Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland: A Review

Hi everyone! I'm back with another ARC review! Life has been kind of crazy these last couple of weeks, so I haven't had much time to read. But for me, reading is really important because it is how I unwind. A while ago, Emma of Miss Print sent me several ARCs to read and review. So, when things got hectic, I decided to pick one of them up! I finally settled on reading Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland.

Honestly, this review isn't going to be very long. The cover is what drew me to this book and I overlooked the warning in the synopsis declaring it to be a cross between John Green and Rainbow Rowell (I only like one book from each of those two authors, so it really wasn't a promising start). I finished the book pretty quickly, but I honestly wasn't invested in it. I found most of the characters to be lackluster and a little Gilmore-esque in their pop-culture name dropping. The only character that really seemed to fit their personality was Sadie, and she just seemed out of place most of the time. So, even though the book was technically good (it was well written and there weren't any glaring grammar or spelling issues), I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy the story and give it 2 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Bookish Goodness: Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky

There's a book dedicated to women in science! As a woman with a passion for science (mostly health related) this makes me beyond happy! To make things even better, Blogging for Books sent me a copy to review! You're probably wondering what this book is called. It's called Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky. Not only did Rachel write the book, she illustrated it too! Plus, she gets extra, extra bonus points for living in KC, Missouri! (Missourians have to stick together, after all!)

Obvious science/state love bias aside, this book was really fantastic. Every single page is richly illustrated in Rachel Ignotofsky signature style. The women included in this book range from ancient to modern, mathematicians to astronomers. The entries for each woman also include a long biography as well as fun facts. My only complaint is that, despite there are racially diverse women included in this book, the majority of the entries are for white women. I would have loved to see more diversity. However, I think this book is a great starter that will lead people to research about other women in science. Overall, I have to give this book 5 out of 5 stars for sheer awesomeness!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

When Books Hurt; A Review and Why it's Okay to Stop Reading Damaging Books

What do you do when a book hurts you?  We all have those books, the ones we read that rub something raw in us. The ones that feel like an ice shard under our skin, that we know we should put down, but don't. Maybe we keep reading because someone recommended it to us, or gave it to us to review, or we feel the need to finish a book no matter what. Maybe it's just the stigma of DNFing a book that still lingers around the book blogging community. I don't know. What I do know is, I recently read one of those books. Fair warning: there will be spoilers in this review.

I first saw this book on Emma of Miss Print's ARC adoption page, and she very kindly sent it to me. When a person adopts an ARC from Emma, they commit to reviewing that ARC before the release date. I'm a little behind with this one because, honestly, I've been having trouble putting my thoughts into words. I feel like I should start off by saying that the writing was technically good. Kathleen Glasgow has a very polished writing style. I didn't like the formatting of the chapter (some were short, only a few sentences, and some were long), but that is personal preference.

I have no problem with reading about tough or dark subject matter. Indeed, I feel that, especially for young adult readers, subjects like depression, self harm, abuse, mental illness, etc. are important to address and represent in the books that we read. When then, did I have a problem with Girl in Pieces? My problem isn't with the subject matter, it is with how the subject matter was written about. This book was DARK and DAMAGING. There was no end to the suffering that the main character endured and the only bright point came in the very last chapter. She was abused, betrayed, and abandoned by everyone that she should have been able to trust.

I read another reviewer who called this book torture porn and I agree with that assessment. The explicitness and focus on destructive behaviors seemed more like the book was catering to a fetish. The lessons that it taught really boiled down to; everyone is out to screw you, you can't trust anyone (especially not your friends or doctor), and, even if you continue making mistakes, everything will magically work out for the best. I worry about the message it is sending to people who self harm or who have depression. Admittedly, there will be a list of resources for people who self harm in the finished copy, but after the negative way that these resources were portrayed in the book, who would contact them? I can't, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone and ultimately gave this book 1 out of 5 stars.

