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.

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

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

Omens by Kelley Armstrong Review

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I’ve never read the Otherworld Series by Kelley Armstrong but I did read The Darkest Powers trilogy and I remember liking it a lot thus I picked up her first book in her new series, Cainsville. Actually, when I was buying this book I thought it was a standalone but unfortunately it is a series. I wasn’t looking to start a new series because I really do not enjoy waiting a full year for the next book to come out. I rather read a new series when all the books are out and I can read it all at once, that way you won’t forget the characters or the plot. Usually, when books are released a year apart, I always have to re-read the whole series and that is very tedious, especially if there are more than three books in the series. Sorry about my little rant.

Nevertheless, moving on from the fact that I started a new series, I very much enjoyed this book.

The book follows a twenty-four year old woman who grew up a life in privilege. She is the only daughter of a very rich family and she is engaged to a handsome CEO. Her life is pretty much perfect until she finds out that she is adopted and her real parents are serial killers, serving a lifetime sentence. Apparently, her adoptive parents did not know of this thus it is a shock to everyone. The woman, Olivia, becomes the attraction of all the media. She starts to seek refuge and finds the little town Cainsville, where she adapts to a new life and tries to investigate the truth about her biological parents.

I am developing a strong interest in mysteries so this book was very fascinating. This book is also categories as paranormal but honestly there isn’t much paranormal in the whole story except a few “omens” and superstitions. From other reviews that I read, everyone thinks this book is very misleading in that case. I did not find it to be that disappointing. I feel like later on in the series there is going to be more paranormal material. I think because Olivia is new to the world and she just starts to understanding all the omens so do the readers. The readers do know that there is something more than the ordinary going on even though Olivia is oblivious to this at some parts.  I enjoyed the way this book was written because sometimes between the chapters that Olivia was narrating, there was a chapter from a minor character and their intake of the situation. For example, I’ll try not to spoil anything, when Olivia moves to the town of Cainsville, the readers are able to get a perspective from an elderly couple from whom we find out that they were expecting her and they do not seem to be  bothered that her parents are serial killers. This illustrates that there is something supernatural going on because how else would the people of Cainsville know that Olivia was coming and they accepted her even though they do not like many outsiders? We just do not know what this supernatural aspect is. My theory, which is pretty obvious, is that they are all witches and Olivia is one too. It even indicates that Olivia’s biological parents were practicing Wicca and that it is the reason behind all the murders, I mean “sacrifices”.

I would recommend this book for a light reading. The only thing that i did not like about it is that we didn’t get a chance to fully see how Olivia’s life was before she found out she was adopted. The books main focus is the mystery so do not expect anything else from it. Not much romance either, even though there is a possible love interest 😛

I give it 4/5. Meaning I liked it at a 4.

The writing 4/5

And the plot, I give 5/5 since is very thought through.

With love, Maryana

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

15745753Ugh, sad to say that I didn’t like this book. The whole story was irritating. I have so many questions that weren’t answered.  I hated the ending especially.

This story is about two teenagers falling in love. Eleanor is the new girl that everyone automatically hates because of the way she dresses. Park is a quiet guy that everyone leaves alone because of his family name. Two of them are misfits in their own way and then they develop feelings for each other.

Spoiler alert

I thought the story had a lot of potential but it just wasn’t explained. I didn’t like the story because I don’t understand how Park went from hating Eleanor from the point where he couldn’t stand looking at her and then falling in love with her because she started reading his comic and listening to his music. The only contact they had was on the bus before school, they didn’t talk in class or at lunch, they didn’t talk on the phone because Eleanor did not have one.

Eleanor comes from an abusive home. Her mother left her with a friend of theirs for a year without a notice. I wish this part was explained more. I want to know the reason behind Eleanor’s departure and why her stepdad snapped at her. I also do not understand why Eleanor’s mother chooses to stay with this guy. Sure, he provides for them but that’s not even enough. Eleanor and her 4 other siblings need to share a room. They don’t even have enough food to eat daily. Anyways, I wish Eleanor’s mother behaviour was explained more. Also, I do not understand why the stepdad dislikes Eleanor so much or why by the end of the book she says that he is going to kill her when he found some of her make-up and comic books.

