Friday, 27 November 2015

Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication Date: January 5th 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Series: Book #1 of the Passenger duology

Rating:  3 stars

I received this arc unsolicited from Disney Hyperion.

passage, n. i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she's inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family who's existence she's never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods-a powerful family in the colonies-and the servitude he's known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes with an insistent pull of the past that he can't escape and the family that won't let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas' passenger, can find. 

In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them, whether she wants to or not. Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods' grasp. But they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threatens to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home...forever.

I want to start off this review with a lengthy sigh because after two weeks I've f i n a l l y finished this book. The main reason it took me so long to read this novel is because this book is dense. Usually I can bang out a 464 page book in a few days no problem, but this book just took me forever. I believe it to be because the beginning was very slow going, they don't even going on an adventure until about page 200, which made me consider putting this book down a few times.

I am a huge fan of Bracken's Darkest Minds trilogy but sadly I just couldn't really get into this book.

This novel essentially follows Etta Spencer, a unsuspecting violin prodigy, who inherits the ability to time travel from her mother.

My opinion of Etta as a character fluctuated for me. At times I really seemed to like her and others not so much. As the main character we didn't really get to see in depth her character dynamic which was really disappointing. Etta felt very one-dimensional for me.

Nicholas was the total opposite. I adored his character throughout the novel. Also applauding the fact that he is a protagonist who is a person of color. It's really disheartening to see that a majority of poc characters are just cast to side and used as standbys without having any real depth. Nicholas was really interesting to read about and is essentially what kept me reading.

For a story that is about time travel, you'd think this would be a face paced plot, but my initial thoughts couldn't be more wrong. The whole first half on the novel with the recital and then the ship ride took entirely too much of the novel. By 150 pages we still were on the ship and haven't even progressed to time traveling, which was being to gnaw on my patience.

Was this book bad? No, not at all. I still enjoyed Bracken's writing as a whole, and plot is essentially something of my taste. To put it plainly, this book was just boring at times. With the drawn out scenes and recount of American history I just wasn't interested in. Even when we get to part where the time travelling starts up again I just couldn't find myself caring for the item they were searching for. It seemed very anti-climactic to me.

A major enjoyment of this novel would have to be actually traveling to different countries during various eras. I appreciated Bracken's descriptions of the unique setting and Etta and Nicholas' interaction with those around them. I only wish these scenes were longer and didn't feel as if they were rushing from each passage to the next so quickly.

Another reason why this book lost another star for me was because the beginning may have been slow, but the end felt really rushed. They are essentially looking for an object that has been lost for years, only a trail of clues left by the traveler who hid the item, clues in fact that have stumped searches for years past, but for some reason Etta is able to breeze through their meaning abnormally fast. It felt really unrealistic to me, and if possible then why hasn't anyone been able to find it all this time?

The ending of this essential treasure hunt was really anti-climatic. I'm not saying that that scene had to be some grandiose display of a thousand singing angels, but for a powerful long-lost object. it was procured from its spot with way too much ease, which was lacking on the writer's part.

I did for the most part enjoy Nicholas' and Etta's relationship. Of them looking out for each other, and periodically solved the clues together. I do have to say that the romance in this novel did get slightly insta-lovey, but not overall unbearable.

This book as a whole was at times confusing. Especially near the end I was very lost as to what was happening, which is something that rarely happens to me when I read. There were some minor plot holes, and some aspects of traveling weren't generally conveyed/explained as whole, which really brought down my rating.

This brings me back to my initial question: Was this book bad? Not at all. I can see why people are giving this a higher rating than my three stars, but I can also see why some are rating this lower. The story line is quite interesting, I mean time travelling is an awesome ability, like who wouldn't want to read about that. But the overall execution is why this book was just okay for me. I still definitely recommend you check out her Darkest Minds trilogy, because it's one of my favorites. Will I be reading, Wayfarer, the sequel in this duology? Yes. I definitely am still going to check it out, because I'm intrigued to see how see how this story progresses from where it left off, but I will not hold very high expectations for it as I did with this book.