My review begs the question; is it okay to not read damaging books? I think it is not only okay, but necessary, not to read damaging books (speaking both personally and as a consumer). I don't self harm, but I do have depression and anxiety. When I first started reading this book, I wasn't in a very good place mentally and this book only compounded my problem. The only reason I kept reading this book was because I had an obligation to review it, but, honestly, this did me more harm than good. When it comes to taking care of your mental well-being, it is better to stop reading a book, even if you have to review it. You can always apologize to the person who sent it to you and return it to them if they wish, but nothing is worth putting yourself through a book that is hurting you. As a consumer, it is important to send a message that books with harmful content (ex. fetishistic writing) are not okay and won't be tolerated. We need diversity in books, but not at the expense or harm of the represented parties.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Gilded Cage: A Review

Historical Fiction is one of my all-time favorite dramas, so when I saw the opportunity to adopt an ARC of The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray from Emma at Miss Print, I jumped at it!

I really loved the premise of this book; an American farm girl thrust into the trying world of the English aristocracy with some mystery thrown in too! After the synopsis, I had really high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, there isn't much to say other than this book was really disappointing. The writing was good and the characters were believable. The pacing, on the other hand, was a serious problem. Everything seemed to happen at an accelerated rate in this book. The author would introduce a twist and before you could even wrap your head around the details, another twist would be thrown in too. The development of the relationships between characters was unnaturally speedy as well, with little evidence for most of the relationships. Overall, I think the author was too ambitious in trying to fit the story in to as few pages as she tried to. The story could definitely have benefited from a longer book and a slower pace. I think that, because the pacing of the book was very distracting, that I can't give The Gilded Cage as high a rating as it might otherwise deserve; I had to give it 2 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Around the World in 14 Days: Japan

Hello travelers! Bayram started Team Red's world tour off in the USA, so welcome to the second stop, Japan! I've been in love with Japan and Japanese culture since I was a little girl, and I was lucky enough to spend two months there this summer. It only stands to reason that I like books set in Japan, so, I thought I would share some of my favorites with you.

The Samurai Detective Series by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

I decided to start my list off with one of the earliest book series set in Japan that I have read; The Samurai Detective Series by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. There are seven books in this series; the first, The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn, was published in 1999 and the latest (which I only learned about when I was writing this post), The Red-Headed Demon, was published in 2014. Set in the 1700's, this middle grade series follows Seikei, a merchant's son turned Samurai, through misadventures and mysteries. I would definitely recommend this book for readers of all ages, but I would especially recommend this for middle grade boys who are looking for a good read!

Kazunomiya by Kathryn Lasky

Similar to the first series, Kazunomiya by Kathryn Lasky is a middle grade book set in historical Japan. The book, written like a diary, is the chronicle of a year in Princess Kazunomiya's life. We follow along as Princess Kazunomiya's life takes twists and turns, and she learns about life, love, family, and herself. Once again, this book is great for readers of all ages, but I think it would appeal more to young girls.

Young Samurai Series by Chris Bradford

Another historical, middle grade series (I think there might be a theme here) is the Young Samurai Series by Chris Bradford. Unlike the others, this series follows a young British boy, Jack, who is shipwrecked in Japan. We watch as he adjusts to life in a country that is very different from his own, learns a new language, and discovers his place. With lots of intrigue and action, a diverse variety of settings, and strong male and female characters, this book is great for everyone!

Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz

Okay, there is definitely a theme here. Samurai Shortstop is a historical middle grade standalone set during the Meiji Restoration (1890's). Similar to Kazunomiya, this book has a distinctly realistic feel that makes it seem like you are reading someone's autobiography. Told from 15-year-old Toyo's point of view, this book is an often times stark, honest depiction of Japanese high school in the late 19th, early 20th century, and how western culture influenced this ancient culture in a time of great change. There are some topics (suicide, hazing) that should be considered when recommending this book to younger teens, but, overall, it is a great book for a variety of readers.

