Showing posts with label foreverlostinliterature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label foreverlostinliterature. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2017

Gilded Cage by Vic James

*Gilded Cage by Vic James is available Tuesday, February 14th!*

Gilded Cage by Vic James. Del Rey Books, 2017

I am so excited to finally share this review of Gilded Cage with all of you! I've had this galley since October of last year and it feels as though it has taken ages for the release date to finally get here. But the wait is finally over, so let me tell you about this awesome book.

Much like I stated in my review of Scythe by Neil Shusterman, I've been pretty burnt out on dystopians for a while now, but I decided to take a chance on Gilded Cage because of how interesting it sounded, as well as the many positive reviews I had seen. (I actually read Gilded Cage before Scythe, which is part of why I even decided to give Scythe a chance in the first place.)

Gilded Cage takes place in an alternate modern-day England where there is a divide between the Skilled and un-Skilled, aka those who can perform what we might call 'magic' and those who cannot. (I also found it interested how Skill is indeed believed to be something genetic, rather than 'random' chance) All of those born without skill must participate in ten years of 'slavedays' at some point in their life, which is what sets Gilded Cage in motion as the Hadley family decide to begin their slavedays.

Gilded Cage is definitely action-packed and will absolutely keep you turning the pages. There are some intense, dramatic moments that will definitely shock you, and I felt that there was a fairly good mix of heavy, darker content, and content meant to maintain a lighter tone so as not to drag down the entire story, as it's not exactly a lighthearted plot. I absolutely understand why this book has received so many good reviews and is poised to become a huge success for YA dystopians.

This was one of those books that really played with the notion of good and bad and had fun with the grey area in which one must ask - is there an in-between? There are characters that seems solely bad, some that seem good, and some that are hard to classify.

The worldbuilding was done really well. I particularly liked that international politics were a part of the many discussions, as well as the fact that we are given brief tidbits regarding the notion that there are other countries in this world that do not function in the same manner as the country in which our main characters live. Most dystopians usually seem to focus on only one particular continent and completely ignore the rest of the planet, so it was nice to see that there are different things gong on in this world. The only downside I had in regards to the worldbuilding and background information in Gilded Cage was the immense amount of info-dumping that we get throughout the entire story, but particular in the first half. The story would be progressing swimmingly, and then I would suddenly discover that I was starting to zone, and I realized that it was because all I was being given were political backgrounds, historical information, etc. While this is useful to the story, it was done in such large chunks and so often that it became tedious and hard to even remember all of it; I'm not sure if all of it was crucial to the story itself.

Gilded Cage provides more than a few character POVs, which was surprisingly helpful in understanding the lives of both the Skilled and those who are living as slaves. What is most interesting to understand is that although each character undergoes different extremes of types of obstacles, they do all suffer in one way or another, and that aspect brought a lot of depth to the novel. Abi and Luke both have starkly different roles as slaves, and I though James developed both characters extremely well. Abi is a smart girl, and despite the mistakes she makes or any poor judgments she might have, she's not someone to underestimate. Luke, similarly, is not someone to think you can just bowl over. He starts out as a rather mild-mannered character, but he soon learns that his current situation is wrong and he begins to want to branch out and take a stand for his beliefs. Of course, that never works out well in dystopians, but it was exciting to see the changes occur throughout Luke's progression in the story.

The 'high class' Skilled POVs that we get to experience were also quite interesting, and fortunately were all rather distinct. I loved the divergence in personalities among the Skilled, particularly how some were still relatively 'normal' and down to earth, whereas others were ready to take their power roles and use their Skill to their advantage. One thing I did notice, however, that all of our POVs were white characters - unless I overlooked some details - which does seem a bit unfortunate. I think adding in the element of race would have added even more depth to this story - for instance, would race play a factor in the role of any of these character? It's just another element that would be useful to add, and would probably add in some more realism.

The main issue I would say I had with this book was my confusion around slavedays. I think it's somewhat odd that people can choose when to do their slavedays. The younger you do them, I think the more beneficial it is for you, but then if you screw up while doing them, you could get stuck in there for life, whereas if you had completed them when you're in your sixties, it wouldn't be as long if that happened. But then, hard work in late age is definitely harder, so... I'm not sure. The concept was really hard for me to fully accept as realistic, but I was able to accept it enough to enjoy the story and disregard my questioning of the system.

