Book Review- The Red Queen

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The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Published by Orion on February 12, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 383
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This is a world divided by blood-red or silver.

The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living in the shadow of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Then Mare finds herself working at the Silver palace, in the midst of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

After having this book recommended *ahem, shoved in my face* multiple times by multiple people, I decided I should probably just read it- so at least I could tell people to back off if I didn’t like it. But, I was actually really surprised by this one.

I’ve been trying to move away from the dystopia book, mostly because after a while they just all sound the same. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed this so much- because I haven’t read a dystopia in quite some time.

Anyway, I’d be lying if I said that this book doesn’t remind me of others. It reminded me A LOT of The Selection series (which I also enjoyed, so I didn’t mind that at all), and had some similarities to a bunch of other dystopias, like the Hunger Games (the whole area/fighting aspect), and pretty much any dystopia where the main character finds out they have powers.

I loved the characters in this book, and the depth they had to them. Yes, some of the *ahem* not as important characters were a little one sided *ahem* Evangeline *ahem*. But for the most part, the characters were interesting and some had some very surprising sides to them.

The one thing that really sets the Red Queen apart from other dystopias was the theme repeated throughout the book: Anyone can betray anyone. It was so relevant throughout the story, and I felt like it really tied the events of the book together.
BUT THE END. OH THE END!!!!!! I wont spoil anything, but that just threw me for a loop. UGH. WHYYYYYYYY.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book to people who love YA, The Selection, and/or dystopia (or are looking to get into/back into dystopia). But just be sure to have the second book on hand, because if you are anything like me then you’ll have about two seconds to breathe before your nose is buried in the Glass Sword!

I am going to give Red Queen four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- Toward a Secret Sky

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Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean
Published by Blink on April 4, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 368
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Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.

Toward a Secret Sky was a thrilling read. There was never a dull moment, from the first chapter to the last, and I couldn’t help but pick up the book every time I had a spare moment.
Not gonna lie, starting to read this book was a bit of a struggle. I loved the secret organization aspect of it (which is what made me go for this book in the first place), but the writing style took a little while to get used to. It’s not that there is anything wrong with it, it’s just different than what I am used to, so it shook me up a little. I also didn’t love how boy crazy Maren was, and how she ogled over Gavin every time he was around. But again, I’m not big into romance-y stuff, so having a character that was so vocal (in her head at least) about her feelings for him was kind of jarring.
I did however love the book itself. It was full of demons, angels, and a whole lot of action. Every chapter was action packed and so full of twists and turns that I had no idea what was going to happen next.
I definitely went through a whole range of emotions while reading this book, from giddiness to heart break to shock to relief (and many more… and not necessarily in that order). I would recommend this book to people who love the supernatural and a good bit of boy ogling.
I am going to give Toward a Secret Sky four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

*I was given an ARC of this book by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review- Alice in Tumblr-land

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Alice in Tumblr-Land and Other Fairy Tales for a New Generation by Tim Manley
Published by Penguin Books on November 5, 2013
Genres: Humor, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Fiction, Retellings, Short Stories
Pages: 265
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The Ugly Duckling still feels gross compared to everyone else, but now she’s got Instagram, and there’s this one filter that makes her look awesome. Cinderella swaps her glass slippers for Crocs. The Tortoise and the Hare Facebook stalk each other. Goldilocks goes gluten free. And Peter Pan finally has to grow up and get a job, or at least start paying rent.

Here are more than one hundred fairy tales, illustrated and re-imagined for today. Instead of fairy godmothers, there’s Siri. And rather than big bad wolves, there are creepy dudes on OkCupid. In our brave new world of social networking, YouTube, and texting, fairy tales can once again lead us to “happily ever after” — and have us laughing all the way.

Alice in Tumblr-land took classic children’s book characters and put them in the modern world, creating some pretty interesting situations. A lot of these situations, as I’m sure you can figure out by the title, have to do with social media and the internet.

This book was definitely written for adults. It had its fair amount of R rated content, and though some of it was entertaining, most of it just felt unnecessary and forced. The stories were split up into small paragraphs that rotated, so each of the individual stories ended up feeling disconnected. The stories, besides being set in modern times, really had no connection to each other.

The characters were very one dimensional and not engaging. It felt like each story took the most stereotypical view of each character that was possible and created these unrealistic situations around them.

Alice in Tumblr-land is a very short book, and took less than an hour to read (which tbh is probably the only reason that I finished it). If you are looking to kill an hour, reading this book isn’t the worst way to do it. That being said, I’m not any better off for having read it, so I guess it just comes down to if you enjoy this type of book or not (which, as it turns out, I do not).

I am going to give Alice in Tumblr-land two out of five hearts.

Book Review- The Time Thief

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The Time Thief by Linda Buckley-Archer
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on December 26, 2007
Genres: Time Travel, Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Adventure
Pages: 488
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An accident with an antigravity machine catapulted Peter Schock and Kate Dyer back to 1763. A bungled rescue attempt leaves Peter stranded in the eighteenth century while a terrifying villain, the Tar Man, takes his place and explodes onto twenty-first-century London. Concerned about the potentially catastrophic effects of time travel, the NASA scientists responsible for the situation question whether it is right to rescue Peter. Kate decides to take matters into her own hands, but things don’t go as planned. Soon the physical effects of time travel begin to have a disturbing effect on her. Meanwhile, in our century, the Tar Man wreaks havoc in a city whose police force is powerless to stop him. Set against a backdrop of contemporary London and revolutionary France, The Time Thief is the sequel to the acclaimed The Time Travelers.

