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

Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #26-30

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler – 4 stars

I can’t put my finger on why this wasn’t a five star read for me, but it just fell a little flat.

I appreciate the rawness of the monologues and the fact that I was uncomfortable when I was reading some of them. That means that they were making me think. I do think this is an important read and I am glad that I picked it up. I easily gave the monologues themselves 5 stars because of how personal they are and how I could relate to them in a way I didn’t expect.

I think one of my biggest issues was the fact that there was only one monologue for trans-women, so it kind of felt like it was excluding them in the discussion about women. Especially given the fact that V-Day is about fighting violence against women, and trans-women face some of the worst violence, it felt like a glaring omission to me. And yes, I realize that it is called The Vagina Monologues, but it just rubbed me (forgive the pun) the wrong way.

I thought that the additions at the end of the V-Day special were interesting because it let us see the impact V-Day is having on the world. They have accomplished so much, but we still have so far to go.

The Vagina Monologues

Wires and Nerve Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer – 5 stars

Iko is probably my favorite character from The Lunar Chronicles so I was ecstatic when I heard she was getting her own graphic novel. And I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.

I was a little apprehensive of the artwork when I first saw it, but I think that it really worked for the story. I also appreciate that due to the color scheme that was chosen, any blood from the fights is not in your face. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it when I’m reading other graphic novels, but given the audience and the story, I appreciate the muted aspect of the violence.

It was just so much fun to see the entire gang. And I really enjoyed the new characters of the Kinneys. I know that we saw Sir Kinney in the other books, but he does play a bigger part in this. And I love the relationship between him and Iko. But I also loved Tressa. She was just so much fun!

I was so sad when it was over because I want to know what else happens! I want to continue seeing Iko being the badass, feminine, sassy person that she is. I also am so curious to see how the story goes from where it is to where it ends up in Stars Above. I cannot wait until volume 2!

Wires and Nerve

El Deafo by Cece Bell – 4 stars

This was so adorable!

I really love that this is a graphic novel for kids that focuses on not only what it’s like to live with a severe hearing impairment but also on teaching others how to interact with someone who has a hearing impairment. I love that whether or not you have a hearing impairment, you can related to a good majority of the stories. It features stories about trying to fit in, dealing with pushy friends, struggling at school, and first crushes.

The artwork is so cute and really conveys some great emotions. Even though the main audience for this is kids, I feel like anyone can read it and take something away from it. I also appreciate that Bell included an author’s note where she stressed that El Deafo is just her experience and that she is in no way speaking for all that are hard of hearing or Deaf.

Overall, this was a fantastic read and I think everyone should read it.

El Deafo

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander – 5 stars

What can I say? I’m Harry Potter trash. So when I heard that not only was there going to be a new edition of Fantastic Beasts but an audiobook narrated by Eddie Redmayne, I was sold.

I’m still in awe of the fact that Rowling came up with all of these creatures, what they look like, and their characteristics. My only complaint is that it isn’t longer and that there are several omissions of creatures mentioned throughout the Harry Potter series (such as hinkypunks and boggarts). I will never get tired of reading as much as I can about the wizarding world.

The audiobook is fantastic and it was like having Newt read it to me personally. If you can, I highly recommend checking it out.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – 4 stars

This was the first time that I read Anne of Green Gables, and I must say, I really enjoyed it. I honestly had no idea what the story was going into it other than the fact that it was set in Canada.

I overall really loved Anne. She is smart, spunky, full of imagination, and so utterly driven. However, there were quite a few times that I was a little annoyed by her (especially when she went on long spiels about whatever is on her mind). It also was a little hard to imagine that she had so many disastrous things happen to her constantly. But like I said, overall, she was a wonderful character.

I also really ended up enjoying all of the side characters. And though I did expect a certain character’s death, I was still heartbroken when it happened.

Montgomery’s world is so easy to imagine as she does a beautiful job of painting a picture of what it would be like to live there. However, there were a couple of times where Montgomery’s writing was not my favorite. By the end of the book, I was over the fact that anytime Matthew said anything, he started with “Well, now, …”

I would highly recommend checking out the audiobook narrated by Rachel McAdams. She does such a great job with the story and it really enhanced my reading experience.

Anne of Green Gables

Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #21-25

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5 stars

Have you ever inhale read something because it gripped you so much? And then kicked yourself because you inhale read it and now it’s over and you wish you had spent a little more time with it? Yeah, that’s what happened for me.

