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Moll Flanders
Daniel Defoe, Paul A. Scanlon

Princess Megan (Magic Attic Club)

Princess Megan - Trisha Magraw, Janice Leotti I am so glad I found this book. I read it so many times as a young child but I could not find my copy when I recently went looking for it. I loved this book so much.

Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy)

Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo Read my full review here.

I actually finished reading this book awhile ago, but I procrastinated in posting my review. Part of the reason is that I was super busy, the other reason is that this book stumped me. I am so torn.

I will start with what I do like. Bardugo knows how to weave an intricate and unique story. The world in which she created is so fascinating that I was drawn in to the history and the culture but also the supernatural aspects.

Alina relishing in her power was also intriguing because a lot of the time, supernatural characters in books hate their powers or never want to use them.

The fact that Bardugo literally tells us the Darkling is evil and then proceeds to show us that he isn’t then shows us that wait, he actually is evil is really well-written. She tricks us, much like the Darkling tricks Alina, into believing that maybe he’s misunderstood.

The premise of the underdog (if you will) accidentally discovering she/he has powers is not a new premise but it felt fresh here. Also, a friend having unrequited love for their good friend is not a new trope. However, what doesn’t quite sit well with me is why Alina wasn’t mad at Mal for being so rude to her once they were reunited. She seems like a person who doesn’t take crap - especially not from Mal - yet she didn’t tell him off and just accepted his (rather weak) apology. Perhaps she was just happy to be with him, but something about it felt odd for Alina.

For the biggest portion of the book in which Alina is at the palace, the pacing is quite slow. However, the last quarter of the book feels very rushed. I understand not telling us every detail, but since that portion is just as important as the rest of the novel, I don’t think it should have been so quick and minimal.

The final thing which stumped me is Alina’s preoccupation with appearance. I can’t decide if this is merely to show a flaw in the character or if Bardugo’s writing failed a little on some level. Bardugo attempts a few times to present Alina as though she doesn’t overly concern herself with her looks which isn’t cohesive with the majourity of the book. Mostly, Alina seems to be acutely aware of beauty and craves it for herself. There isn’t anything wrong with Alina having this ideal, but the conflicting way Bardugo writes Alina made me just as confused as Alina seemed. So. I’m stumped.

Overall, this book was well-written and engaged me. I read it in a short period of time because I was drawn into the world Bardugo created. However, some issues and inconsistencies left me a bit confused.

Me Before You: A Novel

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes Read my full review here.

Disclaimer: I am in no way commenting on my opinion of the controversial topic this book tackles. I am merely commenting on Moyes’ story.

So, I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to pick this book up. I knew I’d be sad and moved and maybe even cry. I was right.

I must first of all commend Moyes on tackling such a controversial topic and handling it with care. She doesn’t imply one way or the other her own opinion on assisted suicide so readers should have nothing to complain about on that front. Moyes clearly aims to - and does - convey that maybe you don’t have to be okay with what Will wants and does, but it is very important that you understand why Louisa and his family need to support him and be there with him in the end. I always hope for cliche, often unrealistic endings in which everyone is happy. But you know what? I think in some way these characters did get a happy ending. Will takes control of his life in the only remaining way he feels he can, and Louisa finally starts truly living.

The duality of the title is really affective. It doesn’t just apply to Will and those around him coming to put his wants first. It also applies to Louisa learning to take control of her life and put herself before everyone else for once. In doing so, she frees herself. She goes to be with Will and then she travels to satisfy her craving for adventure and exploration.

If you’re weary of tackling a book which undoubtedly will emotionally punch you in the face, the epilogue will sooth your sadness.

As for characters and character dynamics, clearly my favourites are Louisa and Will. I mean, come on. She’s feisty and weird and extremely, unconditionally loving. Will is perhaps one of the only people in her life who loves her even more because of these traits. And, of course, he likes that she treats him like she would any other sarcastic person: with snark and sarcasm in return. Will himself is feisty and incredibly loving. Something that really stood out to me is that while Louisa is intent on showing Will how to love life, he ends up doing that for her. Also, I love their love. Yes, I realize how cheesy that sounds. Moving on.

