Sunday, March 5, 2017

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publication Date: August 31, 2010

I just finished Clockwork Angel and I really enjoyed it. I've seen the 'Shadowhunter' series all over booktube and GRs for a long time now and have been meaning to jump on the bandwagon to see if all the hype is justified. So far it lives up to its reputation as far as I'm concerned. I believe there's even a TV show adaptation of the Mortal Instruments series. If I understand correctly, The Infernal Devices, The Mortal Instruments, The Dark Artifices, several Shadowhunter Academy novellas as well as The Bane Chronicles are all connected and meant to be read in a very specific order which I've been told begins with Clockwork Angel. So altogether that adds up to...well, A LOT of books and it's a pretty big commitment to tackle but when I find a good series that I really enjoy I never want it to end so the more books, the better, in my opinion.

I find that for me, personally, it's a lot easier to keep up and follow a long fantasy series such as this,
 with many different characters, if I invest in the audio format. My preference for that format is Audible of which I am a member and therefore receive monthly credits that allows me to purchase any book they have in stock (which is basically everything) and if I wish to return it in exchange for a different title before I've received the next months credit I can do so, hassle free with no questions asked, which is what sets the Audible subscription service above the competition, in my opinion. I was very impressed with the narration of Clockwork Angel, it had multiple narrators who did a phenomenal job of bringing the characters to life and enhancing my overall reading experience. I also like the freedom that audiobooks allow me, giving me the opportunity to 'read' during times when I wouldn't be able to in the literal sense, for example- when I'm walking my dogs, working out, driving, doing dishes, or laying in bed at night and don't want to disturb my boyfriend with the light, so I'm able to get a lot more reading hours in with the audio option. I know it's not for everyone but I'm a huge fan and highly recommend other readers at least give the format a try. I believe Audible has a 30 day free trial but if you don't want to go with a subscription service another option would be to go to your local library. I get a ton of audiobooks from my library in a couple different formats including CDs - which I listen to in my car whenever I'm driving, or they also have digital files that can be signed out as well. I find it's a great way to enjoy more of the many books I want to read, more efficiently.

Anyway, I know I've veered off track with the audiobook plug but I just want everyone to be aware of the opportunities for that option but now ask to Clockwork Angel. This story takes place in the late 1800's when Tessa Gray travels from America back to her homeland of London to be reunited with her brother, Nick, after the unexpected death of their aunt in America left Tessa without any family or reason to stay. Upon her arrival she is kidnapped by two warlocks, called the Strange sisters, who hold her captive and force her to use an ability she didn't know she had, under threats that if she doesn't cooperate and do as they say they will kill her brother who they also hold captive in another location. The new ability is that Tessa can touch an article belonging to another person and fully transform into that person. Tessa soon learns that she is being held by order of the sisters boss who is called The Magister who intends to come for Tessa and marry her so that he can posses and control her unique ability. Tessa is then rescued by Will who is from an organization of Shadowhunters, angelic beings who vow to protect the world from demons and other evil forces. Will takes Tessa back to the Shadowhunters headquarters and they set out to uncover who The Magister is, the mysteries behind Tessa's past - who or what she is, why she has this ability and what The Magister plans to do with her, and where her brother is being held and how to rescue him.

This book has a little bit of everything in it, from angels and demons to warlocks and vampires, kidnappings and murders, betrayals and plot twists as well as a couple of love connections and plenty of action and suspense that I found to be very engaging to the very end. I thought the character development was fantastic and I feel very invested in their lives and can't wait to learn more about them as the series progresses. I've already begun reading Clockwork Prince and plan to binge through this series as well as all the other related works by Cassandra Clare. So far I've found the storyline to be very compelling and addictive, the book was very well written, and overall it was an entertaining book that I enjoyed very much and I love the fact that there are so many books that relate to this series. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading series, YA fantasy, historical fiction, or just a well written, entertaining book. Again, I enjoyed the audiobook and highly recommend that format but if that's not your thing I have no doubt that the regular book is equally amazing.



