Author Archives: zeldabookowl

Book Madness 2015 : Brackets for everyone!

OoP_BookMadnessTemplate_8.5x11

Ok, now I am surprised by my winner…mostly because I haven’t even read it. I want to though, if that counts for anything…no? I didn’t think so. I hadn’t read a pretty high number of these. I was getting pretty frustrated at some of these pairs though.

I mean, who compares Madeline and The Bell Jar? In what world do those belong together? Why is Goodnight Moon even on the list? Ick. Corduroy vs Animal Farm? Is it because they are both animals? Watership down is about rabbits, at least those two together would make sense. Lolita vs Charlotte’s Web made me laugh out loud, then shudder a little. No. My final four was super interesting though.

The Bell Jar vs Jane Eyre: Two books I haven’t read, but still. Wuthering Heights vs American Gods. Final two: The Bell Jar vs American Gods. AND THE WINNER!!?!?! The Bell Jar.

I’m not sure how I voted out The Outsiders so quickly, upon rebooking at my bracket I regretted that choice, but once it’s down there is no changing it and I think that’s a good thing. Apparently, subconsciously I don’t think it should win, so who can argue with that? It was really difficult to choose between American Gods and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but c’mon, it’s Neil Gaiman.

My bracket was pretty different from Nox’s and Madeline’s, but surprisingly Nox and I picked the same winner! That must mean something, right?

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens once the voting starts, but I imagine it will go the way of my other brackets and I will disagree with most of the choices.

Advertisements

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell Ourselves Title: Lies We Tell Ourselves
Author: Robin Talley
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Historical Fiction
Length: 368 pages

Where do I even begin? I loved this. Pure and simple love. Which might seem like the wrong emotion when thinking of the subject matter and how  truly difficult it was to read, but I just wanted to gather everyone of those poor kids and hug them. I kept wanting to just shout “Ok, bring it in” and throw my arms around them and hug them. This book gave me the chills, made me want to cry, and yet I could I couldn’t stop reading!

I think overall I preferred the narrative from Sarah’s point of view, but it was nice to see the growth in Linda from her point of view. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that dealt with race issues the way this book does. Page one it begins, there is no tiptoeing around the issue of desegregating the schools we jump into the first day of school for these 10 kids that are thrust into an all-white school that is, shall we say, less than pleased to see them.

Lie #1
There’s no need to be afraid.

As they approach the school everyone is waiting from them outside and they are shouting at them. They are jostled, elbowed, tripped, and they haven’t even made it inside the building. It was like a train-wreck that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from. I felt embarrassed for the south, the United States, and the people that were forced to endure that kind of humiliation.

“We’re inside.
It’s done. We did it. We’re in the school.
But the white people are still staring at us. Shouting at us.
They’re all around me. And they still look hungry.”

“We haven’t been sitting ten seconds when everyone else who was sitting on the front row stands up, all in one smooth motion, and files out.
For the second time this morning, I wonder if the white people rehearsed that.”

Every time a group of people changed seats leaving one of them alone just broke my heart. It made my chest hurt. My throat just burned, either with sadness or with anger, or both. I just couldn’t settle on one emotion. I can’t imagine treating people this way and I am thankful that I was not raised to treat anyone as though they don’t matter or that they are different than I am so I treat them differently.

I can understand why some of the kids that don’t hurl insults don’t help, they would then become a target, but the teachers blatantly ignoring it just fills me with rage. I’m sure there was pressure from higher ups not to interfere unless they had to, or even in some places that would have cost a teacher their job because they didn’t agree with the majority opinion. But..every adult that stood by and let it happen made it me want to cry or break something. While I am very non-confrontational, I hope that I would say something or do something if I saw such cruelty. I hope that I am never faced with making that decision, because if I chose wrong I don’t know that I could forgive myself.

The other main issue at hand in this book is the fact that Sarah finds herself attracted to another girl and can’t stop beating herself up about how wrong that is. Now not only is she one of ten black students in a newly desegregated school, but she is also a lesbian with no way of dealing with all her pain. AND on top of that her new crush is white. This girl just can’t catch a break from herself or the world.