Something unique about Moyes’ writing style for this book is that while the story is mainly told in Louisa’s first person POV, we also get a few chapters from other characters’ perspectives. I think this works really well here (though Katrina is undoubtedly irksome half of the time).

Overall, I’m really glad I read this novel. It left me feeling emotional which any good book will do. Moyes, thank you for being brave enough to write this book and share it with us.

Just One Day

Just One Day  - Gayle Forman Read my full review here.

The thing about this book is that it deals with so many relatable topics that it’s so easy to like.

I’ve read that some people think Allyson is an idiot for “obsessing” over Willem, but I think that aside from them each finding someone who understand their true selves and having a feeling that something bad happened to him - which it did - she’s searching for the Allyson that she is when she’s with him because it’s the truest version of herself. Except instead of calling herself Lulu she realizes that, “Hey, this isn’t some persona based upon a famous classic actress, this is the me I would be if I lived for myself instead of others”. To me, that’s the most profound aspect of this book and that’s what really made me love it.

As for the setting, I love that we’re taken to so many places. Forman knows how to describe these places so well that I felt I was almost in each location. And can I just say I love that we follow Allyson to college? For this reason, I could easier relate to Allyson’s feelings and struggles in school. A lot of people call this book YA, but I definitely think it’s more New Adult (which I love). It’s an NA book with a good plot and accessible characters! Finally!

I would be crazy to not point out that I love Forman’s incorporation of Shakespeare. Not only does she use his words and ideas, but she has us follow his plays (as they are acted and/or read by characters).

The only problems I really had are with some aspects of the writing style. Forman tends to repeat herself a lot within the same paragraph which can become a little distracting.

Overall, this book was everything I expected it to be and then some. It really spoke to me on a personal level and I was easily drawn into it.

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables  - L.M. Montgomery Read my full review here.

I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about it. Now, hear me out. I think Montgomery creates lovely, complex characters. Reading the character dynamics and arcs was fascinating. When Marilla finally verbally tells Anne that she loves her, I was moved. As well, it’s clear how Anne matures over the course of the book - which spans years - and it was a believable change. She’s still that same imaginative, outspoken girl, but she knows how to carry herself better, etc.

This’ll seem so obvious, but I really enjoyed the scenes with Anne and Gilbert. Aside from his stunt when they met, he really seems super sweet. Ahem, he tried to give her a candy heart as another apology. How adorable is that? He genuinely rooted for her and even went out of his way to be extremely kind to her, even though she hadn’t said she’d forgiven him yet. for example, rooting for her during her reading, and giving up the local school so she could easily stay at Green Gables. Also, the fact that when she finally tells him she’s forgiven him, he walks her home and they spend half an hour at the gate talking is really lovely. I’ve read that their love story is one of the most well-written ones, and I agree.

Of course, the relationship between Anne and Matthew was also beautiful. He cares for her so much, and he really isn't afraid to show that, despite being an otherwise very shy person.

Overall, this book was a great joy to read. Montgomery knows how to paint strong pictures with her talent of description and she easily made me care for the characters. I think I’ll buy the sequels.

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, Book 3)

The Amber Spyglass  - Philip Pullman View my full review here. If I could, I'd give it a 3.5.

The characters which flourish the most in this book are Lyra and Will. Each mature so much thanks to what they experience and it shows in their choices near the end of the novel in their decision to be selfless. Of course, the development of their relationship is also really lovely to read. It’s gradual so it seems realistic. Also, their love seems so pure and strong which I really think adds to their arc. They learn a new type of love with each other which I think is something beautiful to depict.

I do think there are some inconsistencies. For example, Mrs. Coulter and Asriel don’t have a gradual shift into loving Lyra as they should have all along. Because of this, it makes their love somewhat unconvincing. What motivated the change? We don’t get to see that which for me is a bit of an issue.

