The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

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I haven’t been this intrigued with a series in a long time. Thank goodness, I let A Discovery of Witches sit on my shelf for the past year. There is no way I could have waited patiently for the conclusion to this trilogy until now. I managed to read all the books in almost a week. All my spare time was devoted to reading. I needed to satisfy my curiosity. This series can very well go on my favourite list.

This trilogy has everything I love about reading- witches, vampires, daemons, romance, magic, time traveling, history, mystery, mythology… Sadly, no werewolves though.

The story surrounds a witch named Diana Bishop and how she discovers a long lost missing book which everyone believes is the book of life. The discovery of the book leads Diana to encounter a vampire, Matthew Clairmont and the whole forbidden love story starts. There are rules in their world where species cannot mix, thus Diana’s and Matthews relationship is doomed. Not going to lie, their whole relationship reminded me of Twilight but I feel like Diana is much stronger character than Bella ever was. This book is better thought out version of Twilight if you want to put it that way but it has so much more. Twilight focused strictly on Bella’s and Edwards relationship while All Souls Trilogy focuses on the hunt for truth of the world and how the beings came to be, what makes them different, appreciation of literature, etc.

I love the fact that Diana is a librarian and she has the access to all these significant books. That’s how she stumbles upon the book of life.  I love how the author uses real historical figures and events. I love history but I am not that familiar with the Middle Ages. I actually got to learn some new facts and it just makes you appreciate the book even more. It did get confusing when in the second book, Diana and Matthew, travelled to the sixteen hundreds and the school of night characters were introduced.

There were some slow moments in the books. I wished that I could have fast forwarded through those parts. I do understand why little boring scenes are essential to books though. It gives the readers a time to debrief on what has happened but haha I don’t care.

I wished that the second book did not focus entirely on the 1600s. It stretched out too long and it was pointless. Harkness could have managed in three hundred less pages and perhaps added more time traveling to more significant events.

I am happy with the conclusion to the trilogy but wonder what will happen next. Is Matthew going to kill himself once Diana passes or is she going to be turned into a vampire so that they could live together?

Spoiler- I am disappointed with the fact that everything is to blame on Benjamin. He is too much of a minor character, insignificant, to bring everything to a conclusion. I hoped that there was something bigger at play.

This trilogy is an exciting read. I do recommend it to others.

Love, Maryana

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Through my high school years for English class, I got to read novels such as the Chrysalids, Fahrenheit 451, and 1984. I very much enjoyed all these novels and their common dystopian theme. But I never had the chance to read Brave New World. Finally, two years later, I found the time to read it. I wish though that I could have read this book in high school. I can just picture analyzing the themes, the characters, and the setting. I can also even picture myself writing a comparative essay on 1984 and Brave New World or writing a comparative essay on the civilized people of the brave new world and the savages. But thank goodness, I don’t have to do that. Maybe its because I read 1984 few years ago, but I also don’t find them to be so very similar except for the dystopian theme and a brainwashed society.

The book starts of describing the development of people in the modern world. Humans are genetically engineered and have clones and different levels of hierarchy. It is hard to understand exactly what is happening because the reader knows nothing else about the world that Huxley created. In 2014, the readers have been more exposed to such terms as genetically engineering  so the readers can somewhat understand what is happening. But eighty years ago, I don’t think people were familiar with such things thus this concept was very profound for them. It is easy to understand why eighty years ago people were so impressed with these new ideas of a utopian world, even now, when people are more familiar with technology, this book doesn’t fail to impress with its ideas of the future.

Everyone is happy. Nobody works hard. Everyone belongs to one another, meaning everyone can have sex with anyone. Concepts such as mother and father are considered dirty words. Soma is what they call a holiday. It is actually a drug that manipulates the people and makes them forget about ‘unpleasant’ thoughts. There are people who still live by the old ways with no technology, living in monogamy, and having babies. These people are savages. There is also no religion. There’s nothing that could make people feel upset.