And one other tiny issue I had was the minor bit of romance. Was it really necessary? I know it sets up more plot and intrigue and allows for more drama to ensure in this book and forthcoming novels, but it was just... odd. I really don't think it was necessary, and quite frankly, do you really think crushing on someone would be at the forefront of your mind when you're working as a slave and you have no idea what could be happening to some of your family members? Personally, I wouldn't think so, but maybe it's a nice distraction.

Overall, I am giving Gilded Cage four stars for all of the reasons stated above! I would recommend this to anyone who loves or has enjoyed dystopians in the past, or anyone who enjoys a unique world system and action-packed excitement.

You might also like:
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Graphics Novels that I Have Read + Some I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

So this Top Ten Tuesday topic (favorite graphic novels) is actually last week's week, but I inadvertently I mixed up my weeks and missed this one last week, so therefore I'm doing a make-up TTT for last week's instead of this week's... if that's not too confusing.

I have loved most graphic novels that I've read, but I still somehow haven't read nearly as many as I would like to, and I hope to rectify that a bit more this year. Because of this, my Top Ten list is divided into two parts: 1) some of my favorite grpahic novels, and 2) a very limited selection of the graphic novels that I would like to read!

Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, #1)
This entire series is absolute gold to me. I love most of Neil Gaiman's work, but this series is definitely one of my things he's ever done. One day I will save up loads and loads of money and buy one of these gorgeous bind-ups... one day...

Through the Woods
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Review)
This was so delightfully creepy and gripping. When I read it, I meant to only pick it up and read a few pages, but I ended up reading all of it. I have no regrets.

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
Fables by Bill Willingham
A graphic novel about the many characters from legends and folklore exiled in one place? Uhm, yes!

V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
This is a classic, and absolutely worth the read!

Watchmen by Alan Moore
This is another Alan Moore classic, and though I'm not really into superheroes/etc., I really enjoyed the in-depth storyline. I haven't seen the movie adaptation, but I've heard that it is a poor adaptation, so check this one out even if you've seen it!

Footnotes in Gaza
Okay, so this one is sliding into this list in a very sneaky manner because I'm technically still reading it, but I can already tell that it is definitely going to make it onto my favorites list. Here's a quick excerpt from the summar on Goodreads if you need convincing: "Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident, in 1956, that left 111 Palestinians dead, shot by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafah—cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake—reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war. In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco immerses himself in daily life of Rafah and the neighboring town of Khan Younis, uncovering Gaza past and present. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheikhs, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy."

Saga, Vol. 1
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
I've been wanting to read this for years, but somehow I have never been able to get my hands on it. Hopefully this year!

Hark! A Vagrant
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
Another one that's been on my list for far too long. I first heard about this one courtesy of Sanne from booksandquills a few years (!) ago, and I've been wanting to read it ever since.

From Hell
From Hell by Alan Moore
I believe this one centers on the Jack the Ripper and Whitechapel murders of 1888. This topic isn't necessarily my favorite, but I am very intrigued to see what Alan Moore does with this particular story.

Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening (Collected Editions)
There are many reasons I want to read this one, but it had me at "Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900's Asia." I need to read this one!

Have you read any of these graphic novels? What are some of your favorites?

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen. St. Martin's Griffin, 2015. Paperback. 368 pages.

Most of you probably know the story of Peter Pan, or have at the very least seen the Disney movie version of Peter Pan. From those stories, we know that Captain Hook loses the fight against Peter Pan and is fed to the crocodile. But what we don't know, according to Alias Hook, is that he didn't actually die in that fight because Captain Hook is cursed to lived forever in Neverland and cannot physically die. It's really a pretty unfortunate situation, but Lisa Jensen tells the story beautifully.

Alias Hook was a little difficult to get into at first, and there were a few chapters towards the beginning where I was still very unsure whether or not I wanted to continue on with the story. I plowed through, however, because the prose was lovely and premise fascinated me, and I must say that it paid off and I'm incredibly glad to have read this book.

The world of Neverland that Jensen created is fantastic and so full of the magic and darkness that I crave so much in retellings like these. I adore what Jensen has created, from the nuances and 'rules' that Peter Pan has for the world, to the way in which Neverland exists and people can visit and the various inhabitants of the land. Jensen has captured a unique magic that combines the nostalgia and excitement of youth with the adventurous and difficult journeys of adulthood, including both love and loss.