Overall, The Amber Spyglass is another good book by Pullman. I think it could have been better, but the pros far outweigh the cons. It was a joy to go along with these characters on their journey and see them mature, grow, and love.

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2)

The Subtle Knife  - Philip Pullman Read my full review here.

In this installation of the series, Pullman takes us jumping from world to world, and this introduces new and exciting things. For example, we meet Dr. Mary Malone, a character who is dedicated to learning about Shadows - otherwise known as Dust. Also, Will is introduced. The book begins by following him and we get to see how traumatic his life has been. He has been caring for a mother that seems mentally unstable. He seems like a tormented person yet he’s cold when he meets Lyra. To him, she seems immature. Yet to the two children bond based on what they go through together. They become each other’s support, in a way.

The narration of this novel follows a different character in each chapter. This gives readers a better sense of past and new characters. My favourite chapters to read are those that follow Lee Scoresby and, of course, Lyra and Pan. Those characters are extremely complex and well-written. Scoresby and Lyra have a special bond and that is more apparent in this installation. In this sense, I feel that Scoresby is a central character to Lyra. Lyra is, of course, still amazing. She may come across as immature at times but she can be extremely mature.

Of course, there is a fair share of drama and tragedy within the novel. For instance, Lee Scoresby is killed. Now, this made me angry because Pullman just set him up as an important character, and then killed him off. I can’t see how this particular event will benefit the overall plot of the book series, so for now it doesn't sit right with me.

Overall, The Subtle Knife>/i> was well-written. This novel was so easy to slip into. I kept wanting to read more chapters which is something a book should always make me feel.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)

The Golden Compass  - Philip Pullman This book is engaging, exciting, and complex. The world Pullman created is so vivid and the characters are intriguing.

Read my full review here.

Pullman’s world is so unique. I love the idea of each person having a daemon, an animal who is a part of our soul. Right away, it’s easy to see that Lyra, the protagonist, and Pan, her daemon, are extremely complex characters. Pan is usually the more cautious one but, really, her and Pan are so much alike (obviously) that they share a lot of characteristics. The dynamic between her and Pan is beautiful to read. Also, right away I enjoyed Lyra’s rebellious nature; she loathes being told she needs to act more “feminine”. She’s also the type of character who is extremely intelligent and witty, and won’t hesitate to do what she thinks is right regardless what others say. Yes, she makes mistakes, but once she realizes she’s made a mistake - like trusting Asriel - she tries to fix it and/or learns from it.

I really enjoy Pullman’s descriptions. The descriptions were simple yet lovely. I also like that Pullman isn’t afraid to describe the brutality of the fight scenes.

I’m not quite sure if I believe that Asriel is against the Oblation board at times because he does exactly what they do to Roger. I would argue that he does it in an even more cruel way. So, this character’s hypocrisy didn’t sit well with me (maybe that was Pullman’s intention).

Overall, The Golden Compass is a really good novel. It drew me in right away.

The Return Of The King - Being The Third Part Of The Lord Of The Rings (The Lord of the Rings, 3)

The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien A wonderful ending to an amazing trilogy.

Read my full review here.

Sometimes I find that the final book in a series can be sort of disappointing. That is not the case for this book. Tolkien has managed, once again, to create such an intricate story. There was a lot of foreshadowing though, again, some of the foreshadowing of happy or sad events became a little bit obvious. The descriptions and personification was, as usual, very lovely.

The characters are, unsurprisingly, my favourite aspect of this book. The character arc of each of them is so amazing to read. Each has grown and become more than they ever expected (more than others expected, too). Sam is really my favourite character. Of course, I really like Merry, Pippin, and Frodo. But Sam had to make so many choices and even when he would wrestle with his doubts, he still did what he thought was right. He never gave up, even when Frodo gave in to the power of the Ring and its ever-pressing darkness. Also, Sam is so witty! He often uses his intelligence to mock or refute his enemies. It might not have been intended as humorous, but that’s how I saw it (especially when Sam mocks Gollum). Another character which I enjoyed reading is Eowyn. I wish she had gotten more space on the page though Tolkien spent more time with her here than in the previous books. Eowyn shows herself to be equal to men - actually, better than them since she is the only one brave enough to stand up to the leader of the Nazgul. I wish that she was recognized by more characters as a wonderful, strong character. She wishes to be more than the label that society would choose for her. I could go on and on about this so I’ll just stop here.

