Review of The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Genre – Dystopian, Science Fiction, Survival

Series – 1st book in the Maze Runner series

Rating – PG-13 for violence, scary situations

Synopsis –

Thomas wakes up in box remembering nothing of his previous life, except his name. He soon discovers that he is trapped inside a maze with roughly 4o other boys with similar experiences. They live in the Glade a square space set in the middle of the maze that is closed off from the maze at night. As he befriends some of the other boys, becomes curious about how the maze works. Alby and Newt (the two leaders) show Thomas the ropes, and he soon realizes that he desperately wants to be one of the runners who map out the maze. There is a little resistance from Gally, who claims to recognize Thomas, There are also Grievers, a rubber slug like creature with robotic appendages, who roam the maze at night. Will Thomas and the other boys be able to find a way out? Who put them here?

My Thoughts –

Sorry about the small Hiatus! Things have picked up at work and life has been busy! Hoping to post more soon. I liked this book, I really did, despite reading of this book after watching the movie. Previously, I hadn’t really heard of this series before finding it at local library. I was fascinated by the mystery behind it. Reminded me a lot of Lost, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So after seeing the first movie, I found the book at the library and plowed through it fairly quickly. I have to say that personally, I like puzzles and figuring out what’s going on, so I didn’t mind that the author held back information or gave it to us in small chunks.

I have to say that I liked the movie’s portrayal of Alby and Thomas better then the book. I feel like it flushed out their characters a bit better then the book did. Although, Newt and Mingho had more personality in the book. So, go figure that one out. Chuck is so sweet and the perfect friend for Thomas, who could be a bit selfish at times. Newt is one of my favorite characters and I can connect with him on several levels. He is kinda like the peacemaker of the group and the one who keeps things going. Not really a leader though. Liked the whole Newt having a limb, remind anybody of Crutchie from Newsies ?? πŸ™‚

Although the writing wasn’t super great, the plot moved quickly and kept me interested in the story. There isn’t much character development, more focused on the action and mystery behind the maze which didn’t bug me too much. You don’t get many answers even by the end of the book. * Spoiler Alert * I liked that the maze actually spelled out words to help escape, but wanted more there to be more it. Ending a wee bit flat. It seemed that Thomas just suddenly had the answer to solving maze. Wished he had to work harder to get answer.

There were several little bits that I really loved! Chuck’s sacrifice! What a noble act for such a young kid! He was so brave. I also loved the parts about the Glade and how they had built a little community. Every person had a job; left me wanting more. It felt like that section so brief before we moved on to more action sequences. The meeting of the Keepers was also a nice touch.

Language – Maybe 2 uses of mild British language, mostly the author invented his own slang words that the boys used frequently like “Greenie”, “shank”, “shuck”

Innuendo – None

Violence – Um, yeah, there is quite a bit. Not gory, but it’s in there. First, there is this sickness that people get if stung by the Grievers. It makes them lose their mind and eventually die if they don’t get antidote. The antidote has side effects as well. It causes green veins to appear all over the body & gives the person flash backs to their previous life. The Grievers also will attack at night and either sting them or use its appendages to cause harm. This happens a couple times. Mentions of people getting left out in maze at night who disappear or killed. There is a battle where many Gladers are killed by grievers. Not really detailed, but we know it happens. Chuck jumps in front of a knife to save Thomas. One guy tries to kill Thomas after going through changeling process and remembering.

Other – One other thing I want to mention. After the guy tries to kill Thomas, he is banished to the maze. They all kinda push him out of the glade. This made no sense to me. I mean the guy wasn’t right in the head due to the antidote. Cut him some slack. I felt sorry for him and we see Thomas being horrified at this. Just wish he didn’t have to die.

Conclusion –

I’m a sucker for good mystery with twists and complex puzzles; this book fit perfectly. I enjoyed it quite a bit! The characters felt and acted like normal teenage kids and hopefully they get a bit fleshed out and develop over next book. I really wanted to figure out what was going on, despite having seen the movie, as there were some big differences. Although I had a few quibbles, its a decent first installment and yeah, I’m reading the next one. πŸ˜‰

Have you seen or heard of this series? What are your thoughts? Can you believe it is already November!