Paper Gods Series by Amanda Sun

Now we come to the contemporary/paranormal YA! ~ecstatic clapping~ When I initially picked up Ink by Amanda Sun, the first book in the Paper Gods series, I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to like it. As you can probably tell by the series' presence on this list, I ended up liking it a lot. The story follows Katie, an American girl who goes to live with her Aunt in Japan, and her discovery of love and that there is more in this world than humans could imagine. Due to the age of the characters, and some of the plot points, I think this series would mostly appeal to the YA/New Adult lovers. 

Gai-Jin by James Clavell

First, I have to say that you don't spell gaijin like that. Beyond that, Gai-Jin by James Clavell is a really great book! It is book number 6 in the Asian Saga, and one of only two that are set in Japan. I read it out of order (I read this one first and then moved on to book number 3, Shogun, which is the other one set in Japan). I also read it at a much, much, much younger age than it was intended for. Oops? This book is an adult, historical fiction novel and it deals with some very serious topics (STDs, Rape, Suicide) in a very frank and adult way. This book does not have a single main character but instead follows several different characters and how their lives diverge and intersect. Even though I read it when I was 14, I absolutely loved it! There is a realness to it that pulled me in and held me until the story was over! I would, however, only recommend this book to teens that are mature and adults.
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

If you've been around my blog, you'll know that I actually posted a review for The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. Some of my favorite parts of this book were; the focus on platonic relationships, the integration of math into the story, and how natural the progression of the story felt. This book is also an adult novel, but I feel that the subject matter makes the story easily accessible to YA readers as well.

Shinobi Mystery Series by Susan Spann

I'm rounding out this list with another historical mystery, but this one is an adult series! Fair warning, I've only read two of the four books in the series, not because I didn't like it, but because I'm waiting to buy and binge all of them in a row. Set in the days of Jesuit missionaries, this story follows a master ninja named Hiro Hattori and Father Mateo, the Jesuit Priest he has sworn to protect, as they solve mysteries in Kyoto. I'm not usually a fan of mysteries, but this series always keeps me on my toes! I would recommend this to readers of all ages who enjoy a good mystery.

With that, our adventure in Japan has come to an end. Give some of these books a chance to transport you to Japan and take this opportunity to find books set in other countries too! I also hope you'll join Xander on the next leg of our tour; Greece and the Mediterranean!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Little Paris Bookshop: A Lackluster Journey

When it comes to deciding what I want to read, I usually just go with whatever strikes my fancy. Sometimes it's the cover the catches my eye and makes me want to read the book. Other times, it's the synopsis that pulls me in. For The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, it was both! It was lucky for me, then, that Blogging for Books sent me a copy to review.

The cover really sets the mood for the beginning of this book and the letter is a nice teaser for a pivotal plot point! Unfortunately, that's where my enjoyment of The Little Paris Bookshop ends. It's not that this book isn't good. On the contrary, it was very well written! I can tell that the author has lots of writing experience, and she has a unique style that adds to the voice the story carries. For me though, this story was not very attention catching. A large part of this book is spent on the protagonist's boat trip. While the trip took the protagonist through one eventful meeting after another, by the third flashy new character, all of the chance meetings started to blend together. At the end of the book, I felt like I had read a lackluster accounting of someone's summer holiday. Instead of being a fun read, it had become a tedious chore, which is why I gave the book 2 stars out of 5.
While it wasn't my cup of tea, The Little Paris Bookshop will appeal to people who like stories about transformational journeys. I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone who is mentally younger than 'college' age. However, if you're an old soul or just like heart-wrenching stories, this book is for you!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Quick Life Update

Hi all! It's been some time since I posted on my blog so I thought I'd give you a quick update on what's been going on. The first thing that really sapped all my time was my final final's week. You read that right! My very last finals week as an undergrad! I had several papers, 3 days of Japanese exams, and a killer biology exam. I did pretty well, coming out of the semester with an A and two B's. After that, it was on to graduation!