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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Her EyesBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publication Date: January 31, 2017

OMG! The ending of this book just blew me away! Wow! What a book. I need a minute...

I went into Behind Her Eyes without knowing much about it at all which, I think, is always the best approach especially with this genre of suspense. I've been seeing this book all over GRs and BookTube lately and I was immediately drawn to the fact that it had an unreliable narrator which has always appealed to me. I was not disappointed. This book was captivating from the very beginning and I remained completely enthralled until the very last page. The writing was excellent and the storyline was absolutely brilliant. It's one of those stories where you know something is off, something is not quite right but you can't quite put your finger on it. Then when you think you've figured it out - BAM! Plot twist! After you swallow that unexpected change of events and begin digesting what you assume is the conclusion-plot twist again!
#Didntseethatcoming

I don't want to say much about the actual storyline because the less you know the better, in my opinion. But there are two narrators, Louise and Adele. In the beginning of the book we're introduced to Louise who meets a man named David at a bar and they hit it off, talk for hours, laugh together and share a passionate kiss until David relents admitting he is in fact married. When Louise shows up at work on Monday she is then horrified to learn that David is actually her knew boss...awkward! To make things even more complicated, through a series of events Louise ends up befriending Adele, David's beautiful and lonely wife who asks Louise not to tell David about their friendship. Louise is reluctant to give up either relationship as they are both very important and meaningful to her in very different ways but of equal measure. The plot thickens as bits of the past are revealed exposing a very unhappy marriage that hides dark and dangerous secrets and it doesn't take long before Louise realizes she is in way over her head and unsure of who she can trust.

I really want to give this book a 5 star rating because I really loved it but I'm inclined to go with 4.5, or even 4.75 stars, only because I did have a slight issue with how far fetched the storyline became. Although, I do understand where the author was going with it and her execution was brilliant and in doing so she provides an unexpected explanation of events that I never would have seen coming or been able to predict. Keeping that in mind I still would have liked for it to have been a little bit more realistic. But that is the only complaint I have of this book and it's a very minor one and certainly not a game changer by any means.

Behind Her Eyes has a very conclusive and satisfying ending but it also set the stage for the possibility of a sequel (fingers crossed) and I would love to see this saga continue so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for that in the future. This is my first experience reading anything by Sarah Pinborough but definitely will NOT be my last, and this was a far cry from her debut in fact she has a fairly extensive collection of published work that I'm very much looking forward to diving into after how much I thoroughly enjoyed Behind Her Eyes. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fast paced, suspenseful novel with an unreliable narrator and plenty of plot twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.

See all of my reviews at http://www.readwithme207.blogspot.com

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Alive (The Generations Trilogy #1) by Scott Sigler

Alive (The Generations Trilogy, #1)Alive by Scott Sigler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
⭐️⭐️⭐️
Publication Date: June 14, 2015

Alive is one of those books that is difficult to review because it's better to go into this without knowing anything and most of this books appeal is the fact that the reader doesn't know what is going on, where the characters are or how they got there, and throughout the book you receive little pieces to the puzzle but it's not until the very end that the puzzle comes together and the big picture is revealed. The author, Scott Sigler, even adds a little note to the reader at the very end respectfully asking that, in this day and age of GRs, Amazon reviews, twitter, BookTube, blogging and numerous other platforms where reviews are posted, that readers be courteous and considerate enough to not include spoilers that will take away from the reading experience of others who have not yet had the chance to read this book and want to. I don't think that is an unreasonable request at all and it should really go without saying as a common courtesy in the book lovers community, as there is nothing more frustrating than having a book ruined because someone else spoils it, but unfortunately it happens. I always try to be as discreet as possible when writing my reviews but I thought it was a nice note for Sigler to include and I hope that others will heed his suggestion.

I know this is a series that has been out for a while, in fact the third book just came out and I received the arc for that one which is what prompted me to read book one in the trilogy. Overall, I had a difficult time staying focused on reading this book and getting into it but I think I've just been in a bit of a reading slump lately and I don't believe the book is at fault for my lack of interest and enthusiasm. It was very well written and intriguing but I found that the last quarter of the book was far superior to the first three, although, I guess that is because everything fell into place and was explained during the last section of the book so if you are someone who enjoys suspenseful reads that keep you guessing, and leave you hanging, until the end then this is definitely the book for you.

