Zenn Diagram

Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Man, I really love stand-alones because you’re less likely to get a cliffhanger of an ending, but I’m quite sad that this one is over! Eva is a math genius with a quirk – if she touches people (or certain things) she can “see” them. She gets “fractals” and can essentially learn lots about someone which has essentially caused her to stop touching people and objects unless she has to. When you can’t touch people or things, you’re going to come off to be somewhat odd – and Eva’s oddness has had her avoid guys pretty much her entire life. And then Zenn comes along.

There were a lot of interesting story arcs of this book that I wasn’t really expecting. I liked the tension and dramatic parts, but I also loved the fact that unlike many other romance books, there’s always something that causes an intense break up halfway through the novel, so you just spend hundreds of pages wanting that to happen. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen exactly like this in Zenn Diagram.

I’m surprised to look around and see lower reviews, because I sped through this and liked every minute. There is a hell of a lot of cheese, but I mean, who doesn’t like some swoony lit? I felt that it wasn’t overly predictable – some of the things that I thought were going to happen did not. I honestly thought there was going to be more drama with the best friend and her boytoy but no. It was simple and sweet with the drama in the background that’s really out of everyone’s control. I’m trying to come up with things I didn’t like, but I can truly get past them all to give this a 5 star rating. It made me squee just a little (and quite possibly yell that the ending was semi-abrupt).

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Artemis – Just As “Sciency” As The Martian!

Artemis by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Available in November 2017

Andy Weir does a great job at making SO MUCH SCIENCE so very, very entertaining. And believable! I read that much of what was in The Martian is actual feasible, so I wouldn’t think twice about it being the same for Artemis.

I was very glad that I was able to get an ARC of this from Netgalley. I absolutely loved The Martian, and even though it was on a slightly different subject, the way that Andy Weir writes is right up my alley. Artemis is about a “petty thief” living on Artemis, the only city on the moon. She gets an offer she can’t refuse and it ends up being a little bit more than she expected. If you like books about space, science, snark, and a little thievery, this may be for you.

The main character in Artemis is a 26 year old Saudi Arabian girl named Jazz. And, just like Mark Watney, she’s got a lot of extra commentary that can be pretty entertaining at times. I won’t say she’s quite as likable as Mark Watney (she’s a little too sure of herself), but she does the job. You’ve got a lot of other likable characters who are from all around the world, because that’s the thing – Artemis was “created” by Kenya, and it’s definitely a city with all types of people (and seemingly no discrimination by race). I wouldn’t say there’s too much visual description on characters – I really have no idea what anyone looks like in this book, but that’s fine with me, I guess.

You get a lot of world building – there’s a map of the city included in the book, and Jazz goes throughout the different city bubbles, so you get to learn what kind of futuristic moon-city there may be one day. Of course she’s not wealthy or anything, but you get to see some of that too. It all definitely makes me want to live on the moon.

Overall, I’m taking off the 1 star for some of the “funny comments”/snark by Jazz and others being a little overdone at times. With Mark Watney in the Martian, you could kind of expect it because he’s by himself and essentially trying to talk his way out of dying alone. But Jazz is surrounded by a lot of people who know that she’s “this way” and it still just seems a little overdone at times. Either way, it’s fast paced and definitely worth a read!

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You can pre-order the book through amazon by clicking on the link below 🙂

The Beautiful Ones

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The one thing I can say about this book is that I definitely rushed through it pretty quickly – I finished it the second night I was reading it, in a epic binge-reading session. So I definitely at least “liked” it.

Some things that didn’t quite make sense to me or I didn’t quite like:

  • The Title: Though “the beautiful ones” are mentioned occasionally, they really aren’t a huge part of this book. They aren’t described, and you would think that maybe they’d have a purpose or the plot would be related to them but I just didn’t get that.
  • Nina being fond of insects: Is it just me or is this becoming a common theme in books that are set in this victorian-esque time period? I feel like I keep reading about female characters who are into bugs or butterflies or beetles.
  • This is supposed to be Sci/Fi?: The only thing included in this book that is science fiction is that two of the characters are telekinetics in a world where people know it exists, but that is literally it. They don’t really do anything with it (I mean there are bits, but it’s not a focal point by any means.) The publisher claims this to be Romance and Science Fiction, but they really should just take the Science Fiction out.
  • Slow Pace: I felt like I read 500 pages of Nina pining over Hector when the book wasn’t even 500 pages.
  • Nina’s age: They say Nina is 19 and turns 20, but she is truly treated as a child throughout the book. What’s this about? We’ve got all these other kids running about saving the world and this kid can’t even tell when her cousin’s messing around with her?