*inserts random repertoire of ocean gifs*

May all your reading adventures be a delight.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You're Thankful For

In accordance to tomorrow being Thanksgiving, this Top 5 Wednesday is all about books you're thankful for. I have to admit that this took a bit of deliberating as I'm thankful for all the books I've read, whether I love it or hate because they all teach me something in end. Here's what made the list:

5. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments, as cheesy as it sounds, is a series dear to my heart. I remember picking up City of Bones my freshmen year of high-school. A usual awkward transition was even made more so by my heightened social anxiety and overall awkwardness. I found solace in the school library and decided to pick this up do to the buzz around the movie. I immediately fell in love with Cassandra Clare's Shadow World. Her humor is like none other, and I felt a strong connection to these characters, even more so in the Infernal Devices. Even though some of the TMI characters aren't my favorite in the world this fandom is one of my favorites.

4.  I Am The Messenger & The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Yes, I know this is going to be more than 5, but I couldn't choose between these books because I am thankful for both of them. I Am The Messenger is a usually underrated book in the shadow of The Book Thief, but I read this one first. I Am The Messenger is the story of an underage cabdriver, Ed Kennedy, who when accidentally stops a bank robbery, begins to receive mysterious playing cards, one by one in the mail. Ed Kennedy is now the messenger, chosen to to help those in his town who are in need or hurting. This book went beyond my expectations, it taught me a lot about human kindness, selfishness, and moral ambiguity. Even years later this story still stays with me. Also The Book Thief, which I proclaim to be a modern classic. This book is told through the unique point of view of Death, who catalogs the life of Liesel Meminger, aka The Book Thief, as she lives with her foster parents in Nazi Germany, and soon harbors a Jew in their basement. This book no doubt made me cry, probably the most I cried during a book. Markus Zusak has such a distinct way of writing that entrances you, even when Death foreshadows events to happen later on in the book, I still found myself shocked when they happened. This is a definitive must read for everyone. I don't care how old or what genre you prefer, this definitely must make it on everyone's shelves.

3. Mistwood by Leah Cypress

Another book that I'm extremely thankful for. Mistwood by Leah Cypress is a very underrated book. This is a standalone fantasy novel that follows Isabel, an immortal Shifter who transform into animal form, wind, or mist. She is bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna, and when all is well she retreats to the Mistwood. It isn't until the Prince comes into the forest in search of her protection, only to find that she remembers nothing about her role. I cannot recall much else from his book due to the fact that I read this over five years ago. This was the first fantasy book I've ever read, which ended up happening because I stumbled upon the cover in the library and really loved it. Mistwood really was the gateway to discovering my love of fantasy books. The whole air of magic has always captivated me since then and is why fantasy still remains my favorite genre til this day. I definitely recommend you give this book a try. There is also a companion book to this called Nightspell, but focuses on another character.

2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

It wouldn't be proper to not mention this book. I was always an avid reader before Twilight, but at that time I was mostly reading middle grade, classics, and the occasional literary book. Twilight opened the door of young-adult to me, a genre I never really knew existed before. I still could remember checking these out from my school library and binge reading them during class. (Many times the teacher would take the book from me until the end of class and one time I got detention.) Now that I'm older I know its not the most well-written book out there, and I was never really fond of the characters to begin with, but Twilight really has made Young-Adult what it is today, and I applaud that. Forever thankful for this book and Stephanie Meyer.

1. D.W. The Picky Eater by Marc Brown

No doubt in my mind that this book would reign as the #1 book that I'm thankful for. This is the book that started it all, the first book I've ever read. I was almost four when my kindergarten teacher took our whole class to the school library. I've never been in  library before so I was immediately bewitched by the amount of shelves and books inside. The librarian pointed me towards a shelf filled with Marc Brown books and I randomly choose this one and it was the greatest moment of my life. I could remember relating to D.W. so easily since I too was a picky eater as a child. When I went back to the library I was starving for more. I began to check out two Marc Brown books at a time and soon read all the Arthur books on the shelf by him at least 3 times each. I was hooked. Marc Brown has great way of telling the mostly simplistic stories with beautiful illustrations. Even after I began watching the Arthur Show on TV I was still fascinated by these books. I honestly don't know where I would be had I not read this book. After this I was always in the library looking for something to read. This is why I always have immense amount of respect for libraries and librarians for helping me find solace in something I've never read before. Many people's first love was Harry Potter, but mine were Marc Brown's Arthur books and I will be forever indebted to him.

I hope you're all having a great Thanksgiving and stay safe over this holiday weekend. Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Book Review: The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey

Title: The Girl At Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
Publication Date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Rating:  2.5 stars

Synopsis: Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, and ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known. Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act. Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants... and how to take it. But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Where do I begin? It's rare for me to give a book a two star rating, but for The Girl At Midnight, this had to be done.