There was also a lot of religion questioning that I found interesting. Sarah did a lot of praying and talked frequently of her church, but she would question why God would allow them to go through this or why if he was watching over them that he had to do his job from so far away. That broke my heart all over again.

I was slightly disappointed that Linda didn’t grow as much as I wanted her to, but she definitely made some giant leaps in the right direction. The amount she changed was very believable, anything more would have seemed outrageous due to length of time the book spans, but I just wanted everyone to realize how wrong they were and get some karma for how horribly they acted. Just punch them all in the face, repeatedly, and call it a day.

Chuck. For some reason my heart went out to him the most. Maybe because he was supposed to be the protector of the girls, the younger boys, and also try to survive this new school with his head held high. He also had a lot to lose because the was most likely to be ganged up on in a fight with the assholes from his new school. I worried about him and I found myself actually flinching when I thought something bad was going to happen to him…..he actually made me cry a bit.

This book is not necessarily easy to read. There is no shying away from what people call them and the language itself may be too offensive for some, but it’s pretty damn accurate for what these people were forced to endure. The idea that anyone could be treated that way just kills me.

I highly recommend this book. I’ve never read a book quite like it and I don’t think I ever will again.

How to Fall….off a cliff?

 How to Fall

Title:  How to Fall
Author: Jane Casey
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Length: 
352 pages

Synopsis:

 Jess Tennant is a little less than thrilled about being hauled to a small English town by her mother to visit family they’ve never met and her mother doesn’t talk about. Jess is even more surprised to learn that her cousin Freya died in what appears to be a freak accident and could be her long lost twin. As she copes with meeting new family, and shocking a town with her appearance, Jess begins to delve into the world that Freya lived. Soon Jess begins asking questions that no one seems to want answers to such as, did Freya kill herself, did she just happen to fall by accident, or was it something more sinister? It seems that the people of this sleepy town have a lot to hide.
Review:

All in all I loved it. Jane Casey is one of those authors on my “Read Everything They Publish” list. She writes some great mysteries that I can’t stop telling people about. I absolutely love her and this venture into YA is right up my alley combining two of my favorite things: murder and young adults!

I loved the creation of Jess and felt that she was very believable. I didn’t feel as if her fascination with Freya was far fetched. All the characters had the right amount of personality where they could have been real. I couldn’t help picturing this as a tv show and easily visualizing everything that was happening and all the characters.

One thing I quite enjoyed was the sort of uninterested, slightly aggressive flirting. Jess would act as if she cared less about Will, but then she would find herself thinking about him and admiring him, then chastising herself.

One problem I had was that I didn’t find the killer to be believable. It seemed a little far fetched, so that lead me to dropping it down from 5 stars. Typically, I am right there with Jane Casey, but she kind of lost me on this one.

I really was hoping to get more out of the situations with Will’s dad. There seemed to be a lot of potential in that story and almost as though the author was hoping to explore that avenue, but maybe in another story? Perhaps that tale wasn’t right for this one, I could see that. I am hoping that the situations involving him are explored more in the next book, which I am so excited for!

In the grand scheme of things, this was a great read and I recommend it for those that like their mysteries, but perhaps aren’t into the ones that are super dark and want some young adult elements.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of How to Fall from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Oh, Aector

book cover of Sorrow Bound by David Mark

Title: Sorrow Bound
Author: David Mark
Series: Aector McAvoy #3
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 352 pages
Rating: 4 stars (Madeleine) 4.5 stars (Zelda)

Synopsis:

The ever-lovable, lumbering police detective Aector McAvoy returns for his third book in Sorrow Bound. When Philippa Longman is found brutally murdered, Aector and Pharaoh are at a bit of a loss to understand why. The woman was well-loved, kind, and dedicated to improving her local neighborhood. Philippa’s death is followed by another murder, and the only connection between the two is that both saved the life of a man years ago. But who would kill someone for being a good samaritan?

