Just Words on a Page

I am a Reference Librarian at a community college and an avid reader. These are my thoughts, reviews, ideas, comments, and everyday musings.

Red Queen

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

So I finished Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen over the weekend. I went in with high hopes for this title- it sounded new and exciting!


What I got was a mix of the Hunger Games and The Selection Series with a bit of Graceling thrown in. Not to say that that isn't a good combination- it is. Its just that the overall feel of the book seemed very familiar: the arena of the Hunger Games, the romantic triangle and royalty of the Selection series and the magic of Graceling. Good combination in theory but when the author blatantly takes scenarios from each and just changes the characters and place names, it becomes questionable. The over all story is very Cinderella-esq: The main character, Mare, is a servant girl who is destined to become a soldier in war she doesn't believe in. That is until she meets a mysterious guy in a bar who turns out to be the prince in disguise- the prince takes her to the castle to be a servant (thus saving her from the war). Insert love, drama, a second prince, and an evil Queen (who just happens to be the first princes' stepmother). There is also magical powers thrown into the mix. Add an *unexpected* twist and a guy from home who Mare could potentially love, and you have Red Queen. I understand that authors read too and what they read influences what they right but this was obviously a mash-up of Aveyard's favorite YA novels and themes. Had it been done a tad differently (take out the arena- it really does nothing for the plot), the overall book would have been better. 

This is the first book in a planned trilogy, I will probably read the next two just to see how it ends but I doubt I will read this again. 

Overall: 3/5 

Musical Bookstores

I am currently reading Red Queen by Victoria Averyard. So far so good-I'll let you know my final verdict when I finish.

Anyway. This weekend my husband and I played "musical bookstore" on a mission for one specific book: The Rook by Daniel O'Malley. We went to 4 Barns and Noble stores and 2 Half Price Books in search of this title- I was determined to find this book! I had read a review that recommended The Rook to readers who enjoyed Harry Potter (which I loved- as evidenced by my 4 copies of each book), The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (I adore this book and have read it over and over), and  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell  by Susanna Clarke (though I have yet to finish this book, I've enjoyed it so far). I am very weary about recommendations- especially when they say a title is like Harry Potter or Harry Potter fans should read it- I've been disappointed way too many times (I read The Magicians by Lev Grossman based on a recommendation related to HP and ended up strongly disliking it). BUT I am willing to give The Rook a try- I just won't go in with my expectations too high. Unfortunately I have about 10 books ahead of it on my "To Read" list so it's going to be a few weeks before I get to it. Fingers crossed I like it! 


All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven

I finished All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven over the weekend and I needed a few days to compose myself for a review- all the feels this book caused.

Warning: Potential Spoilers Ahead

So. I started out reading this book thinking there would be a happy ending and the two main characters would be heading off to college like most high school students do. Boy was I wrong- at least partially. I was not prepared for the emotional roller-coaster that this book is. Having read YA for  years now, I guess I should have expected the ending, or at least realized what was going to happen as I read the book but nope- me being the optimist thought everything was going to be okay.  The two main characters, Theodore Finch "Finch" and Violet Markey meet under unusual circumstances: at the top of the schools bell tower, both contemplating suicide. Finch saves Violet or Violet saves Finch (all depends on who you ask) and the two become friends while working on a school project- discovering their states "natural wonders." During their exploration of the state, Finch and Violet become more than friends, all while helping each other to come out of their self-imposed shells. BUT neither one really knows what the cost of this project will be. 

Overall: 3/5 (mainly because I do not want to cry again)

A Wicked Thing

A Wicked Thing - Rhiannon Thomas

I just finished A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas. It is a re-imagining of the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty- what happens after she is awoken. Aurora is awoken with a kiss from a handsome prince- only to find out shes been asleep for over 100 years. Her family is dead and there are uprisings happening all over the city. How does one survive when everyone you knew is gone- especially when you're entire life has been planned by complete strangers and you've become a political pawn. 

Overall, it was a good book and an interesting take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. It took awhile for me to get into it- the first 100 pages or so were dry and had no conflict what-so-ever. After finishing the book, I know those pages were necessary to provide the back-story so when the final conflict did happen, I wasn't scratching my head asking whaaa??? But I almost gave up during those 100 pages- SO if you read this book: PUSH THROUGH, IT GETS BETTER. Any way- there is a bit of romance and its not a love triangle but a love quadrangle (? I think) its three boys all fighting for the same girl:
1. The prince who awoke her
2. The prince from a neighboring land 
3. The commoner 
 She doesn't really have an interest in any of them romantically but they all seem to like her- oh to be in that situation. Insert a bit of magic, a semi-wicked soon-to-be-mother-in-law, death and destruction and you have A Wicked Thing.
Oh and apparently this is the first in a series- so there is really no ending or conclusion to the story. It just stops. I HATE when books just "stop."  Yes, it will be a series and yes, the series will need to have continuity BUT that does not mean you just stop. Look at the Harry Potter series, each book is stand-alone but they all fit within a bigger picture. The conflict in each is wrapped up but the overall Voldemort plot continues- exactly how a series should be ((though I am bias, as Harry Potter is my favorite book/series of all time))

Overall: 3/5

The Conspiracy of Us

The Conspiracy of Us - Maggie  Hall

I just finished reading The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall this weekend. Books should come with warning labels: 
"WARNING: This book may cause your pulse to rise"
"WARNING: This book is the first in a series- don't get too attached. The next one doesn't come out for YEAR"

Yep. You read that right. This is the first book in a series and the second one doesn't get published till 2016. I guess I should be prepared for things like this to happen- especially in YA but it doesn't make it any less frustrating. Getting to the end of the book and realizing that there are sooo many unanswered questions is the worst. WHYY do authors do this to us- torturing the poor reader?!