Some minor issues with the novel are, again, very repetitive adjectives. Sometimes they would even be repeated on the same page only a paragraph or two apart. I found this to be quite off-putting. Also, in the last chapter or so, Tolkien begins to frequently use dates. I’m not quite sure why he does this since he hasn’t done this in the previous books.

Overall, this book was a good ending to a well-written and enjoyable series.

The Two Towers

The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien Read my full review here.

Tolkien uses his talent to give readers beautiful and extremely detailed descriptions of the setting, characters, and actions. Tolkien knows how to weave subtle foreshadowing into the story so that readers can pick up hints and clues and try to guess what significance they will have later in the novel.

The characters of this novel are my favourite aspect. In the first novel we mainly see the story as Frodo would see it but in this installment we are given the opportunity to experience the journeys through the perspective of some of the more minor characters in the Fellowship. I think this was a very good decision on Tolkien’s part because it helps to build up the complexities of these minor characters. The characters which I really enjoyed this time are Pippin, Sam, and, of course, the dynamic between Legolas and Gimli. In the first novel it is apparent that Legolas and Gimli have bonded but that’s shown much more in this book and their banter often serves as comic relief in tense situations. Pippin isn’t as foolish a character as he is made out to be in the first book though he still does foolish things For example, picking up the stone orb which Gandalf got from Saruman. Sam is the perspective through which we see Frodo’s journey. This solidifies Sam’s importance and makes him one of the main characters. Sam’s growth is one of the best things to read.

There are, of course, some issues which I noticed while reading. Again, Tolkien tends to use the same description for multiple things throughout the book. At one point, he uses the word “sheer” so often that it appears every couple of pages. For a writer who is so imaginative, it’s odd that Tolkien was this repetitive. As well, the narrator obviously intervenes a few times which doesn’t fit exactly with the rest of the narrative. Also, there were some contradictions with the characters that irked me a bit. For example, Sam has already become so mature and yet he does something very foolish. I’m not quite sure if it fits or not. I don’t know, it just stood out to me. As well, Pippin seems to have grown a lot during his time with the orcs and then Treebeard, yet as soon as he is off with Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, he does something really risky. It’s almost as though as soon as they are among the Fellowship again him and Merry revert to childish hobbits.

Overall, this book was a delight to read. Even when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about what I had read. The characters, descriptions, and intricacies are all so well-written.

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien When I started reading this I was so surprised that I actually like it. I'm reading it for a class at university. My professor loves these books so much!

See my full review here.

Tolkien’s descriptions are so beautiful and intricate. He really knows how to paint a strong picture in the reader’s mind of the setting, the journey, the actions, and the characters. His talent with description is really one of the biggest strengths of the novel.

The characters are probably my favourite aspect of this book. Frodo, Sam, and Aragorn are really well-written characters. They are similar and not. Tolkien tends to have characters mirror one another in small ways so as to create a bond between them. Can we just talk about how witty Frodo, Sam, and Aragorn are? I love it. Though Sam is often child-like, he is no push over and he’s so funny. So is Aragorn. I see Aragorn as a sort of older brother to Frodo and Sam. He teases them, tests them, and protects them. It’s a lovely dynamic to read. Of course, the friendship between Sam and Frodo is so special. Sam is unfailingly loyal to Frodo even when it’s hard to be (he may start to waiver but he ultimately chooses to stay loyal to Frodo). Also, Gandalf is an awesome character. He is their sort of Father or Grandfather figure so of course his assumed death is very hard for the characters in the novel .