The Time Thief was a thrilling sequel to The Time Travelers (you can read that review here). The story begins where the first book ended, which I won’t say too much about because that would give away what happens in the first book.

There was a lot of great character development in The Time Thief, and I got to learn more about a lot of the characters who did not play such big roles in the first book. I loved the amount of perspectives that the story was told from, and how the events happening in different times and places were effortlessly put together into the story.

To my surprise, I ended up enjoying The Time Thief much more than its prequel. The story was more engaging, the plot more exciting, and the characters had more depth to them. I do wish that Gideon the Cutpurse was more present in the book, but at the same time, the reasons for his absence were good.

The end of this book has me grabbing at my shelves for the final book in the trilogy, The Time Quake. I would recommend this series to anyone who likes stories about time travel (this trilogy definitely has an interesting take on it), adventure, and historical fiction.

I am going to give The Time Thief four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- Gideon the Cutpurse

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Gideon the Cutpurse (also published as The Time Travelers) by Linda Buckley-Archer
Published by Simon & Schuster on January 1 2006
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Time Travel, Historical Fiction
Pages: 404
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1763.

Gideon Seymour, cutpurse and gentleman, hides from the villainous Tar Man. Suddenly the sky peels away like fabric and from the gaping hole fall two curious-looking children. Peter Schock and Kate Dyer have fallen straight from the twenty-first century, thanks to an experiment with an antigravity machine. Before Gideon and the children have a chance to gather their wits, the Tar Man takes off with the machine — and Kate and Peter’s only chance of getting home. Soon Gideon, Kate, and Peter are swept into a journey through eighteenth-century London and form a bond that, they hope, will stand strong in the face of unfathomable treachery.

Gideon the Cutpurse was full of adventure. From the moment Peter and Kate were thrown back in time, there was not a second of rest. The narrative follows both the events of 1763, where Peter and Kate meet Gideon and set out to find a way to get home, and present day (or not so present because the book came out in 2006), where the police along with Kate’s father and NASA are trying to find the children.

Although the events had all the promise to be a five star read, the actual story fell a bit short. I felt bored at times, like there was a cycle between excitement and boredom throughout the book. Then there were parts that could have been so much better, but weren’t. I feel like there could have been so much more done with the characters that would have brought the story to life. The reactions I read didn’t feel realistic, it felt like a bedtime story.

I also found it a bit strange how there were pages at the end of some chapters from Gideon Seymour’s personal journal. They felt a bit out of place, and didn’t really add anything to the plot. I don’t know if they evolve into something more in the rest of the trilogy, but I can only hope that there is a greater reason for them being there.

There is so much I wish I could add to this book, but at the same time, I can’t say I didn’t like it at all. It was a fun read, even if I had to read it in little chunks at a time. I do however think that an elementary school kid would eat this book up, and I definitely recommend it for preteens and younger who love time travel and adventure. I just don’t think this book was quite for me.

I am going to give Gideon the Cutpurse three out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- The Hammer of Thor

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The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2) by Rick Riordan
Published by Disney- Hyperion Books on October 4, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult, Middle Grade
Pages: 471
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Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.

Once again I was disappointed by Magnus Chase. This book picks up a few months after the first one ends. It started off pretty well, and I almost thought that this book would be a little more clear with it’s plot and not have so many sub-plots. Not that I don’t enjoy a good sub-plot, it’s just that the first one had so many I began to loose sight of what the main point actually was.

But yet again, our heroes jump through world after world completing a series of tasks that make reading the book a bit tedious. It almost feels as if Riordan tried to stuff as many Norse stories as he could into one book, and forgot to refine it when he was finished. I would have been much happier with a Percy Jackson sized book that had a killer plot and not quite so much going on.

It also felt like this was a repeat of the first Magnus Chase. The same events happened with slight variations, and I found it pretty hard to keep focused on what was going on. It took me a lot longer than it should have to get through this one.

It could be that I’ve outgrown this type of story (which is sad to think about), but the more likely scenario is that by pumping out the volume of books that he is, the quality of Riordan’s writing is beginning to slip.

I know that review seemed kind of harsh, considering I am giving this book three hearts, but I feel like it all needed to be said. On a happier note, the book did have some funny and unique parts, and I still love the diversity and individuality of each of the characters.

So, The Hammer of Thor gets three out of five hearts from me.

♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- The Sword of Summer

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The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan
Published by Disney- Hyperion Books on October 6, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult, Middle Grade
Pages: 499
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Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

I’ve always been a huge fan of Rick Riordan. I love his ability to bring mythology to life in a modern era and create unlikely heroes out of unsuspecting teens. But when I read The Sword of Summer I felt let down. It felt to me like Riordan was trying to recreate Percy Jackson in the Norse world, and cram too many adventures into one plot.

Magnus is a likable character, and it is certainly entertaining to read from his point of view, but the whole book felt too familiar. It was like having a long lasting Deja vu. What I also found frustrating about this book is that straight from the beginning it includes Annabeth Chase, a Greek demigod, which makes it seem like this book really is trying to use the success of Percy Jackson to gain fame.

However, despite my disappointments, the book was a fun read. It retold a lot of Norse stories I heard as a child and brought them to life yet again. The characters were diverse and unique, and each had their own struggles, hopes, and dreams. They each were distinctly their own person, which is much appreciated.

I wouldn’t call The Sword of Summer a “must read”, but if you love the world that Riordan has created, this is a great way to delve into a new part of it while still seeing cameos of the older characters.

I am going to give the Sword of Summer three out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