castle in the Air. Through their journey, they meet interesting people, travel through fascinating lands, and go on perilous adventures in hopes of saving the princesses.

Likes and Dislikes
  • This book is extremely smart. For instance, when you see the land of Conclusions, you automatically jump to conclusions, and it is very hard to get back to the mainland once you've landed in Conclusions. The Mountains of Ignorance are full of demons that hold you back. Norton Juster put a serious amount of work into this book. 
  • The illustrator, Jules Feiffer, really helped make the book. His drawings bring the characters and the lands to life. I don't care that I'm 25 and reading a book with doodles in it; it's such a sweet book.
  • I think my favorite part was when Chroma the Great conducted the sunset. Instead of conducting music, he conducts colors. After Chroma conducts the sunset, he asks Milo to wake him up at 5:23 AM so he can conduct the sunrise. However, Milo decides that he can do it and doesn't wake up Chroma. He starts out just fine, but slowly colors begin to change and distort. The more Milo tries to fix it, the more everything becomes more out of whack. Through Milo's mistake, a whole week goes by and no one knows except Milo and anyone who might have been awake at that time. I love the idea that the skies are conducted; it's such a beautiful thought.
(Source: Giphy)
  • The only down side of the book is that it is clearly a children's book, like maybe for a 12 year old. I think if I had read it for the first time when I was younger, I would have enjoyed it more, but it was still a cute book and I could see myself reading it to my nieces when they are older.
  • The chapters taking place in Digitopolis were a little complex. Just like Milo, math is not my strong suit. But, I do think that my brother, who is a math teacher, would enjoy it.
Wrap Up

The Phantom Tollbooth is extremely well written and adorable. Even though it is geared towards a younger crowd, the adventures that Milo and the gang go on are intriguing. The story definitely makes you think about how you spend your time, how you use your words, the sounds, colors, music, numbers, everything; it is extremely thought provoking. I can tell that Juster put in an extreme amount of effort into this book.

Through all of the lessons that you learn, I think the best one is at the end. Milo and the gang have rescued Rhyme and Reason and now there is a three day festival to celebrate when King Azaz the Unabridged tells Milo about the one thing that they couldn't discuss before the trip: the adventure that Milo went on was completely impossible.

"Yes, indeed," they repeated together; "but if we'd told you then, you might not have gone-and, as you've discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible." (p. 247)

As simple as it is, it is an important lesson that everyone should hear and be reminded of occasionally. As the great Audrey Hepburn once said, nothing is impossible, but sometimes we get caught up in the day to day minutia that our dreams get bogged down and we forget what we really want out of life.

(Source: Pinterest)


Rating: 7/10
Pages: 256
Genres: Fantasy, Classics, Childrens 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

I discovered The Leaving in an article about the best young adult books being released in June and after reading the synopsis, I went to Amazon and purchased it. When it arrived, I started reading it right away, even though I currently have 3 other books I'm reading; I needed to read this ASAP. I finished it in a day, and it's been a long time since I've done that with a book. This book is definitely on my must read list! I will be recommending this to everyone!

(Source: Kelsey Darling)


Five Sentence Summary

On the first day of kindergarten, 6 children go missing: Max, Scarlett, Lucas, Kristen, Sarah, and Adam. Now, 11 years later, they show up again, only Max isn't with them, and they have no memory of the last 11 years or who Max is. The novel switches between Scarlett, Lucas, and Avery, Max's younger sister, as they try to discover who they are, who took them, and where Max is. The majority of the novel takes place in the first 9 days (Day Zero to Day Eight) of the children returning from The Leaving, the name the case has been given since Scarlett told her mother before going missing that "she was going on a trip, to the leaving (p. 2)in which they all learn that they have secret talents and that they have left themselves clues to their past lives. From the very first page, you are on edge trying to figure out what the kids are missing, hiding, and what happened to Max.