I graduated with a Bachelor's of Health Science in Health Sciences with minors in Psychology and Anthropology, an Honors Certificate, and a Mutli-Cultural certificate.
Because I took enough Honors classes and kept my GPA high enough, I took part in the Honors Convocation Ceremony. As you can see, there was a lot of people. It was for everyone who earned the Honors Certificate, Department Honors, University Honors, and Latin Honors. The convocation speaker was great! He started out as lawyer and refocused to be a chocolatier; pretty cool! They also had the president of the alumni association speak, which sucked, because the alumni association has been doing some things to students that was not cool. So to have her stand up and give what was pretty much an advertisement was insulting. Then we received our Honors medals! They pronounced my middle name wrong and all I could hear was my mom yelling from the balcony "You pronounce it ___!"
The next day was my actual graduation ceremony!

I got to sit with several of my friends and, four hours later, it was over. This time, they pronounced my middle name right, but my last name wrong. It was a pretty exhausting weekend, but there was no time to rest! The next week, we worked the first half of the week and then went down to our parent's house for the end of the week. We did a little relaxing, but spent most of our time getting ready for our Study abroad trip to Japan (more on that later)! The next week was spent training the new guy at work, which was very, very tiring!
Then, on May 30th, we flew out for Japan! I'm actually sitting in a hostel in Tokyo as I type this, but you'll have to wait for my next blog post for more! I hope you all are having a good summer too! Do you have any travel plans? If not, what stay-at-home plans do you have?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

ARC Review: Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

You guys, YOU GUYS!!! I cannot believe that I got an ARC copy of Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff!!! I entered several giveaways and didn't win (congrats to those who did though!). I was pretty much resigned to having to wait to buy it on its release day, May 17th 2016. So you can imagine my unmitigated glee and terror when I saw that Emma of Miss Print had a copy up for adoption! I almost didn't message her about it because I was sure someone else had snatched it up before me. Then I figured, screw it, the worst she can do is say someone had gotten there before me, so there is no harm in asking. And oh my ~HAPPY DANCE~ it was still available! Seriously though, Emma just about made my year when she agreed to adopt it to me! I binge read it in between studying for my exams and it was absolutely brilliant. My love for this book is going to be pretty hard to put in to words, but I'll do my best!

I think I'm going to start with the only part of the book that was disappointing; the cover. Now, if you've seen any of Brenna Yovanoff's previous covers (if you haven't, here is a link to her goodreads page), you'll know that they are usually very unique and eye catching. I'm not sure what direction they were trying to go with this cover, but it is underwhelming. Even with the ombre, the color is just so blocky, and the people blend in so much, that I find myself not interested/drawn to any part of the cover. I also don't feel like the pose the people on the cover are in is very indicative of the story.

The writing was very captivating. I found myself caught up in the sentences and was farther along in the story than I realized! The characters were relatable in a subtle way. I especially saw myself in the main character, Waverly, but I don't want to say anything because I feel like it would give the book away. The plot itself was so intriguing. I have to admit that the story wasn't what I thought it would be based on the synopsis, but that isn't a bad thing! I honestly think that the direction the book took was better than the way the synopsis made it seem. There were a few plot twists, but they weren't the twists I thought they were going to be, so I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Overall, I have to give this book a 5 out of 5 stars! Other than the cover, I really don't have any  complaints. I would definitely recommend this book! Although, if you're a fan of Brenna Yovanoff's earlier works, I will say that this one is considerably less dark than her other books.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bookish (Not so)Goodness: These Heroic, Happy Dead by Luke Mogelson

I like short stories. They're especially good for when I'm waiting in the car. It just so happened that I had several hours to kill and had These Heroic, Happy Dead by Luke Mogelson, which I received from Blogging for Books for review, in my backpack. I had been looking forward to reading this book for a while now because, as an Army brat, reading stories about the military makes me feel at home.


Unfortunately, I was beyond disappointed with this book. Actually, I have a serious problem with this book in that it only shows the stereotypical violent, maladjusted veteran/soldier type. There is no denying that there are people who have bad personalities or who find it difficult or impossible to adjust to civilian life but that isn't the only type there is! There are also veterans/soldiers who retire or decide not to re-up and adjust perfectly well to civilian life. There are also soldiers who are good, brave, kind men. I should know; my father is one of them! I also have many friends who are military or former military who are the best kind of people. It's books like these, ones that only acknowledge the ugly side of military life, that perpetuate negative stereotypes! As an army brat, and a future soldier, this really bothers me. You should represent the good with the bad. [Side note; I realize the author is a former soldier, but that doesn't mean his representation of military life isn't skewed.]