The readers are introduced to the characters of Bernard and Lenina, whom I presumed would be the main characters of the story. That was proven false when in the middle of the book, the actual main character, John the savage is introduced and Bernard fades into the background. I actually had high hopes for the character of Bernard. He is described as Alpha-Plus, meaning that he is a top of the line persona, but he is different because he is little bit strange from everyone else. First of all , he isn’t as tall as other Altha-Plus man, he enjoys being on his own, he is in love with Lenina and doesn’t like seeing her with other man. Lenina also likes Bernard overlooking his differences and she enjoys only having one partner at a time. Both of these characters are introduced in a way that the readers see that they are different from the others. Now, the downfall. Bernard and Lenina go on a visit to New Mexico, where the savages live, and they find John, who is the son of Beta and a Controller, that were left on the island. Once John is introduced, we see that the character of Bernard is not strong as presumed. Bernard gets permission to allow John and his mother to get back into society. John brings Bernard popularity and fame. The popularity and fame shows that Bernard is not different from anyone else and he starts  enjoying all the parties and promiscuous sex. Furthermore, when the savage tries to start a riot and is caught, instead of supporting John, Bernard blames everything on him and begs for mercy. Huxley made the character rather pathetic. Ugh he had so much potential. As for the savage, I also had high hopes for his character once he was introduced but once again was disappointed with his development. I was expecting John to be a strong character, that once he joined the society, he would try to help others In some way instead of stupidly trying to start a riot randomly. The character is then sent off to live in isolation, where he inflicts self-harm due to his religious beliefs. In the end he ends up committing suicide because, even though this is not stated but is implied, he finally gives in to sin and has sex with Lenina. He considers sleeping with Lenina a sin because he likes monogamy and the ‘old’ type of love while she is everything but. Lenina’s character is also turns out to be nothing but eye candy for other characters. The readers do not even know what happens to her afterwards. I guess she just goes on living.

So maybe I’m just interest in heroic stories. Nothing in this book was very important except for the society Huxley builds. I guess I wanted more from the characters.

I read that when the book came out, it received negatives reviews because nobody thought this kind of society could happen. But look at the world now, we are already half way there. Technology, drugs, modification, people choosing careers over families, etc.

I realized I tend to make many claims and no arguments for them. I apologize for that, I do have arguments but im always too lazy to write them out and assume people know what Im talking about.

I enjoyed reading this book. Did I like it? Eh. I honestly love the world Huxley created.

I couldn’t bring myself to read Brave New World Revised. I skimmed through some pages and frankly, half of the time, I did not know what Huxley was talking about so I just gave up. Even though the chapter titles did seem interesting, when I started reading them, it seemed irrelevant to what I thought it’ll be.

Now, do I ever read anything without assumption? That is a good question. Yes, but all the assumptions come when I start reading the actual book.

I would suggest this book for others to read but I’m not going to lie that it fell short of my expectations.

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

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My reading skills are obviously mortifying this year. I cannot even comprehend how six months have passed and I barely read anything. This makes me very upset. But between working, school, and going out, who has the time?

Anyways, I won’t waste any more time writing about my self-disappointment this year… Okay, one last thing. I am trying to get my groove back into reading. Haha 😛

I just finished reading Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid. What made me pick up this book was the review by J.K. Rowling. Once she approves than its obviously good.;) When I started reading the inside of the cover, right away I thought it was one of those generic books since it started with seventeen year old…I didn’t realize that it was a modern remake of Jane Austen’s novel until few lines in.  Mind you, I only read one Jane Austen novel, Emma, which I did a review on last year. I knew the title of the book sounded familiar, I just didn’t realize right away that it was a Jane Austen’s book. After reading this one, I definitely want to get my hands on the original.

I’ve heard that many people who did read the original Northanger Abbey found that this book was a sad excuse for a revised modern version. I can’t agree or disagree because once again I haven’t read the original. I found that the story was interesting, nothing too crazy. I was seriously expecting some supernatural stuff with the amount of vampires being emphasized. This wasn’t the case, even though it would be pretty cool to make some of the Jane Austen’s characters vampires. I’m sorry, I’ll love vampires forever. I liked them before twilight came out and I still like them now. I think.

Spoiler Alert

I’ll start off with stating the things I didn’t like about the story and don’t know if they were part of the original. I wish my neighbours were as lovely as the Allen’s who would take me on a vacation for a month. Realistically, this never happens. I could definitely relate to Cat and her eagerness for adventure. She is portrayed as the kindest person you would know. I really didn’t think so though. I found that she was rude sometimes and still got away with it. I understand how annoying John Thorpe must have been since he never got a clue that she wasn’t into him but in his defence, I did feel like she was leading him on. She was also rude to Bella too even before the thing with Jamie happened. Also I got really annoyed with the way she reacted when Henry found her snooping in their “restricted” area.  Bottom line, I don’t think Cat is as nice as others believe her to be. Not sure how that is relevant to anything but whatever this is my review.. Oh those modern text messages in abbreviation were annoying too. Does anyone actually use all the slang like that? It is hard to follow how quick the couples get engage but that is the story staying true plotline, I assume. Overall, this book is dramatic, if you enjoy that or not. Oh I should mention some of my favourite parts like when Henry questioned about what does the word “cool” mean and how it can pretty much describe everything and nothing at all. I also enjoyed the ending even though it felt a little bit rushed.

I think McDermid did a wonderful job bringing the novel up to date. It really did exhibit some of the usual YA novel themes and expectations.

Love, Maryana

40 Things I Want To Tell You by Alice Kuipers

40 things i want to tell youI’m going to start by saying that there is no way (ever), that I would have picked up such a book like this.