To give a brief description without giving anything away...the book begins when a girl wakes up to find she is locked in the dark in what appears to be a casket and finds a snake trying to bite at her neck. She breaks out into a room full of caskets, several contain other teenagers trying to break out as well so she helps them do so. None of the children know who they are, where they came from or how they ended up locked in coffins. However, they all share one thing in common and that is that they all believe it is their 12th birthday even though they appear to be several years older. They must figure out how to survive and how to escape their predicament without destroying each other in the process and the story definitely has somewhat of a "Lord of the Flies" vibe to it in parts. But they soon realize that they have bigger obstacles than each other that they will have to face and overcome if they want to survive to see the future and uncover the truth behind their past.

This was a very intriguing read and I think if I'd been in less of a rut I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It was very well paced and Sigler did a great job keeping his readers needing to know what happens next and on the edge of their seats. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in The Generations trilogy, Alight, as this book ended in a way that makes me wish I had the second book in hand right now. These books aren't super long and relatively quick reads and are excellent contenders to marathon if that's something you are into. I give this book a 3.75 rating but again, I think it would have been higher if I wasn't in such a slump right now so I would definitely encourage others who enjoy this type of book, dark and mysterious, to give it a try for themselves.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

Go the Fuck to SleepGo the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publication Date: June 14, 2011

This is just a quick little review of a fun book that I've been hearing about off and on for quite a while on Goodreads. It's been out for a few years but I just got the chance to check it out and wanted to share with all of you.

This book was hilarious. I think this is probably one of the most honest bedtime stories ever written and I'm sure most every parent can relate to the narrator, at least at one time or another. I saw this reviewed on someone else's GRs post and they were kind enough to include the link to the YouTube version of Samuel L. Jackson reading this delightful little gem so I'm going to do the same. In case the title isn't a clear enough giveaway this definitely isn't intended to be read to actual children unless you want them going to daycare sounding like trashy little pirates...although, I suppose itty bitty babies who can't yet talk wouldn't know the difference. This would make a great baby shower gag gift for any first time parent, or seasoned vet, with a good sense of humor.

Here's a link to Samuel L. Jackson reading this on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Udj-o2m...

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Gemina (Illuminae Files, Book 2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publication Date: October 18, 2016

I've been meaning to write a full review for this book for a few days and want to get it done now while it's still semi fresh in my mind...

I liked this book. I liked it quite a lot. I didn't love it, though, and I didn't enjoy Gemina quite as much as Illuminae but it was still a very interesting and creative story that I definitely don't regret reading and highly recommend.

This is what I would classify a sci-fi/contemporary with a lot of action and definitely in the YA genre as the swear words were all bleeped out in a way that I found both unrealistic and annoying but that's a very minor issue to have in the grand scheme of things. It follows two new characters who were not in Illuminae, Hanna and Nik, who are on the space station Heimdall, however, Ezra and Kady are mentioned about half way through and do play a fairly significant role in this story. There are several other cameos from the Illuminae cast throughout Gemina (including AIDEN!) but primarily this book has a whole new set of characters. For the most part I found that Hanna and Nik were basically carbon copies of Kady and Ezra with new names and different backstories, although Hanna wasn't as tech savvy as Kady so that's where Nik's techie cousin, Ella, comes into play. There are a lot of similarities in the plot during the first half of Gemina and that turned me off a bit. I was really worried I was simply reading another version of Illuminae and only the names and a few minor details had changed... BUT the second half of the books was absolutely authentic, unexpected and completely redeeming. I don't want to spend much time summarizing the plot in this review because I think it's better to go into this one blind but it's safe to assume that if you've read and enjoyed Illuminae then you'll enjoy this as well and you'll already have a solid grasp on what to expect.