As for the writing, it was good in its form. The stories flowed well and the open-ends were very attention grabbing. The only story I actually liked was Kids. It was this odd dance between disgust and grudging acquiescence that made me rate this book 1.5 out of 5 stars. I wouldn't recommend it and I will be getting rid of it as soon as I possibly can.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

ARC Review: The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

When I first saw the cover of The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy, I knew I had to read it! The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis was absolutely intriguing! Not to mention the fact that I love historical fiction! I was really thankful that Blogging for Books sent me a copy to read and review.

Unfortunately, the cover was the best part of this book. The chapters were split between historical and contemporary, and neither were my cup of tea. The historical chapters were choppy and rushed. I didn't really like any of the historical characters either. The contemporary chapters were well written, but I couldn't get over Eden's attitude and just plain bitchiness. If I hadn't had to review this book, I probably would have DNFd it after the first couple of chapters. Ultimately, I gave this book 1 star out of 5.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

ARC Review: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano + Giveaway

Hey guys! Sorry it's been so long since I've done a review. School has kept me extremely busy and I haven't had much time for reading. I'm back now, with an ARC review of Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano. The ARC was sent to me by the wonderful Emma of Miss Print. This book releases on May 3rd, 2016, and I am so happy I was able to get an early look at it! This will be a spoiler free review and all of the actual info contained within that is not my opinion can be found in the synopsis or on the cover (there is one spoiler, but it doesn't really give anything away, and you probably won't even notice it).

The cover was what initially caught my attention. This isn't really a big surprise because i am very much a judge-a-book-by-its-cover type person. I'm not usually a fan of people on the cover (side note: people's faces in pictures really freak me out. I don't even keep pics of family out where I can see it because I always feel like they're watching me, and books with people weird me out too) but the shadows and the positioning of the model really drew my eye. The font of the title is also really cool. I liked that the font fit the title but, as I read, it also ties in really well with the book.

After I saw the amazing cover, I had to read the synopsis. This also isn't very surprising because I read the synopsis of every book before I decide to read it. I liked the juxtaposition of being imprisoned but being free, being innocent but feeling like you should be locked up. I also really liked that the synopsis gave just enough of the story to reel me in, but not so much that it gave anything away.

Once I picked this book up, I couldn't put it down. It started off pretty slow, which surprisingly didn't bother me, and picked up a little bit as the book went on. It was never fast-paced, but I think that was a good choice on the author's part because the pacing of the book fit the circumstances the character found himself in. I also really liked the just-enough-but-not-too-much supernatural element it had.

The main character, John "Smoke" Conlan, was very intense and compelling. At first, I couldn't figure out his motivations, but they were slowly revealed over the course of the book. I wouldn't say he would be relatable to everyone, he certainly wasn't for me, but that actually made him seem more human. He struggled with his choices and made mistakes. He wasn't perfect. I also liked Pink. She wasn't as large a part of the story as I thought she would be, but she was a good foil for Smoke.

I did have two  problem with this book, which ultimately led me to rate it 3 out of 5 stars. First was the way some things were described in the book. Most of the characters in the book are in prison and they do stereotypical prison things, but most of these actions (and others) are described in a vague wording that doesn't impart how truly gritty and violent they are. But, there is one situation in the book that is told in excruciating, gruesome detail and I think the whole book needed to be told that way instead of glossing over the unsavory elements. By avoiding being explicit with the actions and situations of the characters, the author actually made me detach from the story. The second problem I had with the book was the epilogue. It read more like a joke alternate ending because, from what I saw, there was no lead up to it and it seemed out of character for Smoke to make the decision he did based on what he had previously been working toward in the story.