Likes & Dislikes
  • Tara Altebrando is amazing at cliffhangers. So many chapters end on something important and you have to wait until you get to that persons next chapter to find out what happens. For me, the biggest cliffhanger was when Scarlett and Lucas went to Anchor Beach after a clue led them there and a security guard says that he recognizes them and then it changes to Avery's chapter. I was so frustrated that I wasn't going to get my answers right away, but in a good way that makes you keep reading.
  • I also adore the uniqueness that Alrebrando put into the chapters, specifically Scarlett's and Lucas's. As their memories were coming back, they were edited to make you realize that it was a memory, or that they were trying to work past a block. Also, with Scarlett's chapters, there were more unique editing touches that were put into it.
(Source: Kelsey Darling; pp. 11, 14, 97, 167)
  • This book is like nothing I've ever read before, I've never seen a movie or TV show like it; The Leaving is 100% unique. Yes, there are novels/shows/movies about one child being missing and returning (like The Face on the Milk Carton) and then there's also the TV show The 4400 that deals with 4400 missing people returning, but both are on completely different type of abduction stories. In The Leaving, the kids were taken to erase memories, one specifically, and ended up taking much longer than planned.
  • One thing that I didn't really like was that Avery instantly developed a crush, and almost an obsession, on Lucas. In the first scene that they interact, she yells at him and then throws him under the bus when she tells news reports that one of returners has a memory of a carousel, which is Lucas's memory. But in their next scene together, she becomes infatuated with him and she is insanely jealous that he appears to have a relationship with Scarlett. She even breaks up with her boyfriend because of it. Yes, she was already feeling kind of bleh about her boyfriend, but I have a feeling that if no one returned, she would have dated him a little bit longer. It felt forced and unnatural.
(Source: Giphy)
  • The ending felt a little rushed. The last 3 days are Day Nine, Day Eleven, and Day Fifteen. All of the clues have been found and police are following the leads and everything is coming together, but I just feel like it could have been a little slower, or there could have been a little bit more. It just felt like it was wrapped up too quickly, but maybe it's because I didn't want it to end.
Wrap Up

I am so glad I got this book. I was beginning to feel sluggish in my reading. I have started a few books lately and haven't wanted to pursue them past the first few chapters, no matter how interesting they were. But this book brought back my love of reading.

(Source: Giphy)

All of the characters are very well thought out and their development through the book is so real (aside from Avery's infatuation with Lucas). Some of the characters I loved the most weren't even the main characters. Scarlet's mother Tammy is a recovering alcoholic and believes that aliens abducted the children because they all had parents that weren't exactly winners; but when Scarlet asks Tammy why she wants to badly to believe it's aliens, her answer breaks your heart. 

"Did you pass the alien probe yet?" Tammy asked.
"Why do you want it to be aliens?" Scarlett plopped down at the foot of the bed...
Tammy looked at her over her reading glasses. I don't want it to-"
"It's the least likely explanation," Scarlett cut in. "So just answer the question."
Her mothers whole body tensed.
Then she breathed out loudly through her nose.
Her voice was a few tones deeper, almost possessed-sounding. When she said, "Because I do not want to believe that another human being could have done this to you." (pp. 249-250)

In that one passage, Scar understands her mother a little bit better, and Tammy voices a fear that any parent or guardian or anyone who loves a child has had. Crimes against children are so unbelievable because who could imagine harming a poor, innocent child that cannot defend itself.

Later, after they have ID'd a person that the police believe took the children, Scarlett has another meaningful moment with Tammy that makes you love her mother even more.

"The cat was in the corner, cowering, like maybe it had never seen Tammy vacuum.
Then it hopped up onto an end table that had once been covered with...
That was it.
No more UFO Insiders.
No more ET magazines.
Whole piles of back issues...gone.
"Mom??"
It just slipped out. 
Tammy hadn't heard.
The vacuum too loud.
Louder: "Mom?"
She turned, used a foot to switch off the machine.
Looked like she might cry.
"You okay?..."
"What happened to all your magazines and stuff?..."
"I'm pretty sure it wasn't him," Scarlett said. "John Norton."
Her mother shrugged. "Either way, I'm pretty sure now it wasn't aliens." (pp. 306-308)

Between these two conversations, Scarlett and Tammy make great strides in their relationship that has been pretty tense since Scar returned. Maybe it's because I have such a strong bond with my mother, but I love seeing mothers and daughters connecting.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Avery's mother who has not taken her son missing and not returning with the others very hard, which is totally understandable, to a degree. In the beginning, Avery says that her mother takes sleeping pills; when the other children have returned, Avery says that her mom is a "mannequin mom." And in the end, when it is discovered that Max is dead, she has a complete break down and does some out-patient therapy. 

