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Month: November 2016

Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss

Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss

Meet Me Here by Bryan BlissMeet Me Here by Bryan Bliss
Published by HarperCollins on May 31st 2016
Source: edelweiss
two-stars
Thomas is supposed to leave for the army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, find each other, find a path, and know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to.

I received this book for free from edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I’ve read a few books with characters who suffered with PTSD and I’ve always found that topic to be interesting. I was excited to read this book since I thought it would touch on that topic as well as just the emotions and feelings of one chapter of your life ending (high school) and a new one starting. Sadly, this book just did not reach the expectations that I had for it. This book felt very basic. It never really got deep or in depth and I never really connected with what was going on.

This book takes place over an entire night, graduation night to be exact. Our main character, Thomas, just graduated and is supposed to be enlisting in the military the following day. After seeing how his brother, Jake, came back (with PTSD), he decides he’d rather run away without telling anyone. I never really clicked with Thomas. I did like him and could understand his thought process, but that was about it. I never really believed his journey (if that makes sense). I really wish I could believe his emotions and feel them alongside him. The situations he was put into and the things he was dealing with were hard! I wanted to feel them and work through them with him and it just never happened.

One of the major things I wasn’t a fan of was Mallory. I never really understood her role. I understand they used to be friends, but it was just way too random that all of a sudden she started talking to Thomas again and that they went and did all these things with each other. I almost wish there were flashbacks to a younger Thomas and Mallory instead of them having to remind each other ‘Oh, remember this?’. I also didn’t like how she just randomly left. One minute she’s there leading the show and the next she was just gone. It was just to abrupt and random for me.

This brings me to another issue I had with this story. The plot was so all over the place. It’s hard to believe that everything that happened could have feasibly happened within just one night. There were so many characters randomly thrown into the mix it was hard to keep track of who was who. At first it’s all about Thomas and Mallory rekindling their friendship and all randomly it’s about Thomas looking for his brother and drug dealers got involved (I think-it was never really confirmed) and then some older vets got involved and then there’s a rock that Jake brought home with him that he needed to do something with. I don’t know. It was SO scattered. I still don’t really know what happened in the end. Are the vets going to take care of Jake? Is Thomas not going to enlist? Is Mallory staying with Will and get married? Is Jake addicted to some sort of drug? There were just so many things that weren’t really wrapped up or addressed. It bothered me.

Nonetheless, I didn’t hate the story. I’m not sure if I’ll read more by this author, but there is definitely potential. I think that’s why I’m so bummed out. I had such high hopes for this book, but it never really came together for me. I may try another book by him, just to see if it’s this book specifically, or if I just don’t click with this particular author’s writing style. We’ll see!

Would You Rather? | Harry Potter Edition

Would You Rather? | Harry Potter Edition

I love Harry Potter (duh). I’ve read all the books (multiple times) and have seen all the movies (multiple times). When I saw this list on Pinterest, I couldn’t not answer the questions and decided to make a blog post out of it!

 

Would you rather….

have Ron for a friend? OR have Hermione for a friend?
I think I would rather have Hermione as a friend. As loyal as Ron is and as much fun as he seems, I think Hermione and I would have way more in common.

fight the Basilisk? OR fight a Dementor?
This is a tough one for me. I am not a fan of snakes (at all), but I think Dementors would be really rough for me as well. Since I HAVE to choose, I would probably fight the Basilisk.

spend a weekend with Dudley Dursley? OR spend a weekend with Kreacher the house elf?
I think I would rather spend the weekend with Dudley Dursley. If I recall, he tended to get bored at certain points and would eventually leave Harry alone.

be a Quidditch Keeper? OR be a Quidditch Beater?
I could not be a Beater. I have really poor hand-eye coordination so that would just be epically bad. lol I think I’d do okay as a Keeper though.

be sorted into Ravenclaw? OR be sorted into Hufflepuff?
I would love to be in Ravenclaw. I love learning and logic and all that so I feel like I would be right at home there.

have an Invisibility Cloak? OR have a Time-Turner?
I think I would rather have an Invisibility Cloak. I think I’d be too scared to mess with time since there are so many ways that could go wrong.

receive a Howler in front of your friends? OR eat a vomit flavored Every Flavored Bean?
I would much rather eat a vomit flavored Every Flavored Bean. I embarrass easy so the Howler would be completely petrifying. At least with the bean, it could be over quickly.

attend the Yule Ball? OR attend the Quidditch World Cup?
I would love to go to the Quidditch World Cup. Sporting events aren’t exactly my thing, but they are definitely more so my thing than dancing!

