Mini Reviews: A Monster Calls, Lethal White

I’ve been hanging onto these reviews for a while now, for no reason, really. I will say that I’ve been getting into the habit of reading books and watching movies they were based on, so I might actually start doing those, too, from time to time. I won’t with A Monster Calls and I haven’t seen anything of Strike in a while, but I have a few other book-movie-tie-ins in the works!

Anyway, A Monster Calls was a book I’ve wanted to pick up and read ever since I saw the movie and bawled my eyes out. Even as I knew how things would end, this book still made me feel all emotional. And it was so wonderful.

Every annoyance I had with Lethal White had to do with the drama around Robin and Matthew. I’m not sure why the first entire part was on Robin’s wedding, and the quicker that shmat was over, the better. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the politics and mystery of this book as I had been with some of the previous books. Still, I’d watch the show when I can.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

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Mini Reviews: A Simple Favor, The Motion of Puppets

Mari really needs to find a new system in writing her blog posts, because trying to get everything done in a weekend clearly does not work. Maybe once she stops bingeing all the seasons of Game of Thrones she might finally find a bit of normalcy…

Then again, maybe not. But at least she’s trying and that’s what counts, right?

Right?

Sigh.

Anyway, I slipped on my March reading a bit, but I did get a few things in before I started my nightly TV binges. I might as well tear off the bandaid now and get the books I didn’t like over with.

Honestly, I picked up A Simple Favor solely because I adore Anna Kendrick and I so wanted to see the movie the book was based on. Between Kendrick and Henry Golding and Blake mothaheffing Lively, this movie was totally going to be something I’d watch. Unfortunately, the book itself tanked for me. By the end of it, I was really wishing the whole mystery behind Emily’s disappearance was that she was formerly a hitwoman whose past finally caught up to her, and her businessman-husband knew none the wiser because he’s the perfect “I’m always busy and traveling” type of husband. Ugh. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING IF THIS WAS THE CASE. (Note: Fanfiction anyone?! I’m totally welcoming this.)

That being said, I highly recommend the movie for its dark and comedic nature. Like, seriously, I didn’t think I’d be entertained by a mom vlog until Anna Kendrick’s Stephanie made it fun. Though honestly my main takeaway from the movie–and the entire story itself–was how to make a perfect gin martini.

The next book was something my friend and I discussed as an option to read for our podcast, Fableulous Retellings (which, I know, I know, one of the things I need to get back to updating at some point, along with my life), and at the time I was really committed to reading something that was an Orpheus and Eurydice tie-in. I mean, honestly, you don’t get too many of those retellings, right?

Lord almighty, help my soul. I swear I’m not trying to hate on magical realism, but it’s really hard to find a good one that doesn’t make me cringe like most of magical realism books. I mean, come on, I do enjoy Gaiman at least. He’s magical realism, right? As is Patrick Ness for the most part, right?

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

To Prince or Not to Prince || The False Prince Review

Initial Thoughts:

I was actually very entertained by this book, and it was a quick read. I was on the fence with Sage as the main character, but the reveal that had my super suspicious from the beginning kind of explains his unbending personality and it suits him. I will have to pick up the rest of the books to know what happens next!


THE FALSE PRINCE

Jennifer A. Nielsen
Scholastic Books, April 2012
Children’s fantasy, adventure
Rated: 4 / 5 cookies

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

I saw this trilogy sitting in my classroom last year and a half, and one of my voldies from last year had recommended it as something good to read. I finally decided to have a listen (because yay to Libby for having a copy of the first book as an audiobook!), and I honestly was quite entertained by the perspective.

We follow Sage, a sassy orphan boy who gets taken in with other orphan boys in some crazy plot to pose as the missing prince Jaron. While Sage is only one of four who fit the bill, there’s still some work to get done, and Conner–the man orchestrating this deception–has a deeper agenda of his own. Something doesn’t sit right with Sage, and he’s bound to find out what it is sooner or later.

Honestly, as entertaining as Sage’s perspective is, he does come across as a cocky little smartass sometimes, and occasionally I did want to smack him in the face. One of my big problems with him is his random and sudden attachment to the “pretty servant girl” that shows up in the middle of the book. I don’t buy it, and it bothered me, considering I really didn’t care much for Imogen (I’m also not fond of the “guy falls for pathetic and slightly helpless girl and tries to protect her” as a plot point. I hated it in The Night Angel trilogy, and I absolutely loved that series, so…).

In any case, it was an easy enough read, the pacing of the story was fast-paced, and I could have easily listened to it nonstop without a problem. I’m kind of amused at how things turn up at the end, and it does look like there’ll be more to the story now that we know what’s actually happened to the royal family. Also, I love Mott. More Mott, please!