When I was 19, I lost my oldest niece in a mall at Christmastime; she was in a dressing room. But for the 20 minutes I was looking for her, I went into an extreme panic. The idea that I lost my niece, that she could have been kidnapped while she was in my charge, still to this day, I become completely paralyzed with fear. Although Avery's mother did not handle her depression in a way that she could still be a mother to her surviving daughter, I 100% understand how she got there, and I do not fault her for it.

This novel is beautifully written, the suspense is never-ending, and the "bad people" are people who you would never think of. I loved every second of this book!

(Source: Giphy)
Rating: 9/10
Pages: 421 (hardcover)
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

(Source: Book of the Month)
Modern Lovers was the first book I received from my Book of the Month Club. I was so excited when I saw that it was one of the books for this month, because I had hoped it would have been selected for another book club I am a part of, but it wasn't. The cover intrigued me, the way Morgan Jerkins described it sold me, I knew I needed to read this book. However, upon finishing the book, I feel like I have been let down. I feel like there was so many places this book could have gone, and yet, I felt like I was reading a story about what could have been anybodies life.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

In college, Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe were in band, Kitty's Mustache, along with another girl, Lydia, who left the band and made a name for herself, before dying at an early age. Now, Elizabeth and Andrew are married and have a son Harry, and Zoe has married Jane, and they have a daughter named Ruby, and a producer is asking them to sign over their life rights so they can make a movie about Lydia, but that is the last thing Andrew wants. Zoe and Jane are on the verge of divorce; Andrew feels like he is floundering in life and isn't sure what he wants; and now Harry and Ruby are an item and getting caught having sex in the park. Over the course of the summer, Harry and Ruby find themselves discovering themselves while having fun with each other and facing life decisions while their parents find themselves struggling to cope with everything that life is throwing at them. By the end of the novel, everyone has a clear idea of what they want from life, from their partners, and from themselves.

Likability
  • Elizabeth and Andrew have a cat named Iggy Pop who goes missing for a good portion of the novel, and Elizabeth frets the entire time about where he is. As silly as this is, this spoke to the cat lover in me. I love my cats and if they were missing, I would be throwing the biggest fit until they had been returned to me. I definitely get you, Elizabeth. (And this is the second post in the last week in which I relate to a cat lady; I'm beginning to worry about myself!)
(Source: Giphy)
  • Emma Straub is amazing with descriptions! You can really visualize the settings, the people, the food, oh, the food! Zoe and Jane own a restaurant and so food plays a big part in their scenes. At one point, they're talking about pancakes that Jane made and I could imagine myself eating them and became incredibly hungry and jealous that I was not actually eating them.
"Jane set an enormous platter of pancakes-thick, fluffy, generously studded with blueberries-in front of Elizabeth...Elizabeth edged off a small bite of pancake with the side of her fork. 'Oh, my God,' she said. 'These are insane.'" (p.231)

(Source: Giphy)