Anna

Review for The Last Dragonslayer

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Genre – Fantasy, Contemporary, YA fiction

Series – First in The Chronicles of Kazam series

Rating – PG – for fantasy violence

Synopsis –

Working at Kazam has taught Jennifer Strange a fair amount about wizards and how to deal to them. After Mr. Zambini’s disappearance, Jennifer has also taken over managing the whole building. As a 15 year old founding, Jennifer has no clue who her parents were, but she is looking forward to finishing her indentureship upon turning 18. News begins spreading that the soothsayers have foreseen the last dragon dying. The dragonlands are surrounded by a force field that keeps everyone but the dragonslayer out. This leads to a flood of people If the dragonlands disappears then so will all the history behind the dragons. Jennifer decides to try to stop it.

My Thoughts –

awkward the little mermaid GIF

Sorry about the small hiatus, but things have picked up with work, so I haven’t been able to post as much as I’d like. I have had this post in the works for a couple weeks &I have to admit that I listened to this as an audiobook.

Going into it I had no expectations and was pleasantly surprised! The narrator was terrific, although some of her guy voices kinda ran together. The characters were quirky and odd, but enjoyable. It made me enjoy driving which is a statement right there. It takes a good audiobook to do that as you are constantly pausing every 20 minutes or so. In addition it was pretty clean, yet interesting enough that the whole family could enjoy it.

Jennifer was a strong character who was used to having the world on her shoulders. She was kind, truthful, and sometimes right to the point. Tiger was so sweet and I really wanted to see more of him, but since its a series hopefully he appears more later on. In all the other fantasy books I’ve read, dragons usually team up or are evil. This story was different. The dragons were kinda neutral, depending upon how you looked at it. They also were a minor part in the book.

Pacing was also well done, although a little bit predictable. I kinda saw who the last dragonslayer was from like a mile away. The ending though surprised me. I figured they would have to wrap it up quick and didn’t know how author would accomplish that. Kinda neat actually! (I’m Trying not to give away spoilers.) πŸ˜‰

An overall theme was greed. Fforde really showed what can happen when man just keeps taking and taking. It was sad how many characters were affected by it. The truth came out in the end and we got some answers into why some of the characters did the things they did.

Violence – Minimal, one creature self sacrifices himself for Jennifer. Jennifer reluctantly uses her sword to kill a dragon (he actually asked her to do it). Cannon shots are fired.

Language – Maybe one or uses of a certain word

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

This was a very enjoyable audiobook!! I liked the characters and found myself pulled into the story & smiling at the wit & humor sprinkled throughout. Despite the fact that there was some magic, it was mostly kept to the foreground and didn’t really bother me too much. The perfect audio for family trip!!

Have you read this series? How is your summer’s going? Been able to read?

Anna

Review for Murder at Hatfield House

Murder at Hatfield House by Amanda Carmack

Genre – Historical fiction, Mystery

Series – First book in the Elizabethan Mysteries

Rating – PG – for Mild language and violence

Synopsis –

Kate and her father are the musicians for princess Elizabeth who is quietly residing at Hatfield house after her sister’s ascension to the throne. Yet, trouble is brewing when a courier from the Queen suddenly appears with a dead servant. He demands to search the premise in search of banned religious materials. Kate’s life becomes difficult, but Elizabeth trusts Kate to find out who killed the servant. Will Kate be able to figure out what is going on before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

Hmm. What to say about this book??!! I cannot say that I really liked this book; however there were some good parts to it. I enjoyed the whole history behind princess Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey as it had been a while since I had read about this time period. So it was nice to step back in and learn a little bit about the political upheaval of this time. The author also does a decent job of characterizing Elizabeth and Anthony.

Nevertheless I do have a couple quibbles. First, the writing style. The majority of the language in the book is very modern, and didn’t feel right for England in 1558. I get that writing in older English can be tricky to write, but I feel like the author could have tried to add some phrases used back in that time period to make it less modern sounding.

Secondly, I do not like the main character. Maybe that is just me, but she felt like every other heroine in a cozy mystery. Nothing really stood her apart for me. I wanted to like Kate, but I just couldn’t.

There were several good things about Murder at Hatfield House. It held by attention enough that I cruised through this novel in a little over a day. The plot moved along at a decent pace, and there were some good themes like kindness and standing up for what is right. I enjoyed the descriptions of how Protestantism was changing England politically and how it varied from Catholicism. The mystery started out quite interesting, but began to wobble by the end. The conclusion confused me a bit, and overall the book was fairly clean which I appreciated.