spend an afternoon in the Burrow with the Weasley’s? OR spend an afternoon in Diagon Alley?
Hands down I would go to the Burrow. Their family is just so close and fun and awesome and I think it would be just a blast.

have Severus Snape as your father? OR have Dolores Umbridge as your mother?
I think I would rather have Snape as my dad. He seems to have more moments of understanding compared to Dolores so I think it would be less… problematic?

have a pet Hippogriff? OR have a pet Phoenix?
Uhm… I so want a Phoenix. I’m a bit of a klutz so to have a pet with healing tears? Sign me up!

take a class in Potions? OR take a class in caring for magical creatures?
I think I would do better in Potions. I have the view of Potions being very similar to baking, which I absolutely adore.

having a flying broomstick? OR have an enchanted flying car?
I’d take the car over a broomstick any day. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a klutz and I feel like it’d be pretty easy for me to fall off a broom compared to a car being all enclosed and such.

be a werewolf like Remus Lupin? OR be a ghost like Nearly Headless Nick?
I’d rather be werewolf. At least that only affects you a few days a month whereas being a ghost is kind of permanent.

spend a week lost in the Forbidden Forest? OR spend a day in Azkaban?
This is another toughie! I think I’d rather spend a day in Azkaban. I’m horrible in nature and with camping so a whole week in the forest could be pretty rough.

play Quidditch? OR play Wizard’s Chess?
I SUCK at chess so I’d rather play Quidditch. I know I’d probably fall off a broom, but I think it would still be more fun than getting beat up by chess pieces.

be a teacher at Hogwarts? OR be an Auror?
I would rather teach. In college, I was planning on being a teacher and it’s always been a dream of mine. While I probably won’t become an actual teacher, I have taken on many training roles at work. I wouldn’t mind catching bad guys though!

have Hagrid as a friend? OR have Dobby as a friend?
I would definitely rather have Hagrid as a friend. He is my favorite character of the series and I just absolutely love him.

change the story so Dumbledore does not get killed? OR change the story so Sirius does not get killed?
This is a rough question. I think I’d change the story so Sirius doesn’t die. I feel like it was so unfair to Harry for him to lose him so quick. That death still breaks my heart so I would definitely want that changed.

spend an hour talking with J.K. Rowling? OR spend an hour talking with Daniel Radcliffe?
I would love to talk to both, but for this I would chose J.K. Rowling. She has done so many things that I would love to really pick her brain.

Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout

Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout

Genius: The Game by Leopoldo GoutGenius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout
Published by Macmillan on May 3rd 2016
Source: Netgalley
three-stars
The Game: Get ready for Zero Hour as 200 geniuses from around the world go head to head in a competition hand-devised by India's youngest CEO and visionary.

The Players:
Rex- One of the best programmers/hackers in the world, this 16-year-old Mexican-American is determined to find his missing brother.
Tunde- This 14-year-old self-taught engineering genius has drawn the attention of a ruthless military warlord by single-handedly bringing electricity and internet to his small Nigerian village.
Painted Wolf- One of China's most respected activist bloggers, this mysterious 16-year-old is being pulled into the spotlight by her father's new deal with a corrupt Chinese official.

The Stakes: Are higher than you can imagine. Like life and death. Welcome to the revolution. And get ready to run.

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Let me start by saying I absolutely loved Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I’ve read it twice in as many years (once as an actual book, the other as an audiobook) and I’m probably going to read it again before the movie releases. This book reminded me a lot of Ready Player One and not in a bad way. I think that’s why I found it so appealing and so easy to just dive into. This book really sucked me in, but by the end it just felt kind of lackluster.

The Genius: The Game is about these three kids who get invited (sort of) to participate in this challenge of sorts by Kiran Biswas. Kiran Biswas is the young owner/leader of this super high-tech company. He has gathered a large portion of who he considers to be the smartest young geniuses in the world to compete in an unknown game for an unknown prize. These geniuses are all super tech-savy and really are geniuses. One of them designs armor of sorts to surgically attach to bugs in order to control them and it works!

The three main kids that this story revolves around are Tunde, Rex, and Cai (aka Painted Wolf). What I loved about all three is that they are all diverse characters. I don’t normally comment on this, but the way their diversity was handled was awesome in my opinion. Their diversity wasn’t the focus, it wasn’t really explicitly stated, but it was implied. I didn’t notice any stereotypes (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong though) and I thought that was well done. It wasn’t really the focus of who they were as people as you sometimes see.

