Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #36-40

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli – 4.5 stars

So I love Becky Albertalli. And I will forever read anything that she writes. Plus, she’s adorable on Twitter.

And I did love this. But I didn’t love this as much as Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

For a while, I was just kinda like “aw, this is cute,” and then wham, I got hit by The Feels Train. And that’s what pushed it up to a 4.5 stars for me.

I read Dumplin’ last year and while these two books are definitely not the same, I must say that this was the “fat girl” book that I was hoping Dumplin’ would be. I found myself relating to Molly so freaking much it almost hurt. I totally understood her thoughts about being a fat girl and how you think that everyone is thinking about your weight, even when it’s most likely that they aren’t. I got her insecurities about the likelihood that someone else would like you. I, too, have a crush on Lin Manuel-Miranda (though, admittedly, that was not the case when I was a teenager since I didn’t know who he was until I was in college). I also understood having so many crushes and being so scared to act on them because of not wanting to put yourself out there. I also freaking love Mini Eggs (case in point, my sister got me a 1 pound bag for Easter). I just. It was like Becky Albertalli was speaking to teenage me through Molly.

And I absolutely adored the side characters. I love the diversity in the book. And I love that it just felt natural. It felt like I was reading about the world around me. I loved that Albertalli included that Molly is on Zoloft – I think that more YA novels need to show their characters with mental illnesses on medication to try to help get rid of the stigma of being on medication. I loved that Mina is pansexual. I loved that Molly and Cassie are “sperm donor babies.” I just really appreciated Albertalli’s inclusion.

I think one of my favorite parts was Molly and Cassie’s relationship. I’m super close with my sister, and it was refreshing to read a relationship where the sisters are also super close. And I loved reading about Molly worrying about the fact that you eventually grow apart from your sister. And I loved that they didn’t have the perfect relationship and that they were pissed at each other after one of the big conflicts. But I also love that they were able to sit down and talk it out. And I also loved how fiercely protective Cassie is over Molly. It was like reading about my own sister.

I also appreciated that Patty and Nadine (Cassie and Molly’s moms) are super present and involved. Just like with Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Albertalli just gets it when it comes to parents. And I felt like this was one of the more realistic portrayals of teen life. The teens aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. They fight with each other. They lie. They drink. They talk about sex. But most importantly, you never doubted for a second that they were teens and that their actions were not authentic. Again, Albertalli just gets it.

So in short, this was a super cute, super fluffy read. I would recommend reading Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda first for some of the cameos to mean even more, but you can definitely read this on its own and still love it. It’ll hit you in the feels in just the right way.

The Upside of Unrequited

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin – 5 stars

I FINALLY FINISHED!

It literally only took me 3+ years to read this. Well. It’s been almost 4 years since I finished A Clash of Kings. And I can’t explain why it took me so long to read this one, especially because it is easily my favorite of the series so far.

I actively keep up with the show, so I knew a lot of what was going to happen (and I’ve made my sister tell me in explicit detail the different plot lines because I’m like that), and I think that was part of what took me so long. I wanted to read things that were new to me. However, once I picked this up for #TomeTopple this go around, I sped through 720-ish pages over the course of a couple of days because I just wanted to be back in Westeros so much.

I definitely prefer the audiobook narrated to Roy Dotrice over just reading the book like I did for A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. It was much easier for me to get through some of the descriptions when I didn’t have to pay quite so much attention to it.

But there were definitely times that I couldn’t tear my attention away even if I wanted to. Like the Purple Wedding. It was just as satisfying as it was in the show and I feel like a horrid person for actively cheering on a character’s death. The Red Wedding was not as emotional for me as it was in the show, but it still tugged at my heart. And good lord, the Red Viper’s death was a gut punch.

I also super shrieked at the epilogue because one of my favorite characters that doesn’t actually have a place in the show made her debut and it was everything I could have hoped for.

I wish that there was more Dany because she’s my forever favorite and I’m actually kinda bored by her story line. I know that it doesn’t really get much better based on the show until the content that isn’t published, and that kinda super bums me out.

I also super loved reading about the Hound and Arya. Their buddy-cop road trip was one of my favorite things in the show and it was just as enjoyable in the book.

And I’m really interested to see the fake-Arya’s storyline because I know that it’s Jeyne Poole and not Sansa like the liar show would have you believe.

