Review: Seeker (novel) by Arwen Elys Dayton

Seeker (Seeker, #1)Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

There is something interesting and unique about this story that kept be intrigued. And it’s kind of hard to say exactly what. Maybe it’s the characters, or the settings, or even the confusing storyline, but it drew me in.

I don’t want to get into details about the story because really, it’s not the easiest story to summarize. There are a four points of view and each one has their own side of the story, but I found each one of their sides compelling to find out more about.

The interesting thing about this is that the characters in this story aren’t exactly good, but they’re not exactly bad either. However, even if they’ve done the wrong thing, I have this part of me that sympathizes with them and that part wants to root for them. Unfortunately, that’s hard to do when you want to root for them all, despite the problems they cause.

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Review: Ready Player One (novel) by Ernest Cline

ready-player-one-smallReady Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, I only finished this book now. And boy, did I enjoy it.

Without giving too much away, this is a story about a young man living in an online-dependent world in the year 2044. Life is only partially lived in the real world where much of it is a wasteland and filled with, but most everyone around the world live their real lives online through a virtual world called the Oasis. The Oasis gives essentially gives everyone a chance to live out a different life than the one they have in the real world under the guise of their avatar. With enough credits, they can “travel” anywhere and do a whole lot more than what they’re physical selves can do.

And one of the creators of The Oasis has created a contest of a lifetime. The first person to solve the puzzles through the clues that he has laden with 80s references and you could win a mass fortune.

Wade Watts is one of those people. Author Ernest Cline lets us experience these challenges through Wade’s eyes, and he’s done an impressive telling of it for his debut novel. Wade is not unlike many people I know and have grown up with, especially when it comes to those who are fanatical about one thing or another, be it sports or games or movies. So, this kid is pretty relatable, and pretty likeable.

He doesn’t come across as arrogant or pitiful or vengeful, although he can be a bit obsessive, but in this story, that’s an advantage. Because the puzzles are ridiculously challenging and that’s what makes this story even more fun to read.

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Review: Nothing But Shadows (novella) by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

Nothing but Shadows (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, #4)Nothing but Shadows by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m going to try to make this short.

We get to find out more about James Herondale in his very early teen years, as he goes to Shadowhunter Academy and tries to make friends with fellow Shadowhunter students, including Christopher Lightwood, Thomas Lightwood, and a very charming young Matthew Fairchild, who seems to have everyone’s favor, except for James.

I think this is the first real insight into the mind of James Herondale, and although I already adored him before, I love this kid. Which probably means I’m ready for my heart to be shattered all over again. Blah!

Seriously, Jamie, as Matthew calls him, is all kinds of vulnerable and we get a first hand look at it when he first arrives at the Academy and is made fun of, by someone I didn’t think I’d be disappointed with. Well, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, though.

That’s pretty much part of the lesson that can be learned by reading this tale – that not everyone is what they make themselves out to be… or not everyone deserves the name they own. At least, not when their teenagers.

With that said, we find James not quite fitting in at the school and it seems that no one is helping, not even him. But things happen, and with an amazing heart-to-heart scene with “Uncle Jem”, as James so affectionately calls Brother Z, we find that there is hope for Jamie. And Matthew. And I couldn’t be happier for these two!

Plus, spoilers ahead…





By the angel! We finally see what makes James Herondale his mother’s son.  He can turn into a Shadow (into dark air or something)!!!  I had forgotten that he’s basically part warlock, and thus is Marked with warlock magic. Of course, this didn’t really help him keep some of his new-found friends, but it made him find those who are capable of being true friends.

Having Will act in a way we haven’t seen him act much like before in The Infernal Devices was really awesome, I have to say. He has become the confident, and still handsome, honorable Shadowhunter he was meant to be.

And I love how James talks about the TID trio, with such admiration and love for them. It just shows how much they love him.

I’m looking forward to reading more about James, while at the same time dreading the sorrow that will most definitely come along with his story.

And at the same time, I’m hopeful that Simon will finally rectify the relationships he’s been so unsure about.

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Review: Conviction (novel) by Kelly Loy Gilbert

ConvictionConviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review**

Somewhere between 3 and 4 stars

I wasn’t expecting to get caught up in this story as much I was, especially because I was in the middle of reading a really good book series. However, I felt that if I didn’t read it now, I might not ever get to it. And I’m pretty glad I did.

First off, I wouldn’t label this a Christian book, although there are themes of religion and Christianity involved. Being raised in a Christian church and going to a Christian college, I’m familiar with some of the settings. However, the description about the main character’s faith in God was kind of what drew me to it.

Braden is the main protagonist, and basically, his family is all kinds of dysfunctional. Since he lives in a small-town community, you’d think his dad being accused for murder wouldn’t gain national attention, but it does for two reasons: who his dad is accused of murdering, and that fact that his dad is an outspoken Christian radio host.

When Braden’s brother comes back to town after being gone nine years without any communication with Braden of their father, things start to unfold about the life that Braden has been living.