I need to sit back and digest what I just read because it’s so powerful and thought-provoking. But for now, I’ll just say this: A hairbrush is not a gun.

Update: so it’s been just shy of two days since I finished reading this and I’m honestly still thinking about it. I’ve grown up in America, reading about and seeing the unjust killings of African Americans by police in the news but since I am white and therefore extremely privileged, I have no clue what it’s like to have the police target me just because of my race. Angie Thomas has captured the African American experience so well in this book that I have been able to get a small glimpse of what it is like. I think that every white person needs to read this book in order to grow as a person and learn. It’s uncomfortable to read about Hailey and how blatantly racist she is, while claiming that she is absolutely not one. But when you say things like “that Black stuff” and ask questions like whether or not an Asian American’s family members eat cats for Thanksgiving, you are most definitely a racist. It’s micro-aggressions like these that minorities face everyday from white people and I’m glad that Thomas included them to highlight how you may think you are joking when actually, you are doing real damage.

One of my biggest complaints about YA in general is how the parents tend to be lacking, but I am so extremely happy to say that Starr’s parents are very much involved and have a healthy relationship. Yes, they fight, but they are mature about it. They want what is best for their children. They punish their children when necessary. They are just extremely wonderful role models and their relationship is so freaking cute to boot.

The story has a large cast of characters, but you end up rooting for all of them. By the end of the novel, I was praying that no one got hurt. Starr is such a fantastic character – she struggles throughout the book and is flawed, but is also completely strong and stands up for what she believes is right. Mav and Lisa are amazing (see above paragraph for my gush about them). Her brothers have great personalities and are a positive presence in Starr’s life. Chris is willing to learn about things that he doesn’t understand. DeVante wasn’t someone I wanted to root for, but as we learn more about him, I couldn’t help but love him. Uncle Carlos shows that there are good cops that get overshadowed by the bad ones. The community show just how close they are and how they stand together. It was just such a wonderful thing to read.

I hope that I’m doing this book justice – I’m still learning. This book is powerful, timely, and important and everyone needs to read it.

the-hate-u-give

Liar Temptress Soldier Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott – 4 stars

I honestly remember very little about the Civil War from what I learned in school. But when I heard about this book detailing the lives of some bada** ladies, I was all in.

Karen Abbott clearly did her research and presented the lives of these women in a way that was educational but also hella entertaining.

Emma Edmonds, Elizabeth Van Lew, Rose Greenhow, and Belle Boyd all believed in what they were fighting for. And despite my Southern heritage (Texas born and raised) I have to say that Emma and Elizabeth’s stories were more intriguing to me. I just did not care for Rose or Belle and how pretentious they both came off.

Emma disguised herself as a man so that she could fight in the Union army. Elizabeth created her own underground network. Rose and Belle both boasted about what they were doing and took it as an honor that they were arrested multiple times. Though these women never met (save for a couple of times with Rose and Belle), Abbott weaved their stories in the same chapters if they were occurring at the same time. Because of this, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of who I was reading about.

It was clear that these four women were willing to sacrifice for what they believed in. And it was really awesome to read a story about the Civil War that focused on women rather than the men. I started reading it back in November but I wasn’t really in the mood for non-fiction at the time so I put it off. It’s fitting that I finished this during Women’s History Month.

liar-temptress-soldier-spy

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – 5 stars

This short book packs a punch. I love how Adichie backs up each of her points with real-life experiences. I especially loved that she focused on her experiences in Nigeria, as it highlights the need for intersectionality within feminism. As a white woman in America, I have not had to face many of the experiences that she has faced and it opened my eyes to making sure that my feminism includes all women. I think that everyone should read this. Especially if you are new to feminism.

We Should All Be Feminists

Before Goodbye by Mimi Cross – 2.5 stars

The story was all over the place, especially with the random flashbacks that are not really identified as flashbacks. Also, I really couldn’t care less about either Cate or David and did not really see the supposed chemistry between them.

The author tried to handle issues like sexual assault, suicide, and teenage drug use, but because she tries to cover all of them, she really doesn’t do justice to any of them. She even tries to have a female/female relationship, but again, does not really do it justice.

It was pretty cool to read the music scenes as it is clear that music is something that the author is passionate about. But other than that, I just wasn’t very interested. And there were several plot points that I had a very hard time buying *cough* Bryn’s involvement with a crime going unnoticed and unreported by anyone *cough*.