The plot and details are also very well done. Tolkien weaves in a lot of foreshadowing but it’s not in-your-face. It’s subtle but it adds to the story so that the flow is nice. There is also moments of comic relief in an otherwise tense plot. Those moments work really well to lighten things up and keep the reader from being overwhelmed by the drama.

As for things which I didn’t like, well, there aren’t too many. I found that Tolkien often repeated his descriptions throughout the book. Sometimes he would do this two pages in a row and it made me think that he was struggling to find new ways to describe things. Another thing which is annoying is that Tolkien names so many things in this book and it’s really hard to remember all of them. Each character or thing or place can even have multiple names and Tolkien alternates between these. It can get a bit confusing sometimes. I know that this novel focuses on the importance of language and words but I think that he went almost a little overboard with naming things.

Overall, this book is so well-written. It’s surprising how much I like it. It does take awhile to read because it’s a long book, but it definitely does draw you into its story-world.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, #2) - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes Read my full review here.

I was assigned to read this book for a class at school and I was so excited. Let me preface this by saying that I have not read the first book in the “The Chronicles of Narnia” series.

This book is a pleasant read. It’s quite light - despite some of the darker tones which are laced throughout - and has lovely little descriptions.

The narrative is one of the aspects of this book that is really quite nice. The dedication letter to his Goddaughter, Lucy, obviously defines how the story is told. The story is written as though he is verbally telling the story to her. As well, the descriptions blossom as the book goes on: they were short at first but increasingly become more elaborate.

I interpreted that there is a religious meaning or allusion carried throughout the book (Aslan sacrifices himself to save Edmund from punishment for his betrayal and then rises from the dead). I might be reading into it too much but this is what I recognized increasingly as I went along. The overarching meaning or moral for me was to have faith.

There were a few irksome things which stood out to me. Lewis tends to repeat phrases - sometimes two pages in a row - in the first few chapters. It was actually sort of off-putting though I understand he was trying to warn his Goddaughter not to go into wardrobes and close the door, for example . As well, sometimes the narrator's intervening was a little bit annoying only because I already understood what was happening and didn’t need it explained but, again, I understand why Lewis includes these. Another issue I found is that many of the characters say exactly what they are thinking. For instance, the White Witch says out loud that humans in Narnia is a problem for her but that she can easily get rid of them. I didn’t sit quite right with me that she said this out loud but is devious and mysterious otherwise.

Overall, the story was a lovely read and it was well-written. I enjoyed the plot and could interpret a deeper meaning which made this story more than a simple children’s book.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love - Raymond Carver I enjoy that Carver experimented with form, language, and style but the plot of many of the stories are not my cup of tea. That being said, one story which I do quite like is "Everything Stuck to Him" on page 127.

Prada and Prejudice

Prada & Prejudice - Mandy Hubbard I loved "Pride and Prejudice" and since I was on a Jane Austen kick when I bought this book, I really just had to have it. I'm so glad I read it. I think this is a great twist on the original story. No, the original characters aren't used, but Hubbard's characters are based upon Austen's characters and you can clearly see who is who. I have to say, I loved Callie and Alex together. They obviously don't begin by liking each other, but they grow to have such a tender and sweet relationship. I'm not fully satisfied with the ending but I did like it. Overall, I would recommend this book to people who love Austen and books about traveling to the past.

Envy: A Luxe Novel (The Luxe)

Envy - Anna Godbersen As always, the cover is beautiful. I only wish I loved the book as much as I love the cover. I hate to say this, but the ending just wasn't satisfying for me. Maybe my problem is that I think things weren't resolved well for the characters. Yes, there's another book, but I just couldn't see how anything would be fixed from this point on. Also, what were these characters thinking? I know they're flawed and that's fine, but I honestly couldn't understand why they did what they did. If the author can't make me completely believe in characters, then I can't be as attached to the story as I should be.

Fire Study

Fire Study  - Maria V. Snyder I love this book series, but I couldn't quite get as invested in this book as I could with the others. I didn't feel like that plot was going anywhere or had a resolution. "Poison Study" remains my favourite of the series.