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ReRead and Review – The Throne of Glass Series (Books #0.5 – #5) by Sarah J. Maas

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In anticipation of the finale, Kingdom of Ash, I decided to reread the series from the very beginning.

Throne of Glass was one of the first YA fantasies I’ve read to blend what I loved about YA with what I love about regular fantasy. A cast of characters, a bit of magic and clues, but with the identity, rawness, and passion of a teenage protagonist who will break rules without thinking about the consequences.

I love Celaena Sardothien because she’s everything that most readers want in a male protagonist and nothing like most YA heroines. She’s sassy and arrogant and unapologetic. She looks men up and down and smirks suggestively. She holds blades at your neck and doesn’t cower in fear.  It’s amazing to me how hated she is when the same people would swoon over a male character being exactly this way.  I also love that she’s girly, she appreciates luxury, and she feels her emotions.

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As my tastes change and grow and I move away from YA as a favored category, this reread was a little tough because I don’t know that I would continue to rate these books 5 stars if I read them for the first time now. I’d probably consider them solid 4 star books, but I also tend to get pretty stingy with my ratings these days. But I will stand by my previous reviews because I really do enjoy them and I enjoy the main character for all of her glorious flaws.

Previous Reviews:

Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass #0.5)

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

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Empire of Storms was the only book in the series that I rated under 5 stars. I did not reread the series, spent a year waiting on the release, and jumped right in not really remembering most of the plot, as my review stated.

There were a few reasons for not fully enjoying Empire of Storms.

I have to admit that, even now, I think Queen of Shadows could’ve ended the series. It had closure in regards to the evil that was Ardalan that we have been facing through the whole series. Yes, Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows introduced a host of other things and other characters, but the original problematic things were kind of solved in Queen of Shadows (like the King of Ardalan and Celaena’s old master). I suppose it is an ending of sorts, as it was the ending of Celaena Sardothien, and the beginning of Aelin Galathynius.

I will also admit that the direction of Heir of Fire had me craving more of Aelin and Rowan accepting their relationship and intensity, so much so that I loathed the chapters of any other characters in Queen of Shadows. I recalled very little aside from the people physically near Aelin in Queen of Shadows. With this in mind, reading Empire of Storms for the first time, I was so lost and thrown into a mess with characters I wasn’t sure I really knew or cared about.

I’m thankful that I stopped reading the series and decided to dedicate some time for a mass reread once the final was released because, after the reread of books 0.5-4, I’m less concerned with the swoon-worthy moments between Aelin and Rowan and more concerned about the overall plot… and that’s the correct mindset to be in with the series. After the reread, I appreciate Dorian, Elide, and Manon (and the cadre of Maeve’s) and have grown to care about their respective roles in the book and Empire of Storms was much better as a result.

There seems to be a division when it comes to Empire of Storms. It’s where Aelin and Rowan actually have sex and the book doesn’t skip over it and those graphic moments really alienated a lot of the original fan base, who probably prefer to stick to PG YA. I have no such complaints. I didn’t think the sex was over the top, graphic, or all that frequent, so I don’t get the fuss. But I read paranormal romance on the reg, so this is still pretty PG for me. (I also cannot stand when sex becomes an issue in YA, but we’re all totally cool with brutal violence, which this series has been about since page 1… but that’s another argument…)

Also, I think Empire of Storms is complex, fast paced, and involves a lot of other people than just Aelin. I may have not preferred all of the complexity the first time around, but I appreciate it now. I want to know not just what happens to Aelin, but what happens to the world in general.

I am now ready to read Tower of Dawn and Kingdom of Ash!

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Photo Review – Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

by Robert C. O’Brien

Summary: Some extraordinary rats come to the aid of a mouse family in this Newbery Medal Award-winning classic by notable children’s author Robert C. O’Brien.

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I read this for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge as a childhood classic I’ve never read. I’m not sure how this classic escaped my notice considering how much I loved animal books as a kid, but I’m so glad this book was recommended to me by a friend and I had a legitimate excuse to read it. Sometimes that’s my favorite part of the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge since it “forces” me to read books I would otherwise let sit on my shelf for years.

This was a wonderful story about Mrs. Frisby and the rats who helped her when she wasn’t sure what else she would do. The sci-fi/otherworldly element to the story was awesome and intriguing to read about even as an adult. I enjoyed the book a lot more than I expected to and I can see why it’s a favorite for so many readers!