This book also had the wonderful *sarcasm* trope of YA books having non-existent as well as abusive parents. I’m really really tired of this and I wish it would stop.

Also, the amount of times the author used ellipses was rather annoying.

Overall, I was rather bored with this and I’m glad that I got it through Kindle First since it means I didn’t have to pay for it.

Before Goodbye

Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul: Second Dose by Jack Canfield, Mark victor Hansen, and LeAnn Thieman – 4 stars

It always seems that about halfway through the semester, I need a reminder of why I want to go into nursing. And this book did not disappoint.

I cried during the stories. I laughed. I sat back and thought about the impact we can make as nurses.

I liked that there was a variety of stories and a variety of perspectives. It’s sometimes nice to hear from patients rather than only from other nurses.

Overall, this book was just what I needed as I gear up for my last seven weeks of nursing school.

 Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul
Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #16-20

The Death Cure by James Dashner – 4 stars

This one was stronger for me than The Scorch Trials because I at least felt like there were actually things at stake. And I appreciate that several main characters died since lately I’ve been reading a decent amount where that is not the case. I read this one much faster than I did The Scorch Trials because I was actually invested in the characters. I’m not sure what was different about this one compared to The Scorch Trials, but I just felt compelled to find out what happened to them. Maybe it was the fact that I knew it was the last book so the story had to end. Who knows?

I’m still frustrated that there are several questions that Dashner did not answer. I know that there are a couple of prequels out there, but come on. Give us a little bit more. I did think it was a bit of a cop out that Thomas did not get his memories back. It felt like Dashner’s way of avoiding having to answer questions.

It was intriguing that there were those who were immune to The Flare and those that were not. And it was a little bit heartbreaking to find out which character was not. I thought it was interesting to have them end up back in the Maze and that the Grievers came back out to play. Seeing Gally again threw me for a loop and the whole Right Arm situation was a little weird for me. The way that they were treating Munies and the fact that it was just like WICKED made me doubt everything about the resistance. I thought the ending was interesting because I am really curious to know where exactly they were sent since the entire planet was supposedly screwed over. I kind of like that it is left open ended and you can imagine how the rest of the characters’ lives go.

Now I really want to read the prequels because I want to know more about this lab-created zombie virus plague thing that was created as a means of population control. I am intrigued to find out who in their right mind thought they could control something like that.

the-death-cure

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Dr. Sheri Fink – 3.5 stars

I picked this up at the recommendation of my clinical instructor after we went through a emergency medical training and I’m glad I did.

It is clear that this book was thoroughly researched and presented as true an account as possible about what happened at Memorial Hospital during and after Hurricane Katrina. I thought that the first part of the book was much more powerful as it described the five days. I was invested in the lives of the patients, family members, nurses, and doctors that were involved. It was heartbreaking to read about the lack of supplies, the increasing heat, and the lack of proper coordination from the parent company.

However, once it got to the part where the authorities came in to investigate, I found myself getting less and less interested. I found the investigation to get confusing at times and I did not particularly care for a couple of the individuals mentioned. It also got to be repetitive for me at times.

However, the discussion about medical ethics and disaster preparedness was intriguing. It really made me sit back and think what I would do if I were in the situations presented in this book. I also appreciated the epilogue, where there was discussion about what has been learned from Hurricane Katrina with regards to being prepared for emergencies.

Overall, I’m glad that I read this. I wish that the second part of the book was a little bit more succinct, but the beginning and epilogue were well worth it.

five-days-at-memorial

My Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand, and Brodi Ashton – 5 stars

This was just so wonderfully delightful.

I absolutely loved this twist on Tudor history where the Protestants and Catholics are replaced with shapeshifters and non-shapeshifters. I think I may have a new ship and the slow burning romance was just so swoony. The wit and humor in this was absolutely fantastic and I loved all of the different references that were strewn throughout the entire book.

I was a little worried that once they really got off track with history that I would lose interest or the humor would decrease, but I am so glad to say that I was completely wrong. I absolutely adored the entire cast of characters from Jane to G to Edward to Gracie to Bess to Pet. Hell, I even loved the narrators interjecting their thoughts and opinions here and there.

I’ve had this book since it came in my June 2016 Owlcrate and I am absolutely kicking myself for waiting so long to read it. The premise should not have worked, but in the hands of these authors, it totally did and I can’t wait to read their next work together.