It's sad to say that I went into this book with pretty high expectations only to be let down. With a gorgeous cover, and urban fantasy partially set in New York with two opposing supernatural creatures, one bird-like and the other dragon-like, this sounded right up my alley. Well I was wrong.

There is nothing outright terrible about The Girl At Midnight, it's just that it wasn't entirely original or stood out enough against many other young adult fantasy books.

We start off with seventeen year old, Echo, who fits in the normal criteria for stereotypical young adult human female heroine. She was funny at times, but I could already see that she was a textbook case of special snowflake syndrome. The way Melissa Grey writes Echo makes her seem entitled to Avicen life, and honestly she could be a bit whiny.What bothered me about Echo as a main character was how oblivious she could be to the fact there's a war going on, instead of describing every aspect of Caius' appearance, even though you have a boyfriend and you just met this guy literally a day ago.

I truly liked Caius in the beginning. I thought his position as Dragon Prince and leader of the Drakharin would lead to some interesting plot development, but no, it is barely apart of the plot. His character fell really flat for me. There were so many routes that Grey could have took with his character, such as his falling out with his sister, Tanith. I wanted to know more about her, and if their falling out caused her bloodthirsty attitude. But no, Tanith is painted as a stereotypical villain with no backstory and seems so one-dimensional.

A major part of a low rating for this book was that most of the characters weren't fleshed out enough, which made it hard to connect to any of them. Such as Ivy, Dorian, Jasper, were all interesting characters that I would have loved to know more about. I could see how Grey tried to incorporate them as characters, by giving them their own chapters, but that honestly took a lot away from an already short novel, and gave the story too much perspectives.

The plot wasn't the most original in the world. From the beginning of the novel I couldn't help but draw similarities to Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Echo is pickpocket/thief who is taken in and raised by an other-worldly creature, and can use the shadow dust magic of their world. Similar to Karou being a thief, raised by the other world creature, Chimera, in Laini Taylor's books, and can use magical beads to grant wishes. The inbetween similar portals in Laini Taylor's book. Also the Avicen vs. Drakharin was so glaring similar to the Angels vs. Chimera in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There's a another striking similarity that definitely became apparent when I've had enough of this DoSaB copy fest, but it's a spoiler so I'll spare you, if you're still interested in reading this book. 

Basic round up of Girl At Midnight Character's to their Daughter of Smoke and Bone counterparts:
Echo = Karou, Caius = Akiva, Ala = Brimstone, Tanith = Jael/Liraz, Altair = Thiago

Honestly with fantasy there's bound to similarities between various books, but when it becomes repeatedly overdone to the point where it looks like it's copying another book, that's where I draw the line. (I would highly recommend you read the glory that is the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy prior instead of to this book.)

Now that bit is over, back to main dislikes of the plot. While reading this book it seemed that so much, but also nothing at all was happening in this story. The beginning felt very rushed as everything was crammed at us all at once. There was very little world building which can be detrimental in a fantasy novel. Echo is trying to search for the Firebird to end the war but we don't even know why the Avicen and Drakharin are at war, and this happens to be a major part of the plot.

The scenes where they were actively searching for the Firebird were so short and spread out, that a majority of the time, they were just waiting around wondering what to do next. If I calculated it right I'm pretty sure this book takes place over the course of four days, give or take.

I really don't want to bring down an already sinking ship, but I must address the romance in this novel. In the beginning of the novel Echo has an Avicen boyfriend, Rowan, pretty much run of the mill in the pre-established relationships in YA novels. She describes him in excessive detail and how he makes her stomach flip. But then after she goes on her journey like two days later, she meets Caius and he is suddenly the center of the universe.

" The most beautiful and terrifying creature she had ever seen. "

" He was sickeningly handsome, verging on beautiful. "

" His eyes were the kind of green that would make emeralds weep with envy. "

The amount of descriptive sentences on Caius could last me a life time. I would normally brush this off and move on, but it was the fact that after two days Echo seemed to forgot she had a boyfriend. I have managed to avoid insta-love novels for awhile now, but then I encountered this. This insta-love/love triangle took away from so much of the essential story line. I would have much rather read about the actual war going on than Echo and Caius gazing into each other's eyes for extended periods of times.

Not every aspect of his novel was terrible. I particularly liked the descriptions of the different cities they went to such as Kyoto and Strasbourg. I appreciated Ivy and Echo's friendship (yay for female friendships), and I also liked Dorian and Caius' friendship though in the novel it seemed as they were regarding each other at a distance most of the time which I found quite odd.