Aector’s personal life is also a source of stress. Aector and Roisin are preparing to move into a house that they may or may not be able to afford. After standing up for a friend and confronting a drug dealer (okay, and stealing his money), Roisin becomes the target of the local crime lords. And in other parts of Hull, DC Helen Tremberg finds herself in a sticky situation after attracting the attentions of a man who seems to be too good to be true.

Review:

Madeleine: Let’s be honest: what keeps me coming back to this series is Aector. He is such an atypical fictional detective in a world of hardboiled, jaded detectives with destroyed personal lives. Aector is a genuinely good person who constantly worries about being a good person and deeply loves his wife and family. I love reading about a detective who isn’t sure about actions to take, who can’t quite maintain a professional distance and often finds himself bewilderedly comforting grieving family members, and who blushes whenever someone teases him. I especially loved this description of Aector:

“She remembers their first meeting. Remembers that agonizing walk from Queen’s Gardens to Hull Crown Court. It had rained the night before and the damp pavements were patterned with the crushed shells of snails that had not got out of the way as the city’s commuters began their walks to work. McAvoy had kept stopping every five or six steps to pick up any snail he thought was in harm’s way. He filled his pockets with them then ran back to Queen’s Garned to put them safely on the grass.”

The man saved snails!

Zelda: The snail story was perhaps one of my favorite parts of the book!! I love that while Aector struggles with work and his family, he at least has a family to go home to. I love reading about jaded detectives as much as the next owl, but someone has to be happy, right?

Madeleine: The only other detective similar to Aector that I can think of is Maeve Kerrigan from series by Jane Casey. I’ve only read the first book, but Maeve brings a fresh perspective as an early-career detective who is also concerned with doing the right thing and not 100% sure what to do at all times. In fact, now I want a crossover series with Maeve and Aector teaming up and being awesome together. Pharaoh can join too.

Zelda: I simultaneously want to go drinking with Pharaoh, but also find her so intimidating I hope we never meet. She seems so fun and yet terrifying. It’s a thrilling combination, I suppose. Jane Casey is fantastic. I love Maeve and can’t wait to get her next book, which is in cataloging as I type. 🙂

Continue reading

The Bone Season

To tell you I was disappointed in this would be an understatement. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the publishers are pushing this book like crazy. First book in a seven book series? Intriguing! Steampunk? Yes, please! London? Do you even have to ask? So what is so bad about it?

Well…let me start out with saying I didn’t hate it. In fact, it got a lot better once the plot actually got going. I think one of my biggest problems lies with the fact that I constantly got the impression that the author was trying SO hard to be cool it hurt. She is very young (born in 1991) and this is her first book, so I get it. Pressure so on and so forth. The slang just about killed me. There is a glossary in the back of the book that gives the slang and the meanings. There is a little paragraph at the top of the glossary stating that she kind of modeled it on slang from the London underground and blah blah blah. Que the trying too hard. It’s a nice idea, but it was kind of overkill. I don’t need you to shorten clairvoyant to voyant or clairvoyance to voyance. However, if you choose to shorten these words then stick with it! There can be no waffling back and forth between slang and not slang or I will just be annoyed.

This is also a book for adults, yet it reads like every YA book I’ve ever read. Now, I love YA books so this shouldn’t count against it, but it does a little. This is supposed to be a book for adults and it doesn’t feel like it. It just felt like an extended YA book because it was 452 pages long! I wanted to be surprised, but it all kind of felt cliche because I knew who the love interest would be and what was going unfold with her Rephaite keeper. I just felt kind of sad the whole time.

POSITIVE STARTING HERE (kind of):
Ok, I feel like this post is a bit doom and gloom and perhaps that isn’t fair. Maybe my expectations were too high. So be it. I do have some positive things to say. Once the story really got rolling I couldn’t put it down. I had to know WHERE the story would end. I was still really let down overall, but the plot picked up and it stayed pretty exciting. The author did a great job building a world for these characters and giving everyone a distinct personality. I never felt as though they strayed from the character she was setting up and that was nice to see.