Language – Infrequent mild language, with a couple exclamations of “God’s wounds” or other similar phrases.

Violence – Overall, pretty mild. Several characters are killed by arrows. A few mentions of blood either on clothes or the ground. A character gets shoved and left in a locked room.

Innuendo – Two kisses on the hand (pretty common for back then) and a bit about developing feelings for character.

Conclusion –

Carmack wrote about an interesting time in history, and there is lots to learn from it. There were a few characters that I liked, but most felt flat to me. This novel would make for a nice beach read when you want something light and breezy. Murder at Hatfield House is aimed more at YA age range as main character is 18. Give this a go if you enjoy the Elizabethan era, or are looking for a new cozy series.

Cannot wait to hear how you all are doing!! Do you enjoy cozy mysteries? How is your June going? What Have you been reading lately?

Anna

Review for War of Swords

War of Swords by D. Barkley Briggs

Genre – Christian fiction, fantasy, YA

Series – 5th & final book in the Legends of Karac Tor

Rating – PG for violence and scary creatures

Synopsis –

The four Barlow brothers have been in Karac Tor for 2 years now. They have all grown up so much since following the ravens through the tunnel. They are about to enter into a battle not only to fight for their lives, but for the whole realm. Kr’Nunos is assembling an army of twisted and evil creatures to ransack and take over the land. As the Barlow’s fight for their lives, they are about to confront their greatest fear – losing someone they love. Will these brothers be able to stand firm against the incoming onslaught?

My Thoughts –

Yea!! I finally finished this series!! It took me a while to finish this. I think I started this series back in the summer of last year. Now that the library is somewhat open, I can now finally get books!! Anyway, this was an interesting conclusion to this series.

Honestly, I did not remember many of the characters as it has been awhile since I read the previous books. So I was a little lost. I spent a good chunk of the book trying to remember who everyone was. Weirdly enough, the author did not summarize what had happened previously. There were a couple characters I still don’t remember how they met the main characters. Also, I believe there is a gap between this book and previous one as now it has been 2-3 years since the first book. The author did provide a glossary of names at the back of the book which helped a lot.

One thing I really like about this series is that it incorporates the Arthurian legend. We have Arthur, and a mention of Tal Yssen (basically Merlin). I have kinda been on a Arthurian legend binge what with watching Merlin and recently reading a couple different stories. So I enjoyed Arthur being a key person in this story.

Of the brothers, I really only connected with Hadyn and Ewan Barlow. I think part of the reason that I didn’t like Gabe or Garret was they just felt soo young. There were a couple sections where the writing felt like it was aimed at middle-schoolers. I can’t quite put my finger on it, it just felt childish at times. Maybe I am just getting used to reading high fantasy. I don’t know.

The allegory was strong in this one. Pun intended. πŸ˜‰ Aion (basically a Jesus character) is the high prince of Isgurd (heaven). His followers have to trust him despite Aion being across the sea. Kr’Nunos was a Satan like character. He had corrupted certain people groups who before the song had turned their backs on Aion. Bits of it reminded me of the last book in the Left Behind series. As it is the final battle.

Language – None

Violence – As there are battles throughout the book, there are some descriptions of the fights. Most of these descriptions are well kept within a PG rating though. Many characters get wounded/die. A couple mentions of the ground being covered with blood. There is a sea battle where ships get destroyed by a hurricane/ bombs. Characters shoot arrows/get shot by arrows. Several descriptions of the evil creatures called Goths and Ravers and their powers.

Innuendo – Very little, a few kisses between a few couples. One couple gets married.

Conclusion –

This was a great conclusion to this series. It feels so good to have finished this series. There were some great themes like loyalty, faith, and sacrifice. Most of the characters stood for what was right despite difficult situations. I would have no problem giving this to a middle-schooler or teen. If you are looking for a new fantasy series to read, this one would be a great choice.

Have you heard of this series? Which is your favorite book? How is your May going?

Review for Orbiting Jupiter

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Genre – YA fiction, Contemporary

Series – There are a few characters from some of his previous book, but it is Stand-alone.

Rating – PG – mild language and mild innuendo

Synopsis –

Jack’s parents have decided to foster a boy named Joseph, who has a messy past. He has been to prison, hurt a teacher, and has a daughter. Joseph has gone through things that no 14 year old should go through. Yet, the Hurd’s still want to foster him. Will Joseph and Jack get along? Will the Hurd’s be able to help Joseph?