Dis-likability
  • So the two characters that I really hate are Andrew and Ruby. They both need a good slap so they can realize how good they have it.
    • Andrew is a cheater. Yes, he was not married to Elizabeth when he slept with Lydia, and he hasn't cheated with anyone else, but god, I hate cheaters. And this is why he doesn't want to sign over his life rights for the movie; Elizabeth doesn't know and he had no plans of telling her. And listen to how he described cheating on her:
"It was like Betty and Veronica. Archie loved them both, and they loved each other, too, even though they tugged him back and forth. When Andrew imagined Elizabeth finding out, that was a part of his defense. It wasn't much but it was something. He hoped he'd never have to use it, that Lydia would just disappear one day and make his life easier. It wasn't like he and Elizabeth were married. They weren't even living together. It was worse than jaywalking but not as bad as a root canal. Worse than throwing up in a taxicab but not as bad as going to the DMV." (pp. 237-238)
    • If any man even dreams of cheating on me, which is bad enough, but cheats on me with a friend and then has the audacity to say it's not as bad as a root canal or trip to the DMV, well, hell hath no fury. He was crazy to think that his little affair with Lydia, no matter how brief, would die with Lydia. Also, he joins a pseudo-cult and gives them $100,000+! I know he's lost, but that yoga studio/frat house had ponzie scheme written all over it!
    • Also in the category of not deserving their significant other: Ruby! I just never got a good vibe from her. She calls her friends stupid and dislikes the fact that they're going off to college in the fall and she is going to be stuck working in her moms restaurant. She clings to the hope of her ex-boyfriend Dust will still be there, and since he doesn't have any goals for his life either, she likes that. Only Dust treated her like shit and umm, oh yeah, she's dating Harry. She isn't completely oblivious to the fact that she is torn between the two guys though.
"That morning, she had woken up from a sex dream...She and Harry were kissing, and then they were doing it, and then he was on top of her, but instead of Harry, it was Dust. Harry/Dust opened his mouth and said, in a perfect Harry/Dust voice, 'It's just you and me next year.'" (p. 306)
    • And what is even more heartbreaking about this is Harry's very obvious love for Ruby. He lost his virginity to her, and there's a good chance that she was his first girlfriend. He takes their relationship much more seriously than she does.
"He'd already told Ruby that he loved her, and he couldn't imagine that changing anytime soon. He couldn't imagine it changing, period." (p. 259)
    • I think that is what makes my dislike for Ruby so much more. I have been both Harry and Ruby in a relationship, and it sucks on either end, but I always feel for the Harry's of the world because it affects them more in the long run. And that she is just always so negative about everything.
(Source: Giphy)
  • The big thing about the book that I didn't like is that I felt like I could have been reading about anybody's lives. I feel like there was so much possibility with the fact that they used to be this awesome band and they had all of these amazing memories. Instead, the most exciting part was Elizabeth finding out about the fling between Andrew and Lydia and then Elizabeth drunkenly telling Zoe and Jane about it. I wished for so much more.
Wrap Up

I had a hard time relating to the characters, aside from Elizabeth's worry for Iggy Pop. The adults were in their 50's; they've lived their lives, they've gone on adventures, they are stable(-ish). The kids were 17 and 18; they have no clue what they want for dinner, let alone what they want out of life. I'm in the middle of these groups. Yeah, I can look back and remember what it was like to be that age, but I never had any of the experiences they did. Ruby, for me, was someone I could not relate to. I know people like her, who probably could relate to her, but I couldn't. To me, she felt too selfish and very hard.

I did like at the end, the "articles" about where everyone is 5 years later. It added a special touch to the book that I felt was missing through the rest of it. Again, it was an attention to detail that Straub put in there that makes the book better.

But overall, I am disappointed in the book. I'm hoping next month I will choose more wisely.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pages: 353
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit, Contemporary

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I decided this morning that it was a Harry Potter day so I wore my Always shirt and bracelet, and my time turner necklace. I love showing off my HP pride!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Make Me Read It Read-a-Thon!

So on Goodreads, I have seen all of these people asking what they should read for "Make Me Read It." Naturally, I was intrigued, but wasn't finding any info on it on Goodreads. Thank god for Google! It led me to The Innocent Smiley, a blog run by Val, who partners with Ely (Tea & Titles) who started the read-a-thon last year and decided to do it again this year.



How It Works

Look at the books you own, either physical, e-book, or ones you've borrowed from the library and pick out a few you really want to read, or feel like you should read. It's up to you how many you pick.