My Lady Jane

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – 3 stars

So I knew approximately zero things about this other than H.G. Wells is a master of science fiction and it contains time travel (wow, I’m so good at deductions). I received it in my OwlCrate last February and was mildly intrigued, but set it aside for other books that piqued my interest more. I ended up picking it up now because I needed a quick classic that I could finish before the end of February to meet my goal of reading a classic a month (since I failed at January and finished reading Jane Eyre in February).

I was pleasantly surprised by this since I had no expectations for it. I thought that the story itself was an exciting adventure that also looked at what humanity will become in the future. I thought Wells’s take on the Eloi and the Morlocks was interesting and that he was trying to have a political and social commentary for his time. The Time Traveller wasn’t the most like-able character, but he also definitely wasn’t the most dis-like-able. I was pretty meh on him, to be honest.

Overall, it was a fun, quick read and I thought it was interesting that Wells had the Time Traveller go forward in time rather than backwards.

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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand – 4 stars

This was such an interesting look at the life of Louis Zamperini. I really liked that Hillenbrand didn’t just start off with Louie’s plane crash and subsequent life as a POW. Instead, she set up the story and let us get to know not only Louie, but his family and crew as well.

There were times where it was hard to read about what the men went through. But it was also amazing to read about how strongly they persisted and just how ingenious they were (mainly when they were on the raft and had to use what little resources they had available). I also really appreciate that Hillenbrand did not shy away from the fact that most of the men who were POWs suffered from PTSD once they got back to the United States. And it broke my heart that the men did not get proper help for their PTSD due to people wanting to tune it out and pretend that it didn’t exist.

I like that Hillenbrand included Louie’s flaws throughout the book. It made him seem all the more real and seeing him straighten out his life was really interesting to witness. It was clear that Hillenbrand did her research and was trying to paint Louie in as fair a light as possible.

This was definitely a hard read at times, but I think it sheds light on a rather dark moment in history. Louie’s struggle to survive was harrowing and his life after the war is something that is so rarely talked about. I’m really glad I read this.

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Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #6-10

Fatal Puzzle by Catherine Shepherd and translated by Julia Knobloch – 2 stars

I’ve had this on my Kindle for over 2 years (it’s one of many Kindle First books that I got and then proceeded to not read because I’m a horrible person like that) and since one of my goals is to read all of my Kindle First books this year, here I am.

The idea of jumping between 1495 and present day was intriguing, but the way that it was executed was rather disappointing. I’m not sure if it is because it was translated to English so the writing fell flat or if the writing just was not strong to begin with. There were several plot points that I had a really hard time getting behind and felt like there was no need to include the paranormal aspect.

The puzzle aspect held promise, but I feel like the fact that the first two victims’ last names matched up with an aspect of the puzzle just to throw off the scent was a little too easy. I find it hard to believe that the investigator would focus on the last names and not the names of the towers.

The current day killer seemed so out of left field. I wish we had gotten more from his perspective, to be honest. Especially given some of his inner thoughts near the end of the book. It just didn’t make sense to me. And again, it felt too easy to have one of the suspects that the police were interested in.

I felt like the 1495 scenes didn’t feel as authentic as I would normally like my historical fiction because the language felt a little too modern for my taste.

I’m giving it a 2 star rating rather than a 1 star rating because I’m taking into account that some of my problems could have been due to the translation from German to English.

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Glass by Ellen Hopkins – 4 stars

I did enjoy this more than I enjoyed Crank (as weird as it is to say you enjoyed reading about someone’s life being destroyed by meth). And I found this one to be more believable than Crank as we saw more of the ramifications and consequences of Kristina’s addiction.

Kristina still continued to annoy me, but this time I was a little bit more understanding in that I really saw just how far gone she was with her addiction. There were many times that I wanted to slap her in her face and tell her to get over it, but I know that a) she’s a fictional character and b) that won’t do anything for an addict – they have to want to get the help themselves.

I really don’t like Trey and was really rooting for her and Brad to end up together. I just thought that she and Brad had more chemistry and that he was a much better guy for her (even if he was a meth dealer). I was a little confused because I thought that Brendan knew about Hunter? I may be remembering wrong. But I wasn’t the biggest fan of having him pop up again.

I thought that Kristina was just a straight up b*tch to Heather for no reason and it kinda made me uncomfortable just how homophobic she seemed to be with all of her nasty thoughts towards Heather. It was a bit hard for me to imagine Leigh being okay with her sister acting like that towards her girlfriend.