Anyway. Onto the review (contains spoilers).

The premise of this novel is a teenage girl (Avery) who moves around constantly (think military-brat) finds out that her long lost family is part of a powerful and dangerous secret society searching for "The One"- a person who will lead them to great treasure and invincibility.   Avery must search for and locate clues that will lead her to "The One" in order to save her life and the lives of her family. There are, of course, two "bad, mysterious, secretive" boys assisting her in the search for lost power. It could be said that this is a Da Vinci Code for teens- traveling across Europe to locate clues in order to prevent world wide disaster.  

I enjoyed this book (I am a big fan of transcontinental plots), The love triangle is over done in all YA but once you overlook that aspect, the story and characters are engaging and exciting. The plot is fast paced and leaves you anxious for the next one. There are times when the reader realizes things before the narrator (Avery's moms' kidnapping or her father NOT being dead like she was previously told), that make it an occasionally frustrating read. Avery, as a narrator, seems a tad whiny- always complaining about never having any friends or people to count on- but I guess being uprooted every few months can be frustrating when it comes to making friends (even so, its a tad annoying every time she mentions "The Plan" or not allowing herself to form personal attachments). This novel doesn't fit into one genre (but does any book, really?) Mystery, suspense, romance, thriller- The Conspiracy of Us falls into each category.  

Overall: 4/5

The Dark Divine Review

The Dark Divine - Bree Despain

I never hate books. Hate is such a strong word- it implies intense dislike, frustration, anger, and rage- all directed toward words on a page. No I don't hate specific books, I just don't enjoy them. 

Perhaps I was not the intended audience- maybe the  book was published for young adults and I just didn't understand the teenage angst. 
Perhaps the intended audience was middle-aged men and I just don't understand the mid-life-crisis. 
Perhaps the intended audience were science buffs and, unfortunately, science is not my forte. 

No matter what or who the intended audience is for a book, I never hate any  book I read. I know how hard it is to write, edit, write, edit and eventually publish a  book. It's a looooong process that takes months, years to complete. I understand all the hard work and emotions that are put into writing and publishing a book. Published works are the writers babies. They created them and watched them grow and change- writers are very protective when it comes to their work. I always feel bad when I give a book a low rating or a bad review....


But with that being said... Here is my review of Bree Despain's The Dark Divine. 
I read her newest book, Into the Dark #1: The Shadow Prince, and loved it. So I decided to read her other series. 

Boy am I glad I read The Shadow Prince first. Had I read The Dark Divine first- I wouldn't have bothered to read her newest series. The concept for The Dark Divine is a good- Grace, a strong Christian, falls in love with her brother's ex-best friend, the bad boy with a dark secret.

FYI: I am notoriously known for ruining the endings of TV shows and books for my family and friends- I will try to not give anything away. 

Before I started this book, I thought the good/bad concept was going to be angels vs demons- Christian girl and "dark secret" crush seemed like the perfect set up. But nope. It was another werewolf/vampire/forbidden love/teenage angst book. I am a big fan of YA but I also know that I am not the "intended audience" so perhaps I'm just too old (gasp) to get the appeal of vampires/werewolves. The main character, Grace, is whiny and bland- there is no development or change what-so-ever. She spends most of the novel trying to figure out why her brothers ex-best friend is his ex-best friend. All she knows is that James showed up covered in blood one night and Daniel disappeared the next day. I thought when this secret was revealed there would be a big "ah-ha" moment or something that would shock or surprise me. But nope. I guessed the big "secret" about 1/4th of the way into the book. The entire book felt like Twilight but with a religious Bella and no love triangle (yet), 

Overall Rating: 2/5

Someone asked me recently why I love books so much, why I chose to make books my career (or rather a major part of my career). 

Simple, easy to answer? Not really. 

The answer I always give (and seems to be widely accepted) is because I love to learn. Books allow you to do this without having to leave the comfort of your own home (which for someone with social anxiety- is a great thing). 

But. That's not the answer I want to give. 

The real answer is so much more than just my love of learning. 

Books are essential to who I am (cheesy, I know). I walk into a book store or library and I know that I am home. I could spend hours wandering the shelves and isles Books give me a sense of peace- when I am reading or spending time in a library I know that I am doing something I love. I open a book and get lost in the words, characters, pages, settings, and feelings (even if I dislike the book, I still love the time I spend with it). I get to travel to far-off places, places that don't exist, past events, potential future events, current events. I get to feel love, anger, hate, revenge, sadness, fear, jealously, and every emotion in between.  All because of words on a page.