Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Rating: 4/5 stars

After reading and loving Little Fires Everywhere, I decided to pick up Ng’s first novel, Everything I’ve Never Told You. Both stories are incredible, and I’m so glad I decided to spontaneously read them. In my mind, I don’t really like family sagas, but Celeste Ng is just so good; I love her books. I did like Little Fires Everywhere better than Everything I Never Told You, but both are great nonetheless.

I love Ng’s writing style. Her stories are captivating in such a way that I get lost in the lives of the characters and become invested in their pasts, mistakes, presents, etc. and I can’t stop listening to the audiobook until I’m done.

This book, like her other one, is told in third-person omniscient perspective, knowing the lives and minds of all the characters at once. I hardly ever read books with an all-knowing narrator and it’s refreshing; I think Ng writes this way very well and, once again, I quite enjoyed it. I don’t think just any author could pull off this narrative choice while still making the story flow as well as Ng did; she has a true talent.

As both Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere take place in Ohio, I’m glad I read both of them while living in Ohio. I feel like I can understand the story better because I’m familiar with the setting. Although, I haven’t ever been to Shaker Heights, where the stories take place, but I do want to go visit now.

I loved this book, and I definitely recommend it. The ending is so tragic once you know all the details, but it’s evocative and it will stick with me. I do hope the movie deal goes through because I would love so much to see this family drama on the big screen.

Review: FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 4/5 stars

Firefight was both stronger and weaker than Steelheart, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

We’re still following David and the Reckoners, but now we get to see a new group of Reckoners as David and Prof travel to Babilar, once New York City, and team up with the crew there.

I absolutely love the setting of this book. It’s New York but with extremely high water levels in a dome around the city so everyone lives on the rooftops. Plus there’s glowing fruit and psychedelic vibes and trees that grow fortune cookies—it all was super neat, and I want to visit this place. 

In Firefight, we see more crazy action scenes and awesomely unique technology, some facets that make this a strong story like the first one. But the payoff wasn’t as good. The kills were too easy in my opinion, and the ending was a little confusing and wasn’t as epic as I hoped it would be (like the ending of Steelheart that blew my mind). There weren’t any big reveals or twists, and that made the ending feel weak to me because I was really hoping for more. 

In fact, I think this book almost steered toward cliches at times, and I was really worried about what was going to happen. There was just enough Sanderson flair that it still felt somewhat original, but I’m nervous about the final book, to be honest. 

Also, I think it’s worth noting that the writing in this series isn’t the best; Sanderson has much more prolific and tightly woven stories, but I still enjoy these books for the good times that they are. 

I love the running gag that David can’t use metaphors at all and always comes up with terrible ones that make no sense. This book, like the first, is full of humor. The jokes and goofy metaphors are the best part of the story. 

The Reckoners books are just plain fun to read. I’m glad I’m finally getting to them, and I’m looking forward to wrapping up David’s story in Calamity. I really hope the ending of that one doesn’t disappoint. 

Review: STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 4/5 stars

I don’t know what I expected from this book, but it wasn’t a dystopian urban sci-fi action-packed adventure story. In what was once the city of Chicago, supervillains called Epics have taken over, the government is no longer in control, and one Epic named Steelheart has killed David’s father. David vows vengeance on Steelheart and that’s basically where this book takes off.

I was a little nervous going into this book—in fact, I kept putting off starting it for months—because it doesn’t seem like my genre and I didn’t think I was going to like it. But Brandon Sanderson wrote it so obviously I had to read it. And I should have known not to doubt him.

I hate to be stereotypical, but this felt like such a “guy book.” Action-packed superhero story, full of guns and fight scenes and near-death escapes in an urban setting, most of the characters male except for the one BA hot female of the group. I think Steelheart would make an amazing movie. This is totally different from anything else Brandon Sanderson has written, and I much prefer his epic fantasies and cosmere stories, but this was still surprisingly good.

There is some pretty sweet technology and weaponry in this book. I have to give it up to Sanderson for coming up with it all because it’s quite unique. He always has great technology uses in his books, which I love.

David’s a pretty cool protagonist, but his metaphors are consistently so bad. SO bad. They don’t make sense most of the time, but that’s the point. Sanderson writes quite a bit of humor into this book and I appreciated it because it kept me entertained.

I have to admit that I didn’t really care for the book at first, but the story grew on me. I shouldn’t have doubted Sanderson; even in a style of book I don’t normally reach for, he still managed to make me enjoy the story and care about the characters.

Steelheart was an incredible and fun read. There was lots of action, great banter, and super sweet technology, which was my personal favorite part. While I do think this book is geared toward teenage boys, I also think it can be enjoyed by a wider audience as well, as is evidenced by my liking it. I really did not expect to love it as much as I did, but I can say with certainty now that this is a new favorite and that I’m so excited to continue on with the series because I was worried I’d have to push myself to read the other two installments, but now I know that I’ll enjoy them.

I gave it four instead of five stars because I struggled to get into the book and connect with the story or characters during the first third, but the action scenes throughout and that crazy ending more than made up for it because holy cow was that a ride.

It’s very interesting the revelation they make about Epics at the end. I can see threads of that idea throughout the story now that I know what I’m looking for. Sanderson is so good at foreshadowing his reveals and I love that I never see the clues until I know the ending and then go back and pick apart the story; he still gets me every time.

Thursday, August 1, 2019


Rating: 3/5 stars

I was in the mood for a thriller so I picked this up, but Ruth Ware’s books are more slow-burn mysteries than thrillers so that was my bad because I ended up being a bit disappointed at the pace of the book. The beginning did set a nice tone for the story and give good background information about Hal and her financial situation and motivations for going to the estate, but I was still hoping for something a bit quicker-paced.