Tunde → He is a mechanical engineering genius from a small town in Nigeria. He is able to re-purpose what we would probably consider trash or junk into amazing machines that have actual applicable functions. He gets noticed by this bad general guy (who did seem a bit cliché) and is basically threatened to create this machine for him. He needs to build this machine while overseas in Boston competing in the game. His POV chapters were probably my least favorite though. While I appreciate the addition of his native language, I never really understood what he was saying and I’m still not sure if any of it was important or not. His POV also felt just really young. In the synopsis it states he is 14, but he acted older than his age, but sounded younger than his age. It was just… very disjointed for me. I also wasn’t a fan of the fact that his storyline involving the general just kind of disappeared. It was mentioned briefly in the end, but not in relation to Tunde and the general. Instead it was brought up in conjunction with some of the events that happened with Rex.

Rex → I liked Rex better than Tunde. He is a coding genius who has been trying to find his brother for a couple of years. He created this program (WALKABOUT), that if run from a quantum computer, can locate anyone in the world. He figured that competing in the game (where there was a quantum computer on campus) would give him a chance to try to find his brother. After a series of events (which I’m still trying to figure out and untangle), things don’t quite go the way he wanted to. His story will definitely continue in the sequel. This installment definitely set it up to where that may be the main focal point instead of all three sharing the same amount of story line.

Cai (aka Painted Wolf) → She was by far my favorite. She had such a unique set of skills and morals that you could definitely pick her voice out of the bunch. Her POV chapters were different than the boys. While she had similar motivation to them in going to the game, she was able to maintain a steady follow through and focus on this goal compared to them (who would sometimes get distracted). I’m really curious how long she’ll be able to keep her two worlds separate though (especially after that cliffhanger).

While I enjoyed the story, towards the end, things got a bit chaotic and confusing. I think there was too much shoved in without it being added in a logical way. I didn’t like some of the twists and I’m definitely not a fan of the cliffhanger ending. I did like the lead up to the game and I did like part one of the game. I think it’s with part two that things kind of lost steam.

A couple other things that bothered me aren’t really story related as much as format related. The copy I have is an eArc provided by the publisher so it’s not a final copy. There were random words in bold throughout. I could tell they were trying to put emphasis on these words, but I’m not sure it was the right way to do it. There were also pretty long sections with no bolding, but then a couple pages with quite a few. I kind of hope that’s not in the published version. I can see that being pretty distracting. I also wasn’t a huge fan of all the visuals. I liked most of them, but there were almost one too many. Plus, the ‘screen grabs’ from Cai’s recorded footage were so fake it’s not even funny. If they’re going to go with visuals, it should be consistent and all the same style. I couldn’t help but cringe whenever I saw one of the screen grabs, not going to lie.

While I enjoyed this, I can see it being a polarizing book. I would say it is definitely aimed for younger kids and I think they would just gobble it up. While I don’t think I would read the sequel in this series, I would certainly read more by this author in the future.

“Well, the only way to truly succeed, to truly change the world, is to do what only a child can do: Deny there even is a box.” – Kiran Biswas

After You by Jojo Moyes

After You by Jojo Moyes

After You by Jojo MoyesAfter You by Jojo Moyes
Published by Penguin on September 23rd 2015
four-stars
How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future...

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

I finally finished a book! The last book I finished was The Martian on October 8th. It is now November 4th. That’s basically an entire month (almost) that I didn’t finish a book! I was in such a bad reading slump that even trying to re-read Harry Potter didn’t work out so well for me. It was ridiculous! I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’m just so thrilled that I finally read something!

So what was this book that may be the beginning of the end of this slump? After You by Jojo Moyes. I read Me Before You (the first in this duology) back in August. I basically put the sequel on hold through my library immediately thereafter. After almost two months, I finally got a copy! Of course I got this copy in the middle of this stupid reading slump. I decided to try to read it since I waited so long for a copy and I didn’t want to have to wait so long again. I’m just so excited I actually I got through it!

When I first read Me Before You, I really enjoyed it. I loved watching Lou grow and learn more about life outside of her small hometown. The ending of course wrecked me. I knew it was coming (thank you spoilers and my tendency to seek them out), but I don’t think there’s really preparing for it. I think knowing what was going to happen at the end made it a more interesting read. I feel like I could understand Will a little bit better.

That said, I had high hopes for After You. While I still really enjoyed it, it wasn’t really what I was expecting. I was kind of surprised with where Lou was in the grieving process and in life. She had so much personality and it kind of disappeared in this installment. As much as I wasn’t a huge fan of her in the beginning, I did like her journey and where she ended up by the end. I think she was really able to move on and actually start living.