And I really liked Jon’s storyline and enjoyed reading what I’ve already seen on screen. The politics of the wildlings and the Wall are really intriguing to me.

I was also super thankful for the lack of Bran because his storyline also bores me until the unpublished content that I’m hoping the show actually got right.

So yeah, I’m super excited to be back in Westeros since we have to wait until June for the show to come out and who knows when George R.R. Martin will get The Winds of Winter published.

A Storm of Swords

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – 4 stars

I’m just really on a children’s literature kick right now.

I love Lyra and how fierce she is. I also love how even though she’s crazy brave, she also breaks down and cries like the child she is supposed to be. And I absolutely adored her relationship with Pan. I thought the idea of the daemons was just brilliant, especially the idea that during childhood, the daemons can change shape.

I really wish that armored bears were a thing and that I could be friends with Iorek. Because he is such a kind hearted badass. And I also loved the gyptians and how they were so willing to fight for what was right and that they took Lyra in and looked after her as if she were one of their own. I also really liked Serafina Pekkala and hope that we get to see more of her throughout the trilogy. Though as a side note, was it really necessary to always call her by her full name? Actually, on that note, did we have to call each character by their full name? It got to be a little annoying.

I’m still confused about the idea of Dust and exactly what Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter and all of the adults are trying to do with it. I hope that in the rest of the trilogy it gets to be a little bit more clear. That’s the main reason why this wasn’t a 5-star book for me.

I’ve been on a serious audiobook kick lately (in case you haven’t noticed) and this was one of the better ones that I’ve listened to – there’s a full cast and they just add so much depth to the story. I would highly recommend checking it out.

The Golden Compass

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan – 5 stars

I am definitely enjoying this much more than the Percy Jackson series.

I am absolutely loving the Roman aspects of the series and seeing how the Greek and Roman worlds are colliding. It was really interesting to see a little bit of Camp Jupiter and how in some ways it’s very similar to Camp Half-Blood but in others, it is so different.

I really like Hazel and Frank. And I like Percy a whole lot more than I did in his own series. Hell, I even like Mars a whole lot more than I did Ares.

Ella has a very special place in my heart and she is easily my favorite character in this entire series. I just want to put her in a blanket, feed her cinnamon rolls, and keep her safe.

The formulaic plot didn’t even bother me in this one. I think I’ve just become so used to it that I’ve kind of let it slide. I am curious to see how it goes with them in Rome and Greece, though.

Overall, I definitely prefer this series to Percy Jackson. I just think that maybe Percy was too juvenile and that if I read it when I was younger I would have liked it more. It definitely helps that the characters in this series are older for the most part. And their sarcasm and wittiness are much more developed, which I highly appreciate.

The Son of Neptune

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan – 5 stars

I really liked that we finally went somewhere that wasn’t the United States. And I loved seeing the Roman and Greek demigods working together.

I also felt like this one in particular pulled a lot from both the Greek and Roman mythologies, which I also really appreciated. Especially since this is a middle grade novel. I think this is a fantastic way to introduce younger readers to mythology.

I also really liked that this one actually felt like there were things at stake. I don’t know why, but in the past books, I never really got that feeling. And the ending. It just killed me. I am so excited to see how things shape up in The House of Hades.

The Mark of Athena

Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #31-35

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow – 4 stars

So it took me just about 4 and a half months to read this. And it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just that I would pick it up, read a chapter or two and then put it back down for the first couple of chapters. But once I got through about a third of the book, it got much easier to read more than just one or two chapters at once.

It was really interesting to read about the parts where it was clear that it was used by Lin Manuel-Miranda for the musical. But it was also really interesting to read about all of the in-between parts, such as the creation of the banking/financial system of America. I am hella jealous of how much this sassy founding father wrote during his short life.

This was a chunk-er of a book, and I’m glad that I read it because I had honestly forgot a lot about the early beginnings of America. It was clear that Chernow did his research for this book and I think he portrayed the different characters well (Jefferson, Adams, and Burr are quite frankly assholes, hot dang).

I must admit that I totally imagined the original Broadway cast while reading this and I must also admit that in doing so, I ended up increasing my enjoyment of the book.

Alexander Hamilton

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi – 5 stars

Squeeeeee!

