Review of “The Thousandth Floor” by Katharine McGee

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Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Pub: August 2016 HarperCollins

New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.
Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.
Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.
Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.
Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?
Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.
And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.
Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall….”-Summary from Goodreads.com

I had a lot more technical cons than pros for this book. I felt that McGee was much better at world building: she created this rich futuristic environment that was honestly super cool. But, she wasn’t so great at character development. A lot of these characters seemed 1-D, I kept forgetting who was who, and very superficial. Rylin and Eris were the only redeemable ones for me throughout. I can’t say too much about it but Leda’s personality was not super believable. Also we finally get a queer relationship, yay!!! And bi characters are super underrepresented in any fiction. There was some refreshing diversity in characters and relationships.
There isn’t really any action until at least half way through, the whole time I was reading this I just knew that all the action would go down in the last 50 pages as setup for the next book. I find that ultra frustrating, but I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy those last 50 pages. Reading it was a lot of fun.
Lastly, there was quite a bit of obvious foreshadowing. Things like in the beginning Avery says she never wants to fight with Leda because of her revenge fueled personality, and they immediately begin drawing apart. There were a lot of instances of heavy handed foreshadowing and she should trust her readers more/leave more to surprise.
I think the character problems may have been helped with less POVs. But overall, it was a fun read, and I plan on reading the second.
(Also the cover is gorgeous and the inside of the hardcover is literally liquid gold glitter.)
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Review of “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

Pub:  May 2016 Bloomsbury

“Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.” -Summary Goodreads.com

Ugh. I’m not sure where to start on this review so I will start at the beginning of my expansive notes which start at the beginning of the book. Also, I apologize for the length of this review, I have a lot of things to say.

From the setup, and the way she paints Tamlin, which I’m guessing is from her spending too much time within the book that she lost a little perspective, you can tell that she does not like Tamlin. Perhaps I need to re-read the first one, and I plan to, but I do not remember Tamlin being this big of an ass. I thought he was more accepting of her fighting and tough side in the last book. Feyre so abhorrently did not want to marry Tamlin, that it took me, as a reader, by surprise.

With all that said, this is a book, that at its heart, is a story of a girl finding her freedom and finding herself. It was absolutely gorgeous and powerful. This is a book for people who have suffered from unhealthy relationships, PTSD (I’ll come back to this), and the guilt of not wanting what you once thought you needed. Maas also covers male rape respectfully, something not talked about enough. A quote that absolutely struck me right in the feels: “I realized how badly I’ve been treated before, if my standards had become so low. If the freedom I’d been granted felt like a privilege and not an inherent right.” Holy. Shit. Maas hits the nail on the head here. I know this feeling and I know that many young girls do. She no longer needed a protector or a safe life full of food, wealth and safety. She became someone else when her human body died. Yes, this was hammered into us a lot of times throughout the book, but we needed to hear it. We needed to listen.

Maas handles PTSD with stunning grace. She did her research. Feyre couldn’t handle certain colors, the feeling of being trapped, and Tamlin’s disrespect and misunderstanding of that cemented their differences. He ignored it all together.

Coming back to what I said in the first paragraph, I do think that Maas went a little far with the heavy comparison between Spring and Night court. Everything was better: the clothes, the company. While yes, accurate, the setup was a little obvious.  With that said, everyone in the Night Court was pretty fucking awesome. Also, the conversations were well-written and nothing felt like boring court politics. That is not easy.

From then on my notes devolve into “WOWOWOWOW THIS BOOK IS FUCKING AMAZING”. I mostly ran out of intelligent things to say when my emotions took over. This book, this book right here, is so much, miles better than the first. I think this made my list of favorite books of all time. You can tell she must have been planning or already done with this book when she wrote the first because pieces of the second were important in the first and vice versa. I definitely want to read some more things from her. (Based on this, she would write a good vampire! There were many similarities).

Tamlin was such a flat character, but Rhys? Rhys is incredible. Sometimes I forgot about the war building because I got so into the story of him and Feyre. Maas showed us that you can be possessive in a way that is healthy and what an honest, real relationship should look like. (The sex scenes were quite a bit for YA, seems more like new adult, not that I’m complaining!)

The ending let me down a little bit. I was frustrated because the plot buildup of this war throughout the whole book, which was secondary to her and Rhys, but still, didn’t really happen at all? I didn’t completely understand what the King of Hybern wanted. And now the whole next book will be about that again? The last few chapters felt a little rushed and confusing. It was most certainly a buildup for the next book. Which I get, but I do enjoy everything getting resolved and I’m also a little bummed at what the immediate future holds for them. Without spoiling, let’s just say things are gonna be a bit awkward? Not sure how she is going to handle certain things there. But we shall see.

