Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Fiction
Published: 1925

I picked up this classic wanting to dive into the crazy party scene that was New York after the war and was not disappointed. But I wasn't counting on the deep, information about life that came with it. I'll keep this review short since for most people The Great Gatsby is old news but I just wanted to put my thoughts on the book out there.

"He had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third. After his embarrassment and his unreasoning joy he was consumed with wonder at her presence."

The Great Gatsby is a tale of hope, dreams, and money. Putting love into it almost seems like a lie. Jay Gatsby is chasing a dream from five years ago when he was a boy who wished for more. Fitzgerald weaved this story together in such a sad, beautiful way and it left me with a sense of despair for this cruel, lovely world we live in.

The writing was so beautiful. You know those awkward new writers who have that one really good sounding sentence and they build their whole story around it? Well Fitzgerald's story is a book full of those lovely, unique sentences that would sound awkward and unfitting anywhere else. The character he used to narrate (Nick Carraway) was someone you instantly liked for his ability to see through all the charades. The story was a seamless narration that could not have been better. "A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea."

Jay Gatsby was a dreamer. He wasn't someone you were disgusted with for his hope in those weeks of young love in the summer twilight but someone you felt pity for because of his undying devotion to a woman whose voice sounded like money. By the end of the story I was in love with the man Gatsby. He was a sad character. Depressed and putting his trust in an allusion because he thought it would bring him happiness. His instant attachment to Nick and his continua way of calling people Old Sport. I felt the same way the man in the owl-eyed glasses did. He was a poor son of a bitch.

I didn't instantly hate Daisy. I thought she was shallow but most (if not all) of the characters in this story are. She was girl used to getting everything she ever wanted and when Gatsby, a young love, shows up while her marriage is going up in shambles how can she help letting into temptation and imagining her life had been different? By the middle of the book though I had a deep hatred for this blonde growing in me. She was cruel. Her voice and the way she moved might sound like money but that is all she was. A shallow woman with money who was to immature to grow up. "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

I loved this story. It's short and sad and shallow but its beautiful. I felt depressed by it it, and happy, and close to tears, but in a good way. For me it represented humanities allusion of something better. There is always something better out there. The grass is greener on the other side and all that jazz. Its the type of story I'll keep coming back to and walk away with something new every time.

"Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2015

I've seen so much hype for this book and when I asked I had dozens of people telling me to read it. I finished it in three days and while I was slightly disappointed in the amount of action I still enjoyed it.

Goodreads Synopsis: 

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart ...

For me this book held a lot of potential. I had seen so many people rave about it and say it was so amazing that I was expecting to pick it up, not put it down, and immediately pick up the second one. It wasn't like that. The stories idea was really good. The silver with their powers ruling over the week reds and a girl rising up to fight the injustice of it all. But sadly it just felt like so much of the story was missing. Everything felt a little forced and everything was kind of pieced together. 

I've seen a lot of people compare this book to other YA series and say that it "steals" from a lot of other books. YA is so flooded right now that I feel like we're going to be running into some of the same stories. Red Queen held it's own unique qualities but I can see where people are coming from with that. I felt the few times where Mare was actually with the queen and the other members of the court I got a sort of The Selection series vibe. The whole arena thing definitely reminded me of The Hunger Games. The parts where the war was mentioned reminded me of The Grisha trilogy and the rebellion, like the Selection series was just such a weak point of the series where it should have been the biggest. 

So what did I give this series three stars for? I really, really liked the Silvers powers. I loved how they were split into houses in the court and ranked from best to last. Seeing how Mare thought they were all powerful and then how she started to see through the lies when she came to court was interesting. When the girls were competing and they were in the dome Victoria Aveyard gave us a good idea of all the powers and houses that were coming into play.

Like I said at the beginning this series holds a lot of potential. I have high hopes for the next book. I'm hoping to see the rebellion come into play more. I want to see Mare embrace her powers and Julian to figure out what exactly he is supposed to do. I want to see this whole jumbled mess that is the first book become an epic series with a smashing finale. Maybe my hopes are just a little to high but I'm praying that it will end better than The Selection Series did (all of us people who enjoyed the selection series kind of just pretend that wasn't how it ended *awkward chuckle*). 

Thoughts on Three-Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell

If I were going to rate this book I would probably give it three point five stars out of five. But I'm not going to rate this book because I have so many thoughts on it. When I started the book I knew I wanted to give it a review but now that I've finished it I find that impossible. I gave myself twenty four hours to get my thoughts together but they're still confused. So here are my thoughts on Three-Martini Lunch not my review on it.

Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1958, Greenwich Village buzzes with beatniks, jazz clubs, and new ideas—the ideal spot for three ambitious young people to meet. Cliff Nelson, the son of a successful book editor, is convinced he’s the next Kerouac, if only his father would notice. Eden Katz dreams of being an editor but is shocked when she encounters roadblocks to that ambition. And Miles Tillman, a talented black writer from Harlem, seeks to learn the truth about his father’s past, finding love in the process. Though different from one another, all three share a common goal: to succeed in the competitive and uncompromising world of book publishing. As they reach for what they want, they come to understand what they must sacrifice, conceal, and betray to achieve their goals, learning they must live with the consequences of their choices. In Three-Martini Lunch, Suzanne Rindell has written both a page-turning morality tale and a captivating look at a stylish, demanding era—and a world steeped in tradition that’s poised for great upheaval. 

I'm giving you the synopsis so you have a general idea of what the book is about. When I got the book I looked up the synopsis and saw it was about the publishing world in the 50s. I dream of being an editor in New York so of course I picked it up and started to read it. I got through the first few chapters, soaked in the first  provs of each of our three main characters and kept going. After awhile I started to lose interest but something kept me reading and slowly my interest in the lives of these three different individuals piqued. 

Suzanne Rendell had given us New York in the 50s from the eyes of three, completely different people. There was Cliff. A young man who had issues with his father and was trying to prove himself by becoming a writer. Eden, an ambitious girl fresh out of school in Indiana determined to become an editor despite the obstacles in her way. And Miles, a quiet guy who had a way with words and was trying to find his place in the world. All three of these characters with their different views, backgrounds, and opinions were trying to make it in the crazy city that is New York. 

This book is all about the decisions and sacrifices you are willing to make to get where you want to be. Your choices in friends, hangouts, what you say, and even the way you present yourself could effect every aspect of your life. The decisions you make, whether they be good or bad, are always going to be with you. There is no redo you make the decision and you live with it. Are you going to chose to do the right thing or the wrong? Are you willing to pretend to be someone else to get what you want? Are you okay to use your friends, and family as a stepping stone to achieve your goals?  Are you selfish enough to put yourself and what you want out of this life before everything and everyone you have? 

There is a saying that you either make it or you fake it till you get there. New York was the place to be if you wanted to be someone. But it was also an unforgiving, ruthless place where if you couldn't hold your own  you might as well leave.  All the characters in the book quickly learn this and start to adapt themselves to fit in and/or make it to the top.  There is a lot of pressure in this world to be a certain way or say certain things. A lot of times anymore you here people say "embrace your body" or "be as weird as you want to be" or some other thing like that. But if we're honest they're not being serious. You walk into places like Victoria Secret and see the flawless models on the wall or you go out with people and immediately know that if you say that they will see you differently. The world is a very judgmental place and so is everyone in it. And if you want something you had better be the person they want you to be. 

All in all this book is one that makes you think. There were moments whilst reading when I'd just set the book down and stare at the wall, letting the words I'd just read sink in. The characters were people you could see on the every day street. People like you and me who wanted to know where their place was and who they were. You could see the wild, crazy streets of New York and smell the stale coffee and hear the scratch of a pen as you read this book. This book ws beautiful in a sad way. Beautiful because of the truth in it and sad because you knew it was the truth. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Book Box Review: Muse Monthly

When Muse Monthly contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing their box that month I was ecstatic. They had teamed up with V. E. Schwab to bring together an exclusive box of goodies.

What Was In The Box:

  • Tea (Is that angels singing?)

I opened this box while in the kitchen and as soon as I id my mom and I looked at each other an asked the other if they smelled chocolate. We both happen to be passionate chocolate lovers and pulling out this adorable tin of chocolate infused tea made me extremely happy. Its from Mr. Trombly's Tea and its called A Mid Winter Night's Dream. You can tap here to find their website.

  • Four Postcards With art by the Fab Victoria Ying

These four postcard have detailed drawings on the front of four of the characters form the series. The back has their name, Element[s], and a brief description of that character. I adore the art on the front and if you want to check out more by this artist click here .

  • A Bookmark 
Am I the only one who is obsessed with bookmarks? Its got the city sky line on it and will be the perfect bookmark to use while reading the book! I'm weird like that. I like to use a bookmark that goes with the book. Is it only me??

  • An ARC of A Gathering of Shadows
The first two hundred subscribers got a signed copy of the book. Sadly there were two hundred people before me and I got an ARC. Which is pretty much just as good to me. Maybe one day I'll meet V. E. Schwab and get it signed. Check out the Goodreads synopsis for A Gathering of Shadows here.

I've gotten a lot of bookish themed boxes the last six months and my favorite kinds are the ones that are basically the readers afternoon in a box on their doorstep. With a book, tea, and a bookmark I'm set up for a perfect afternoon of reading.

If you're interested in receiving one of Muse Monthly's boxes check out their website here. Thanks again to Muse Monthly for sending me a book and to everyone who is reading this review I definitely suggest you grab one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Book Review: Drown by Esther Dalseno

My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Author: Esther Dalseno
Genre: YA Retelling
Published: 2015

I adore The Little Mermaid. I always have. I'll meet people when they're visiting my parents and they'll be  like "oh you used to sing the little mermaid song for everybody", Yeah thats fantastic who are you again? 

 I found Esther's book on Instagram and knew I'd have to get my hands on a copy of her story. I was absolutely thrilled when she offered to send me one. I figured I knew what I was getting into having read the actual fairy tale and my emotions would be fine. Nope. I was wrong. 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Seven emotionless princesses.
Three ghostly sirens.
A beautiful, malicious witch haunted by memories.
A handsome, self-mutilating prince.

Belonging to a race that is mostly animal with little humanity, a world obsessed with beauty where morality holds no sway, a little mermaid escapes to the ocean’s surface. Discovering music, a magnificent palace of glass and limestone, and a troubled human prince, she is driven by love to consult the elusive sea-witch who secretly dominates the entire species of merfolk. Upon paying an enormous price for her humanity, the little mermaid begins a new life, uncovering secrets of sexuality and the Immortal Soul. As a deadly virus threatens to contaminate the bloodstreams of the whole merfolk race, the little mermaid must choose between the lives of her people, the man she loves, or herself.

A complete reinvention of Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale, this is a magical-realist fable that captures the essence of sacrifice and the price of humanity.

Esther Dalseno took this well loved, classic fairy tale and turned it into a completely new story. We had some of the old characters but we also had some new ones. The setting was essentially the same but the background story was all new. We discovered how mermaids came about, why Ursula was out on a mission of destruction, and just how lonely a rich prince could be. I loved how you could see the old fairy tale coming through the book but at the same time manage to feel anticipation for what was coming next. 

The characters were all very much alive in this story. You could see them come to life on the paper as you continued to read the story. The Little Mermaid who was an adventurous, and curious but she was also confused as to why she was so different from the other mermaids. And the Prince was a lonely teen who was now struggling with his new role as King. He didn't have much of a father and now he had been left with a kingdom, and a group of stuffy advisers. All the characters in the story just had such vivid personalities. The sisters, the Prince's Uncle, the maid that helped The Little Mermaid fit in. Even Ursula was someone you felt pity for and wished a better ending for. They just all seemed so real and it was something that made the story more realistic and enjoyable. 

The stories development was another thing that impressed me as I read. Retellings are some of my favorite things to read but I've noticed it's hard for an author to  not bore their reader because they can't put their own twist on it and it just ends up being the same old tale with a few new characters. The original story of The Little Mermaid is a sad story about a girl who falls in love with a prince and risks it all for him just to end up on her own. Esther Dalseno gave us so much more. I've never fallen in love with a retelling as much as I have with this one. 

If you can't tell by now I loved this book. Everything about it was perfect. The ending was bittersweet and it made tears come to my eyes but at the same time I couldn't see it ending any other way. If it had I would have been disappointed. Esther came through though and it was perfect. The tale was dark but it was obnoxiously so. You could see where The Little Mermaid was coming from and her regret at how things were at the end. If you like fiction, YA, retellings, or just good books in general then I recommend this one to you. I loved every page of it.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Book Review: The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Author: Emily Henry
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Published: 2016

The Love that Split the World was the first book we read for my book club @thereadersguild. There was a lot of hype about it and after looking into the synopsis I was intrigued. It disappointed me a little but there were still enough good points in the book to keep me reading. One of those points being the main character, Natalie. 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves. 

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

At the beginning of the story Natalie is graduating high school and beginning her last summer in Kentucky. She's determined to leave for Brown in the fall and find the answers to herself. She struggles with her adoption and even though she loves her family she's always wondering how her birth mother could give her up. This part of the story was something a lot of people could relate to. Teenagers (and others) struggle with finding themselves and their place in the word. Adopted children usually having an even harder time with this. 

Throughout the story there are stories. There are stories within the story... Grandmother, a mysterious person who appears in Natalie's room on numerous occasions, tells Natalie fairy tales that she claims are true if you just listen. These stories were something that really drew you in and pieced the whole book together. Some of them were retellings of stories I'd heard before while others were completely new to me. Indian culture, the way the world began, and mixed up versions of the bible were all in there.

 The stories pieced the book together but I felt like the whole time traveling, dimension jumping thing prevented me from absolutely loving the book. It was like it was all cobbled together and you'd spend whole chapters totally confused on what was going on and then there would be three or four pages of jumbled up explanations on how this was all possible. I just wish we had spent a little more of the story getting a clear idea of how Natalie was in two different versions of the same town and a little less time on the drama  between her, her ex, and Beau. 

All in all this was a cute, light read that I recommend to you as a beach read. The romance was sweet, and the journey to find yourself was touching and something you could relate to. If your going into this for the science fiction I wouldn't suggest it to you but if you're looking for a romance with a little more to it then it's for you. And besides the cover is to die for!!!