I have no idea whether or not I will be reading the next book in this series, but I'm sad to say that I would not personally recommended this book, due to preference. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Book Review: Slade House by David Mitchell

Title: Slade House
Author: David Mitchell
Publication Date: October 27th, 2015
Publisher: Random House


Synopsis: Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you'll find the entrance to Slade House: a surreal place where visitors see what they want to see including some things that should be impossible. Every nine years, the house's residents, and odd brother and sister, extend a unique invitation to someone who's different or lonely, a precious teenager, a divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it's already too late...

Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward its astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story, as only David Mitchell could imagine it.

Arc provided by Random House in exchange for honest review.

Going into this novel I had at best expected an average haunted house story. Since I have yet to read a David Mitchell book I had no idea what was in store.. Let it be known that this book easily took me by surprise.

Spanning across five decades from 1979-2015, David Mitchell tells the compelling story of twins Norah and Jonah who inhabit Slade House and every nine years they invite guests for a visit. Permanently.

This story was the perfect October read. They way David Mitchell tells a story is compelling. His prose and plot arc, settles in your mind and plays tricks on you until you don't even know what is the truth.

The best way to go into this novel is knowing very little, for it leaves much to be imagined. When I realized that this novel was actually told in five separate story lines that intertwine with each other, I was a bit apprehensive. Many times coming across a book with separate story lines, its can come across as choppy and hard to follow. This wasn't the case with Slade House, Mitchell is able to blend and intertwine his story lines which also take place in different decades, beautifully.

The story of Slade House is chilling and haunting and I found myself definitely creeped out while reading this at night. It's fast paced and quite short so you'll find yourself flying through it quickly.

Nearing the end I was pondering how Mitchell would conclude this novel and I have to say that is where my ratings fell. Upon reading other reviews I realized that David Mitchell blends some of his characters and elements from his previous book The Bone Clocks, in this novel, and that it's best to read that prior to this novel if you want to understand the ending more clearly.

The ending was bit confusing and felt rushed to just drive the point home, which is why Slade House ended up as a four star book for me. I am still very much intrigued to read David Mitchell's other books.

If you're still looking for a creepy mind altering novel after October then I definitely recommend this book. It is sure to be one you'll never forget.

Bookish Playlist: Queen of Shadows

If you follow me on Instagram it's easily known that books and music are two of my favorite things. I've always enjoyed listening to music while reading, but it wasn't until 2013 when I started making playlists of songs that reminded me of books. I plan on uploading them periodically on 8 tracks, which is my go-to place for wonderful playlists.

The first playlist I uploaded on 8 tracks is titled: A Queen of Shadows, which you can listen here.

This playlist was inspired by the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas and was mainly influenced by the first three books in the series since I have not yet read Queen of Shadows prior to creating this playlist. This playlist essentially revolves around Aelin, but I wanted to include some songs that reminded me of other characters. I wanted this playlist to be mild in sound, but not too soft, drawing my main influences from Fleet Foxes, Daughter, and Halsey. Some people may find a 32 song playlist too long, but I personally enjoy lengthy playlist for they offer a large variety of different sounds and moods. Concocting new playlists is something I truly enjoy and I will definitely upload more soon.


1. Your Protector // Fleet Foxes
2. Glory & Gore // Lorde
3. Human // Daughter
4. Animal // Sky Ferreria
5. Ragged Wood // Fleet Foxes
6. Youth // Daughter
7. Queen of Peace // Flo + the Machine
8. Castle // Halsey
9. Down to the Second // Zack Berkman
10. Wolf // Phildel
11. Angel of Small Death // Hozier
12. Yellow Flicker Beat // Lorde
13. I See Fire // Ed Sheeran
14. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song // Fleet Foxes
15. Crystals // Of Monsters & Men
16. Montezuma // Fleet Foxes
17. The Disappearance of the Girl // Phildel
18. Firewall // Les Friction
19. Storm Song // Phildel
20. Someone You'd Admire // Fleet Foxes
21. He Doesn't Know Why // Fleet Foxes
22. We Must Be Killers // Mikky Echo
23. Virgin // Manchester Orchestra
24. Broken Crown // Mumford & Sons
25. Draw Your Swords // Angus & Julia Stone
26. Run // Daughter
27. Control // Halsey
28. Arsonists Lullaby // Hozier
29. World on Fire // Les Friction
30. It's Only // ODESZA
31. Candles // Daughter
32. Everybody Wants to Rule the World // Lorde