The way Hal is so focused on money, how getting caught in the rain means she’ll have to use more heat when she gets home and that will cost her money that she doesn’t have, that is so relatable. The beginning was quite a bit darker than I wanted it to be, but I really do think it was necessary in this book to set the right tone.

I liked The Death of Mrs. Westaway more than The Woman in Cabin 10, but this one, like that one, starts out grim and gritty, and I have realized I don’t really like reading contemporaries that dark. Both of those books’ protagonists have someone break into their home at the beginning of the story, and I don’t want to read about dark real-world problems like that; that does not lend well to escaping into fiction when it feels so real. So that’s a personal preference, not a fault of the book or author, but it did make me a bit hesitant to pick up this book at times, although it did get more enjoyable for me as the story went on.

Unfortunately, The Death of Mrs. Westaway felt like a lower quality and less engaging version of a Kate Morton book. I love Kate Morton’s books so much, and while The Death of Mrs. Westaway had a lot of similar aspects as Morton’s books, it’s just not as well-written with fewer twists and turns in the mystery and a less satisfying ending.

One aspect of the story I did really enjoy was the tarot card motif, how Hal looks at cards throughout the story and even though she tells herself not to believe them, the cards still foreshadow what’s to come in the narrative.

I guessed the ending, but I guess I still don’t understand the motivations. Why were secrets kept? I don’t think it was all that exciting, like everyone should have just told the truth from the beginning; what was there to cover up when the people they were trying to hide the information from knew it anyway? The ending was pretty underwhelming, honestly, and it left me wishing there was more to the story.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway was a decent book; I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it. I don’t think Ruth Ware’s writing style is quite for me, and I don’t know that I’ll be reading any future books from her when there are other similar books that I know I’ll enjoy so much more.

Review: DREAMER by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 4/5 stars

I had no idea this short story existed until yesterday when I was scrolling through the list of Brandon Sanderson’s books on Goodreads and saw this and then I immediately went looking for it because I needed to read it.

Dreamer is one of Brandon’s shortest stories, yet it was one I enjoyed the most. This was crazy to me since I generally don’t like short fiction, but the concept here was so dang cool that I couldn’t help but love it. I don’t want to say what the story is about because that is a spoiler, so just jump in blind and enjoy it. I read the whole story in one sitting and loved every second of its fast-paced thrilling action.

Sanderson could truly write a whole novel about the idea behind this story because of how neat it is, and I’d be so down to read that. I really don’t know how he has an endless supply of unique story concepts, be he never disappoints me.

Review: THE EMPEROR'S SOUL by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 5/5 stars

There was rarely an obvious branching point in a person’s life. People changed slowly, over time. You didn’t take one step, then find yourself in a completely new location. You first took a little step off a path to avoid some rocks. For a while, you walked alongside the path, but then you wandered out a little way to step on softer soil. Then you stopped paying attention as you drifted farther and farther away. Finally, you found yourself in the wrong city, wondering why the signs on the roadway hadn’t led you better.

I loved this novella. I love the idea of using art as a form of magic, being able to create whatever you want and give different form and history to any object. Shai and her forgery is one of the best cosmere stories I’ve read.

I’m very curious to see a sequel to this story, and I hope we get one some day. I would love to see The Emperor’s Soul tie into Elantris, like how the magic systems overlap or something since they take place in the same world. Both stories share different but intriguing parts of the world of Sel, and I am really interested in seeing more of this world someday.

I’m not big on short stories or novellas but The Emperor’s Soul is worth the read. It’s long enough to have some merit to it but short enough to leave you wanting more.

I wanted to wait to read this after Elantris because the stories take place in the same world, and although the magic systems are in the same vein, the overlap is so minimal that it really doesn’t matter if you read this story before or after Elantris.

Review: THE NEAR WITCH by V. E. Schwab

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I was browsing my shelves for what to read next and this book kept jumping out at me. It wasn’t on my immediate to-read list but I decided to pick it up anyway because I thought I’d be in the right mood to love it, and I was right; it was just the whimsical slow-burn light fantasy that I wanted.

The Near Witch follows Lexi as she tries to figure out why little children are disappearing at night following the day when a stranger came to their town of Near where strangers never come. The book is very atmospheric and I loved the small-town setting. It feels like a fantasy only in the way that books set in the distant past feel like fantasy because of the medieval setting and the time period. There is a magical quality to the book, almost like a fairy tale, and I absolutely loved the whole thing.

There wasn’t a lot of characterization in the story. There is a bit of insta-love in here though, but I actually don’t mind insta-love that much; it was cute and I loved both the characters.

This book is very much focused on the plot at hand, what Lexi is doing to find the children going missing. We don’t learn too much about her past or about how life in the village works or about her friendship with Helena, and I think some more outside information would have been nice, especially like what lies beyond the hills of Near, but the way it is written now has a strong fairy tale aspect and adding too much to it would make it lose that special magic.

I like the wind magic in the book and the ability to manipulate earth and make plants grow. The witches’ abilities are pretty cool, not the traditional kind of magic I normally see, and I appreciated that.

The Near Witch is marketed as adult fantasy, but really it should be in young adult, or even middle grade, because this story is too precious for the adult genre.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very sweet, and it got darker than I expected it to. I loved Lexi and Cole and their relationship and the ending and basically the whole thing. I was worried going into this book that I wouldn’t like it as much since it’s Schwab’s debut novel, but I actually think I liked The Near Witch better than the Shades of Magic series; it was just too precious. It’s a beautiful little fairy tale–esque story that was ethereal and magical and calming; it was exactly what I needed at this moment.