Regardless of the ending, this is a truly incredible book. A female character who is strong, but wasn’t afraid to break along the way and let herself be true to what she wanted and needed. I loved it. Perhaps this holds a special place based on my experiences, but even so, the writing was excellent. What can I say? Maas is kind of a master.

Author of the Month: V.E. Schwab

Hey guys,

So I’ve read three V.E Schwab (Victoria Schwab) books this year and I did not do any reviews for them. I felt that I should give her a special shoutout.

 

 

These are the books I’ve read from her. I want to start by saying that she is a phenomenal writer with great powers of world-building and character development/characterization. Tor is her publisher which also says a great deal about her.

Of the three, Vicious was my favorite. “Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” Ugh. Amazing. This book is totally and completely morally ambiguous and I love that. For most of the book these characters are pretty gray. Who is a villain? How does one define a villain? I am gravitated to exploring these questions and the characters were well developed.

The other two books are the first two in her Shades of Magic trilogy. I didn’t find the characters as alluring as they were in Vicious. But, if you are a big fan of fantasy, there is a magic system and it takes place in a fantastical world, whereas Vicious was set in our good ol’ normal planet. Shades of Magic is set in 4 different parallel Londons: Red, Gray, Black and White London and only Kell can travel between the 4 worlds (or is he the only one?).

Overall, I would definitely recommend checking out her work, even if you aren’t a big fantasy fan. If not, I would say to start with Vicious to get a taste of her writing style. You won’t be disappointed!

 

Review “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry 

Gabrielle Zevin

Pub: April 2014, Algonquin Books

 

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

“In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pee Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–and booksellers–that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.  
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island–from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.” –Goodreads.com

Ugh. This book. This book. It’s beautiful and gorgeous, well written. It made me laugh and cry and smile. I purposefully attached a picture of my own copy so you can see all the little sticky tabs of moments that made me react in some way. This is a book about books, written with care by someone who loves books. Somewhere in this synopsis ^ it says that this novel is a love letter to the world of books and I couldn’t agree more. There are so many publishing intricacies and little things you notice when you work in a bookstore. Not to mention comments on crafts and the classics.

The characterization and voice is incredible. Zevin gets each one spot on. Here’s one of my favorite bits from Maya as a little girl: “The first way Maya approaches a book is to smell it. She strips the book of its jacket, then holds it up to her face and wraps the boards around her ears. Books typically smell like Daddy’s soap, grass, the sea, the kitchen table, and cheese.” How gorgeous and perfect is this?

The time line of this book spans a long time and jumps a lot in years. It moves fast, but I can’t fault the book for that as it’s called The Storied LIFE of A.J. Fikry. But I honestly can’t pick apart and look for bad parts in the book when I loved it this much. At that point I’m just looking for things to say.

I had the sort of reaction to this book that every author hopes for and is the whole reason they write. And I honestly, cannot think of a higher compliment. I already can’t wait to re-read this.

At one point A.J. remarks that “sometimes books don’t find us until the right time.” and with this one, I can’t agree more. This book certainly found me at the right time, especially as it’s been on my list for a few years.

We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.

 

Review of “Doodling For…”

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Can be Purchased Here

Doodling for Dog People is designed to appeal to seasoned artists and doodle enthusiasts alike. Packed with more than 50 fun and inspirational prompts, doodling exercises, and canine-related factoids, professional illustrator Gemma Correll sparks the imagination and spurs canine lovers to explore, experiment, and brainstorm ways to draw and doodle their favorite furry friends with her cute and clever art style. The artist’s simple, unique, and whimsical approach is sure to inspire, entertain, and guide artists of any skill level. Doodlers will find inspiration for drawing different types of dogs, dogs in outfits, dogs in action, and even doggie accessories. An interactive book, Doodling for Dog People demonstrates how to draw whimsical doggie doodles, while encouraging artists and doodle enthusiasts to develop their own style and techniques. With its portable format and plenty of open doodling pages, this quirky doodle book is perfect for on-the-go creative types.” -Goodreads

I received these books from a peer at Quarto Knows in exchange for an honest review. These books are super cute and I love the style of the artist, Gemma Correll. (I especially liked the anthropomorphic fruits). I attached some more photos and sneak peeks below.

The Doodling For books are marketed towards on-the-go artists and people that love to doodle. In my opinion, it would do a lot better marketed for kids and gift books. There are plenty of informative quizzes and facts that would be great for kids and all the drawing prompts would provide great entertainment on long car rides or flights. Kind of like an activity book. I also think they’d be great to give as gifts. Have a cat lover friend? A foodie? Everyone does. The Tree Hugger one was especially funny. Also at $16.95 it’s pretty reasonably priced. Would recommend!