My Thoughts –

First, I want to mention that, yeah, a 14 year old had a daughter. This all happened in the past so we only get bits and pieces of what happened. I don’t support what Joseph did in any way, but the author does a great job dealing with this topic.

It is a short book only about 200 p. So a easy read. Honestly, it was a breathe of fresh air compared to Atlas Shrugged. Middle-grade fiction can pack a lot in a tiny package. I read this in 2 days. Well, the first chapter on like Tuesday, then read the rest on Wednesday.

I loved this one!! Schmidt does a great job writing from a 12 year old’s perspective!! I had previously listened to 2 other books by this author: Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now. Both were amazing! They take place back in the late 60s. He makes his characters believable which I love. He also sprinkles bits of humor throughout.

The characters were so well done! I love it when authors show parents in a positive light. In Orbiting Jupiter, the parents are so supportive of Jack and Joseph. They want to make a difference in Joseph’s life, and give him something he never had: a loving home. Also Mr. D’Ulney was such a great teacher. He found something Joseph was good at and decided to water that talent. Coach Swieteck is from Okay for Now. It was so neat to see him in this book, although it is a small appearance.

It took me a while to like Joseph as a character. Schmidt only had Joseph talk a handful of times. Most of what we find out about Joseph is from Jack’s perspective. It made me so happy that Joseph loved Jupiter and wanted to be apart of her life!

I would not say this is a Christian book, but there was one scene where the family went to church on Christmas. We hear how Jesus was born. A character asks how can God allow bad things to happen. We see the difference in Joseph’s life after meeting Jack and his family. First, sin entered the world though humans, not though God. Also, God and use hard times and the sinful choices we make for good. If we give our life to him, we can be transformed. While this wasn’t in the book per se, but I think it still applies.

Overall the plot is super simple. Joseph moving in and his stay with the Hurd’s, but it works so well!! Not gonna lie, the ending surprised me. It brought tears to my eyes. At first, I was mad at the author, but once I read the end, it was worth it.

Language – Mild language, really only used maybe 4 times. Also there is a brief conversation about freezing your balls off. (Boys talking about falling in a river) only a few sentences. A couple mentions of Jack hearing words he is not allowed to say.

Violence – We find out gradually that Joseph’s dad abused him. During a conversation Joseph had, he talked about how his face was bruised. That is about it. Not detailed, but just enough to know it happened. The author showed things, instead of telling them. Also, there is a fight at school which leads to a couple characters with bruises and a bloody nose.

Two characters fall into a river. Its a rather tense moment. Jack says he say a dog drown in the river once. Joseph has a scar the runs from his side all the way down to his knee. Also there’s a car accident with a few character’s deaths.

Innuendo – Very tastefully done. Once kiss mentioned. We find out in the first sentence that Joseph has a daughter. Joseph went to Madeline’s house over a summer when her parents were not home. A little bit of talk about falling in love.

Conclusion –

While there are a few content issues, I really enjoyed it!! I probably wouldn’t give this to a middle schooler, despite the fact, that that is the target range. There were many positives elements that made up for the content issues. Overall, I think Orbiting Jupiter was well worth the read! In fact I read bits of it twice! Just goes to show you how much I liked it. πŸ˜‰ Bring some Kleenex as its a tearjerker.

Have you read any book by Gary D. Schmidt? What are your favorites? Do you like Orbiting Jupiter?

Review of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia Mckillip

Genre – Fantasy, YA,

Series – Standalone

Rating – PG for thematic elements

Synopsis –

Once Sybel’s father dies, she is left to care for a menagerie of animals. This a relatively easy task as Sybel has the power to talk to these animals from tales long forgotten. To complete her collection, she seeks the Liralen a great white bird. One day amidst her search, a young man appears at her door with a baby. He asks her to raise the child and keep him safe. She reluctantly agrees. After raising the boy for 12 years, he leaves to go live with his father. Sybel faces some hard choices regarding love and hate.

My Thoughts –

I have some conflicting thoughts on this one. Throughout the beginning, I struggled to connect with the characters. The author leaves things for you to figure out, but at first the conversations left me confused. I got used it at the book progressed, but there were points where I felt left in the dark. Then about 40% through things started picking up and it switched from focusing on characters to emotions. I thought the ending made a lot of sense.