One thing the book definitely has going for it is character development, at least with one character in particular. I rarely dislike characters so quickly, but man did I want to rip Valerie’s face off. Also, the book does a great job at making you move with the ebb and flow of the the plot. And I definitely still wanted to see some matchmaking made toward the end.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

There is a lot of negativity going around about this book, but I genuinely liked it.

A lot of different reviewers are going on and on about how this is The Hunger Games or it’s got the same plot as 5 million other books, but I didn’t necessarily see that. Sure, there are numbers involved (but they are numbers according to entrance to become an assassin – similar to Throne of Glass) but that doesn’t mean that it is just like the number districts in The Hunger Games. There are people competing to become an assassin, but it is not at all like it was in Throne of Glass. I’ll admit that I found it pretty boring towards the beginning, but similar to Divergent, I felt that the second half of the book was much quicker and better than the first. If you eliminate a large chunk of the descriptive nature you may get a much more entertaining book.

One of the great things going for this book is that there is gender fluidity! It actually took me forever to figure out whether or not Sal was a boy or girl until I realized that they wanted to be identified by what they were wearing – you don’t really see this very often in YA books, so it is really nice to see that. Do I think they could have done more than this? Absolutely yes.

There were a few problems with the book. With as much as you see the Left Hand, I still couldn’t remember who was who. There were some over-dramatized moments, especially with Elise, that bothered the crap out of me. And Sal is the most teary eyed character I’ve ever read about in my life. It also seems like you’re going to get a lot more magic or more of these “shadows” but you just don’t — though this definitely may occur in later books! Despite the flaws though, I still liked it – and even though it may have some common characteristics of half the other fantasy YA novels, you know what, I’d still continue to read the series.

I received this ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Improbability of Love

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Mary Rothschild
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I have a lot of feelings about this book, but a lot of them aren’t good.

The goals of this book were to be a character-centered romantic tale of art. Take that “romantic” word however you’d like, it appears in different ways. Annie buys a painting from a junk shop that just so happens to end up being one of Watteau’s lost pieces of art. Ends up, everyone wants it – and by everyone, I mean everyone from art dealers to rappers to shah’s to prime ministers. But the painting might quite possibly have some shady history as well. The book isn’t all about art – it’s also about Annie recovering after having her life essentially ruined by an ex boyfriend and finding a way to live again.

There are so many weird pieces to this book, and I was intrigued by its description. I really wanted it to be good. But then the painting talked. No, I’m not kidding. The painting has it’s own voice in this book – it even calls itself “moi” all the time (and says other single French words) which was just painful to read. And honestly, that wasn’t even the worst part of the book because at least the painting had a few interesting things to say about it’s history. No, the worst parts of the book centered around the characters who were introduced at the very beginning as would-be bidders on the painting at auction. But honestly, they’re just boring. To be truthful, I may possibly have skipped over most of the sections speaking about half of these characters (most of which I don’t even remember their names, and I just finished the book…) There are a couple of characters who actually contribute to the plot, but a large majority of them don’t do anything except to make this already overworded book even wordier. You could probably remove about 200 pages of content from this book and then it may be decent. Because really – the basic plot IS interesting! But there’s just so much else unneedingly going on that it really just ruins it.

I really think that the author (who has a background in art and philanthropy) had a good idea, but it was almost like she all of a sudden became pretentious and threw in a whole bunch of unnecessary information to seem smart or something. If she had just stuck to the basics, this book would have gained a lot more of a following. Maybe create an abridged edition and remove various dukes and Russians and give information about the painting without making it talk? Yeah, I think I’d like that book.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Man, Fredrik Backman truly knows how to get your emotions all jumbled. I was a huge fan of A Man Called Ove, so I’ve been eager to read anything and everything else by Backman. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is just as enchanting.

