book review

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians
Series:
Alcatraz #1
Author:
Brandon Sanderson
Genres:
Middle Grade Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Synopsis: On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry gets a bag of sand in the mail-his only inheritance from his father and mother. He soon learns that this is no ordinary bag of sand. It is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians who are taking over the world by spreading misinformation and suppressing truth. Alcatraz must stop them, using the only weapon he has: an incredible talent for breaking things.

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Brandon Sanderson is popular and well-loved in the book community, so it’s kind of intimidating reading and reviewing his books. This is only my second book by him, I  read Mistborn: The Final Empire last year. Sanderson is very creative, and his magic systems are unique, albeit weird at times.

I heard this series was a mashup of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. I can’t say how accurate that is when it comes to ASOUE (I haven’t read that series yet), but I have read Harry Potter and Percy Jackson (both 5/5 star series). There are some parallels to HP and this book, and Sanderson’s sense of humor is similar to Rick Riordan’s before it got cringy.

Alcatraz has a Talent for breaking things. After breaking the stove and setting his foster parent’s house on fire, his case worker Ms. Fletcher comes to talk to him. That same day, Alcatraz received a mysterious package for his birthday containing a bag of sand and a scribbled note, a man broke into his house trying to kill him, and a wacky older man saying he’s his grandpa saves him.

Alcatraz discovers the sand is missing, and that the Librarians have it. He learns from his grandpa that he’s been living in the Hushlands, a territory controlled by Librarians, and that there are three other secret continents in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean full of people with special Talents called the Freeworld. Grandpa Smedry’s Talent is that he’s always late.

You’re probably wondering why breaking things and being late are considered Talents. Alcatraz hasn’t honed in on controlling his Talent, but things break to save his life, and when someone shoots at or tries to hurt his grandpa, he doesn’t get injured. Some other characters have talents like tripping and talking gibberish.

The Freeworld has “advanced” technology like swords and stairs, while the Hushlanders have guns and elevators. The librarians also lie about dinosaurs being extinct. The entire story is purposefully ridiculous, and honestly really stupid at times. Sanderson’s sense of humor is definitely an acquired taste. 

I liked Alcatraz’s narration style, and I liked the first third and the last third of the book. The middle section where they were running through the library kind of bored me. I lost interest in reading this book for over a week because I was so bored.

My biggest problem with the book is that I didn’t like Bastille, I thought she was really hateful and needed to cut Alcatraz some slack. I have an itching feeling she’s going to be Alcatraz’s love interest later on.

Although I rated this three out of five stars, the ending intrigued me enough that I want to continue to the second book.

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book review

The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2) By Rick Riordan

Title: The Dark Prophecy  
Series: The Trials of Apollo #2
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: May 2, 2017
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Mythology, LGBT+
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Synopsis: The god Apollo, cast down to earth and trapped in the form of a gawky teenage boy as punishment, must set off on the second of his harrowing (and hilarious) trials. He and his companions seek the ancient oracles – restoring them is the only way for Apollo to reclaim his place on Mount Olympus – but this is easier said than done. Somewhere in the American Midwest is a haunted cave that may hold answers for Apollo in his quest to become a god again…if it doesn’t kill him or drive him insane first.

Standing in Apollo’s way is the second member of the evil Triumvirate – a Roman emperor whose love of bloodshed and spectacle makes even Nero look tame. To survive the encounter, Apollo will need the help of a now-mortal goddess, a bronze dragon, and some familiar demigod faces from Camp Half-Blood. With them by his side, can Apollo face down the greatest challenge of his 4,000 years of existence?

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It took me months to read this book, and I’m deeply saddened.

I love Rick Riordan’s writing and imagination. He has been one of my favorite authors since I first read The Lightning Thief in 2009. Sadly, Riordan’s quality started going downhill after The Blood of Olympus, the fifth and final book in The Heroes of Olympus series.

My feelings towards The Dark Prophecy aren’t because I’m recovering from a major slump, because I HATED the Magnus Chase and Gods of Asgard books and I wasn’t in a slump when I read those, and I wasn’t in a slump when I read The Blood of Olympus either.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just my tastes changing as I get older? Maybe it’s the fact Riordan keeps using the same formula and character personalities over and over again, resulting in me feeling burned out? Maybe it’s his stale unfunny jokes? Sometimes he’s like the weird uncle trying too hard to be hip and cool with all the pop culture references thrown around for no reason. Someone needs to tell him to stop.

Apollo is way more annoying in this book than I remember him being in The Hidden Oracle. I loved The Hidden Oracle! It made me feel nostalgic for the original PJO series, and this book totally killed the mood for me. Apollo and Leo (who I hated in The Heroes of Olympus series) together were unbearable. Leo is one of my least favorite characters of all time. I was SO DISAPPOINTED when I found out he was still alive.