I really enjoyed exploring the different aspects of Hook's character that are often overlooked. He is jaded and hopeless, stuck in a land where he can never win, never leave, and never die. But at the same time, we are able to discern a small piece hope in him that surfaces at various moments throughout the novel that lend to some truly beautiful, exciting moments.

I also loved Stella. She is a bold, exciting, and endearing character that I felt had a wonderful relationship dynamic with Hook. This story would not exist without Stella, and she is the perfect catalyst for ever aspect of change that occurs throughout the story. I loved the interactions between Stella and Hook, and their chemistry was simply perfect. They are two very different people, but they still fit so well - they bickered and they had different hopes and dreams, but it all came down to them at the end, and I think it was written wonderfully well.

On the whole, I have very conflicting thoughts on this book. I loved the concept, the storyline, the worldbuilding - all of the major components of this book were brilliant, and it was whimsical well thought-out. This book contains a very elegant prose style, and because of this the writing did not always feel exceptionally accessible. I kept having to reinforce my reading and make sure I was focusing on the story and not zoning out instead. But... although the prose is somewhat difficult to connect with, it is also very beautiful at the same time, and by the end of the book I realized that I didn't mind the extra effort involved at all. There were many times when I wished to highlight or mark various passages, and I felt very moved by many of the emotions and events Hook undertook.

Overall, I am giving Alias Hook four stars! I truly cannot wait to read more from Lisa Jensen.

And if you are looking for even more Peter Pan-inspired stories that are absolutely gorgeous, I would like to take the time to highly recommend you go check out Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson!

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

You might also like:
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Arabella of Mars by David Levine
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Ithaca by Patrick Dillon

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mother Nile by Warren Adler

Mother Nile
Mother Nile by Warren Adler. Stonehouse Press, 2016. Ebook. 382 pages.

*I received a copy of Mother Nile in exchange for an honest review.*

This is my first novel by Warren Adler, and I must say I am very impressed. I had no idea what I was getting into with Mother Nile, but I have seen many people praise and enjoy his other novels, so I felt fairly confident going into this one.

Within the first two chapters, I could tell that this was going to be a very honest, blunt book, and I appreciated that. I could tell that the author was not going to shy away from any topics that may be awkward or uncomfortable for some people, and I like it when authors decide to take risks or refuse to cover anything up. There is some violence and sexual scenes depicted throughout, but none of it is unwarranted. Everything has a purpose, and I think that is truly what helps to set Warren Adler apart from other.

Mother Nile is a complicated story of familiar relationships, power, and politics. It is a story that requires your complete attention in order to make sure you are following along and understanding the complicated political situations within the state. Adler paints vivid, raw pictures of the settings he describes. Egypt is shown with no frills attached, and his descriptions are so strong that I felt as if I could actually imagine myself there in this exact setting.

The characters Adler develops are quite a varied bunch, and I really enjoyed exploring each character's background and impact on the story. Si, short for Osiris, is our main character who is searching for his long-lost half-sister, Isis. I felt as if Adler grabs his readers and throws them right into the action and lives of his characters, which actually worked rather well. Si is a headstrong man who is shown to have fierce determination, and although he is not necessarily a perfect man by any means, I felt myself beginning to understand as the story progressed.

I also enjoyed reading Farrah's story. If you think Si is a strong character, just wait until you meet Farrah. This woman is tough, and she is forced to make a lot of extraordinarily difficult decisions throughout the book. The only problem I had with her character was that I never really felt like I knew who Farrah was. While we did get some insight into her thoughts, I didn't always feel like I was getting to see her from more than a surface level, and because of that I didn't necessarily understand all of her motivations and reasoning for things, or why she acted certain ways.

Adler is clearly a talented writer, and he writes with well-practiced ease, making it a true breeze to read through his story. I also appreciate that he appears to have done thorough research on his settings and history, and although I am not particularly knowledgeable about the time, it is still readily apparent that this is the case. He knows how to set a scene, deliver a twist, and keep you hooked.

Overall, I am giving Mother Nile four stars!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Notable Books of 2016

Well, this year of reading is just about wrapped up! Even though there is still a week left of the year in which I will more than likely be reading a few books, I've decided I need to go ahead and get this post out before the year actually ends.