I was glad that her mom finally took some sort of stand against Kristina when she kicked her out because of her usage. And I like that she filed for full custody of Hunter because it was the first wake-up call that Kristina truly was losing her battle to her addiction. And this is going to sound harsh, but I was really glad that she ended up being arrested. I think what made me glad to read it is that this is aimed at a teen audience and I want them to see that they can do some serious damage to themselves. I know that addiction is a disease, but there are so many instances in pop culture where a drug user and/or dealer do not face many consequences and it ends up being almost romanticized. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, I think it’ll be interesting to read Kristina’s story’s conclusion. I wonder what will happen with the proposed deal with the Feds and what will happen with her and Trey know that they are expecting a child. Especially since it was clear that Hunter was too much for Trey to handle.

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Fallout by Ellen Hopkins – 4.5 stars

Fallout was way more powerful for me than Crank and Glass. But I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the narration shifts to three of Kristina’s children. As the child of an addict, I found myself sharing a lot of the same emotions and thoughts that Hunter, Autumn, and Summer had.

I thought that switching the narration was a smart move on Hopkins’s part. It really shows just how far reaching the consequences of addiction can be. And I feel like we were still getting Kristina’s story, so it felt like a good ending to the series.

I felt like Hopkins did a good job of representing the panic attacks that Autumn feels. And I kind of liked that she also had OCD. I totally understood why she told Bryce that her parents were dead despite the fact that they weren’t. When your parent is an addict and have pretty much abandoned you, sometimes it’s easier to just pretend that they are dead. It makes it much easier to deal with the pain. But it’s also hard to explain that sometimes. And while I get that Bryce was mad that she lied, I hate that he didn’t give her a chance to really explain. I kinda wish that Hopkins hadn’t added the possible pregnancy, but that’s just me.

Hunter was an interesting perspective to read since we’ve seen him in Crank and Glass, even though he was just a baby. I wish that we could have seen him and Brendan get to know each other a little more, especially since Brendan seems to have changed his life around after being in the armed forces. While I didn’t like that he cheated on Nikki, I did kind of like that it helped bring him closer to Scott as he was asking him for advice on how to show Nikki he was sorry. And I’m glad that he really was sorry and did try to make it up to Nikki.

Summer was interesting to read about, especially having her in the foster system. Her storyline was my least favorite, but it was still compelling. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kyle, but he grew on me and I did like their relationship. I also liked that Summer was willing to stand up for and protect her foster siblings when things went south.

I also liked that at the end of the book, when everyone has finally re-connected, Kristina finally gets some closure and actually has an emotional breakdown (I know, that sounds harsh of me). And I totally understand why Hunter and Summer are having a hard time believing anything that Kristina is saying. Once you’ve heard enough lies, even the truth sounds like it. Especially coming out of the mouth of an addict. I think that this was a very strong conclusion to Kristina’s story and I’m glad I stuck out reading the entire trilogy because I wasn’t sure I would after Crank.

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The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – 4 stars

This was my first time reading Gillian Flynn and if the rest of her novels are like this short story, I cannot wait to read them.

I was gripped from page 1 and flew through the entire story. I actually really enjoyed the narrator and even though she wasn’t always the most honest person, there were times that you saw her humanity and goodness shine through.

I also actually liked the idea of not knowing which story is true because there are always multiple sides to each story. Though I’m not sure I’m 100% okay with the ending and the situation that the main character ends up in legally (I’m purposefully being vague to avoid spoilers but I think if you’ve read it you’ll understand what I’m talking about).

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Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World Edited by Kelly Jensen – 4 stars

I really wish that this book was out when I was a teen because I think I would’ve gotten a little bit more out of it and would have rated it 5 stars.

I love that it focused on intersectionality and brought in a diverse set of voices to tell their stories. I love that there were recommendations for books, movies, graphic novels, and music. I love that each author stressed that there is no right way to be a feminist.

There were some stories that I had a hard time connecting with, but that was one of the reasons why I wanted to read this. I wanted to learn about other’s experiences with feminism and just the world in general. I can’t quite put my finger on what was missing for me, but overall I really enjoyed this and I think that everyone should read this. It’s a great introduction to feminism if you are just dipping your toes in and are not quite ready to jump both feet first into writers like bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Margaret Atwood (to name a very small bunch).