Now before I get too far I want to mention that in the fantasy world there are wizards. Honestly, I didn’t know this beforehand. Typically, I do not read book with magic with them. I goes against my religious beliefs. As the Bible says that we are not to use magic. Yes, there is some magic, not a lot though, so I decided to continue. Sybel’s father was a wizard, and she has his gifts. There is an evil wizard who works for the king and they try to brainwash Sybel into marrying the king. Sybel also has a neighbor who has powers, but the author leaves an open interpretation as to whether or not she is a witch. She doesn’t do anything witch like.

Alright, I have a few qualms with Sybel and Coren’s relationship. The first 60% of the book every conversation they had was negative. Sybel hated him. Then all of sudden she switches gears and accepts his marriage proposal. She doesn’t even marry him for love, but due to a hidden agenda. Ugh!! Sybel made me so mad. Corren was my favorite character. Most of the characters had secrets or agendas that drove them, but Corren seemed to truly love Sybel for who she was. The ending ,while sad, made me really happy.

I will say the book had few good points going for it. The word building was excellent. It felt colorful and very imaginative with how the author built her fantasy world. Also, the emotional themes really drove the novel things like love verses hate, and how revenge changes a person. Lastly I will say the book was hard to put down especially as things picked up speed.

Violence – Not much. A few mentions of bodies left by a dragon. Also, there was a war that occurred before start of book. We hear how people miss those who died. Also, characters plot out and plan for a war ( it doesn’t happen though).

Language – None

Innuendo –

A couple kisses between two characters. The king tries to force Sybel to marry him. Two characters talk about having kids. A married couple make up and sleep on floor together – doesn’t go into detail. One reference to a women wearing a revealing shirt.

Conclusion –

I would say I didn’t love this one, but I didn’t truly hate it either. I liked it enough to finish it. The author had some good themes woven throughout, and she knew how to hold the reader’s attention. There were several things I struggled with that I mentioned above. This fantasy novel had a different feel to it then previous books I have read. Glad I finished it, and now I can move on.

Have you read this book or others by this author? If so what are your thoughts? I love hearing from you guys. Please reply in the comment box below.

Anna

Review for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green

Genre – Fantasy, Historical fiction,

Series – This is a collection of stories taken from older tales.

Rating – PG-13 for violence and suggestive themes

Synopsis –

This novel tells the of King Arthur’s rises to power in Britain. Merlin, a good wizard, hides Arthur when he is still a child and places him with foster parents. Once Arthur pulls a magical sword from a stone, he lineage is revealed, and he is crowned king. Arthur gathers knights of renown to cleanse the land from evil. His knights embark on various quests to gain glory and honor.

My Thoughts –

My sister and I had recently started watching the BBCs Merlin. After finishing season one, which I really enjoyed, I thought I would go back and reread the book. The author took stories from a variety of poetic version and condensed them for children.

I had read this years ago back when I was in middle school, and I had a vague recollection of a few stories. I enjoyed going back and rereading this classic. I got a lot more out of it the second time. There were several knights that I had completely forgotten about like Percival and Galahad. Also I had forgotten the whole quest for the holy grail.

Overall, I would say that I enjoyed these stories. A few characters got on my nerves *cough* Launcelot I am looking at you. Merlin was only in like the first 3 stories which was surprising as I had thought he was more of main character. After Arthur becomes king, Arthur takes a step back from the story and his knights take over.

I do feel like the story felt a little stifled. It repeated a lot! The knights would joust, break their lance, then proceed to fight until their opponent bled to death. I am not sure how much the author changed from the original manuscripts. So who knows, maybe the original story was different. Also almost every quest involved saving a women from an evil knight. I just wish there could have been a little variety there.

As a side note if you do want to hear another take on King Arthur I would recommend listening to the Myths and Legend podcast. It is aimed at adults though. Here is a link to some of his King Arthur ones. https://www.mythpodcast.com/4/episode-1a-yvainglory/

Violence –

The violence doesn’t go into descriptive detail, but it is there. Many mentions of knights getting their heads chopped off. One night comes back to life afterwards. Since they joust in just about every chapter, the author mentions them fighting until the ground is soaked with their blood. Many characters suffer from a mortal wound. A few characters have odd illnesses that plague them. There is a huge battle where there are literally only 4 survivors. One of the holy relics that goes with the Holy Grail is a bleeding spear that pierced Christ’s side.