This book was a bit difficult to follow and keep up with for me because there was so much going on, a ton of new characters to keep up with, multiple subplots, an illegal drug manufacturing operation, aggressive alien creatures, attacking drone ships, new scientific theories/discoveries, BeiTech assassins, betrayals and budding romances.... and all together just a lot of moving parts. For the first three quarters of the book there was one major conflict and when that was resolved the last quarter of the book involved an entirely new conflict that had to be delt with. I found the way the storyline was set up and the transition between conflicts a bit choppy but that might just be me being over critical. You know how sometimes you read a book and you really like it but then when you're writing your review it's full of negativity? I'm really not trying to make this like that.

I really did enjoy this book. I love the way it's created with mixed media format, ironically, because initially I was reluctant to read these books, despite rave reviews, because of the unique format, but the execution is practically flawless and the creative minds that created these books (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff) are so impressive and talented. As with Illuminae I listened to Gemina on Audible and I highly recommend that format to anyone else with an interest in these books. It really takes these books to a higher level, the narration is excellent and the sound effects and extras that reading alone doesn't include really brought this story to life, in my opinion. I also loved the way the authors were able to deceive the reader on more than one occasion and there were a couple plot twists that I didn't suspect and that always impresses me and makes a book more enjoyable.

Let's take a minute to talk about Nik Malikov! He was definitely my favorite and no surprise because I've always been drawn to the bad boys, like a moth to a flame, and Nik was the epitome of a bad boy! He was a tatted up, drug dealing, certified hustler with a very checkered past, a convicted felon, fresh outta prison, smoking cigarettes, born into a crime family on the wong side of the tracks, original gangsta! Oh be still my heart! My teenage self would have fallen hard for Mr. Malikov (or his real life equivalent) but luckily, with the wisdom of age and experience my 33 year old self has learned that it's a lot more fun to read and fantasize about the Nik's of the world (or of outer space as the case may be) than it is to actually exist with them irl. But Nik was a bad ass with a soft side, enhancing his appeal and my appreciation for his character. Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading about him.

Overall, I give this between a 3.75 and 4 stars out of 5 which is a very good rating, as far as I'm concerned. I definitely recommend this duo but if there's one thing I cannot stress enough to anyone considering these books, especially anyone who is deterred by the mixed media format, it would be to try the audio version! As far as I know Illuminae and Gemina are a duology but the ending, although there was definitely a solid, satisfying conclusion, definitely paved the way for a trilogy and I'd be really shocked if there wasn't a third installment in the Illuminae series (fingers crossed). I'm curious to know if anyone has knowledge of that possibility?

Check out all of my reviews at http://www.readwithme207.blogspot.com

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison (memoir)

The KissThe Kiss by Kathryn Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publication Date: June 1, 1998


I have always been drawn to memoirs in which the subject matter is taboo, shockingly bazaar and unacceptable to even the most liberal minded of today's society. Anything that can stimulate my morbid curiosities, in a non-fiction format, fascinates me. So when I heard of The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison, after reading the review of another GRs member, the appeal was instant and I immediately went to my library, signed it out, and devoured it in (close to) one sitting. It had that additional element of tragedy, centered around incest, but also weaved into this story were topics of emotional abuse, codependency, depression, eating disorders and family relationships- both dysfunctional and loving, all packaged into 200 pages of beautifully written, poetic prose. I was not disappointed.

This is a true story in which the author, Kathryn Harrison, reunites with her father when she is twenty years old and their relationship crosses a line into a physical affair that evolves into an obsession, all consuming and even, at times, life threatening. As much as this story is about the forbidden relationship between father and daughter, it's just as much about the relationship between Kathryn Harrison and her mother and how the latter, quite possibly, set the stage for the former, if one were to really analyze cause and effect.

Growing up, Harrison lived primarily with her grandparents, the upper-middle-class parents of her mother, although, her mother played a very significant, albeit unreliable, role in her life and upbringing. Her father was banished when Harrison was just a baby, deemed unworthy as a provider on the meager salary of a preacher, seldom spoken of and cut out of all family photographs. To a young girl, craving attention, parental love and approval, he became almost like a mythical creature - sought after yet unreachable, enhancing the appeal and romanticizing the existence of without the disappointments and faults of reality.