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Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #1-5

So this year, I think I’m going to try doing my wrap-ups on here in groups of five rather than waiting until I have a group (such as YA) to post about. So here are the first things I read in 2017!

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Volume 2 by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell – 5 stars

I’ve had this volume for nearly a year now, but I kept putting it off for some reason. When I was looking at my 2016 challenge, I saw that volume 1 was my first book of 2016, so I thought it would be *significant* to have volume 2 be my first book of 2017.

I’m fairly removed from the story at this point since it’s been a year since I read volume 1 and over a year since I read the original novel, but I found that I had no problem picking right up where the graphic novel begins.

The artwork was gorgeous and really helped me visualize what I had trouble with when I was reading the novel the first time round, which is part of why I didn’t rate it terribly high. I really enjoyed the story and that this novel focused on the last two chapters of the book because I feel it gave those chapters the time they deserve to unfold. I like that we really see Bod grow up in this volume and that he has to deal with the consequences of his actions. I also love that Bod’s selfless side is shown when he steps in to stand up to the bullies when he goes to school.

This really was a great first read of the year and I’m kind of sad that I don’t have any more graphic novels to spend with Bod, Silas, Scarlett, the Owenses, Liza, and the rest of the graveyard family.

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – 5 stars

I’m not sure how to put my feelings into words.

This was such a beautiful story told in such simple language. But that simplicity doesn’t take anything away – if anything, it adds to the story because it’s just you and Conor and the monster and all of the emotions that you’re all experiencing.

The illustrations by Jim Kay are simply haunting and perfect for the story. But the story in and of itself is not scary at all. Unless you count facing the truth to be scary.

I love that the stories that the monster tells shows that there are two sides of everything. No one is all good or all bad. Letting go of someone is hard. Wanting someone else’s pain to end can be difficult because you can feel guilty when it does (at least, that’s been my experience). I just love this story and look forward to re-reading it in the future.

*Side note: I went and saw the movie the day after I finished reading this and the movie absolutely broke me. It is hands-down 1 of my favorite movies of the year already and 1 of the best book-to-movie adaptations I have ever seen.

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The Force Awakens Graphic Novel by Chuck Wendig – 5 stars

Yes, this is exactly the movie in graphic novel format. But you know what? I don’t care. I thoroughly enjoyed this and loved seeing The Force Awakens in yet another form of media. The artwork is gorgeous (though there were a couple depictions of characters that could have been a little better). Would it have been nice to have a little bit of extra content? Yes. Was I disappointed that there wasn’t? No. If you haven’t seen the movie (you should, by the way), this is a great alternative.

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Winterspell by Claire Legrand – 3 stars

I have a long history with The Nutcracker and it’s something I hold dear to my heart. I performed in it for 12 years and could probably put on a one woman show with the roles I was cast in (minus, ya know, Clara, the Snow Queen, and Sugar Plum Fairy – minor details). I start listening to the music every year in November and see it at least once a year (either wherever I’m going to school or the one put on by my old ballet company). So when I heard about this dark re-telling, I was so there for it.

Until I started reading it…then I wasn’t quite sure what I had gotten into.

Yes, there were elements of the story that were here in this re-telling. And yes, re-tellings don’t need to be, nor should they be, a direct copy of the original work. But other than the statue coming to life, the fact that Clara has an odd Godfather, the battle in the ballroom, and the fact that Anise is a faery, I didn’t see much of the original fairy tale.

There were several times that I was just plain uncomfortable reading this. I didn’t understand the need for all of the sexual tension and focus on nakedness that happened whenever Clara was with Anise. I’m not against exploring one’s sexuality and I love that it’s implied that Anise is bisexual, but it felt unnecessary and sometimes forced just to be edgy. I get that this is supposed to be a dark re-telling, but I don’t get where this aspect fits in with regards to the original tale. Also, I swear the word “belly” appears approximately too many times in this novel.

And the weirdness with the statue in the beginning was a little too out there for me. I just couldn’t get behind a little girl basically having wet dreams about a statue. It also creeped me out that Nicholas was essentially 18 years old when he is cursed and then proceeds to watch Clara grow up to the age of 17 but they end up together. The scene on the porch at Pascha House enraged me to no end and I could not forgive Nicholas for his actions. Let alone what he did after it was revealed that Clara had her powers. I just never really saw the romance between Nicholas and Clara and thought there was way too much baggage for them to overcome to get their happy ever after.

