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Photo Review – Obsidio (The Illuminae Files_03) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Obsidio (The Illuminae Files _03)

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

SummaryKady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I enjoyed the finale of Obsidio and I was happy to get the closure I needed for the whole story. I only gave Gemina 3 stars because it was so disappointing in comparison to Illuminae and I don’t think Obsidio was much better, but I gave it an extra star because it was interesting and it did conclude the story and involve the original characters and AIDAN a lot more.

Illuminae was the best book in the trilogy by a long shot, but if this is read as one long story with different POVs, then it’s still an amazing scifi trilogy that is worth reading. I think other people might like Gemina or Obsidio as much as or more than Illuminae, but the horror lover in me just really enjoyed the plot of Illuminae more than the traditional scifi adventure plot of the rest. The storytelling is unique for this entire trilogy and I highly recommend checking this series out and diving into a story that is told in so many ways. It was creative and full of so much adventure, love, action, horror, and mystery.

(2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge for Book Set on a Different Planet)

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Star 4

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Photo Review – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

By Gabrielle Zevin

Summary: As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

We are not quite novels.

We are not quite short stories.

In the end, we are collected works.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my library

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Review:

I read this for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt: a book that involves a bookstore or library. The prompt was proving difficult for me because I have learned that I dislike books about libraries or other books generally. I’m not really sure why. I wanted to read 0 of the books recommended to me for this prompt until my friend recommended this one.

I figured I’d try it out, expecting a clunky literary tale with titles strewn about the pages and bookworms being boring or classic literature references bogging down the pages. (See? I LOVE these things but I HATE reading about them!)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was not any of those things. It was a lighthearted contemporary book about a grumpy man who eventually grew on me. It was fun and sweet and not at all the boring tale I expected. It still paid homage to many great works of fiction and the pages were peppered with bookish references, but not in a way that felt clunky or otherwise awful.

I was charmed by the book and definitely recommend it!

Photo Review – The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich

The Orange Eats Creeps

By Grace Krilanovich

Summary: It’s the ’90s Pacific Northwest refracted through a dark mirror, where meth and madness hash it out in the woods. . . . A band of hobo vampire junkies roam the blighted landscape—trashing supermarket breakrooms, praying to the altar of Poison Idea and GG Allin at basement rock shows, crashing senior center pancake breakfasts—locked in the thrall of Robitussin trips and their own wild dreams.

A girl with drug-induced ESP and an eerie connection to Patty Reed (a young member of the Donner Party who credited her survival to her relationship with a hidden wooden doll), searches for her disappeared foster sister along “The Highway That Eats People,” stalked by a conflation of Twin Peaks’ “Bob” and the Green River Killer, known as Dactyl.

With a scathing voice and penetrating delivery, Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps is one of the most ferocious debut novels in memory.

Source: A paperback was given to me as a gift

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Review:

I read this book for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt A Book with a Fruit or Vegetable in the Title. It’s been on my bookshelf for years and was gifted to me by the owners of a bookstore where I worked. I’m always up for vampire fiction and I finally had a great excuse to read it.

I don’t think I’m “cool” enough to read this book. The reviews are all quite good, but there’s an element to the culture of the book that I just don’t get. I think I get more of it now that I’ve lived in the PNW for the past year, whereas before I might not have really grasped things like why there would be homeless people not in urban areas, but I will also admit that there’s still a lot of PNW-ness that I will never understand and I definitely am not the right demographic in region or age to fully appreciate that part of it.

The book was weird and clever and told in a strange way and I think if it was about 30 pages long, I would have given it a better rating. There’s no need for this to be a book and not a short story and the “revolutionary” storytelling started to grate on my nerves as I strolled through the disjointed stream of consciousness type of narration.

I wanted to like this more, but I do appreciate the symbolism.

Photo Review – The Green Mile by Stephen King

The Green Mile

By Stephen King

Summary: Stephen King’s classic #1 New York Times bestselling dramatic serial novel and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film starring Tom Hanks!

Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk “the Green Mile,” the lime-colored linoleum corridor leading to a final meeting with Old Sparky, Cold Mountain’s electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities over the years working the Mile, but he’s never seen anything like John Coffey–a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. And in this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about John Coffey–a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefs….

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I chose this book for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge for book with my favorite color in the title.

It has been on my TBR for quite some time as I’m a huge Stephen King fan and also love the movie. King gets some bad movie adaptations, so I was expecting the book to be wildly different, but it’s was very similar. I enjoyed the story in book format and I love the serial format and kind of wish I read them that way.

If you have been wanting to try a Stephen King book, but you don’t like long books and/or you’re not really a horror fan, this is definitely a book I recommend. It’s not very long (and not Stephen King length) and it’s not rooted in horror at all.

I’m so glad I got to finally cross it off of my To-Read list!

Photo Review – The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Summary: One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

Source: I purchased a softcover.

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Review:

I read The Hobbit a few years ago and absolutely loved it. The Lord of the Rings has been on my to-read list for years and years, but it just seemed so daunting and long. Much like other older fantasy books, I expected it to be long and boring and dry, so I kept putting it off. For the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, I decided I would finally read it this year as Book Mentioned In Another Book and finally get to scratch it off of my 100 Essential Books Scratch Off Poster.

I’m glad I read it! It wasn’t nearly as slow as I’d expected and I was able to match up a lot of the characters with those in the movie, which helped me put some faces to names and keep it from being confusing. It also helps that I read The Hobbit, so I cared a lot about the events in the beginning and I’m not sure I would have cared about Bilbo and his party and his birthday if I hadn’t read The Hobbit.

I still prefer The Hobbit because Frodo just isn’t as fun as Bilbo (not that his task was really fun in the first place) and because everything was so dark and serious and dramatic and I much preferred the lightheartedness of The Hobbit. Still, LOTR was really good and much better than I expected it to be.

Photo Review – Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Without Merit

By Colleen Hoover

Summary: Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

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Review:

Without Merit was fantastic.

I feel like I’ve seen a shift in Hoover’s books lately as they’ve dialed in on some issues and were more about those issues and less about the romance and I think I like it.

There was a ton of angst in the book and the main character, Merit, had her share of issues with her family as well as issues figuring out where she fit into the world. The book dealt with a lot of mental health issues, identity, family, and communicating with people you love. It was about growth and love, too.

I don’t think Merit was the most likable main character, but I also think that was kind of the point to some degree, so I forgave the story for that.

Photo Review – The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Lying Game

By Ruth Ware

Summary: From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my library

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Review:

So here’s the thing about Ruth Ware. She’s a wonderful writer. I thoroughly enjoy the way she writes, especially when she creates a setting. She sets up the characters and their backstories in a great way. But she cannot create a plot that makes sense and/or is gripping and twisted enough to hold weight. I keep reading her books because I feel this enormous potential happening, but I’m let down nearly every time. There was almost nothing to this “mystery” plot and it made no sense for any of the characters to be so invested in keeping their secrets.

My other issue with this particular book was the main character fretting over her baby. In some ways, it was a nice to see a character actually have a baby, be afraid to separate herself from her baby, and show that side of motherhood, as I’m sure a large portion of the demographic reading Ware’s books can relate. However, let’s all be honest, it’s dull to read about. She was fretting and fussing and feeding this baby throughout the entire book and the baby’s presence was relevant to the story about zero times. She could have been married, single, a mom, a career woman, both, neither, and it didn’t matter, so bringing the baby into the plot just added pages upon pages of activities that did not advance the story in any way.

I know my review seems harsh, but I mean what I said. I love Ware’s writing and I’m just waiting for the moment where the plot itself is worth it!