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Leo on Festus

The plot in this book is so slow, there were many times I wanted to DNF it. It’s mostly Apollo complaining about how “great” he used to be when he was a god, saying he was bisexual, or sulking about being human. Good grief, how many times do we have to be reminded that he’s bisexual? We get it. Most Greek and Romans weren’t heterosexual. Move on to something else now. You don’t need to mention it almost every few pages.

Mentioning Apollo’s sexuality reminded me of the backlash from parents after Nico came out as gay in The Heroes of Olympus series. I always thought it was kind of funny because hellooooo… You’re reading about Pagan Mythology. Not only is there LGBT+ in EVERY culture’s mythology (click here to read more about it), Ancient Greeks and Romans were notorious for NOT being heterosexual. Heck, Roman soldiers had young boys come with them during war.

Overall, I’m unimpressed and annoyed with Riordan’s past few books… You know, there comes a time when an author needs to either 1) take a break so a series doesn’t go downhill, or 2) start writing something new and different… Especially after writing over a dozen books on the same subject.

I believe the time has come for Rick Riordan to move on, but I have a feeling he’s going to keep writing other culture’s mythology. If he’s going to keep writing mythology, I would like to see him write a historical fiction with demigods instead of modern-day demigods. That would also get rid of all the stupid pop culture references.

I think I’m going to jump off the Rick Riordan wagon for now. I might even get rid of the books of his I don’t like to make room on my bookshelves.

book review

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

Title: Archer’s Voice
Author: Mia Sheridan
Date Published:
January 25, 2014
Genres:
New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads: When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer’s Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.

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Archer’s Voice is told in first person point of view and follows Bree and Archer. Bree’s chapters are present day, she’s on a road trip from Cincinnati, Ohio after witnessing her father’s murder and finds a little lakeside town to stay at for a while. Archer’s chapters start out with childhood flashbacks where we see his family life with his alcoholic and abusive dad, and his mother who is in love with his dad’s cousin. Later on, Archer has some present day POVs.

Not long after being in Pelion, Maine, Bree comes across Archer at the grocery store, and is intrigued by his mysterious silence. She asks some people around town about him only to find out he’s the town weirdo, but she still feels drawn to him. The day her dog slips through his property’s gate is a blessing.

Although Bree felt a connection when she first met Archer, their romance gradually builds up and starts from a strong friendship before getting to something more intimate. I absolutely loved Bree and Archer’s friendship, and Bree’s dedication to help Archer learn how to live his life outside his property and the grocery store. I really enjoyed the sexual tension between them, but once they started having sex, I was kind of put off. Sex scenes in books make me uncomfortable, especially if there are words in them that make me cringe, like the word “cock”.  I also hate the words “belly” and “tummy” for some reason. Haha.

“I’m afraid to love you. I’m afraid that you’ll leave and that I’ll go back to being alone again. Only it will be a hundred times worse because I’ll know what I’m missing. I can’t…” He sucked in a shaky breath. “I want to be able to love you more than I fear losing you, and I don’t know how. Teach me, Bree. Please teach me. Don’t let me destroy this.”

There some family owned town political drama in this book that got on my nerves, but there’s a good reason it’s there. The second half of the book was also kind of boring and knocked the star rating down for me, but the ending was exceptional.

For some reason this book reminds me of New Moon (Stephenie Meyer)+ Ugly Love (Colleen Hoover) + Confess (Colleen Hoover). Haha. So if you like CoHo, definitely pick this one up.

I think it’s important to note that the dog does not die.

book review

Being by Kevin Brooks

Title: Being
Author: Kevin Brooks
Published: January 1, 2007
Genres: YA, Science Fiction, Mystery
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Synopsis: “The Fugitive” meets “Blade Runner” with a Kevin Brooks kick in this heart-stopper about a boy who discovers he’s not one hundred percent human.

It was just supposed to be a routine exam. But when the doctors snake the fiber-optic tube down Robert Smith’s throat, what they discover doesn’t make medical sense. Plastic casings. Silver filaments. Moving metal parts. In his naked, anesthetized state on the operating table, Robert hears the surgeons’ shocked comments: “What the hell is that?”

“It’s me,” Robert thinks, “and I’ve got to get out of here.” Armed with a stolen automatic and the videotape of his strange organs, he manages to escape, and to embark on an orphan’s violent odyssey to find out exactly who–exactly what–he is.

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Robert Smith (who made me think of The Cure every time I read his name) is a sixteen year old boy who has spent his life going from foster home to foster home. In the beginning of the book he’s in the hospital for a routine endoscopy. During the endoscopy, the doctors discover he isn’t fully human and that he’s full of machinery. Robert wakes up in a different room than he fell asleep in and his stomach cut open and doctors and strange men in suits standing around him.