This year, I read a total of 119 books (so far), which is just about double than any previous years since I started tracking my books on Goodreads. I set my goal at 60 on GR because that's generally around what I tend to do, and I don't like to make a huge unfathomable number as my goal because I don't want to necessarily rush through books. Somehow, however, I apparently sped through way more than I could have ever imagined and ended up with way more than expected. This has been a great year for books. I read so many fabulous new books and authors, and I have also tackled some of the more intimidating books that I've had on my radar for a while, so I definitely feel accomplished this year.

While a majority of the books on this list (>90%) are ones that I loved, I did include a few that might not have been my favorite, but were still a huge accomplishment or important to me in some way or another. Not all of these were five-star reads (though most were), but ones that really stuck out. So without further ado, here are my chosen notable books that I read in 2016 (in no particular order)! (Note: these are not in any order of popularity, only in the order in which I read them, from the beginning of the year to the end)

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story
The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story by Hyeonseo Lee
I received this book for Christmas last year and it thus became the first book I read in 2017, as well as one of the best books I read. This was an unforgettable book about a North Korean defector and every aspect of her life and escape from North Korea. It brought such a unique perspective to North Korea that I didn't expect, as well as exposed the atrocities and fear that are present there. (Review)

Through the Woods
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
So deliciously creepy and wonderful and perfect. I only meant to read the first story, but ended up sitting on the floor of my room and read the entire thing. Whoops. (Review)

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I read both of these books in the Six of Crows duology this year and just fell in love with the setting, the story, and every character. I may or may not have even named my new vehicle after Kaz... (CK Review)

Consequence: A Memoir
Consequence by Eric Fair
This was a dark, heavy read, but I felt it was a topic that isn't often talked about or even one people know much about, and it is definitely something that has stuck with me. (Review)

Tiger Lily
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
This was such a lovely Peter Pan inspired story/retelling, and Anderson's prose was beyond stunning. This wasn't an overly lighthearted book, but instead it was heavy with emotion and meaning, and I don't know, I just loved it.

Infinite Jest
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
So... this is one of those books that I didn't love. I really, really didn't love this book. From a literary/style perspective, I can completely understood why it is so well-regarded; Wallace does really inventive, crazy things with his style and storytelling. From an entertainment aspect, however, I just couldn't get into this. Each day that I sat down to read more, I told myself that I would really focus and 'today would be the day that I broke through the barrier' Yeah, that' didn't happen. Still, this was a huge accomplishment for me, and I'm glad that I did read it.

The Crimson Petal and the White
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
This is the book that sparked my obsession with Michel Faber's writing. The prose was gorgeous and the second person writing style was flawlessly executed. This is a hefty book, but I never felt like I was trudging through it because Faber's excellent writing. (Review)

The Book of Strange New Things
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
And this is the book I read after reading The Crimson Petal and the White because I needed more MIchel Faber. This is also the book tht made me realize just how much range Faber has in his writing style and just how talented he is. I don't know how to describe how this book made me feel, but needless to say I loved it.

Stoner by John Williams
This is another one of those academic novels about a man that don't seem to really have a major plot within them, but it still absolutely gripped me. I felt so many random connections to this story and the main character, and I fell in love with this book.

Kushiel's Dart (Ph├Ędre's Trilogy, #1)
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
I was blown away by the immense world-building and overall structure that Carey created in this book. This book is an incredible epic fantasy book that absolutely deserves being considered one of the best fantasy books. (Review)

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Jay Kristoff blew me away with this book: his writing, the intricate story, the character development - it was all incredibly well-done and I enjoyed this assassin story immensely. Because, you know, assassins. (Review)

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
I couldn't not add this book to this list. I was so thrilled with the direction Maas took this series, and her character development is all perfectly timed and executed. I can't wait for the next installment! (Review)

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
I don't think this book is necessarily going to win any major book awards or anything, but I thought the overall concept and world itself was so inventive and just plain fun. There were hidden nods and references to countless books, and everything was just a delight to read. If you like Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, then you should definitely check out The Invisible Library (or vice versa).