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Star 4

Photo Review – The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

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The Silver Linings Playbook

By Matthew Quick

SummaryImagine your life is a film directed by God–a rom-com, obviously, complete with happily-ever-after ending. Before the credits roll, there will, of course, be tears, tantrums, and misunderstandings, but you know you’ll get there in the end.

Welcome to Pat’s world. It’s a world of silver linings and true love but also a world where God makes movies and Kenny G. lurks in your attic, and when Pat inadvertently befriends the tragic Tiffany, he begins to question whether or not he might just have gotten the genre wrong.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Review:

I had fairly low expectations based on the reviews and the fact that most people seemed disappointed by the book. Maybe that had something to do with my overall opinion, but I enjoyed the book a lot more than I thought I would.

I still prefer the movie, I think, but I appreciated Pat’s narration and I liked that, as the reader, I was more inside of his head than I was in the movie. I don’t think I truly understood his character until I opened the book. It was all from Pat’s POV and he saw things a bit differently. I could tell that he was interpreting things incorrectly in the book, but I understood his motivations a bit more. In the movie, I didn’t quite grasp what was “wrong” with him. I feel that, while I would pick the movie over the book, I didn’t feel that the book was bad or repetitive. It was the same story told in a different way.

I read this for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge as a book made into a movie that I’ve already seen,

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Star 4

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – COMPLETE

It’s only November, but I’ve finally completed the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge!
It was a fun one this year. I felt like I read a ton of books I wouldn’t have otherwise made time for and I enjoyed most of the books I read this year for the challenge.
2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
 

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge

✓1. A book made into a movie you’ve already seen Silver Linings Playbook ★★★★
✓2. True Crime In Cold Blood ★★★★
✓3. The next book in a series you started Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands #3) ★★★★
✓4. A book involving a heist Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) ★★★★
✓5. Nordic noir The Bat (Harry Hole #1) ★★
✓6. A novel based on a real person Stalking Jack the Ripper ★★★
✓7. A book set in a country that fascinates you Big Little Lies ★★★★ Australia
✓8. A book with a time of day in the title Crown of Midnight ★★★★★
✓9. A book about a villain or antihero Pestilence (The Four Horsemen #1) ★★★★
✓10. A book about death or grief Joyland ★★★★
✓11. A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym City of Dark Magic ★★
✓12. A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist The Raging Ones ★★★
✓13. A book that is also a stage play or musical The String of Pearls or, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet-Street ★★★
✓14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you Song of Blood and Stone ★★★
✓15. A book about feminism Labyrinth Lost ★★★
✓16. A book about mental health Without Merit ★★★
✓17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift Hundred Percenters ★★★★
✓18. A book by two authors Sleeping Beauties ★★★
✓19. A book about or involving a sport Wolf by Wolf ★★★★ Motocross
✓20. A book by a local author The Good Neighbor ★★★ Washington State
✓21. A book with your favorite color in the title The Green Mile ★★★★
✓22. A book with alliteration in the title Our Dark Duet (This Savage Song #2) ★★★★
✓23. A book about time travel Gemina (The Illuminae Files_02) ★★★
✓24. A book with a weather element in the title Girls Made of Snow and Glass ★★★
✓25. A book set at sea The Museum of Extraordinary Things ★★★
✓26. A book with an animal in the title The Beast is an Animal ★★★
✓27. A book set on a different planet Obsidio (The Illuminae Files _03) ★★★★
✓28. A book with song lyrics in the title Never Never ★★★★
✓29. A book about or set on Halloween The Woman in the Window ★★★
✓30. A book with characters who are twins Blood for Blood (Wolf by Wolf #2) ★★★★
✓31. A book mentioned in another book The Lord of the Rings ★★★★
✓32. A book from a celebrity book club Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine ★★★★ Reese Witherspoon Book Club
✓33. A childhood classic you’ve never read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH ★★★★
✓34. A book that’s published in 2018 Furyborn ★★★
✓35. A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner Rebel of the Sands ★★★★
✓36. A book set in the decade you were born Eleanor and Park ★★★ 80s
✓37. A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) ★★★★
✓38. A book with an ugly cover Traitor to the Throne ★★★★
✓39. A book that involves a bookstore or library The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ★★★★
✓40. Your favorite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges All the Ugly and Wonderful Things ★★★★★ book recommendation by someone I just met