Robert takes the anesthesiologist at gunpoint and goes on the run, where he meets up with a girl named Eddie who makes fake IDs, hotwires cars, and sells drugs, and they run away to Spain together.

I was really into this book when it first started because it was super intense, but as time went on, and not a single question was answered, I started to get annoyed. In the last chapter I thought I’d finally find out what/who Robert is, or who the men in suits are, but the book just ends on a violent note. I thought maybe there was a sequel, but there isn’t! Had there been answers, this would have been a great book, but there isn’t a single answer and now I can’t help feeling like I wasted my time! 😦

book review

Dinner with King Solomon by Matshona Dhliwayo

 Title: Dinner With King Solomon
Author: Matshona Dhliwayo
Series: N/A
Genres: Novella, Fantasy, Christian Fiction

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Kevin hits rock bottom after he loses his business, and his wife leaves him for a younger man and gets custody of the kids. On the night Kevin is about to commit suicide, he hears a knock on the door and King Solomon is there. Solomon gives Kevin a bag of gold coins and asks him to invite him to dinner. While having dinner, Kevin asks Solomon questions and his life is changed for the better.

Dinner With King Solomon is packed full of wisdom and apologetics in its <100 pages.

The author has given me permission to share this book and/or his other book Lalibela’s Wise Man with reviewers, so if you’re interested email me at JournalOfABibliophile92@gmail.com and I will send you the PDF(s). 🙂

book review

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Title: Lord of Shadows
Series: The Dark Artifices #2
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: May 23, 2017
Genres: YA, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Synopsis: Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with herparabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

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Before I say anything about Lord of Shadows… I love Cassandra Clare’s books, but every series she’s written so far has had its one dud with me. Out of The Mortal Instruments series, City of Fallen Angels was my least favorite. Out of The Infernal Devices, Clockwork Angel was my least favorite and almost made me not want to continue with the series! (TID is my favourite series out of the Shadowhunter Chronicles so far).

Lord of Shadows bored the hell out of me, and I struggled through almost all of it! It took me just over a month to finish it. In the past, I could read one of Cassandra Clare’s books in a few days up to a week, and she’s always been known to get me out of a slump.

Things started off great and picked up where Lady Midnight ended. Then it became love triangle after love triangle, lies and relationship drama, and not a lot happened plot wise. I feel like Cassandra Clare was trying way too hard to be all-inclusive. The story focuses too much on Mark/Kieran/Christina, and I’m pretty sure she’s setting the stage for them to have a polyamorous relationship. Markierstina as I’ll call them made the story drag for a large part of the book, and the angst between Emma and Julian wasn’t even the good sort of angst. This book could have been condensed down to 400-500 pages, not 700. So. Much. Filler.

The only part of the book that didn’t annoy the crap out of me? Kit and Ty.

Despite the cliffhanger ending, I’m not in any hurry to read the next installment whenever that comes out IN TWO YEARS, because Lord of Shadows has ruined the series for me, and made me stop caring.

Does anyone else find it weird how both A Court of Wings and Ruin and Lord of Shadows mention MMF threesomes, and how they’re considered young adult?!

book review

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Published: July 11, 1960
Genres: Historical fiction, Classics

Goodreads Synopsis: The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into ten languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

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This is going to be a short review because I don’t have much to say…

I only rated this book two out of five stars (which means “it was okay” on Goodreads). I’m not insenstive or heartless, I thought the overall message was beautiful! There was just something about the writing and narriation I didn’t like, and couldn’t pinpoint. Maybe it’s just the slump I’ve been in? I plan on keeping this book on my shelves to re-read in the future.

*This was required reading in high school, but I only read the sparknotes and watched the movie (which I liked).

book review

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Peeps
Duology: Peeps #1
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Published: February 8, 2005
Genres: YA, Paranormal, Science Fiction
My Rating:  ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Synopsis: Last year as college freshman, narrator Cal was infected by exotic goth Morgan with a parasite that caused following girlfriends to become vampire-like ghouls he calls parasite-positives “Peeps”. A carrier without symptoms, he hunts his progeny for the centuries old bureaucratic Night Watch. But victims are showing more sanity, pretty human Lacey is pushing his buttons, and her apartment building basement houses fierce hordes of ravening rats, red-eyed cats, and monstrous worms that threaten all. Morgan has the secret to a centuries-old conspiracy and upcoming battle to save the human race.

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Peeps is a very unique approach to vampires. Vampirism is a parasite, but it spreads like an STD/STI, and through kissing. Vampires/peeps have supernatural abilities, and they are sex crazed and love meat.

After meeting Morgan at the bar, Cal follows her back to her apartment where he loses his virginity, and contracts vampirism. Not knowing he’s been infected, Cal kisses and has sex with more girls and creates more vampires. Cal joins the Night Watch to find all his ex girlfriends, and tries to find Morgan.