Neither of these problems kept me from reading and enjoying this book. Actually, I liked this book a lot and I think it will appeal to a lot of people. This is definitely a book that I would recommend and the more reviews there are, the more people will potentially have the chance to read it. I also know how hard it is to get ARCs. That's why I'm going to give away my ARC copy of Holding Smoke:

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bookish Goodness: Green Smoothies by Fern Green

Every student knows that mornings can be a hectic time. The choice between just a few more minutes of sleep and eating a health breakfast sometimes doesn't feel like a choice at all. Being a senior hasn't made deciding any easier for me. More often than not, I choose to sleep for as long as I possibly can and end up grabbing some kind of breakfast bar of skipping breakfast altogether.

A trend I had seen pop up on the internet a while ago was drinking smoothies instead of eating breakfast. This appealed to me for several reasons. First, I had the option of making a smoothie the night before and leaving it in the fridge for a quick departure in the morning. Second, I also had the option of making a bulk batch and freezing it, only defrosting a smoothie when I wanted to have it. Third, I've never really been a big eater in the morning (even when I did eat a normal breakfast regularly) so a smoothie seemed like a lighter, better option. All of these reasons made me want to try smoothies for breakfast, the hard part was finding healthy options, which is why I was super happy to receive a copy of Green Smoothies by Fern Green from Blogging for Books to review.

As the cover says, this book includes recipes for more than just smoothies, it includes recipes for juices, nut milks, and tonics as well. This made me even more excited to try the recipes out because there is more variety! The book starts out with an introduction that overviews the benefits of drinking smoothie, choosing between a smoothie or a juice, the various ingredients that can be put in to the different recipes, and the basic equipment you'll need. As an added bonus, there is a seven day juice detox plan and a page of tips for making your detox as effective as possible.

The recipes themselves are divided in to three sections: smoothies, juices, and shots & milks. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that each recipe details the health benefits that come along with drinking each. I also like that there is no added sugar to any of the recipes; each recipe is fruits, nuts, veggies, and herbs only! All of the recipes I've tried so far have been really yummy too!

Overall, I would give this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. The cover is pretty cool and the layout is logical and intuitive. I like all of the extra information we are given beyond just the recipes, but my favorite part is that all of the recipes are healthy and, of the ones I've tried, delicious!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ARC Review: The Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow

So, I think you all know by now that I lurk on Emma of Miss Print's ARC adoption page, waiting to snag any interesting looking/sounding ARCs. :D I might have a problem...said no book addict ever! The book she sent me this time is The Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow, which has a release date of February 26, 2016 (YAY for early access).

I had never heard of this book before I saw it on Emma's page, but I thought I would really enjoy it after I read the synopsis. I'm warning you now though, this review is super heavy on the spoilers, so stop reading here and skip to the end if you want to go in to it unaware! I mean it! I'm going to give away most of the book!

Warning: There are spoilers for the book contained in this review.

This book, to me, had a lot of potential. Daisy was a dynamic, fun character to read. For a book that started off with a mystery, she was a good choice as narrator because she was freaked out enough to be believable but she was determined enough to keep investigating. The idea of her friendship with Henry was really interesting too, mostly because we initially only see it through her eyes.

Henry himself started out as an interesting character too. We hear enough about him from Daisy and the other characters to really feel like you know him, but he's ultimately missing, and so his true characters isn't really revealed until Daisy finds him. That's when we find out that everything we thought we knew about him, everything Daisy thought she knew, wasn't right. And that is exactly when this story went bad.

If the author had stuck to the synopsis, I think this book would have been amazing. Instead, everything the synopsis hints at plays out in the first couple of chapters. After that, the story devolves into a weird semi-but-not-apocalyptic comedy routine. We find out that Henry's family are preppers and that he has definitely drunk the cool-aid. The family is living on a compound with several other families (including one that is the stuff of kidnapping nightmares). The author sets it up as them being not-quite-right-in-the-head. Then we find out that, surprise, Henry and his parents are right and there is a massive plague that is killing everyone off. Not only that, but as suddenly as everything starts, it ends just as suddenly.