The Vegetarian
The Vegetarian  by Han Kang
This was one of those books that was just plain odd, but odd in a way that absolutely worked and made me feel unable to put this book down. Kang is clearly a talented writer, and I hope to read more from her next year! (Review)

Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon
Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey
This book was so informative about the origins of the stigmas and stereotypes associated with the pit bull breed, as well as quite a few other breeds. I highly recommend this book to just about anyway, honestly, because I feel that this is something which needs to be read. (Review)

War and Peace
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
I did it! I have been wanting to tackle this book for ages, and I am happy to report that I accomplished that goal. I started September 1st and made sure to stay on track with ~11 pages a day, planning to wrap up mid-December, and it worked perfectly! I actually enjoyed quite a bit of this massive tome, which I'll admit was a bit surprising. If you've been eyeing this one, I say give it a go! The most difficult parts to get through for me were the extensive war/military sections, but I promise it's possible! Tolstoy has some incredibly interesting commentary on history as well.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Just about every aspect of this book blew me away. The concept itself was so intriguing, and I was impressed by how Shusterman handled such a dark concept with such maturity and thoughtfulness. This book will really make you think. (Review)

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Based on the review I just posted for Heartless, I'm pretty sure it's fairly obvious that this book would be on here. I had so much fun reading this book, and I was immensely pleased with Meyer's Alice in Wonderland-inspired retelling featuring the pre-Queen of Hearts. (Review)

Did you read any of these books? What are some of your best books of 2016? Comment below!

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. Hardcover. 433 pages.

Oh man, this book. I don't even know where to start talking about the crazy, incredible content of this book. If, like me, you have been hearing amazing things about Scythe, then I just want you to know that every word of praise is absolutely deserved. Neal Shusterman is truly a genius and I am always immensely impressed with his books. The ideas that he plays with and the moral quandaries that are debated in this book are insane and wonderful. I can easily say that this is one of the most thought-provoking books that I have read this year.

The most prominent theme and subject that Scythe deals with is, of course, death. But this isn't done in an overly morbid way. Don't get me wrong, the subject itself is inherently morbid and dark, but this book doesn't treat is as such - necessarily. It's more along the lines of questioning what death means, and also what immortality means, endless aging. Would you want to live forever, or is there a point in which you wouldn't want to keep living, even if you could continuously reset your body to younger ages? Would you want to live in a world knowing that you or anyone around you could be randomly chosen and gleaned (aka: killed) at any time? But then, how is that any different from random deaths from accidents and disease that occur around us everyday, anyway? Or would you want to become a scythe in order to ensure you and your family's immunity from death, when you would then have to be the bringers of death to millions. There are honestly just too many questions to ponder, and the way in which Shusterman brings these topics into the story are incredibly fluid and momentous.

One aspect of the world created in Scythe was the  notion that society had reached an area where every urge and necessity is met. If we are guaranteed food, shelter, the basic necessities of life, will we have any motivation to continue doing things and making advancements. Are there any advancements to work towards? Or is it more likely that life will become routine and monotonous with such a lack of motivation? I mean, death itself is even eradicated. People can be revived after be rendered 'deadish' (essentially, one dies, but not permanently because they can just be taken to a 'revival center' and be brought back to life, good as new in a few days), so where is the motivation in this world? I think all of these observations and topics are timely considering the many advancement we have made, and it is interesting to take a look through Shusterman's world that displays both the numerous benefits and consequences that arise.

There is also no "good" and "bad" in this book. Even the 'villainous' characters have legitimate arguments and thought processes. This book makes you question everything. It makes you realize that even institutions and advancements created with the most good-willed, positive intentions are susceptible to horrible corruption.

Moving away from the bigger themes of this book, I want to briefly discuss the two main characters, Citra and Rowan. I really enjoyed getting to know both of these characters and experiencing the many changes and feelings that they both experienced. As much as I would like to go into more detail regarding their character development, I am going  to refrain from doing so, solely because it will give away some important plot elements that I really do not want to spoil. All I can say is that Shusterman really took some time in crafting his characters and determining how they would react to various environments, which made this an even more fascinating read in regards to the psychology of being taught to kill.

Shusterman has an incredibly accessible writing style that is both mature and simple at the same time. It is easy to follow along with his writing, and I can imagine a wide variety of people enjoying his style. The premise of Scythe may be heavy, but Shusterman incorporates humor in a meaningful way that adds so much enjoyment to the story. Most of his characters are full of wit and sass, so if you are drawn to that, then you will definitely like these characters.

I want so much more from this world, but I'm also fearful of what could happen in this world. Where does the corruption end, or will it? It's not really fathomable to imagine that corruption can be permanently ended. It will always sneak its way back in, and I think that that is the beauty of this book. Where do things end, if not even death can bring an end to things?

Overall, I am giving Scythe five stars - and I'll be adding it to my favorites!

You might also like:
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
And I Darken by Kiersten White

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Chibok Girls by Helon Habila

The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria by Helon Habila. Columbia Global Reports, 2016. Paperback. 128 pages. 