It’s a painfully realistic story of how so many kids and teens can and have been manipulated by those in authority, and in many cases, by their parents. Not only that, because of his belief that God will make everything right in a conventional sense only exacerbates the confusion and low self-esteem in himself.

Although he knows he’s a good pitcher, we get to know just how low in the totem pole he thinks he is, and it’s a sad and brutal look at the life of a boy so subtly manipulated into thinking that only one person can love who he truly is.

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Review: Undivided

UndividedUndivided by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are storytellers, and then there are storytellers. Neal Shusterman is a storyteller! I was drawn in from the first book, reading on the lives of three young people trying to just survive in their world.

There was Connor, the angry-at-the-world boy who just got into too many arguments and fights with basically everyone, including his parents… or especially his parents.

There was Risa, the ward of the state, the orphan in a world that doesn’t need orphans, trying to give anyone a reason to accept her and want her.

And there was Lev, the misguided boy who was willing to sacrifice his life for the “greater good” of the people, accepting his fate as a step-up over living his own life, whole.

Each one of them went through more than any child (and let’s be real, teens are still children), or even any full grown adult, should have to face.

In this final book of the Unwind dystology, we finally get to see if any of their efforts in stopping unwinding will have any effect on the world, and if people will be able to finally see the likes of kids like Connor, Risa, and Lev as worthy and capable of being a part of society. Of course, that depends on society.

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Review: Golden Son (novel) by Pierce Brown

Golden Son
Golden Son by Pierce Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hic sunt leones.

This is Act II of a 3-act play on the human condition. It is heartbreaking and gut-wrenching at its darkest. Melodic and light-hearted at it’s lightest.

But the dark time are where the story lies in most, and it’s a dramatic juggernaut comparable to the likes of Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead in its tragedy. However, I’d rather not say it’s like them, because this story that Pierce Brown has written definitely stands on its own merits.

For those of you who detest YA novels, this is barely YA. The previous book, also just skims what is considered teenage-ry. This is storytelling at its pinnacle – Pierce Brown is stunning in his debut series.

The details and the dialogue of the world and its inhabitants that Brown has created is mature, complex. The storytelling is engrossing, anticipatory in a way that’s pulls you in but doesn’t drag on. It is pieced together to tease you just long enough so that when the reveal comes, it’s as monumental as Brown would have you believe.

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Review: Red Rising (novel) by Pierce Brown

Red Rising
Red Rising by Pierce Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m this close to giving it give stars, but then what if book two is better?

I just really have no idea what to say right now.

(hours later)

It might be easy for some to compare this to The Hunger Games, or Ender’s Game. I admit, if you simplify the story, it can seem that way, but there is something about this that makes it feel harsh and brutal in a different way. I can’t really describe the difference. Or maybe it doesn’t need to be so different to stand out. There are many similarities with books in the same genre, at least when put in simple terms.

The complexity of the characters, the emotions they stir up, both in them and in us, is what makes it stand out.

And there’s emotion there. Sometimes it’s anger, or frustration, or sadness, or horror, maybe a little bit of humor, and I mean a little. Because this world that author Pierce Brown has created is not funny. Especially for a Red.

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Review: The Retribution of Mara Dyer (novel) by Michelle Hodkin

The Retribution of Mara DyerThe Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s been over a week since I had read this book, so my review won’t be as thorough. However, I’ll point out some things I do remember that made me rate it as 3 stars instead of 4 or 5.

So, things are a little nutty in a metaphorical sense. So many things happen, and not all of them good, that it makes me question why the author wrote Mara the way she did.

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Review: THE REVENGE OF SEVEN (novel) by Pittacus Lore

The Revenge of SevenThe Revenge of Seven by Pittacus Lore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Are you freaking kidding me!?!? Gahhhh! Another year!!! (Review to come soon…ugh!)

One month later…

Well, it seems I’m behind on my reviews. And sorry to say that this book is no longer fresh in my mind for me to give a more deserving review, so I’ll do what I can.

After what happened in The Fall of Five, we find the group lost and divided. Each person has to deal with what happened and each group has to find a way to get back to the others.

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Review: The Blood of Olympus

The Blood of OlympusThe Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, it’s another end to another great journey. As with any awesome series, I’m feel somewhat sad to see the characters off. Especially this crew of “misfit” demigods.

As much as I loved this book, it definitely left me wanting. But maybe that’s what the author intended. The characters are, after all, demigods. Their story is hardly ever really over, sometimes not even after death, as has been the case with many gods and heroes before them. So, it would seem appropriate to have some of these characters come away from the aftermath of the final battle with questions yet to be answered.

However, I’m sure that doesn’t sit well with many readers. Even I wanted more of a clear cut happy ending at the end of a 6-book journey, but I’m not disappointed.

Rick didn’t falter in showing us the growth of each character through the previous five books. He made them more apparent of their changes, in physical appearance, personality, and self-esteem. Those middle school and high school years are torturous in terms of personal development, and it seems Rick understands that, which is why these books draw so many young (and young-at-heart) readers to them.

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