4 out of 5 cookies! Urgh, my library needs to get the rest of the Ascendance trilogy on audiobook so I can continue listening to this.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Fish in a Tree, Brave New World

You couldn’t get any two books more different, but for some reason I read these two around the same time, so who knows how my mindset was.

Fish in a Tree was a book recommended by one of my fifth grade voldies, and I’d read it within the weekend. She’d been surprised, considering I’ve told her I normally read slow, and this one took her a week to finish, but there you have it.

As for Brave New World…yeah, I kept falling asleep in my college Science and Lit class whenever we talked about this book. Which is pretty bleak, considering I absolutely adored the class and I loved some of the books I’d read for it. This one–especially audiobook form–was irritating to listen to. I get that there were grand ideas of a speculative manner, but honestly, I’d needed to get into Huxley’s stash of recreational drugs to get through this one.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

Hell Hath No Fury || Vengeful Review

Initial Thoughts:

This must have been the longest time it took for me to read a Schwab book from cover to cover, but hot damn it was good to get back into Merit. Side and new main characters aside, it was still largely an Eli vs. Victor book and their confrontations are the absolute best. Also OMGAH CAN I GET A THIRD BOOK PLEASE?


VENGEFUL

V.E. Schwab
Tor Books, September 2018
Science Fiction, Fantasy
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies

Eli Ever and Victor Vale were only medical students when their mutual discovery that near-death experiences can, under the right conditions, manifest extraordinary abilities.

They were best friends, and rivals, and then enemies. They were dead, then alive, and then—Eli killed Victor, once and for all.

Or so he thought—but Sydney Clarke felt otherwise, and used her own superpower to tip the scales. Now, a trio hides in the shadows, while another takes advantages of post-death life to take over the city of Merit.

If there can be life after death—will there be calm after vengeance, or will chaos rule?

Remember when I reviewed Vicious and couldn’t wait to tote this book off because YES, it’s finally a standalone and YES OKAY, I could do with a sequel if there was one?

Okay, neither do I. That was so two years ago, and all I remember is that between Eli and Victor, Eli was most definitely the more unhinged villain.

Well, he kind of gets one-upped in Vengeful because I mean, honestly, HOW Schwab made me feel some sort of sympathy for Eli Ever is beyond me. Like…thanks a lot, Schwab, now my feelings for your psycho characters are in turmoil, and AGAIN, we have a Holland-type character on the loose. Figuratively speaking.

Similar to how Vicious’ storyline was written, Vengeful opens up in the present, some five years after the events of the previous book. We are introduced to Marcella, whose home life as a mafia thug’s wife has been shattered due to some real unsurprising revelation that her husband is cheating on her. We’re then treated to an attempted murder, which leads to Marcella’s rebirth after having uttered her EO-related line, “I will ruin you!”

The book then proceeds to recount snippets of the past, going back five years ago to the aftermath of the Eli-Victor fight. We find out many things, including the fact that Victor is broken somehow, and is pretty much following in the lines of the one guy he’d managed to outwit. Meanwhile, we have Eli hanging out at EO-jail and, well, you know, helping out the “good guys,” so to speak. Except, ya know, are there even ANY good guys in Merit or the known Villains world? No? Never mind.

Aww, but they cut such a striking set! Who needs good guys when you have villains anyway, amiright?

Like its predecessor, Vengeful is not action-packed. There is a lot of buildup to the action, and frankly, it’s probably why it took me a good month to finish. Not because it was uninteresting. Not because it didn’t have really good writing–and believe you me, I will buy anything Schwab writes, even an informational pamphlet on the science of duck migration or something (which, come to think of it, I’m sure she’ll make that interesting, too!). It was just, well, a lot of information to take in.

Along with the characters in Vicious (Victor, Eli, Mitch, Sydney), there were new characters added into the mix. This kind of gave a more epic showdown, because so many parts had to be brought together to make the whole.

So I got the book from an Owlcrate exclusive last October, and the swag that came with included some really choice artwork of the books. It’s fabulous, really.

That being said, it was also where things were kind of off for me. Because of the several POV changes and so many character perspectives, I couldn’t get into some of them. June, for example, wasn’t my cup of tea, and honestly, I could do without hearing about her in the next book–if there ever is going to be one. I did love the addition of Dom, though, and Marcella was great, but yeah, other characters made it a slow-go for me. I do think the book also suffered a bit from two storylines that got mixed in together, and honestly, the buildup to the whole Marcella deal was so massive that the end was just…well, again, anticlimactic.

That being said, I’d still read the next book anyway, because I want more. I don’t believe it’s the end for the cosmic-circling duo, and honestly, I just want someone to fix Victor. FIX HIM, SYD.

Also, Mitch is still the absolute best.
4.5 out of 5 cookies! I pretty much rated Vicious in a similar fashion…but the first book was definitely my favorite of the two.


Have you read this book? What did you think?