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Review “Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined”

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

Stephenie Meyer

Pub: Oct 2015 Little, Brown

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

I was pretty excited about this. I love Twilight and I am not ashamed to admit it and I don’t think you should ever be ashamed to love the things that bring you joy. Yes, people have said over and over that Twilight gives young girls an example of an unhealthy relationship. To those I would say 1: it’s fiction, he’s a vampire, he’s not even human and they are often betrayed as possessive due to their animalistic nature. This was never meant to be a book about relationship advice. 2: in the foreward to this Stephenie Meyers states: “She’s [Bella] also been criticized for being too consumed with her love interest, as if that’s somehow just a girl thing. But I’ve always maintained that it would have made no difference if the human were male and the vampire female- it’s still the same story. Gender and species aside, Twilight has always been a story about the magic and obsession and frenzy of first love.” Gosh, she hits the nail on the head here. We all remember our first love. Mostly, it wasn’t healthy. It was obsessive, all consuming and tortured. You could think of nothing else and it was filled with a childish innocence and beauty. Isn’t that what Twilight does for us? I think it’s beautiful and that my life has been made better for this story.

Now, mushy stuff aside. I love Edythe…I might actually love Edythe more than Edward (shh don’t tell). She is way less broody and tortured and suffering. She is strong and she says stuff like “Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles” BOOM (Stephenie probably put this in here to appease us, but I still love it). There’s also a scene where Beau sees Edythe in his dreams and it’s really quite beautiful. I will say I wasn’t as attached to the other Cullen members as I was in the original series, but I think that’s due to the fact that I kept picturing them in the original. It was a little bit more confusing to keep track of everyone.

If you’re a team Jacob fan…sorry guys, Jules role is minimal to nothing. Stephenie hints at a budding friendship but this story is different. I won’t spoil it but the ending is a total surprise and is INCREDIBLE. I wish the original could have ended this way but I can see why it couldn’t (plus we would have had way less books). It’s more practical and I love it, I really do. I’m also really impressed that Stephenie kept this a secret, it wasn’t public until the release day. Considering what happened with Midnight Sun I can see why she pulled all stops and probably had legal documents alllll over this. Good for her. That is seriously difficult to do in this day and age.

I would say if you’re a Twilight fan then you definitely need to read this. If you kind of liked it but were unsure about the gender roles, read it. Otherwise, check your negativity at the door, this is a safe space 🙂

(Also I’ve been really excited to see the fan art coming out and they all make Edythe a red-head even though it’s supposed to be golden. Weird?)

 

Review “Crimson Bound” by Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound

Rosamund Hodge

Pub: Balzer + Bray May 2015

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

“When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.” -Summary, Goodreads.com

As much as I loved Cruel Beauty and fairytales I was definitely excited to read this book. I may disappoint by saying that it wasn’t quite as good as Cruel Beauty. Of course, this could be because I have a soft spot for Beauty and the Beast.

Let me start off by saying that Hodge still kills it with her beautiful world building, lush language and picture painting. Girl kills it. I even missed my train stop because I was so engrossed in it. Also, once again a beautiful embossed hardcover and jacket.

One of my only issues with Cruel Beauty was that I felt that some of her characters needed work, especially the second-level or background characters. Going into this book I felt that way but towards the end I changed my mind. I thought that Erec was multi-layered and so was his relationship with Rachelle. A mark of good character building (hello Orange is the New Black) is when the writer makes me change my mind more than once on how I feel about them. I definitely felt this way with Erec ad Rachelle. Towards the end you realize that Rachelle doesn’t always make the right decisions, that she’s flawed, and I love that. She’s human (well, not really). Without giving away too much, at one point she tells Amelie that she couldn’t have gone on without her, that she would have given in to the forest. And as a reader, I believed that.

A big gripe I had was the summary. This is compared as a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood…but it isn’t. At all. I think they may have taken this angle to sell more books, but she really doesn’t need it. The forest and perhaps her aunt’s cottage were the only similarities. Some parts were a bit trippy and filled with odd creatures that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland but overall this stands on its own. Not to mention the summary didn’t even include Erec, who was pretty important… I also enjoy reading her acknowledgements because she always lists inspirations.

Crimson Bound had less musings on humanity and life lessons than Cruel Beauty but here’s one quote I liked: “This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope.” (Hodge, 383).

Overall, I recommend and will continue to read her beautiful books. Any thoughts?