Make a list of these books and then have friends, family, and other bibliophiles pick which ones you HAVE to read. Use the tag #MakeMeRead on social media!

The books with the most votes is read first, the book with the second most votes is read next, etc. If there is a tie between books, it's your personal preference of which you read first.

When Does it Take Place?

The Read-a-Thon takes place from July 9th to July 16th.

So without further ado, here are the books! Please vote, even if you haven't read any of them, pick the one that sounds the coolest. And feel free to join along!

What should I read for the #MakeMeRead Read-a-Thon?

The Star-Touched Queen
Matched
Red Queen
This is Where it Ends
A Tale of Two Besties
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea
Good Omen
survey tools

The Last Star by Rick Yancey

So when The Last Star first arrived, I was extremely excited about it. As I re-read the first two books, my excitement grew. But then my boss read it before I did, and she didn't like it. And then people who I trust on Goodreads started reviewing it, and a lot of them didn't have nice things to say either. As I started the book, I was hesitant, but once I started reading it, I couldn't understand why they didn't like it. And then everything started going downhill.



Five Sentence Summary

Ringer has just witnessed the deaths of Teacup and Razor, and now has been paired with Constance to track down Evan so Vocsh can figure out what went wrong with Evan's programming. Ben and Dumbo leave the house they have taken cover at to go find Ringer and Teacup (because he doesn't know she's dead), and on this journey, Dumbo is taken out by a Silencer that Ben ends up killing. When Ben rendezvous with Ringer, he is hesitant of Constance, but trusts Ringer, so he leads them back to the safe house where Constance is killed and Evan sacrifices himself. They then separate into two groups: Cassie and Ringer are going to sneak onto the base to kill Vocsh and save Evan; Ben is going to keep Sam and Megan safe. Nothing goes as planned; lives are lost; but now Earth has a chance of survival.

Positives
  • I really enjoyed the book up until they decided to storm the base. The book had a good, steady pace and it felt like the book was actually going somewhere.
  • I liked Constance. Yes, she was evil, but I loved her personality. I honestly don't think her positive attitude was fake; I think she really did like Ringer. Her attitude brought some much needed humor to the story.
"Hey, kids, is everything all right?" Constance, her smile withered to a concerned grim.
"Oh, sure," Zombie says. "We were just discussing where we should go for dinner. Chinese sound good to you?"
"Well, it's closer to breakfast," Constance answers brightly. "I could really go for some pancakes."
Zombie looks at me. "She's fun. What a blast you must have had this winter." (pp.130-131)
  • The crazy cat lady Silencer reminded me of me, sans Silencer. If all of my family was dead, I would definitly hole up somewhere with my animals and ride out the end of the world. But I am not eating cat stew!
(Source: Giphy)

Negatives
  • I still do not get the whole alien/not alien thing, and I'm not the only one. I feel like that took the book too much past the realm of possibility and I could not follow what Yancey was trying to achieve with it.
  • Sam has been annoying the hell out of me since book 2, and he got so much worse in this book. I get that he grew up seriously fast, but he was a total ass to Cassie (and to Bear if I'm being completely honest). He had some really bratty moments, and I hate bratty people.
  • The storming of the base felt cluttered and and rushed and it lost me. I didn't even realize that Cassie had died until the story switched to the "After" section. (It's not called After, but that's what it is in my mind.) And I was pretty sure that Evan was dead, although he had been reprogrammed, so I guess I understand how he lived.
  • Ringer's pregnancy felt like it was supposed to have a bigger impact on the story line than it did. She made such a big deal about telling Ben she was pregnant, and Cassie felt for Ringer when she took in the memories, but it was just sort of a blip in the story, not super important.
Commentary

I have told so many people to read these books. I raved about them! I even told my mom that she might like it because she loves movies like this. Now, I don't think I would recommend it to people. It ended very anti-climatically that I don't know if I would put my stamp on it. And for me, the big reason is the whole alien/not alien thing. I am so lost on it.

