Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What I Read in July


Hello everyone,

Can you believe it's already August? July has flown by and now the school year is only one month away. I'm slightly freaking out. Luckily, I had a decent reading month. I read five physical books, one graphic novel, and listened to two audio books. I'm not reviewing the graphic novels or audio books, just because they're a lot harder to write about than normal novels. If you would like to know my feelings on all the books I read, though, make sure to follow my goodreads.

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

My thoughts:
Ugh. Rating this book is much too difficult. There are things I love about this book, yet there are so many things I have problems with.

First off, I love the formatting of this book. The entire story is told through IM messages, email's, diary entries, computer data, case files, surveillance camera reports, and more. It is something I've never read nor seen done before, and it was a lot of fun.. I also believe it helped it to be a quicker read.

The writing of this book I found to be iffy. At times it was really good. The Aiden parts were beautifully done. Towards the end of the book, I felt the writing got a lot better and began to grasp the eeriness and excitement that was going on. Throughout most of it though, I felt the messaging and dialogue between characters seemed super unauthentic. I couldn't really quite take the characters seriously.

Speaking of characters, I had a very hard time connecting to any of them. That is the one downside to how this book was written, is that you can't bond to the characters how you normally would. I really cared nothing for Ezra and even Kady I had a hard time feeling much for until the end. The side characters were just a distraction to me and when any died, it pulled no heart strings. Maybe some would say I'm just cold hearted.

I loved Aiden though. Even though this character is really a computer, it ended up being the only character I was attached to and really rooting for. I loved seeing Aiden evolve and the parts from its perspective were probably my favorite.

Finally, the plot I really enjoyed. Spaceships, a mad computer, running away from an evil company, a deadly disease outbreak. Almost the entire book was action packed and full of discoveries. Though sadly, the story was a bit predictable. With it being a trilogy, you knew all has to be resolved, or else where would it go from there? I kind of wish it had been a standalone and had ended tragically, instead of angering me with a convenient ending. It left me dissatisfied and rolling my eyes.

All in all, I did still enjoy my reading experience and I would suggest picking it up. Although I'm not too keen on this being a series, I'm interested to see how they continue you it and I will be picking up the next book when it is released in October.

My rating: 
3/5 stars

Should you read it?: 
I think so, just because the reading experience is so cool.

Favorite quote: 
“I am frequently underestimated. I think it's because I'm short.”

2. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders


Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.

But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

My thoughts: 
This was probably the weirdest book I've read this year, if not ever. It's probably the hardest book I've had to rate as well.

All the birds in the Sky was full of magical realism, fantasy, and sci-fi elements. We start off with our two main characters in elementary school, then we follow them a ways through middle school, and finally we catch up with them in their adult life where they have gone their separate ways and discovered their talents and who they are. One character is a witch who can speak to birds, the other is a genius who built a two second time machine.

Hearing a similar description peeked my interest. It sounded whimsical and fun. Sadly, it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be.

My first problem was that it took forever to get into. I was constantly putting it down and having a break on my phone, always counting to see when the chapter was going to end, my mind constantly drifted off on to other thoughts and ideas. It wasn't until the last 100 pages did it start to really excite me.

I was also just very confused throughout this entire book. The writing was beautiful, but sometimes it was too beautiful instead of making sense. I never quite understood what either character was doing with their talents, the goal they were trying to reach. The world was also quite confusing. I wasn't sure if it was set in present time or in the future. Then, to top it all of, the ending left me unsatisfied and full of questions. The story did not seem resolved.

Although this book was weird and a puzzle to me, I did enjoy the writing style. Sometimes it was trying a bit too hard, but Anders used beautiful words and strung them together to create some beautiful sentences. I often would repeat a phrase out loud to whoever would listen. Her writing is really gorgeous and very quotable.

I also really enjoyed the characters. Even in the midst of their weird abilities and me not knowing that the heck they were doing with them, they seemed like real people with actual struggles, emotions, and interests. I am a sucker for good characters so this was a redeeming quality for me.

Overall, it was different than any book I've ever read, and I enjoyed aspects of it, but  it was so hard for me to get into and the ending left me disappointed.

My rating: 
3/5 stars

Should you read it?: 
If this book sounds interesting, go ahead and try it out, but I wouldn't say it's a must read.

Favorite quote: 
"Worry is often a symptom of imperfect information."

3. Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider


At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

My thoughts: 
It's driving me crazy how everyone says this is a copy of TFIOS and LFA. Just because it has similar themes does not mean the plot and characters are the same. I appreciated how Robyn Schneider took her own take on a story of sick teenagers and falling in love. This story seemed original, warm, and real, not a copy.

Let me start off with the characters, since I tend to enjoy a very character driven story. Extraordinary Means is written with alternating POVs. There's Lane, the new boy whose academic achievements outweigh mine by miles and who strives to please others constantly. And then there's Sadie, the girl who has accepted she's sick and decided to live her life as fully as she can before she dies. Both Lane and Sadie were super well developed characters. While reading this book, it truly did feel like you were getting to know them and care about them. They had real fears and interests that where easy to relate to. Schneider also made up a really enjoyable cast of side characters. Each one of them had their own personality and quirks to add to the table.