I grew up dealing with unresolved grief so I think the passages with the Moving On Group are what I really connected with. I also really connected with Lily trying to find a connection with her family. I also grew up not really knowing a parent (my mother). I do wish the whole phone pic thing wasn’t where her story went. That was one thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of. I feel her behavior could have been handled in a different way that didn’t seem such a similar version of what happened to Lou in the maze. It almost felt like a cop out for me.

I did like Sam and what he added to the story. He was so much different than Will. If he was too much like him, I don’t think I would have liked his relationship with Lou. She needed someone different than Will. I liked that Sam wasn’t really afraid to point out her need to really let Will go. He was able to help her move on since he had also dealt with the loss of someone close to him. I did find it funny who she thought he was related to. That was kind of awesome. I didn’t like what happened to him at the end though. I feel like that was just being mean to Lou and wasn’t really fair to her.

Overall, I really enjoyed this duology and I definitely plan on reading more by Jojo Moyes. Her books touch on emotions that you don’t really see handled in such a light way. I can see where many may not enjoy this duology, but I think everyone should at least give them a try.

around the year 2017

around the year 2017

Even though I’m still not reading (it’s been like a month-eek!), I’m already thinking of challenges for next year. I have a bit of a challenge problem, I know. I already know I’m not going to finish my challenges for this year, but that’s fine by me. I’m a glutton for book challenge torture. I’m just honestly excited for the new year so I can try to start fresh. I just really hope I have this slump under control by then… If I’m not reading by then, I must have a serious problem going on!

One of the challenges I’m participating in (again) next year is one I found on Goodreads. It’s called the Around the Year in 52 Books. Basically, as a group we voted on 52 prompts for different books to read. Obviously it means that there’s a book a week for this challenge. Really, you can read them as quick or as slow as you want, so some people finished as early as like July. There’s a lot of leeway in the challenge which is nice. There’s a large list of prompts, but you can adjust it to whatever reading style you have. You don’t have to read all 52, you can read in order (or not), etc. It’s nice that there are so many ways to tailor it to what works for you.

For the 2016 version of this, I divided the list by month. The weeks that fell in January (so weeks 1-4), I would read within January but not necessarily in the order of 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. I’m going to do something similar, but instead of by month it’ll be by quarter (so January-March, April-June, etc.). I think it’ll give me enough structure to challenge myself, but not to overwhelm myself. I’m such a mood reader that I think that kind of openness will help.

I’m also not going to really plan my list in advance. This year I didn’t plan until that particular month, but then I would feel obligated to read those books I chose. I’m going to go a little bit more with the flow in 2017. I’m going to have to plan some of the topics, but I’m going to let myself have the option of changing them out as I want. I’m not going to decide on a book and not let myself change my mind if I end up wanting to. I’m just too much of a mood reader to be too strict on my TBR.

So what are these prompts I keep talking about? Well the list is finally finished and here it is!

from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016
with at least 2 perspectives
meant to read in 2016
doesn’t contain the letter ‘E’
historical fiction
being released as a movie in 2017
with an animal on the cover or in the title
written by a person of color
in the middle of your TBR
a dual-timeline novel
category from another challenge
based on a myth
recommended by one of your favorite authors
with a strong female character
written or set in Scandinavia
a mystery
book with illustrations
really long book (600+ pages)
a New York Times bestseller
owned for awhile but haven’t read yet
a continuation of a book you’ve already read
by an author you haven’t read before
from the BBC Big Read list
written by at least two authors
about a famous historical figure
an adventure book
by one of your favorite authors
non-fiction
published outside the 4 major publishing houses
from the Goodreads Top 100 YA Books list
from a subgenre of your favorite genre
with a long title
magical realism
set in or by an author from the Southern Hemisphere
one of the main characters is royalty
Hugo Award winner or nominee
chosen randomly
inspired by a work of classic literature
epistolary fiction
published in 2017
with an unreliable narrator
a best book of the 21st century
with a chilling atmosphere
recommendation from ‘What Should I Read Next’
with a one-word title
time travel
past suggestion that didn’t win
a banned book
book from someone else’s bookshelf
Penguin Modern Classic (any edition)
a collection
set in a fictional location

I think a lot of these will be pretty easy to complete, but there are a few that are probably going to be really hard. I’m going to try to spread the hard ones out throughout the year instead of trying to do all the hard ones in the last couple months when things are really chaotic for me.

We’ll see though! I’m pretty excited, but I’m still really worried about this stupid reading slump I’m in. I hope it’s done by 2017 and I can get back into enjoying my reading and doing challenges and making lists and all that fun stuff. I’ll probably share posts as I plan out my challenges and as I start crossing prompts off the list, but that’s definitely to be determined. I’m trying to not make any promises that I may fail at doing.