(Source: Giphy)
Vosch said that they had been watching us for millions of years, since the dinosaurs. Seeing as humans weren't around then, you would think that it's aliens. But Vosch also said that it was all a lie, that they had just made super humans and those super humans had been downloaded with lies about a planet that they never lived on and lives they never lived. Although that's sci-fi-y, it doesn't exactly mean aliens. I just don't get it. If someone could explain this part to me, I think I would enjoy the book a lot more, but I just feel like I'm lost in a maze waiting for Yancey to help me get out.

My boss hates that Cassie died. She also thinks that Cassie didn't necessarily have to die when she got to the mothership and could reprogram it and set up a 4th book. I don't care that's Cassie is dead; I don't really have an emotional connection to her because in books like this, I always assume a main character is going to die and hold them at arms length (Hunger Games taught me that lesson). But I do believe Cassie is dead. If Rick Yancey made a 4th book, I think it would take some work, but I'm pretty sure I've read somewhere that this is only a trilogy. 

I'm kind of sad that this book didn't hold up to the other two. But maybe one day in the future, I can look back at the book and everything will make sense and I'll change my mind.

Rating: 5/10
Pages: 338
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I wasn't sure what I would think of The Complete Persepolis, not because of the subject matter, but because it's a graphic novel, and I've never really been a person to enjoy comic books/graphic novels, although I haven't read that many, so I try not to judge them. However, this novel pulled me in from the very beginning, and the fact that it was a graphic novel became a positive rather than a negative. The drawings really helped me follow the story line and evoke more emotion me. This was the novel that was selected by Emma Watson for this month's Our Shared Shelf, and for me, this was the book that was the most out of my comfort zone, but I loved it. Some stories made me laugh; others made me cry or be scared; but all of them taught me something, and that is a quality that every good book shares.



Five Sentence Summary

This graphic novel follows Marjane Satrapi, the author, through her life in Iran, from a young girl to a woman in her mid-twenties.  Marjane was raised by parents who were more progressive and rebellious at a time in Iran where turmoil was starting and rules were changing. We hear stories of classmates, family members, friends and neighbors who sacrificed their lives, their bodies, their freedom in hopes of returning Iran to the country that they loved. We also hear stories of how females in Iran have gone from having every freedom a man has, to being judged and persecuted for makeup, showing too much skin, not wearing a veil, and numerous other offenses that we take for granted every day. Satrapies story is a thought provoking memoir that will have your reevaluating things we say and do and how we treat everyone, irregardless of where they're from, what faith they practice, or what sex they are.

Commentary

I don't know much about the Middle East, which is why I was excited to read this book. One of my reading goals this year was to expand not only the genres I read, but the cultures I read about. This book taught me multiple things about Iranian culture that I never knew, but it also showed me similarities between our culture and theirs, which even more solidifies how it doesn't matter where a person is from or what practices they follow, we are all humans and all want many of the same things in our lives.

I think one of the most interesting things to read about was Marjane's progressivism, even at a young age. She starts her story when she is 10 years old in 1980. A year prior, it became obligatory to wear the veil at school, and the female students did not like this change. Her parents frequented riots and she wanted to attend as well. This was just the beginning for Marjane exercising her rights and attempts to live a life full of equality. It was these stories that made me respect Marjane and love the story. I never experienced anything that she did, in that regard, and yet, in so many ways, she was like I was when I was 10. She dreamt about her future, she played with her friends, and loved her family.

One of the stories that broke my heart was "The Sheep." In this story, Marjane begins to lose people; some families move to other countries, like the US; others have family members murdered because they actively go against the regime. Her uncle Anoosh, who had spent many years in exile, has returned, but as people he knows begin to be arrested or are turning up dead, he tries to leave, but is captured and is set to be executes. Marjane visits him before he is executed and they share a sweet moment before he is executed. Even reading through the story now, it breaks my heart.

(Source: P. 69 The Complete Persepolis)

Throughout the entire book, I was worried about Marjane's family. With every bombing, police raid, and riot, I became frightened that she would lose more family and more friends. My fear intensified when her parents sent her to Austria. I was so worried that she would lose a loved one while she was gone. Luckily, that did not happen.