Now, will I read the other books in this too long series? That is debatable. I waffled over what to rate this for so long I can’t really decide how I feel about it. I will decide once book 2 comes out and perhaps I will give this series another chance.

2.5/5 stars

Unbound

I didn’t think I could fall in love with this author or this series any more…I was wrong.

Victoria Schwab has created a world I am desperate to live in. I can’t get enough of this series! I want to shout from the rooftops to everyone in range to read these books.

If you have read any of my reviews you have quickly come to realize that I break one “important” rule and I judge my books by their covers.

I originally picked up The Archived when checking in a cart of brand new YA books and thought it was GORGEOUS!

I read the explanation and knew that I had to read it. The cover for The Unbound is equally fabulous.

I also have to say if there isn’t a book 3, I don’t know how I will deal with that. I NEED a book 3. This is beyond a want. I can just immerse myself in this world and not even think of anything else. I have to immerse myself in it. I’m not ready to let go.

The new characters were a lot of fun in this book. I was quite pleased that the introduction of Cash didn’t cause a full on brawl between him and Wesley (Guyliner), because I would have been pretty disappointed. There was some hinting toward a love triangle, but it never went beyond slight flirtation really, and I loved that. You could tell both boys had some interest and there was a slight tension during interactions between both boys and Mackenzie. It felt real and even I felt conflicted and a little unsure what would happen…even though we all know that Guyliner is the way to go.

Mackenzie. I adore her. She is so strong and feels real to me. I want to be her best friend…or just be her. She is so beautifully flawed and so great. Even though she was being “independent” it really translated to “Stop being so dumb and talk to Wesley! Ack!” in my head, but you can’t help but understand how she feels. I love that she doesn’t depend solely on him to solve her problems and wants that independence and doesn’t want to have to rely on anyone but herself and what her grandfather taught her. Like I said, I want to be her. I think at the end of the day she is a stronger person than I am.

 I am a grandpa’s girl. I didn’t really have a father growing up, I had my grandpa. He is someone I look up to and what he says/does/thinks matters. I relate to Mackenzie’s strong feelings for that relationship she holds on to.

Enough babbling. Just do yourself a favor and read these books. Grab a cup pot of coffee and stay up all night getting lost in this wonderful world.

Raven Boys: a taste of psychics, birds, and the kiss of death

Well, it has been quite a while since I’ve read a book that wasn’t part way through a series. I would say that Raven Boys was a good way to start again.

Like all good places to begin, let’s start with that cover. I mean, look at it. I wanted to read this just because of that cover. I don’t like the cover for Dream Thieves quite as much, but my expectations were clearly high after book 1. Now, onto what is actually between the covers.

Blue, our main character, is funny and independent. I liked that the kiss prophecy reminded me a bit of fairy tales. “Kiss your true love and he dies” a bit backwards from the kiss that solves all the world’s problems, but more realistic. Relationships are messy and dating sucks. Anyone that tells you dating is great lies. Run the other way now. I liked that there wasn’t this ridiculous love at first sight passion, but there were so many feelings! You could imagine the kinds of kissing that could go on if people weren’t going to literally die from it. I’m sure Ronan knows all about that since he is totally a loose cannon.

I sort of got this weird Donna Tart Secret History group feeling while I read this book. I couldn’t quite figure it out until I sat down to write this review, but I think that may be why I loved this so much. A group of weird kids, someone new tossed in the mix, murder, plots, magic. I can dig it.

Gansey. Yes. I loved him. I loved everyone in this book. Adam is wonderful. I simultaneously feel bad for him, want to punch him, then hug him, and Noah is great. Even Ronan that totally freaked me out and I worried he was going to go flying off the handle and kill everyone. In fact, maybe that is why I liked Ronan. YA books are usually straight forward and I take what they say at face value, so if they can trick me I instantly love them for it. This could have been that kind of book.

Like all good things the end of the book came and it left me feeling a bit dejected. Not because the ending wasn’t good, but because there wasn’t enough ending! I want the whole story and I want it now!! Ok, fine, I will just wait and read the other books. I look forward to it and I hope I love book 2 just as much.