At first, this book is really creepy and kind of starts off like a mystery. Cal goes to Morgan’s old apartment building where he meets Lace. Lace says all the tenants moved out around the same time and takes him to her apartment to show him where someone wrote “So pretty I had to eat him” in blood underneath the paint.

Cal then discovers the basement of the apartment complex has a rat brood infestation, and Lace keeps getting underfoot. Of course, they have to be a couple.

I’m kind of confused about the time span of this story, and thought it ended way too quickly. I was really enjoying the book up until the last 50 or so pages when things just got ridiculous… A giant worm starting the apocalypse, really?

Each chapter alternates between Cal’s story, and some mini biology lesson about parasites that are equal parts fascinating and disgusting. I think overall the parasite chapters took up about 30 pages in my edition and they don’t mention anything going on with the actual story itself. At first I liked reading those chapters, but after a while they were annoying and ruined the mood.

From my understanding the second book isn’t from Cal’s point of view, which is kind of disappointing. I’m in no hurry to read it any time soon.

book review · books

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
Author: 
Sarah J. Maas
Published:
May 2, 2017
Genres:
New Adult, Fantasy, Romance,
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Synopsis: Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

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It is 4AM and I have just finished this book! I had crazy high expectations for A Court of Wings and Ruin because of how much I adored A Court of Mist and Fury. However, at the same time, I knew there was a high possibility it would not meet my expectations and go down the slippery slope that the Throne of Glass series went down after Heir of Fire.

In the beginning, I was extremely disappointed with the lack of scheming and drama while Feyre was at the Spring Court. I thought the events at the Spring Court would fill up a good portion of the book, but it was so short. After she left I was sitting there thinking… That’s it? How anticlimactic! While she was on the run, I was kind of expecting Tamlin to catch up with her and hold her prisoner or something. I’m also disappointed because I thought Feyre was going to be separated from Rhysand for much longer, and I was really hoping to see his point of view since the book opened with his POV.

Rhysand and Feyre’s relationship in this book lost a lot of steam. In ACOMAF there was so much sass, tension and angst. Now that they’re not only mates, but married, their scenes together were kind of boring and I didn’t feel their chemistry anymore. I guess that’s what marriage does to people. Haha. (I’m kidding.) Their sex scenes, like all of SJM’s sex scenes, were repulsive yet hilarious. I cringe so much reading her sex scenes. Someone needs to tell her to stop. Rhysand also mentions a MMF threesome at one point, and it was so out of character and repulsive.

I love Feyre and how much she’s grown as a character, but I really would have loved to see this book told from other perspectives to speed the story up, especially in the second part. The second part was SO boring. Am I the only one who struggled with the middle part? After a scene in the library with a creepy thing, I was bored out of my mind and wanted the book to be finished, but I still had over half to go! Feyre did a lot of telling, not showing, and things just felt bleh after a while. I want Rhysand’s point of view, dammit.

Another issue I had with this book was how immature and stupid the High Lords were at times. They’re a bunch of immortals who are supposed to be hella old and powerful, but they acted like sixteen year olds.

“My mate”, “the male(s)”, and “the female(s)” got old after a while. “I looked at my mate.” “The males were…” Just say their names! For some reason, reading winnow(ed/ing) started to grate on my nerves after a while too.

I’m not sure how I feel about Elain and Nesta since their characters didn’t have much growth. Hopefully they have awesome character developement in the next book. I was really hoping to see more scenes with them and their mates!

I enjoyed this book, but so far I think it’s the weakest in the series. ACOMAF is hands down the best book in the series, and Sarah J Maas’s best book to date. I’m kind of upset there’s going to be 5 more books in this series! Don’t get me wrong, I love this series and the characters, but I would have liked to see things wrapped up neatly in only a few books like originally planned. I’m afraid this is going to go downhill like Throne of Glass did.

Toni Mahfund is my Rhysand.

book review

Lalibela’s Wise Man by Matshona Dhliwayo

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

After the death of his father, Christian is left with nothing but a small box. When Christian goes to the offices he works at with his father and two brothers, he sees his assistant cleaning out her desk, security then tells him not to take anything from his office and to leave. When he gets home, Christian’s two brothers kick him out of the main house and tell him to live in the infested maid quarters. Christian goes to a hotel and opens the box only to see a note about visiting a monk. Shortly after, he leaves for Ethiopia to meet Lalibela’s Wisest Man.

While in Ethiopia, Christian learns many lessons about material wealth and what’s really important in life. There’s even a little twist at the end!

This novella is fast paced and well written. It takes some real talent to make a character feel real and have depth in less than 100 pages. Thank you Matshona Dhliwayo for this beautiful book.