I find these types of books extremely dull and unrealistic. I will always prefer fantasy over this.

I can imagine preteen and teenage girls picking up the book and reading this at the back;

Amy (a.k.a. Bird) seems to have the perfect life: loving parents, a hot boyfriend, the best friend ever. She even writes an online advice column, full of Top Tips, to help other teens take control of their lives. But after a new guy shows up at school, Bird can’t seem to follow her own wisdom.

Pete is the consummate bad boy. He’s everything Bird is not: wild, unambitious and more than a little dangerous. Although she knows he’s trouble, Bird can’t stay away. And the more drawn she is to Pete, the more cracks are revealed in her relationship with Griffin, her doting boyfriend. Meanwhile, her parents’ marriage is also fracturing, possibly for good.

Bird is way out of her comfort zone. All it takes is one mistake, one momentary loss of control, for her entire future to be blown away . . .

And drooling all over it because it is something they could only hope for. Amy is a very relatable character to these young girls who wish to get into university and get the perfect boyfriend no matter if it’s the boy next door or the badass new kid. This is what gives these girls unrealistic fantasies. At least when you’re reading about vampires, witches, or werewolves you know they’re not true.

So how did I get this book and why did I read it?

Well, my friend was a fan of these types of books and then she grew out of it. During the summer she was getting rid of her books because she no longer reads and that’s where I came in and took her books. HAHA Never say no to free books!

Anyways, this book has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while and it finally caught my attention.

I read a book two weeks ago  and it reminded me how much I love reading so I decided I wanted to try to read more often.

Obviously, I have better things to read than another YA novel especially in a genre I don’t like. But the cover captured my attention and I thought why not, it’ll do.

I started reading and could stop laughing or rolling my eyes how annoyingly predictable it was.

I know, I know how so many people say such great things about this book and how it isn’t predictable, blah, blah, blah. But I did find it predictable at first!

Now I can’t keep on writing without any spoilers so SPOILER ALERT!!

I did not like the Amy’s character at all. Her advice column wasn’t that great, it was the typical advice you see everywhere.  She was that typical girl until this new guy came and la la la. In fact I really don’t think the new guy influenced her a lot. It’s not like they spend time together or got to know one another. They shared a kiss and had sex and that was it. The guy tried getting to know Amy better but she kept pushing him away. He never had the chance because she believed all the rumours about him. Now the fact that she has sex with this guy is very scandalous since she still doesn’t want to break up with her boyfriend who is waiting for their first time together. Also it is evident that Amy thinks very highly of herself and how she is better than most people. Amy is the perfect example of a teenager who thinks they have their life figured out until she gets a shocking surprise. So what happens when you decide to have sex with a guy you barely know at the park one fall night? Well, you get pregnant, surprise! Now we were not told if Amy and the guy used protection at the time of this occasion because that would have given away the big surprise. This is where the book gets interesting. There are not many books written about teen pregnancies and I didn’t think this book would take that turn. I was expecting something in the lines of Amy breaking up with her boyfriend to get with the badass guy but then getting in some kind of trouble and finally realizing she is in fact in love with her now ex-boyfriend, who obviously forgives her and they have their happily ever after. With teen pregnancy this book becomes very realistic. Amy’s whole world turns around. Not only is she pregnant but her parents separate, she starts having difficulties with school, her boyfriend breaks up with her, and everybody starts to hate her. The guy she had sex with doesn’t even know it’s his baby since she refused to tell him, he finds out when her boyfriend confesses that he never had sex with her. At the same time, Amy’s dad kicks her out of the house because she is a “very stupid girl”. Amy has no one and I’m sure many other teenage pregnant girls feel the same. Amy struggles with the decision if she wants to keep the baby or get abortion. If she gets an abortion obviously everything could go back to normal and she would have her future but she decides to keep the baby. I am actually happy she kept the baby but I don’t know why she decided that once she has it, she cannot pursue her dreams.  Amy’s father forgives her and lets her move in again.

This is a great story that exhibits that life does not go the way you plan.

I love how once the baby is born, the book is addressed to the baby and how she wrote 40 rules for him to live by. When authors do this, i find it very creative since it engages the readers more.

The book was not the best but it was surprisingly good.

I give it 3/5

P.S. I always have a tendency to apologize for my writing and my opinion since I feel like I shouldn’t be judging someone’s work when I haven’t done anything myself. I like writing these reviews because it gives me a way to express my feelings and that’s what blogs are for.

Love, Maryana

Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter

huntedThis is the first book and the first review I am doing this year. I haven’t been reading that much lately because of my studies.

For the past three months I’ve been reading A Clash of Kings, I’ll probably finish it in the next month, HOPEFULLY. It’s saddens me that I don’t have the luxury to read as much as I want to now.