Language – None

Innuendo –

Most of the suggestive themes are referenced in veiled terms. The whole thing of Uther falling in love with Igrayne, another man’s wife, only gets about a sentence. There are several kisses between knights and their lady love. Not descriptive at all. Now I do want to mention the whole Launcelot and Guinevere thing. In the earlier parts of the book, just says that Launcelot fell in love with Guinevere at first sight and fought for her, but later on we find out she falls for him as well. They eventually kiss and supposedly going to do other stuff, but they are found out.

I will say Launcelot tries to do the right thing by forgetting about Guinevere, but sadly, this doesn’t last long. It is shown to be wrong and a priest confronts him about it. It is part of the reason why he is not allowed to see the Holy Grail.

Other –

Just a quick mention that there is some magic throughout. Mostly enchantments that are put upon a person unwillingly. Also Morgana Le Fay has the ability to transform herself into other objects.

Conclusion –

This book is great starting point for someone interested in the legend of King Arthur. It is filled with daring quests and fighting for what is right. It is a classic in its own right. I enjoyed going back and rereading this classic, although it is a bit repetitive at times. These stories have been around several hundred years. So, if you haven’t read it, give it a go.

Have you read any books about King Arthur? Do you have a favorite story? or Movie? Love to hear your thoughts!!

Anna

Review for East

East by Edith Pattou

Genre – Fantasy, YA, Fairy-tale Retelling

Rating – PG – for peril

Synopsis –

This is the story of Rose, a wild and free child whose name originates from a superstitious lie her mother believes. One night a polar bear shows up offering to heal Rose’s sick sister if Rose comes with him. Rose agrees and gets swept up in figuring out who the polar bear really is and the mystery surrounding the hidden castle. She embarks on an epic journey to save those who she loves.

My Thoughts –

I would say the first half the story has many elements from Beauty and the Beast. An enchantment holding a person prisoner, a girl who is trapped inside an underground castle, and mysterious servants. Yet, the last half the book turned into a quest involving traveling through various lands to save the lost prince.

The author tells the tale through different voices. We hear from Rose, her Father, her brother Neddy, Troll Queen, and the White Bear. It actually helped convey bits and pieces from the past. Most of the chapters are really short which made want to read more in one sitting. Anyway, back to the voices they all help us understand Rose and why the White Bear do what they do. I loved the sections from Neddy’s perspective. It took me a while to appreciate Rose.

Now lets discuss the plot. The first few chapters were slower, as we were introduced to everybody. Things start to pick up as Rose enters the castle. I found that section as one of the strongest. *Spoiler Alert * After the prince is taken to the troll’s hidden kingdom, the plot takes a drastic turn. I enjoyed Rose’s travels and the people she met along the way.

The book is divided into four sections titled North, South, East, and West. There is a person who plays a role in each of the sections.

East – Rose’s father

South – White Bear

West – Estelle and Sofi

North – Malmo

OK, I want to mention that the trolls seem to have some magic or power that enables them enchant the prince. Its not really mentioned how, but the author does mention that the Troll Queen has powers. Also a character is mentioned to be a shaman although she does nothing magical. Mostly teaching Rose practical survival skills. Lastly, Neddy tells Rose Norse legends of Thor and Odin.

Language – Pretty clean here, only one use of d- word

Violence – Again, not much violence. There is a polar bear attack on a main character. An evil character makes another character vanish into thin air. A character becomes trapped under ice and snow. I’ll also mention here that the trolls give all the humans a drug/drink that stupefies them and dulls their memory.

Innuendo – Only one thing here. During Rose’s stay at the underground castle, she sleeps in a huge bed. Midway through the night, someone comes in and sleeps on the opposite side of the bed. (nothing sexual about it) Rose has no idea who it is. She is not allowed to touch and see who it is. Eventually she figures it out. I didn’t really care for it and I think the author could have done something different, but it is in there.

It is super subtle, but Rose does fall for the prince.

Conclusion –

This book is based upon the fairy tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” Once it got going I enjoyed the story and had a hard time putting it down. Rose’s character grew on me in the later half of the book. Didn’t really care for the prince, but most of the time he was either a polar Bear or drugged so much he couldn’t remember his name. Anyway it was different and had some good parts to it.

Review for Sky without Stars

Sky without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Genre – Science fiction, Teen, Les Miserables retelling

Series – System Divine Book 1

Synopsis –

To start this is a retelling of Les Miserables that is set in the future. There are three young adults whose lives are about to intersect though they don’t know it yet. Chantine, Marcellus, and Alouette all live in different parts on Vallonay. As a revolution begins, the truth comes out and no one is who they thought they were.