Through multiple stories, there is the reoccurring theme of sexism. It starts with the veil when Marjane is 10, and from there is gets worse. The one example that stuck with me the most was in The Socks where she is yelled at for running because when she runs "her behind make movements that are...how do you say...obscene!" (p. 301). Marjane yells back at them to not look at her ass then, and in that one comment, every woman can relate to her (even though she has made multiple comments before that that are 100% relatable). Women are sexualized for the most ridiculous of reasons, and yet men are not at all reprimanded for things they wear or do. 

(Source: P. 301 The Complete Persepolis)

In so many ways, our lives are completely different, but in the ways that are important, we are the same. Everyone wants to be loved; to have a successful, loving family and life; and to be accepted by everyone. This graphic novel depicts that beautifully.

(Source: Giphy)


Rating: 8/10
Pages: 341 (paperback)
Genres: Graphic Novel, Non-fiction, Memoir

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

Again, this was a quick re-read for me in preparation of reading The Last Star. The first time around, I only liked the book, but this time around, it was so much better! I really couldn't remember much of the book except that I knew a fair amount of the book was from Ringers point of view, which was why I only liked it. So reading the book this time was almost like reading it for the first time. Some of the stuff I remembered, but for the most part, it was all new. I really don't know what went on the first time.

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Darling)


Five Sentence Summary

The Infinite Sea starts with Ben/Zombie, Ringer, Pound Cake, Dumbo Cassie, Sam/Nugget, and Teacup have taken refuge at an abandoned hotel, or The Walker Hotel as Ringer calls it, while they gather themselves, make plans for the future, and wait for Evan, even though Cassie is the only one who thinks he's alive, and even she is doubtful. Evan did survive though, and has been taken in by Grace, another Silencer who takes her job very seriously (and kind of creepily, if you ask me). Evan is able to escape and makes his way back to Cassie, but leads Grace to the group, sans Ringer and Teacup who had previously left to find a new refuge for the group and are captured. In captivity, Ringer is tortured by Vosch and is implanted with a hub and 12 arrays that will enhance Ringers ability and make her one of them. But Ringer, with the help of her only ally Razor, escape the entrapment, only for Ringer to learn that she has been horribly betrayed and that this whole invasion is so much more than anything anyone thought.

(Photo Credit: Giphy)

Commentary

I think I slept through my first reading of this book. My boss read through these before I did, and she was talking about how they were at a hotel and I literally had no clue what she was talking about. Why would they be at a hotel? I knew a lot was from Ringer's POV, but I couldn't even remember what Ringer was doing; I forgot that she had been captured, implanted, "escaped," and then was going to be used to find Evan. I know I've read a lot of books since my initial reading of this book, but I usually have a better memory than this.

Since I was paying more attention this time around, it was more interesting; and unlike last time, I preferred Ringer's portion over Cassie's, Ben's, and Evan's sections, although I do like Evan's section and learning about Grace. What I liked about Ringer's parts is learning about the Others, their plans, how they think, why they're doing what they're doing. I am a little lost on how they aren't really Others though, I'm hoping this last book explains it a little better. I mean, there was a mothership, doesn't that usually mean aliens? In every book and movie that deals with aliens, mothership = aliens. Why would humans, even if they're superhumans, want to take out other humans? So I'm really hoping that TLS explains this, or I'm going to have to do some research and see what I'm missing.

Since this felt more like a first read than a re-read, it had the anxiety inducing ability that the first one was lacking during the re-read, which is what I liked so much about the series the first time I read it through, because reading a book isn't good if it doesn't mess with your mind, rip your heart out, and leave you clutching your knees in the fetal position, right? I love that Yancey is able to evoke such emotion and chaos, and even distrust, in his books. The entire time, you tell yourself not to trust anyone or anything, and when you think you can finally trust someone, Yancey proves you wrong, or did he? You'll never know.

(Photo Credit: Giphy)


Rating: 8/10
Pages: 300 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Darling & Co Has an Instagram!