End Spoilers
 Overall, I did not like this book. The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis is intriguing. Actually, it had a lot of potential, but the author took the story in a weird direction that I just couldn't get in to. My biggest problem with it was that the synopsis was misleading; it really only covered the events of the first couple of chapters. Therefore, I had to give The Last Place on Earth 2 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bookish Goodness: The Time Garden by Daria Song

When I first started hearing about "adult" coloring books, I was skeptical. Don't get me wrong, I love coloring, but I couldn't imagine how coloring could be made any more awesome and fun than it already was. Not surprisingly, adult coloring books (the ones I've seen) really are an improvement! The pictures are more complex and the books seem to have more continuity within their picture sets. One coloring book that I really enjoyed, and reviewed, was The Time Chamber by Daria Song. After I had such a great time coloring it in, I just couldn't wait to get my hands on The Time Garden, which is by the same artist! Once again, it was the lovely folks at Blogging for Books who came through for me and sent me a copy!
Like the first book, both the front and back cover are (apart from the copper leaf) completely colorable! This feature was one of the main things I liked about the first book, so I'm glad to see it make a return. Also, like the first book, this book has an actual story with words. I liked the story, but I didn't find it necessary to my enjoyment of coloring in the book at all. Finally, this book also includes a Visual Index in the back! This was honestly my favorite feature from the first book and I am beyond happy to see that they included it in The Time Garden as well!
Overall, The Time Garden was an excellent addition to this series of adult coloring books. The pictures are gorgeous and it has a lot of handy/fun additions. I gave The Time Garden 5 out of 5 stars; I can't wait to see what Daria Song publishes next!

Monday, January 18, 2016

ARC Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Hi all, long time no see! I hope you all had a happy holiday season! I had a great winter break. I was able to go home for two weeks for Christmas and New Years and then came back only to find out that I was getting expanded hours and responsibilities at work (YAY!)! I was able to finish off my 2015 goodreads reading challenge, coming out with a total of 155 books read. With the new University semester (my last) starting tomorrow, I knew that my reading was going to slow down considerably. I also knew that there were a couple of books that I needed to read before the beginning of the semester. One of those books was Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys.

The wonderful Emma from Miss Print was kind enough to send me an advanced reader copy to review. As of right now, this book has a release date of February 2, 2016, and it should definitely be on your TBR list! Recently I have read several books that had misleading summaries on goodreads, so I was very happy to find that this books summary was very accurate.


According to goodreads: The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are  Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.


WWII is one of my favorite time periods to learn about but I don't usually like reading historical fiction set during this time period for several reasons. First, books set in this time period are often extremely graphic and negative. I know that the war years were horrible and things happened that would turn most anyone's stomach and that it is important to know about the atrocities that were perpetrated so that they never happen again, but they lack any type of hope or humanity and that makes them difficult to read. Second, if the books aren't graphic and negative then they are overly cheerful and gloss over everything negative. As much as I don't like reading books that are overly graphic, I dislike the WWII books that make everything seem like a walk-in-the-park even more. WWII was a war, horrendous things happened, and to ignore those things is wrong. Salt to the Sea did not have either of these problems. It addressed the terror and hardship of WWII in a tasteful, purposeful way.

It jumped around between several characters in short chapters which made the book seem much shorter than it actually was. I liked that we got to see several perspectives of the events because it showed that there are multiple sides to every story. However, I did not enjoy reading Alfred's chapters because I felt that they didn't really add much to the story (other than the fact that he was the only pro-Nazi character).

My only real complaint about the book was the ending. The whole story was very detailed and progressed slowly right up until the last chapter. At the very end, the author skipped forward 24 years and introduced a new character. It almost seemed to me that someone told the author that the book was too long, so she skipped the rest of what she was going to write and tried to wrap it up in two pages. I would have much rather read several more chapters, or even another book, to get the same level of detail for the rest of what happened.

Overall, I really liked this book, and I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. It had its good points and its bad points, but I am glad I read it. I would definitely recommend reading it!