My Thoughts –

In my opinion writing a story based of a classic sounds hard. First, you have to keep the basic main points from the original, but also keeping your story fresh and vibrant.

Although this book is set in the future, not much has changed. Yes, our phones are now on our arms and the police have turned into droids, but people are still they same. Segregating themselves onto a rainy planet and warring over resources. I liked this updated feel.

You can tell who the main characters are based off, but here we only have three main characters with Epinine being the one with most page time. I honestly did not care for Chatine as her attitude struck me as arrogant. Took a large chunk for her to even feel sorry for someone other then her self. Marcellus’s character was relatable. Confusion over lies he had been told. Despite his flaws, he truly wanted to do what was right and I liked that. Alouette was OK. I really wanted more about her dad.

The plot felt a little slow at times, but I think that it was preparing for the next book. We spent a lot of time getting to know the characters and their environment. Despite its slowness, I had a hard time putting it down.

Language – Pretty mild, only 5 d words

Innuendo –

A mention of flashing a tette for money. Later on two characters kiss/embrace.

Violence –

Multiple mentions of blood bordels which suck blood out of young girls in exchange for money. We don’t see it actually done, only talk of its existence. Characters view this as awful. Also, a innocent character is put to beheaded. (Characters look away before it occurs). Lots of shooting lasers.

Conclusion –

Les Miserables is such a great story about redemption and forgiveness; and I was honestly surprised someone was retelling it. I think the author did a great job drawing the reader into the story while also giving us descriptions of scenery. Despite the flaws, this series definitely has potential. The book is geared toward young adults.

Have you read Les Miserables? or seen the musical? What are your thoughts?

Review for Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Genre – Historical fiction, YA

Rating – PG-13 for maritime disaster and violence

Synopsis –

For this book, I’m going to quote the book’s description

“Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four Secrets. Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war. As Thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.”

My thoughts –

This book … I just cannot get it out of my head!!! I finished it the other day and read the ending twice! This is a deep look at a tragedy that occured at the end of WWII.

Ok, let’s start with the characters. They are well drawn out and the author made them very relatable. I had to pause at a point in the book where a character sacrificed themselves. Ugh! So sad, but lifelike. There are four main characters that you get to know. Its written from the view of four young adults. I grew to love three of the main. The fourth character you are not supposed to like. I don’t know how the author did it. The chapters are so short, yet I felt like I was going through everything that the characters went through.

The plot was quick paced and yet, well developed. This was a book I could not put down!! I loved that the author started us midway through the refugees escape to the sea. The secrets came out slowly; we learned about their past bit by bit. Which honestly worked for me. I wished we could have had more time on the ship, actually I wish we could have had more time after the wreck. The book felt too short. I wanted more!!

Some characters stuck out to me more then others. Florian, Joana, and Ingrid. These were my top three, but the wondering boy and the shoe poet were great as well! The way it was written reminded me of The Book Thief which I loved!

This story is a sad, heartbreaking tale of survival and escape.

Language – There were a few choice words used, but mostly stuff you would hear in a PG TV show.

Innuendo – Two or three kisses. Also at the start of the book, Emilia is pregnant. Now, we do find out how it happens. The author gives us enough detail that we can read between the lines. It is sad and awful, but probably happened a lot during this time in history. Note- It is very brief and not at all the character’s fault.

Violence – One characters shoots a Russian soldier to safe another character. Women shoots a German. We hear about dead bodies that they on the road due to frostbite. A character has shrapnel in his side. Many people die during the boat sinking. Characters try to save others who are swimming the ocean, but some die due to hypothermia. A person tries to get off the sinking ship by jumping into ocean and land on part of the ship. Most of it not graphic, but is mentioned.

I should mention that some characters lie about their identity. One character steals an identity paper off of a dead person. Another character sole an artifact from the Germans.

Conclusion –

Something about this book just drew me in. The characters were flawed and lifelike that I felt like I was there with them. This story is a sad, heartbreaking tale of survival and escape. I wonder why it is labeled YA? I feel like adults would get a lot out of this. If you don’t mind sad historical fiction, I would highly recommend this!

What are your thoughts? Have you read any WWII fiction? If so, what are some of your favorites? Did you like/dislike this book?

Anna