Anyways, I’ve been very much stressed recently and to calm myself down, I decided to do what I did in high school (on daily basis :P). I went to Target and picked up a random book. Usually it would have been some YA novel but considering that I am sick of reading about the same thing over and over, I picked up Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter. It was actually hard picking a book at Target now since most of them were paperback romance novels and children books. I thought that Hunted was one of the YA novels when I first saw it because it had a similar cover to other YA novels but when I turned it over it turned out to be a thriller/suspense novel.

Hunted follows the life of a FBI profiler named Evelyn Baine. Evelyn is very dedicated to her work and will do anything to help catch the bad guys. She didn’t have a great childhood and she lacks the ability to socialize well but she has the ability to understand how a serial killer thinks. Evelyn is assigned an interesting case where the murder half buries his victims in the woods. This case becomes life threatening when Evelyn finds out that she is next on the murderers list. She must do everything she can to save herself and other possible targets.

I usually do not read these kinds of books but another reason why I picked it up is because it has simple writing and I could finish it within a day. The book wasn’t that great but it wasn’t bad either. It reminded me of an episode of Hannibal, where the killer didn’t fully bury his victims because he enjoyed looking at them. I am sure this book is similar to a lot of other crime solving books and tv shows. For me though, it was nice to read since as I said, I usually do not read these kinds of books, and this was just what I needed. I enjoyed the pace of the book and some of the scary moments as well as the ending. It was predictable at some parts and the author did not try to make a connection between the readers and other characters which was unfortunate. I wish the book had more of a twist to it, maybe if the killer was in disguise as an FBI agent the whole time and Evelyn did not recognize him. That’s predictable too but I’m not trying to write a novel here. Spoiler alert. I liked the ending where Evelyn became worthy to the killer and he refused to speak to anyone but her since he saw her on the same level as himself. This was a great ending because the killer saw his victims, especially women, as below him.

If you enjoy a lot of FBI types of novels I wouldn’t recommend this book since it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

If you are looking for an easy and enjoyable read and you never tried crime novels then this is the book for you.

I rate this book 3/5

I am sorry for some of the bad grammar and sentence structure. I can’t even tell sometimes since English isn’t my first language.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth Review

ImageMy thoughts on the conclusion of the Divergent series are very conflicting.

When I read the first Divergent book, I was very impressed. It stood out to me more than other books such as Matched and Delirium. It was unique, capturing, and compelling. In total, I read the first Divergent book about four times. I thought that Insurgent was a good sequel, but it was lacking something that the first book had. I was still very excited for Allegiant though.

I got Allegiant on the morning it came out and finished reading it two days afterwards because I still have classes to attend.

I’ll attempt not to spoil anything about Allegiant as best as I can.                                                                                         It begins with the after effects of Insurgent, when the Edith Prior video is released and all the people find out that they’re part of some experiment. I do not understand why such emphasis was put on Edith Prior and how she is connected to Tris, because this topic was barely mentioned in Allegiant. All we know is that she is one of Tris ancestors. I wish that Veronica Roth would have done something more with this. I had high hopes for when Tris and the others venture out of the city to the unknown world. Since Veronica Roth came up with such an interesting idea for the city, I wondered in what unique way she would portray the outside world. I was very disappointed. The outside world is portrayed in a similar fashion to how the city is. I feel like Roth tried to make it similar to how Divergent went so she could have the same success. Not a great technique, the plot was a disaster. Roth took the series in the same kind of direction as many other YA novels. Allegiant reminded me of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner combined.

Nevertheless, what stood out to me about this novel and what makes it different from many other novels is the character development. Tris comes to a full understanding of herself and her relationship with Four. I do not want to discuss this topic further because I’ll give too much away. 😛 Also, the conclusion was shocking. I am not a huge fan of how it ended like everyone else, but in my opinion, its what made the whole book worthwhile reading. Not many YA novels end in this way and I am astonished that Veronica Roth decided to do this.

I think the Divergent series is worth a read if you haven’t read it and Allegiant is an acceptable conclusion to the series.

Plot 2/5

Writing 3/5

Love, Maryana

Update

Hello my dear followers and visitors

I have not disappeared.

I apologize for the lack of reviews and comments for the past month.

It is shameful to say that I haven’t read a book since my last review. University started once again and I haven’t been able to manage my time with leisure reading, studying, working, household chores, family, and friends. CHAOS!

I am jealous of all of you who actually have time for reading!!

Anyways, at this rate I won’t be reading until my final exams are over in December.  

No, never mind, I promise a review of Allegiant when it comes out. 🙂

I like to say thank you to those blogs that still follow me and that one occasional visitor that views my blog.

Love, Maryana

P.S. This blog is a work in process, which is currently on pause . Will resume as soon as possible 🙂