2018 Popsugar Advanced Reading Challenge

✓1. A bestseller from the year you graduated high school The Colorado Kid ★★★ 2005
✓2. A cyberpunk book Warcross ★★★★
✓3. A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place Mr. Mercedes ★★★★
✓4. A book tied to your ancestry Norse Mythology ★★★
✓5. A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title The Orange Eats Creeps ★★
✓6. An allegory The Fifth Season ★★★
✓7. A book by an author with the same first or last name as you All The Missing Girls ★★★★
✓8. A microhistory Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers ★★★★
✓9. A book about a problem facing society today The Hate U Give ★★★
✓10. A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge The Outsider ★★★★ POPSUGAR Facebook Group

 

Have you participated in this challenge?

 

Photo Review – The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

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The Woman in the Window

by A.J. Finn

Summary: Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Source: I borrowed a digital copy from my local library

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Review:

This was a book with an unreliable narrator, a crime, a few twists, and a good plot, but something just didn’t work for me. I think I’m over the trend. I didn’t care much for The Girl on the Train and The Woman in the Window feels like something similar. There’s something manipulative about it in the end, even though it was unpredictable and intriguing.

If you’re looking for the next Girl on the Train.. this is definitely it. It’s well done, totally unpredictable, messed up, and fun to read.

I think it fell flat for me because it’s not really new or different. It’s always much more mysterious when I’m thrown into a story with an unreliable narrator who doesn’t really communicate with other people because I know absolutely nothing about them, but I’d love to read some mysteries with characters I feel like I truly know. Or want to root for.

(Also, if you’re drinking a ton of wine on a daily basis and your doctor is literally telling you that it will cause you to hallucinate, your unreliable narrating just gets on my nerves.)

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Star 3

Photo Review – The String of Pearls or, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet-Street (Penny Dreadfuls)

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The String of Pearls or, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet-Street

from Penny Dreadfuls short story collection

Summary: Penny Dreadfuls: Sensational Tales of Terror is an anthology of twenty tales of horror and the supernatural published in the nineteenth century. In addition to works by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins!, and other well-known writers, it features several sensationalized retellings of famous folk legends and accounts of notorious highwaymen. The book includes two full-length novels: the original 1818 text of Frankenstein, which was considered more shocking before Mary Shelley toned down its gruesomeness for the better-known 1831 edition, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a genuine penny dreadful that has served as the foundation for all accounts of Sweeney Todd written since. The book will appeal to readers who are currently enjoying the literary horror mash-ups featured on the hit Sky Atlantic series Penny Dreadful.

Source: I purchased the collection in hardcover.

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Review:

(I read through the stories, omitting the stories I’ve read before and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because I own that story separately. I’m only reviewing Sweeney Todd at this time.)

I read this for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge for book that is also stage play or musical.

The String of Pearls was a horrific and entertaining tale of a gruesome barber who murdered his clients. I enjoyed the story in print, but it was nowhere near as amazing as the musical.

I thought the short story was kind of long and drawn out as it was quite obvious that Mr. Todd was murdering people, but it was long and drawn out in a way that made it kind of hilarious that not many people seemed to figure it out, despite the many clues in everyone’s face.

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Star 3

Photo Review – The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

by Alice Hoffman

SummaryCoralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s museum, alongside performers like the Wolfman and the Butterfly Girl. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance. And he ignites the heart of Coralie.

Alice Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a tender and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is, “a lavish tale about strange yet sympathetic people” (The New York Times Book Review)

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Source: I purchased a paperback at a used bookstore

Review:

The Museum of Extraordinary Things was beautifully written, magical, strange, and pretty captivating. The premise seemed right up my alley and I was in the mood for lyrical writing, weirdness, and a captivating story.

I would’ve rated the book much higher, but I started to get frustrated about halfway through. There seemed to be no point, the main character did not uncover enough of the terrible secrets her father was keeping fast enough to satisfy me, and then there was the case of Insta-Love in one of the worst ways. The book went back and forth between the main character and her to-be love interest as we got the backstory for both of them and followed them before their eventual meeting. The actual meeting was underwhelming and it made me feel that the whole build up to that moment was a waste of time.

The story had so much potential and was so beautifully written, but in the end it fell flat for me.

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Star 3