When Harrison is 20, an adult and finally able to initiate, or at the least consent to, a relationship with the stranger who is her father she is, at first, infactuated by his undivided attention and interest in her after years of longing for nothing else. If only that were the extent of it. But the relationship quickly escalates from platonic to out of control and her father will no relent until he posses, and controls, all of her and allows no room for her to love, or be loved by, anyone else.

I was both surprised and impressed by how honest this story was and I have a lot of admiration for Kathryn Harrison to lay out her most intimate and shameful moments for everyone to see. This is a very personal account of her story and her vulnerability and bravery is endearing and impressive. The powerful strength of the subject matter of this book is equally matched by the talented writing that truly did the story the justice it deserves. I thought the ending was perfectly executed, extremely satisfying, and in perfect pace with the rest of the book.

This isn't a book for the faint of heart and for readers who have a personal history with sexual abuse, incest or otherwise, it might be upsetting and disturbing, or it could be inspirational and empowering depending on the individual and their comfort level with subjects addressed. It could possibly be a trigger for those who struggle with eating disorders as they are briefly mentioned, multiple times, during this memoir. For anyone else I absolutely recommend it. I'm giving it between 4-4.5 out of 5 stars and the only reason this isn't a full 5 star rating is because I did find some parts to be a bit vague and I would have appreciated a little more detail but given the personal, sensitive nature of this book I do respect that the author shares or omits whatever she chooses and aside from that I have no complaints and I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend this book.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

CommonwealthCommonwealth by Ann Patchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publication Date: September 13, 2016

Hands down I give this lovely gem of a read 5 stars without hesitation! This book was so satisfying from cover to cover. Literary fiction used to be my jam (if you will) and recently I've veered off into YA/fantasy but after reading Commonwealth I really want to steer my preferences back toward my old trusted default. Although, bad ass teenage assassins or dystopian society's in which everyone has magical powers or fairytales retold for grown ups are very entertaining and enjoyable, there's not a lot of real substance or relatable material in that type of genre, I don't see reflections of myself or those around me, in the everyday situations and struggles of the human condition, as I saw in this book. The character development in this book was 5 stars on its own! To be able to follow a character from a young child, through college, careers, marriage & children of their own, all the way up to their 60's and everything in between, really makes you feel like you know them personally, especially when portrayed in Patchett's beautiful writing style.

In the description it reads that this book follows five generations of families, but for the most part the focus is primarily on two. It begins with two married couples, who divorce and remarry, and their two sets of young children, blending their families and sharing custody between California and Virginia. The story follows the parents all the way up to old age and their children to middle age and illustrates the changes that occur, for both the individual and the family dynamic, as time goes by. This is a book about relationships in good times and bad, how families come together and endure dispite loss and grief and guilt, or how they fall apart because of it. It's about cause and effect and how one small decision can alter not only the life of one person but of everyone else that one person is connected to, their children and relatives. I often caught myself reflecting on my own life, choices and family, and how entirely different it could have been and could be as the result of one "small" decision.

I loved this book. I thought it was extremely personal and insightful and I'm very curious to know if it's at all based on the life of the author, Ann Patchett, and her own family and, honestly, I'd be surprised if it wasn't because the story is so honest and so convincing. It's interesting, captivating and beautifully written in a way that is so simplistically profound because it's simply telling the story of a family's life as they grow up and grow old but in a way that I was able to connect with personally as if I were reading about my own sister or mother or father and she did it in a way that wasn't heavy or depressing while still managing layers of depth.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well written novels by talented storytellers. I borrowed this from my local library where all that was available was the audio version on CD which I enjoyed whenever I was driving, or riding, in my vehicle no my very critical, non-reading, boyfriend also enjoyed it very much which speaks volumes in itself! The narrator did a great job bringing the characters to life in a soothing, relaxed tone, so I can definitely recommend that format to anyone who enjoys audio books (or whose library is currently out of the print version).

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