**I received a physical ARC of The Chibok Girls courtesy of Columbia Global Reports in exchange for an honest review**

The Chibok Girls is a short book, but it is packed to the brim with important information and heartbreaking realities. Most of you will likely remember when the news broke in April of 2014 that 276 girls from Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. 

The author, Helon Habila, tells the story of this tragic event, while also explaining the political and social issues that both contribued to and occurred as a result. Habila traveled to Chibok, which has essentially been on a lockdown since the kidnappings, where he met with family members, encountered difficult roadblocks, interviewed the few girls t hat managed to escape. 

This is a really important book. 

Habila provides an incredibly in-depth overview of the Boko Haram: how it began, how it has risen in power, and how it has acted out and affected the country. He also provides information on the political atmosphere and struggles that have taken place and are currently occurring in Nigeria, which I found extremely beenficial in understanding the entire event. The most heartbreaking aspect of this small book is, of course, the discussions surrounding the kidnapping of the girls and how their families have dealt with it. He describes how many parents became physically ill, began to lose their minds, and even died as a result of the stress and fear that has been instilled in them. Habila talks about the ways in which the government has denied them assistance - even, at times, refusing to take the kidnapping seriously and help the families.

What's important to realize is that this book is not full of information that isn't possible to find elsewhere, since the girls he interviewed have already made statements and the political and historical information isn't exactly secret. However, this didn't bother me at all, as I found the way in which Habila combined all of the information into one book was very deftly done. It is is rich in detail and honesty, and is filled with the sad realities of the lives of those who lives near such dangerous terrorist groups. 

Overall, I have decided to give The Chibok Girls four stars. I am immensely thankful that Habila took both the time and immense risk to travel to Chibok and write a comprehensive book that will help people better understand this event and the terrorist organization that is responsible. This is a must-read for just about anyone.

You might also like:
Consequence by Eric Fair
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016. Hardcover. 512 pages.

A little over a year ago I began reading Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society and absolutely fell in love with Stewart's witty, approachable, and adventurous writing. I particular enjoyed that although his books were written with a younger audience in mind, they are completely accessible to all ages, and I can't imagine any age group not being able to find something entertaining in them. The reason I say all of this is because The Secret Keepers, his latest release, is every bit as wonderful as his previous books and I fell right back in love with his writing.

I had read maybe ten pages when I realized that this was going to be yet another stand-out novel by the masterful Stewart, and I had such a fantastic time diving into this unique, intriguing world. The story begins when eleven-year-old Reuben comes across a watch that appears to be broken, However, he soon realizes that the watch is actually a bit more peculiar than that, and what it actually does ends up being something that more than a few people are after - both good and bad people, that is. The rest of the story consists of his journey to unravel the mystery of the watch and why it is such a treasured, sought-after item.

This book is set in a somewhat dystopian-esque setting, but if you're wary of dystopian, please don't let that stop you. It's a rather minor aspect, but at the same time it also sets up for the crucial plot points of this book. I don't want to go into too much detail about what all of it means, but please trust me that it is well worth reading to find out.

Let's talk about Reuben, who is extremely clever and about a thousand times smarter than I was at his age - hell, he's probably smarter than me now, too. Reuben is a tough, adventurous kid who is not afraid to take on some of his own responsibilities, and I think that is a wonderful quality for a character in a book (and one I believe he probably inherited from his mother, but more on her later). There are so many books where the main character seems to have difficulties owning up to their mistakes or realizing they have a responsibility to do something and it drives me nuts, so it was refreshing to see such a young character actually embody qualities such as these.

Mrs. Genevieve and Penny are also wonderful additions to this book, and both characters brought their own unique charm. Penny is a bold, awesome little girl that was such a joy to read. She brought in an extra level of wit and entertainment that really enriched the story. Mrs. Genevieve was also quite a quirky characters; she appears rather aloof and not overly friendly when we first meet her, and although she remains somewhat distant, her endearing demeanor and care for the children truly make her a great character.

The villainous Smoke was also another fun villain created by Stewart. I found many similarities between The Smoke and the villain of The Mysterious Benedict Society, but he was still a solid villain with a wide array of strength and weaknesses. I like that Stewart gives his villains his so many strengths, including intelligence, which helps to make the playing field a bit more exciting.