I also didn’t understand the point of Dr. Victor. I also loathed the fact that he victim blamed her for his perverse thoughts about her. It was never her fault, but he made it so that she internally blamed herself for everything that he did towards her.

However, I thought the world building of Cane was fantastic. And I love seeing Clara explore her powers, though she really is annoying for the majority of the book. I really loved the character of Bo and would gladly read an entire novel about her life in Cane.

I think if I had gone into this story not knowing that this was supposed to be a re-telling of The Nutcracker, I would have enjoyed it more (though the scenes with Nicholas I pointed out above still would’ve pissed me off) and could get behind some of the more bizarre aspects of the story (and not be confused as to what they were doing in it, if that makes sense). That’s why I rated it at 3 stars rather than something lower.

winterspell

Homecoming (Winterspell #1.5) by Claire Legrand – 3 stars

I read this because I was curious to see what happened after Clara goes back since for her it’s only been 2 years but for Nicholas and the rest of Cane it’s been 8. I liked seeing how Cane was rebuilding itself after the war and how the humans, faeries, and mages were all working together (at least for now). But I still wasn’t there for the romance between Clara and Nicholas. Their already huge age gap just got even bigger and that made me even more uncomfortable. I just feel like there will always be a power imbalance between the two. However, I loved seeing Bo again, and what I said in my review of Winterspell stands – I would totally read a book all about Bo and Afa and her entire family. But mainly Bo. I feel like this did give the story a bit more closure than the book did, but I’m still not 100% behind Clara and Nicholas together.

Reviews

Reading Wrap-Up: Graphic Novels

From Hell by Alan Moore- 3.5 stars

Guess who finally finished this after reading it for nearly 6 months!

I don’t know why, but I had a really hard time keeping up with the story for some reason. It just seemed all over the place at times. I think part of it is because some of the characters looked the same, so it was hard to figure out who was who at times. I also easily lost interest in the story, which is surprising because I find Jack the Ripper kind of fascinating. Even the appendix, which was supposed to help clear up what was going on, didn’t keep my interest and I found myself wanting to skip over parts of it. I just really didn’t enjoy this very much, which stinks because I really enjoyed Watchmen and want to read A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, though now I’m a little worried about it.

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Black Widow Volume 3: Last Days by Nathan Edmondson – 4 stars

This still has some of my favorite graphic novel artwork. It’s just so gorgeous.

I wasn’t that keen on the Chaos part of this run, and there were times I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. But I loved all of the in-between parts, especially seeing Natasha in action as a new KGB operative. I love the idea of her trying to make up for her past deeds and wanting to just be on her own for a little bit after dealing with Chaos. I wish we were getting a little bit more since there was a bit of a cliff-hanger with the little boy, but I still really enjoyed this last volume.

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Superior Iron Man Volume 2: Stark Contrast by Tom Taylor – 3 stars

The art was really good, but the story was a bit lackluster. Taking away all of Tony’s humanity and morality is an interesting idea to play with, but I felt like the ending was really weak and I guess I need to read Secret Wars now, even though I hadn’t planned on it at this moment. I was hoping for a bit more of Pepper being a badass since she’s on the cover in her Rescue suit, but sadly, there was a real lack of her fighting. And where did the Daredevil storyline from the first volume go? Overall, this definitely wasn’t my favorite.

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe by Ryan North – 4 stars

This was my first Squirrel Girl graphic novel and I absolutely loved it! The writing was great – a wonderful mix of sassy, sarcastic, witty, and playful. The footnotes were fun little additions. The artwork was fabulous. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Allene, but you weren’t really supposed to be since she is the warped version of Doreen. I also loved the side characters and love that they are such a great friend group. It was really fun to read about a girl superhero that is also a super computer nerd and used her computer nerd knowledge to save the day. This graphic novel made me even more excited to read my other Squirrel Girl tradebacks.

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Reviews

Duology Review: Not A Drop to Drink

Not A Drop to Drink – 4.5 stars

Finally, a dystopian that doesn’t fit the normal dystopian model.

I love that Not a Drop to Drink isn’t a “Chosen One” versus the government type of story. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a soft-spot for those types of stories, but they just feel a little over-played at this point. I really enjoyed watching as Lynn grew as a character from a closed off survivor to one who opens her heart to those around her. But I also love that she never truly loses her hardness. I also appreciated that McGinnis wasn’t afraid to kill off a main character and that even though there was a love interest, it wasn’t insta-love. It’s scary how real the book felt, especially because if we aren’t careful with our resources, we could end up in the world of Not a Drop to Drink. McGinnis paints a picture of what it means to survive in a world with little to no water well and it is just such a good book.