Now let’s discuss the ending. Eleanor goes to stay with her uncle after she says her stepdad will kill her. Her family disappears. We do not know if the other kids went to live with the uncle as well or if the mom gained some courage and left the jackass.  Park is left heartbroken and a year passes when he gets a postcard from Eleanor, after not hearing from her the whole time, saying three words. So what are these words? Did she tell him she loves him? I do not understand the point of that. Park wrote letters to her every single day at the beginning and she didn’t respond to any of them. So why would she choose to do this to him now after he tried to move on? Ugh I just hated the whole relationship. Park did so many wonderful things for Eleanor and she never seemed thankful for it. He always said he loves her and she never said it back. There was a chapter in the book when Park’s mother did Eleanor’s make up and she started crying afterwards because she said she doesn’t look like herself but much prettier. It wasn’t  tears of joy. So ungrateful, all the time. Park stood up for her on many occasions. Park was the one who took her to her uncle’s home in the middle of the night too. So what did Eleanor do for Park the whole book? I would like to know please.  She was grateful in her head, maybe, but she never expressed it.

Sorry for my nonsense but I am just not a fan of books like this. I wish it would just end with Park getting over Eleanor or her coming back.

Anyways, I liked the book on scale of 5 at a 2.

I enjoyed the way it was written so I give it 5/5

I give the plot 3/5

Love, maryana

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey Review

Hello everyone,16101128

I had my two week hiatus, but not intentionally. I’ve been moving and then I had my exams and now I have two weeks before classes start again. I am going to try to read as many books as I can in this time. I am currently reading the Great Gatsby and I just finished reading the 5th wave.

So what did I think of the 5th wave?

I think it actually lived up to its expectation. It captured my attention right away and I just kept on flipping through the pages trying to figure out what happens.

I wasn’t too keen on reading this book when I bought it. I wasn’t impressed by the cover (and I do judge books by their cover since it’s the first thing that makes you pick up a book) but I picked it up because I heard mixed reviews on this. I heard that it’s similar to the hunger games and I expected it to be very predictable. It wasn’t.  This is one of those YA novels that gives me hope that there is some creativity and originality left in this field. I must admit that I haven’t read many alien invasion stories so maybe that’s why I was impressed.

The book follows a girl named Cassie (for Cassiopeia) which is unusual name and I wonder if it will ever have a great significance other than being a constellation of a vain Greek queen. The first one hundred pages explain what happened to the people and to Cassie. This is a story of aliens invading earth and murdering the human race which they do in five waves. “After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one”. The aliens have been watching the human race since the beginning of history thus they know how people think and how to extinct the human race. The first wave took away all the electricity, the second wave brought a flood that destroyed all the major cities by water where most people live, the third wave brought a flu and only the immune survived, the fourth wave is when the aliens descend and start killing the people themselves but the difficult part is that they are not some green skin monsters, nobody can tell how they look like. Now it’s the 5th wave and no one knows what to expect. Cassie is alone, she feels like she is the only human left on earth, maybe she is, but she hopes she can find her little brother who was taken by the same people that killed their father. The book switches perspective between Cassie and this guy, Ben, who is at the same camp as Cassie’s little brother. So we get an outside perspective and an inside perspective.

I read so many terrible reviews on this book so people must be thinking that I have a terrible taste in books. Maybe I do but I loved this book. I think the plot was very well developed and thought through. It wasn’t predictable even though some things were made obvious to the readers when the characters had no idea. The book started off at a slow pace and then started increasing pace as the readers started understanding what is going on.  Some reviews that I read said that it went by too fast but I loved the fast paced action packed ending.

I didn’t think that this book was very similar to The Hunger Games. Sure, it is apocalyptic , there is a girl fighting for survival and being watched all the time but that’s a similar theme to hundreds of other books. You hear of every new dystopia book being compared to the hunger games now, why? I love the hunger games but it’s not like it’s the best or original dystopia novel, and it’s not like everyone compares it to Battle Royale (most people don’t even know what that is).

I thought that the book was well written, but I have to admit when the story captures my attention, I barely pay attention to the writing. Since nothing caught my attention therefore it must be okay. Excuse my poor judgment skills 😛

Overall, this was a very nice read. I give it 5/5

Writing 4/5

Plot 5/5

With love, Maryana