As someone who has had not one, but two grandparents suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, this story really meant a lot to me. It tells the heart-wrenching (yet uplifting) story of a man who is slowly losing his memory, and how he is learning to say goodbye to those in his life. It’s an interesting portrayal of a man fighting for his brain, and is remarkable at portraying what it’s like to lose what you’ve known your whole life. Not only do you get the inner-workings of Grandpa’s brain, but you also get to see the sweet relationship that he has with his Noahnoah (he calls him that because he likes him twice as much as everyone else). It truly explains the special relationship that many have with their grandparents – a relationship that the grandparents may never have had with their own children -their second chance.

“That’s why we get the chance to spoil our grandchildren, because by doing that we’re apologizing to our children.”

I never got to really have the discussions with my grandparents that Noah and his grandfather have – I was very close to them, but we never really discussed what it was going to be like when they weren’t “there” anymore or what was really happening. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard the disease described as losing your way home, but the title really truly makes sense. Reading this, I really wish that I had been able to experience the loss like Noah. I know that I had a great experience with my grandparents as they were losing themselves, but I wish that I could have known what was going on in their minds as they lost everything they knew. I am glad that, unlike many in my family, I was able to walk down the road with them as they faded.

“What can we do to help Grandpa?”
The dad’s tears dry on the boy’s sweatshirt.
“We can walk down the road with him. We can keep him company.”

If you’re experiencing or have already experienced the loss of someone who has “left before they even die” – read this. Though we may never know what is going on in the minds of those who lose their memories, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer helps us understand just a little of what goes on and what those around are feeling as well.

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The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
To be published in January 2018
I was really excited to read this book, which is being advertised as a sort-of creepy fairy tale novel. At the beginning of the book, you’re getting the story of Alice, a teenage girl who has spent her life moving around from place to place with her mother – always seemingly running away from something that is only really described as a “curse.” The only thing she really knows is that her grandmother wrote a creepy fairy-tale storybook which seems to have all but disappeared from the earth and amassed a sort of cult following. When her mother gets kidnapped, Alice’s background comes to the forefront, and everything is not at all what it seems. Sounds really cool, right?

Well the first half of the book is surely amazing. 5 stars all around – I was enchanted and itching for more. I couldn’t wait to see what happened, and I was eager to learn more about this “Hinterland” – the location of all of the fairy-tales. Alice continues her life-adventure with Finch, a rich-boy who is one of the cult-followers of Alice’s grandmother. He’s got much more to him than meets the eye, and Alice definitely senses something about that. This isn’t a romance, so don’t get your hopes up for that. It is as it seems – a fairy tale.

The second half of the book dives more into the Hazel Wood and those of the Hinterland. I was so excited for this portion of the story, but was disappointed. Here, my rating drops more to a 3 star (hence the overall 4). I found myself getting more distracted while reading this, even though it was what I craved so much. I liked it, but I just wasn’t anxiously flipping pages like I was in the first half of the book. I could not picture what was happening quite like the first half, as everything seemed to be moving so much faster. I think that Melissa Albert could have slowed all of this down a bit and stretched it into a two part series – with only two parts, not more. This way, we could have gotten more details, more stories… and the ending wouldn’t have seemed so rushed.

The Hazel Wood is great, and it’s unlike anything that I’ve read for a while. I just wish that it was a bit more! I even would have been fine if maybe a hundred or so more pages of the Hazel Wood and the grandmother were included. Things are build up so much in the first book, but then half of the truly interesting characters.. the danger.. just go away.

I would definitely love to re-read this book to see if I pick up on anything else, and I definitely would read more of Melissa Albert’s works. I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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How to Behave in a Crowd

How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How to Behave in a Crowd tells the story of a very observant boy in France who spends his life watching from the sidelines as his siblings skip grades, write dissertations, and continue on in their anti-social, egotistical lives. Dory is 11 at the start of the novel – and even though everyone else in his family is super precocious, he is supposedly not. He hasn’t skipped any grades and is supposedly “average”, yet for being an 11 year old, he thinks and observes like someone far far older. His best (and possibly only) friend is a suicidal girl who talks about death, depression, and killing herself all of the time. At 11. Either I’m really out of touch or French people are just way more advanced in thinking and whatnot, because all of the characters in this book are pretty advanced. I say that, but Dory ages about 3 years in the book and doesn’t really change his way of talking in all of those years.