Onto the plot, I did find a few things a bit predictable. Close to the ending, a few things happen that are suppose to be a surprise, but to me they just weren't. A lot of it I had been waiting for almost the entire book, so that took a little bit of joy out of my reading experience. The ending also seemed very rushed and I was a bit unsatisfied. It didn't feel as if things were fully explained. I did really enjoy following the journey Lane and Sadie were on, though. My heart went out to them as I watched them try to make their life as normal as possible while still struggling with TD.

The writing was nothing spectacular, but it wasn't bad either. Nothing really stood out to me, but I did zip through this book and it was quite the easy read.

Overall,  I enjoyed my reading experience, but in the end it left me a bit unsatisfied.

My rating: 
3.5/5

Should you read it?: 
If you're looking for a quick, fun contemporary, go for it!

Favorite quote: 
“And the thing about trying to cheat death is that, in the end, you still lose.”

4. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta



At the age of nine, Finnikin's world is shattered by the five days of the unspeakable: the royal family of Lumatere is brutally murdered, an imposter seizes the throne, and a curse binds all who remain inside the kingdom's walls. Those who escape are left to roam as exiles.

Ten years later, Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, are summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, the heir to the throne of Lumatere and Finnikin's childhood friend, is alive, and she can lead Finnikin to him. Even as he suspects this arrogant young woman, Finnikin also begins to believe that Lumatere might one day be raised.

My thoughts: 
What a ride! A wonderful ride indeed. It's rare for me to pick up a fantasy book in the dead of summer, but here I am. And now, I want more.

This is my first Melina Marchetta book, but I can see why so many rave about her writing. Although classified as a YA, this book read more like an adult book, in all the good ways. Nothing seemed dumb-downed and the writing was very high quality. Although the book got a bit chunky at times, I was still able to read quickly through it.

The best part of this novel was by far the characters. Each and every one was super fleshed out and full of character. Not one of them went to waste. Marchetta made sure to use each and every one to move the story along. I loved the way she introduced us to new characters, almost like we already knew them. There was never a huge explanation and a long backstory when someone new showed up. Instead, we were suddenly immersed into their perspective and learning tidbits along the way.

The plot was a little slow burning, but interesting nonetheless. As you continue reading, you learn more and more about what happened to Finnikin's home land, and you're able to experience the journey of reclaiming it with them. As the story went on, I felt myself getting more and more excited for them to return and to see how everything resolved.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I couldn't quite give it 5 stars since at times it was slow and lacking conflict, but for the most part, "Finnikin of the Rock" is a fast paced, spectacular read.

My rating: 
4.5/5 stars

Should you read it?: 
Yes, especially if you enjoy fantasy.

Favorite quote: 
"Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best."

5. I Am Malala by by Malala Yousafzai



When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

My thoughts: 
This was such an eye opening read. So many things stood out to me while I read this. It made me realize how much I take for granted here in America. Like being able to worship my God without persecution, being able to step out of my house without the fear of being hurt or killed for how I'm dressed or that fact I'm a women. Being able to learn and have an education without having to hide it. I am beyond blessed to live where I live and have the rights that I posses.

I am Malala was such a fascinating read. Not only did it serve as a biography of Malala's life, but it also gave us a lot of backstory on her family's life, and their county's history. Because of that, we were able to understand a lot more about her culture and her day to day life. At times, it was a bit slow, but interesting nonetheless. After visiting a Muslim country and interacting with the people there, it was cool to read a book from that perspective. It was a huge learning experience. Malala is all about education and speaking up for what she believes is right, and I feel like this book accomplished much of that.

Overall, I highly suggest this book! Even if you're not into autobiographies or nonfiction, I believe this is an important book and anyone would benefit from reading it.

My rating: 
5/5 stars

Should you read it?:
Yes, Yes, Yes.

Favorite quote: 
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”



What did you read this month? Leave me a comment below with some new recommendations.

With love,

Elizabeth


12 comments

  1. I loved this post! It was super interesting to see everything that you read. I'm definitely checking a few of these out! I'm always looking for books, haha. This month, I read several Joanne Fluke mysteries, as well as devouring the Hamiltome. ;)

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    1. Thanks! Same I love reading people's reviews. Sounds like a fun reading month!

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  2. Those all look like great books! :)

    I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

    Allie D.
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  3. Oooh, definitely gonna have to look into these books!! It's great to hear other people's reviews on books.

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  4. Oh my gosh, you read so many books this month! That is such an achievement in itself, so congrats on that.
    Also, I can't say enough how much I love your blog. Please never stop <3

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    1. Awww thanks so much <3 You're too sweet! This made my day :)

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  5. Great post! I love reading other people's thoughts on books they've read, helps me choose what to read next :)

    Anything & Everything | Bloglovin'

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    1. Thanks! Same here, I devour book reviews.

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  6. It's interesting to hear your thoughts on I am Malala. I read it a couple of years ago and found it a bit slow, but still an eye-opening. I'm curious too, which Muslim country have you visited?

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    1. Yeah it was a bit slow at times, but I love history and biographies so I was never bored :) And I visited Morocco. It was a pretty cool place!

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okay so this is how it works : you read my blog, comment and i reply. then you respond and so forth. they make my day and bring a smile - thanks so much <3

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