I think one of my favorite aspects of this book, however, was Reuben's relationship with his mother. There was something about it that just seemed so realistic, so tender that I couldn't help but cherish every scene they had together. Reuben and his mother are not exactly well-off, and his mom works multiple jobs tirelessly so that Reuben can maintain a healthy, stable lifestyle. Reuben knows his mom works incredibly hard, but he also realizes that she never complains, which was the trait I found most admirable. Reuben is a great character - as are all of the rest of the characters - but I have to say that his mom is the real hero in this book.

When I picked up this book from the library, I had no idea it was as long as it is - 500+ pages! This book is geared toward a younger audience, but if not reading aloud with children, I would probably give it to kids who are dedicated and prepared to sit down and read such a long book. It's certainly worth it, but I can see some kids becoming discouraged by the sheer volume of this book.

This book absolutely deserves each of the five stars I am giving it! I would highly recommend this to anyone with a love for intrigue, adventure, and wit. If you enjoyed Stewart's other books or Lemony Snickett books, I would definitely give The Secret Keepers a go.

You might also like:
The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey
Over the Underworld by Adam Shaughnessy
Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent TBR Additions

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is ten books that were recently added to our to-be-read list, so these are just ten of the many books I've added over the last month or so. This is also about the time when I get overwhelmed by how many books there are out there in the wild that I have yet to read. *silent panic ensues*

The Queen of the Night
1. The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
This is one of those books that I feel really dumb about having not realized how good it seems until just recently. I've seen this cover everywhere, but always ignored it for some reason. (??) I finally read about it about two days ago and onto my TBR it went! This is about an opera star who is approached by someone who wants her to star in his opera, only when he begins to explain the plot to said opera she is startled to hear that it is based off of her hidden past... are you intrigued? I sure as hell am.

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal, #1)
2. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
I always see and always mean to look into, but subsequently forget! I finally got around to looking into it more the other day and it immediately went on my TBR. Deals with the devil always make for good reads.

Pull Me Under: A Novel
3. Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce
I recently heard this book from Book Riot's All the Books podcast and it sounds so interesting. Rio Silvestri was stabbed by a bully in Japan when she was twelve and eventually moves to the United States to escape this past. She is also the daughter of a violinist who just happens to be a Living National Treasure of Japan. Something shows up on the doorstep of her Colorado home one day and spurs her to return to Japan, where I'm sure all sorts of intense things ensue. I must acquire this one soon.

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times
4. Flights and Chimes in Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
This just sounds incredibly fun and I think it will be a perfect book to add to my nighttime reading list! A ten-year-old boy essentially walks into an alternate and slightly more sinister version of London, and I'm basically just hooked right there.

The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan
5. The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg
From what I can gather, this is the work of an investigative journalist who explores what it means to be a woman in Afghanistan - but is also so much more than that.

The Devourers
6. The Devourers by Indra Das
The fact that this summary starts out with the sentence "for fans of Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, China Mieville, and David Mitchell.." is an immediate 'YES'. But that also gives this book insanely high expectations, so I'm hoping it lives up to them. I've honestly no idea how to describe this, so just follow the click-through link to Goodreads if that author name-dropping entices you!

The Ferryman Institute
7. The Ferryman Institute by Colin Gigl
A ferryman involved with the dead immediately makes me think of Charon from Greek mythology, which automatically sparks my interest - even if it has nothing to do with that. Essentially, our main character gets 'assignments' and helps people cross over after they die, but one day something different happens, and I don't know any more because I've yet to read it!

8. Ragnarok by A. S. Byatt
It's about time I read something by A.S. Byatt. I saw mention of this book the other day on Tumblr and it sounded fascinating. It also sounds as if there is major Norse mythology influence in this book, and I can't wait to check it out!

I Await the Devil's Coming
9. I Await the Devil's Coming by Mary Maclane, introduction by Jessica Crispin
I recently stumbled upon this book, which is essentially the diary of a nineteen-year-old girl living in Butte, Montana in 1902. It seems she's often cited as an early American feminist author and this book was shocking due to its sexual content, so I'm pretty interested to find out more about these claims.

The Tale of Genji
10. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
This is most definitely not anything close to a recent release, but I decided that I would like to expand some of my knowledge of classic literature, particularly in areas that I am not as well-read in, such as Asian literature. I am immensely intrigued by this Japanese work and am excited to eventually explore it!

What are some of your recent TBR additions? Do any of these catch your eye? Share your opinions in the comments!