The book doesn’t necessarily have a well developed plot, in my opinion. It focuses on Dory’s observations and experiences. The back-matter mentions a “tragedy striking the Mazal family”, but in reading it, you wouldn’t really think that it was a tragedy based on all of the characters reactions to it. More of a tragedy occurs at the end, in my opinion. Either way, the way Dory explains things that he sees is definitely interesting – I wasn’t having to force myself to read this book. But it definitely wasn’t my favorite. I wouldn’t read it if you need something that has a defined plot, conflicts, resolutions, etc. You don’t even feel too partial to the characters, other than Dory since it’s in his point of view. But I definitely was entertained. I don’t think I’d read it again, really, but I did like it, I suppose, even though it barely even had an ending. It could be defined as being in the coming-of-age genre, which I have a tendency to like. Thinking about it, I actually don’t really know how to feel about this book. It was entrancing enough to earn a completion, at least.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for review.

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Before I Let Go

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
To be published in January 2018
So this was a pretty quick read, but it almost pained me to continue reading. It was almost a “lost interest” or “did not finish” – but I pushed through because I was hoping there would be some sort of an ending to this mystery that made the journey less boring. Alas, I was disappointed.

Before I Let Go is the story of Corey, a girl who returns to her hometown of “Lost” after finding out that her best friend Kyra has died. Once there, Corey strives to find out how exactly Kyra died, and is met with all sorts of mystery and road blocks.

The story revolves around Kyra and her bipolar disorder and the stigmas surrounding it. The setting is pretty cool – it’s a very small ghost like town in snowy Alaska, where there are auroras and old hot springs. Half of the book revolves around “outsiders” of this town, and turns the townspeople into some sort of cult that worships the girl who they once ignored. As Corey gets to the bottom of the so called “mystery”, you have to sit through a bunch of repetitive, flowery nonsense about storytelling, being an outsider… being “Lost” – ha, cause that’s the town name… big mystery. There is a whole lot of build up – like 300 pages worth – with seemingly only like 2 characters (and one is dead). And then when you get to the climax of the story, it’s like 3 pages and doesn’t even have an end result. I was hoping that this story would go somewhere, but it really seemed like more of an attempt at flowery words, emotions, and trying to make something into a literary work of art that wasn’t.. something that just ended up being a whole bunch of words with no meaning.

If you want to read through 300 something pages of thrilling literature, you’re not going to find it in this book. I was never at the edge of my seat, and I never really got a supposed resolution. Maybe someone else can read more into the fluff and see that as art instead of the half-plot, but I just couldn’t.

I received an ARC of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Empire of Storms

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t even know where to start with this book.

Sarah J. Maas, you hurt my heart. Why, oh why are you such a good writer? I haven’t felt this way about a series… or a singular book… in years. You make me fall in love with each in every character. Honestly, I feel as anxious to read what happens after this as I did reading the Harry Potter books – so that’s REALLY saying something.

Assassins, Fae, Magic, Witches, Shape-Shifters. All of this and more is what you will get when you read the Throne of Glass series. But in the fifth installment you will be ripped out of your seat with excitement as the group of heroes finally meets up with each other to help rid the world of Erawan. You’ll get so many ships that it’s not even funny. You’ll be hit with one surprise after another, and then you’ll want to hit something when it ends because the last 100 pages will literally have you on the edge of your seat with the screen essentially going black.

I love Aelin and Rowan – there’s definitely more mature content in this book, which was super surprising considering that it’s a YA book, but I for one was totally for it. You get a lot of other couple pairings in this book, some of which are unexpected, but still drool-worthy. Maas writes romance parts in such a way that honestly, I don’t care who gets together — she just makes it right.

Elide comes out of this book with “BOSS” written on her forehead, because oh my goodness she develops some balls. Manon is just probably one of my favorite characters. She goes around not giving a shit, even when she gives sooo many shits. (Ha). You kinda fall for Lorcan… just a bit. And don’t get me started on Dorian. I love him. He’s just… he’s so much more interesting than Chaol ever was. And there’s just not enough of him in this series.

When I finished this earlier today, I was pretty much just reeling – in disbelief that the book was over after ONLY 700 pages – 700 quick pages. I really wish that I had read The Assassin’s Blade before this, because there are definitely characters thrown in. So now I will have to go back and read that, and then immerse myself into Tower of Dawn until more Aelin, Rowan & crew return to my life. This stupid amazing book may force me into fanfiction land again.

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