So, I decided to stop sharing all of my posts on my personal Instagram. It's not like much has changed, because I have always made a lot of book posts, but it was time to make this just that much more official.

So now you can follow me on Instagram at darlingcobooks for even more bibliophile love!


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I read The 5th Wave earlier this year, in February or March, because I wanted to read it before the movie came out, which I ended up not seeing. Usually, I don't re-read books so soon after reading them the first time, but since The Last Star came out last month, and I didn't remember much of the first book, and pretty much nothing of the second book, I decided it couldn't hurt to do a quick power read of them. Once I started reading, I remembered more than what I thought, but there were also some parts I had completely forgotten.

(Credit: Kelsey Darling)


Five Sentence Summary

It's the end of the world; aliens have invaded our world and they are taking us out. Cassie Sullivan watched her mother die a slow, painful death; then her brother was taken by the others who have disguised themselves as humans; then her father was brutally murdered; now she is trying to make her way to her brother so she can keep the only promise that matters. Evan Walker finds Cassie on the brink of death, bleeding out in a car, but he helps bring her back to life; but Evan is hiding a secret that Cassie can't put her finger on. Ben "Zombie" Parish is a boy from Cassie's school who has been rescued by the military and is being trained to take down the infected, but when he is sent on a mission to take out teds, he learns that the "good" guys may not be as good as he thought. While the three of them navigate this new world in search of the truth, you learn to not trust anyone, no matter what they tell you.

Commentary

Reading this for a second time was interesting. I already knew the big secret, that some of the humans are actually aliens, that they have taken over our bodies and minds. I also knew that everyone's lovable rescuer, Evan, is actually one of them, but after falling in love for Cassie, he changes sides. So this time around, I wasn't as paranoid as I was the first time. That did take a little of the fun out of it.

The second time around, I noticed some smaller details that I didn't notice the first time around. One thing I noticed was that as much as Cassie says she is careful and doesn't trust anyone, that's not always the case. I mean, she talks about how she doesn't trust Evan, but she never does anything about it except worry. Yes, he turns out to be a good guy, but when the hair on the back of your neck stands up, which she says happens a lot, you need to run.

Yancey also uses a lot of graphic wording when describing the surroundings, peoples deaths, etc. I mean, it makes sense, seeing as we are in a post-apocalyptic world, but this time I noticed how negative the wording is. It makes me love Yancey more as a writer.

All in all, the book is still really good, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first time, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I knew how it was going to play out.

(Credit: Someecards.com)


Rating: 8/10
Pages: 457 (paperback)
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book of the Month Club

For a long time I have wanted to signed up for Book of the Month Club. I see ads for it on my Instagram and Facebook; I frequent their website telling myself "one day I will sign up for it." Well, in May, that day came. I went to the website, looked at the plans, and submitted the application.



How it works is on the first of every month, they announce the months books, 5 books chosen by different judges every month. You pick which book you want; you can add up to 2 additional books for $9.99 each (a wonderful steal). Then, on the 6th of the month, it is mailed out to you.

So when June first arrived, I was so excited, I opened my laptop first thing to select my book. This months options were:


Although I knew which book I was going to pick instantly, I read through the synopsis of each of them. Enchanted Islands interested me, as did Before the Fall, but I chose Modern Lovers. I had already marked it as a book I wanted to read and was disappointed when it wasn't selected as the book of the month for another book club I am a part of.

Modern Lovers is about this group of friends that were in a band together when they were young. Now as adults, they all live in the same neighborhood and their kids are all friends as well, and as their kids enter dating age, the former band members relive their glory days and wonder what happened to the one of them who actually made it in the music world, only to come falling back down.



When my package arrived yesterday, it came with the book (a hardcover), a post card in the theme of the book, an adorable bookmark with a quote on it, and a letter from Morgan Jerkins. This is the most exciting thing in the world! I know it's nerdy, but I love it! Any time I receive a book in the mail, it's the best day ever, but the fact that it is so personal  makes everything so much more!