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In A Handful of Dust – 5 stars

Mindy McGinnis is easily becoming one of my favorite authors.

I love that we got to see Lynn and Lucy travel across the country and that they struggle to do so. I really appreciate that McGinnis included things like altitude sickness because it made it all the more real. I loved seeing the difference in characters between Lynn and Lucy. I appreciate that Lynn still is untrusting of people, but I also appreciate that Lucy is open to everyone and willing to give them a chance. It makes sense for the world that they each grew up in. Yes, Lucy has had to struggle, but her world wasn’t quite the one that Lynn grew up in. I did miss Stebbs though, as I grew really fond of him in Not a Drop to Drink. I really enjoyed McGinnis’s look at humanity as a whole and how we would all react to a situation in which we are struggling and competing for something we all take for granted right now.

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Reviews

Series Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I already posted my review of The Lightning Thief on here, but just as a refresher, I’m going to include it here.

The Lightning Thief – 4 stars

So I was a bit spoiled because I had seen the movie well before reading the book. However, I also knew going into the book that the movie was one of the lesser faithful adaptations going around, so I knew that while the traitor was the same, the scenes in which the traitor was revealed were different. I also knew that the ages of the characters were not the same in the book and the movie, as they were much younger in the book. I have to admit that I do enjoy the movie on its own, but comparing it to the book, I can see why people did not enjoy the movie. Again, like with The Chronicles of Narnia, I am fairly late into the Percy Jackson game, but overall, I found the book to be fast paced with likeable characters who you can’t help but root for. I loved the rivalry between Annabeth and Percy and how it echoed the rivalry between their parents. I also appreciated that so far there is no romance between the two of them, given the fact that they are 12 years old. I loved all of the references to the Greek myths and I feel like Riordan really captured the gods well, though I had a hard time taking Hades seriously in the book because I could not get the mental image of Steve Coogan out of my head. I have a feeling that if I had read this when I was younger, I would have given it a 5 star rating, but since I am a bit older, it just didn’t hit the 5 star mark for me.

The Lightning Thief

The Sea of Monsters – 4.5 stars

I really loved the addition of Tyson to the gang of Annabeth, Percy, and (eventually) Grover. I did miss having Grover along for the journey, but his interactions with the cyclops were pretty funny. I really like how Riordan continues to weave in Greek mythology like the story of No One and including the Golden Fleece. I really liked the cliff hanger that the book ends on, which made me eager to pick up The Titan’s Curse to find out what was going to happen. I liked this one more than The Lightning Thief, but it did also feel rushed at times, which is why I took off a half star.

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The Titan’s Curse – 4 stars

The first part of this really dragged for me, to be honest. I really missed Annabeth and didn’t particularly care for Bianca or Nico or Zoe. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of Grover in this one. I did enjoy getting to meet Annabeth’s father and that he was able to save them. The ending definitely made up for the lack-luster beginning, but it is getting a little old that it’s a group of heroes traveling cross-country to try to complete a quest. It just feels a little formulaic right now.

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The Battle of the Labyrinth – 4.5 stars

I know I said in my review for The Titan’s Curse that the format was getting a little too formulaic for me, but I did enjoy the trip in the Labyrinth. I loved seeing Percy, Annabeth, Tyson, and Grover all working together again. I’m not the biggest fan of the Pan side-plot, but that’s just me. Nico grew on me a little bit more, but I’m still not his biggest fan. I did enjoy the battle at Camp Halfblood and thought it was a good lead up to the finale.

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The Last Olympian – 5 stars

This was a really great conclusion to the series. And I really liked that the majority of the book was set in New York City/Mount Olympus. I really liked that we got to see how the prophecy played out and how Riordan made it to where no one character was perfect. They all had a hand to play in what happened and I like that Riordan made them take responsibility for that. I really liked Hestia and wish we got more of her. I grew to really like Nico and loved when he came to be a badass. I’m glad there didn’t end up being a love triangle with Rachel, Annabeth, and Percy because my little shipper heart needed Percabeth to happen. I just really enjoyed this and am looking forward to starting The Heroes of Olympus.

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Overall – 4.4 stars