Roshani Chokshi is now an auto-buy author for me and is easily becoming one of my favorite authors. She does such an amazing job creating her characters and her writing is just so beautiful.

Though I didn’t love this quite as much as I loved The Star-Touched Queen, I absolutely adored this book. The only reason why it took me a couple of days to read it is because I had two 12-hour shifts at the hospital and studying that I had to do. Lol.

I absolutely love Gauri and Vikram. I am a sucker for a slow-burn romance, and Chokshi delivers it so well here. I love that each of them are strong in their own way and yet, they become stronger together. I love that they know just how to get on each other’s nerves. I just love them so much.

I also have a very soft spot in my heart for Aasha. I loved seeing her war between who she is and who she wishes she could be. And I love how her story ended up.

I just really really love this book and I can’t really think of anything else coherent to say because I just wanna sit here in all of my happiness that came with this book.

A Crown of Wishes

The Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan – 5 stars

This was a great first book of a series. I thought that Riordan did a great job of setting up the conflict for the rest of the series while still wrapping up the story of the book nicely. I did think the plot was a little predictable since Riordan seems to have a formula for it, but I still liked it.

I really enjoy the characters of Piper, Leo, and Jason. I’m not sure if it’s just that I prefer Riordan’s older characters or if it’s just that I’m used to his writing now. I do love that we get appearances from Annabeth, Thalia, Rachel, and Chiron.

I am really interested to see how everything works out between the Roman and Greek demigods. I really am enjoying that aspect of the book. Especially the idea of the gods having different personalities in each form. I did know that going in, but I like Riordan’s take on it.

The Lost Hero

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – 3.5 stars

I reread this because of the new Netflix series and also because I feel like I might have been un-necessarily harsh in my original review. I also feel like I might have missed some key points that would drastically change how I view the story and I want to be as fair as possible in my review.

So I read this almost a year ago and my feelings have definitely changed. I think it’s because I paid closer attention this read through.

I can’t take back what I said in my previous review about my thoughts on Hannah’s depression. But I can admit that I was wrong for questioning her. Again, I think it’s because I was just trying to speed through the book to get it back to the library so I wasn’t paying attention to what I was reading.

I also think part of it was that I was trying too hard to have her depression match mine even a little bit. I’ve never been suicidal, nor have I been diagnosed with depression, but that does not mean that I don’t have it. So when I knew that this book was beloved, I was hoping to read about someone going through what I’ve experienced. And that is not fair and I do regret that that was how my thought process went. I don’t really know what to say other than I am glad that I re-read this. Especially considering that I want to go into pediatric nursing. It was a wake up call that I really need to pay attention to my patients. I thought that I was pretty open-minded when it came to mental illnesses, but this re-read definitely helped me see that I need to take a step back and check my preconceived notions and make sure that I don’t try to put someone in a box. Mental illnesses come in different shapes and sizes so to speak and it’s important to remember that.

I still have a HUGE problem with Mr. Porter. Like, I was even more pissed this time around about his lack of action. And I still hope that someone reported the crimes that were relayed by Hannah.

I think that I got more out of this read through because I actually understood what Asher was trying to do with this book. He was trying to point out that our actions (or even inactions) impact those around us. I’m still not convinced that the way he went about doing it was the best, but I do appreciate what he was trying to convey.

I don’t really know what else to say. I still enjoy the audiobook version and recommend it to anyone who is interested in reading this. Especially given the cassette tape aspect of the book. I definitely still have problems with this book, but I do see the merit in it. And I am thoroughly looking forward to watching the Netflix show.

Thirteen Reasons Why

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum – 4 stars

This was such a fun, quick read! The Wizard of Oz is one of my absolute all-time favorite movies. Just ask my mother. When I was four, I would watch it every single day when I came home from pre-school. I also absolutely adore the musical Wicked, and while this is obviously not that story, I was still super excited to be in the land of Oz.

I absolutely love all of the characters in this story. Especially our main troupe of misfits – Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. I love how while there were obviously similarities to the movie, it was different enough that I was engaged the entire time I was reading. And I like that we get to see all of the witches and different lands of Oz.

Also, I highly recommend checking out the audiobook narrated by Anne Hathaway. She does such a great job with the different characters and it was so wonderful. Between this and the Rachel McAdams audiobook of Anne of Green Gables, I am living for celebrity narrated children’s classics.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz