Quick Lit: What I Have Been Reading Lately (Inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Blog)

 

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is Anne Bogel’s Modern Mrs. Darcy.  She has a book out that I am currently reading and will include in this list, Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything.  She also has a podcast What Should I Read Next?.  I highly recommend all 3!  Enough fangirling, her blog post Quick Lit for November 2017 ( https://modernmrsdarcy.com/quick-lit-november-2017/) has inspired this post about what I am currently reading (thanks Anne!)

Moonlight Over Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #6) by Sarah Morgan: I am a big fan of Sarah Morgan’s From Manhattan With Love series.  I have read the whole series up until this point, admittedly out of order, and each book can be read as a standalone.  Which makes it fun when characters from the previous books are mentioned and thank goodness I am reading it on my Kindle as the highlighting is borderline out of control.  Along with my somewhat obnoxious notes of “:)” or “!!!!” or “AWWW”.   Back to the point:  Moonlight Over Manhattan focuses on Harriet Knight, twin sister of Fliss and younger sister of Daniel (both of whom have already had their own stories in this series).  Fliss has been Harriet’s protector their whole lives and now Fliss has expanded their dog walking business, The Bark Rangers, to the Hamptons, leaving Harriet in Manhattan alone.  Now Harriet has to figure out how to fend for herself, and find herself, in the big city during one of the biggest holidays of the year: Christmas.  It is off to a charming start, as per usual with Sarah Morgan’s books, with humor and identity discovery.   See below for links to my reviews of the other books in the series:

  1. Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #1) by Sarah Morgan-5/5 Star Review!
  2. Sunset In Central Park (From Manhattan With Love #2) by Sarah Morgan- A 5/5 Star Review!
  3. Miracle On 5th Avenue (From Manhattan With Love #3) by Sarah Morgan Review: 5/5 Stars!
  4. New York, Actually (From Manhattan With Love #4) by Sarah Morgan- a 4/5 Star Review!
  5. Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5) by Sarah Morgan- A 5/5 Star Review!
  6. BONUS! A New York Christmas Story by Sarah Morgan-5/5 Star Review!

 

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (Dash & Lily #1) by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan: Another book that has to do with the holiday season but this one was selected as this month’s Book Club pick in the Young Adult Book Club that I am involved in locally.  It revolves around two teenagers in New York City who could not be more different when it comes to the holidays.  Dash hates it, Lily loves it.  However, Lily and her brother create a Book of Dares and hide it on a bookshelf in the famous Strand Bookstore, and Dash stumbles across it, plays her game as instructed in the book, then comes up with a game of his own for her. I really like it so far because of it’s unique concept and it’s setting in NYC during the holidays.

Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel: As stated in the beginning of this post, I am a big fan of Anne Bogel.  Reading People  is a deep look into personality and how different traits factor in to making a person who they are.  She cites many reputable sources and breaks down complicated subjects into concepts that are easily relatable.  I am only halfway through but have learned so much! Especially about Highly Sensitive People and it has helped me understand people in my own life better.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Read by Wil Wheaton): I wanted to read this before the movie comes out next March.  Wade Watts is a teenager in the year 2044 with an obsession for video games and virtual reality.  His home life isn’t great, so he escapes to the OASIS where he can virtually go to school, hang out with friends, and play video games.  The creator of OASIS was a multi-billionaire who will give his estate to whomever finds five clues hidden throughout the game.  It has been years since and no one has found any clue.  The attention has faded, until Wade finds the first clue.  Now, the stakes are even higher as there is not only money on the line, but fame and even his life.  Wil Wheaton is a brilliant choice for the audiobook verison as he makes it very engaging.  So far it kind of seems like a Willy Wonka meets World of Warcraft but it is entertaining and full of ’80’s references.

Death Cure (The Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner:  I also wanted to read this before the movie comes out in January.  I have read the other two books in this series and it is a YA dystopian adventure revolving around Thomas and his friends (not the children’s series about trains).  Sun flares have scorched the earth and now The Flare is a virus that attacks the brain and turns the host into a “crank” (a.k.a. zombie).  In this book, the group is still trying to escape WICKED (World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department), the group of scientists that put this group of teens through excruciating experiments in order to design a cure for the Flare virus.  Fast-paced just like the other books and it is fun to be back in the group dynamic! Although I am ambivalent on how I feel about this book series, Minho is still my favorite :).

 

 

 

 

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Piper by Jay Asher & Jessica Freeburg, Illustrated by Jeff Stokely-a 4/5 Star Review!

I had the exciting opportunity to meet and see a presentation by the author Jay Asher recently (Thanks to my local Westerville Public Library for hosting!).  Although he is very nice, funny, and everyone should go see him if they get a chance-I left really excited because of his next book that was being released: Piper.

Piper is a graphic novel collaboratively written by authors Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg and illustrated by Jeff Stokely.  It is a retelling of the Pied Piper and the twist is that his music does not affect one person: Maggie.  Maggie is a deaf girl, hence why his music does not endanger her.  Maggie’s hearing was lost due to an act of violent bullying and the injustice only stems from there as villagers continue to bully her relentlessly.  Yet she continues to make the best of it by telling funny stories to her caretaker, Agathe.

The Pied Piper heroically comes to save the village from the rat infestation that has wiped out the population with starvation and/or disease.  But this rescue comes at a price.  A price that the village decides not to pay once the deed is done.  But if they refuse to pay in cash, they will have to pay at a different price-revenge.

Graphic Novels are something that I have only recently begun to develop an interest in, my first being Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga series.  I simply must find more graphic novels that have been illustrated by Jeff Stokely as the artwork is marvelous.  The expressions of the characters, the movement of the wind, and the playful innocence portrayed in a single panel where the Pied Piper is eating an apple under a tree in front of a peacock, for example.  I was just so moved by the illustrations and they greatly improved the storyline.

Personally, I was hoping for more out of the character of Maggie.  I was initially so excited about this graphic novel because it centered around a deaf character.  Both of my parents are deaf and so I expected great things from this character but I was a little disappointed.  I had to take a star away because it seemed like being deaf only came into play when someone walked up behind her and scared her, when she was incorrectly pronouncing words when Agathe wrote down her stories, or when she was being bullied.  I just wish a little more research would have gone into her character because although lip-reading is a way to communicate, there was not any sign language at all.  Granted, I was not expecting American Sign Language in a story based in the medieval times, some home signs between Agathe and Maggie would have been redeeming.  Furthermore, going back to the sneaking up behind her example, when I try to sneak up on my parents, they can feel the vibrations from my walking behind them and it doesn’t always work.  What is failed to be mentioned is that when you lose one sense, the other senses get stronger.

Although I had to take one (slightly biased) star away, the story itself is minimalist yet powerful.  The elements of greed and the despicable villagers are well-balanced by the purity and optimism of Maggie and Agathe despite their tragic situation. Another well-balanced aspect in this story is how both of their backgrounds are isolated, tragic, and yet they find hope in one another.  Furthermore, when they go in different directions, they still protect one another making their love story even more emotional.

I also enjoyed that this was a retelling of the Pied Piper as I thought that was unique.  So many fairy tale retellings have centered around the princesses and Red Riding Hood lately that this one stands out.  And since I heard about it, Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” has been stuck in my head:

I was playing in the beginning, the mood all changed

I’ve been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage

But I kept rhymin’ and stepped right in the next cypher

Best believe somebody’s paying the Pied Piper

In conclusion, I would recommend Piper for readers who enjoy retellings, tragic love stories, unexpected heroes, and graphic novels.

I would not recommend Piper for those who may be offended on how Maggie’s deafness is portrayed, or those who may be offended or triggered by bullying, violence, kidnapping, and revenge.

Anna Dressed In Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake- a 5/5 Star Review!

Cas is a ghost hunter, traveling all over North America to take down murderous ghosts with his special weapon; the athame. While still a high school student, hopping from one school to another does not exactly provide time and availability for long-term friends his own age. He is seeking to avenge his father’s death while saving the lives of the unsuspecting victims of the ghosts he kills. Until he meets the one ghost he doesn’t want to kill.

Anna.

Anna is famously called “Anna Dressed In Blood” in the small Canadian town of Thunder Bay. She haunts the house she died in decades ago and brutally murders anyone who dare step foot in it. Until Cas finds himself inside her house and lives to tell the tale.

I was very surprised at how much I loved this book. It was a Halloween themed pick for this month for a book club that I am in; it is perfect! It is equally haunting and humane. The best example of this is with the ghost of Anna. Her acts of violence are graphically gory, yet her backstory encourages sympathy.

The story was fast-paced and smooth, told in Cas’ perspective. The scenes are so well described that it the gore was discomforting, as it should be. It is kind of like a blend of the tv show Supernatural and the YA book Six of Crows. I recently read Six of Crows (see review here) and so I kept thinking that Cas in this book was misspelling Kaz. In truth, it was the scene in the basement with Cas that reminded me of the scene on the corpse boat with Kaz. The story itself is distinctive, however, particularly in how the story concludes. Therefore, I would certainly recommend this book for fans of Six of Crows and Supernatural.

Conversely, I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended or triggered by parental death, graphic violence, heavy foul language, domestic violence, murder, bullying, witchcraft, ghosts, or VooDoo.

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo- A 5/5 Star Review!

Kaz Brekker has a band of misfits together to get this one job done. This job will be the hardest he has ever done, and the odds are stacked high against him, but the payoff will be worth it. Revenge and more money than any of them can imagine.

This book is very dark. In fact, it was so dark that I had to put it down at times to regroup. Yet hope still remains an underlying theme and driving force for this team. I was surprised by the romantic elements that were woven in but they added yet another level of attraction to the book for me.

I will warn that this book is set up for a series in that there is a big cliffhanger! Just when I thought the book was ending, it kicked back up again and then quickly ended. I will be reading the next book in the series because this book was just that good. It had supernatural elements yet dealt with elements of the human condition. It was a roller coaster of events and the violence is very graphic. One scene in particular had me literally covering my eyes. The characters are aggressively tested physically and mentally. As a result, their bonds are stronger and they set their eyes stronger on the prize. There were selfless acts, there were selfish acts. All of their pasts come back to haunt them and they are even stronger for it. The complex maze of this book was simply magical.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy Young Adult fiction, adventure, romance, and underdogs.

I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended by mild foul language, graphic violence, pick pocketing, drug use, prostitution, slavery, murder, and cliffhangers.

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare- a 5/5 Star Review!

Truly, I have never been so spellbound by a book series before.  Clockwork Princess is the final book in The Infernal Devices series ( see my other reviews: Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince)and the ending is simply a masterpiece.  Tiny details from the first book, Clockwork Angel, snowball into major factors in the conclusion.  The storylines have spread from focusing on one main character, Tessa Gray, in the beginning of Clockwork Angel to solidifying separate storylines developing minor characters into strong supporting characters that loom together for one beautifully intricate work of art.  It is my understanding a few of the supporting characters roll into the next series, The Mortal Instruments, as The Infernal Devices is its prequel series.  Cassandra Clare is a magician with words and creating this world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders yet sticking to basic human deficiencies such as greed, revenge, misjudgment, and unrequited love.  Additionally, she brilliantly creates an ending that (I believe) readers on both sides, Team Will and Team Jem, will be happy.  There were so many points where I gasped, I laughed, I swooned, and I cried.  Embarrassingly fat tears and gut-wrenching sobs.  My apologies to my fellow patrons at my local library.

 

I try to find one favorite character in a book and I was fortunate to be able to have two favorite characters: Sophie and Will.  Will is officially my favorite book boyfriend.  He is witty, loyal, a book lover, and brave.  In a strange way he is a fairy tale prince but dripping with sarcasm and guilt from his traumatic past.  I knew from the first book, Clockwork Angel, that I would be Team Will and I am pleased to have not been forced to change my mind throughout the series.  The prologue to Clockwork Prince remains my favorite passage in this series.  Sophie is different from Will in almost every sense except her fierce loyalty and her traumatic past haunting her.  It was very pleasing to be see her character develop from rigid and distrustful to courageous and warm.   I have not been able to look at scones without smiling and thinking of this book.

 

I would recommend this book for any fan of Young Adult books, romance, steampunk, and fantasy.  Also, for those who enjoy listening to the audiobook.  The actor Daniel Sharman (of the Teen Wolf and Fear The Walking Dead fame) does a fantastic job of narrating.  I also would recommend reading this series in order, starting with Clockwork Angel, because the books evolve on things introduced in there.
I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended by violence, sexual scenarios, mild foul language, kidnapping, drug abuse, and demons.

Angel, snowball into major factors in the conclusion.  The storylines have spread from focusing on one main character, Tessa Gray, in the beginning of Clockwork Angel to solidifying separate storylines developing minor characters into strong supporting characters that loom together for one beautifully intricate work of art.  It is my understanding a few of the supporting characters roll into the next series, The Mortal Instruments, as The Infernal Devices is its prequel series.  Cassandra Clare is a magician with words and creating this world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders yet sticking to basic human deficiencies such as greed, revenge, misjudgment, and unrequited love.  Additionally, she brilliantly creates an ending that (I believe) readers on both sides, Team Will and Team Jem, will be happy.  There were so many points where I gasped, I laughed, I swooned, and I cried.  Embarrassingly fat tears and gut-wrenching sobs.  My apologies to my fellow patrons at my local library.

 

I try to find one favorite character in a book and I was fortunate to be able to have two favorite characters: Sophie and Will.  Will is officially my favorite book boyfriend.  He is witty, loyal, a book lover, and brave.  In a strange way he is a fairy tale prince but dripping with sarcasm and guilt from his traumatic past.  I knew from the first book, Clockwork Angel, that I would be Team Will and I am pleased to have not been forced to change my mind throughout the series.  The prologue to Clockwork Prince remains my favorite passage in this series.  Sophie is different from Will in almost every sense except her fierce loyalty and her traumatic past haunting her.  It was very pleasing to be see her character develop from rigid and distrustful to courageous and warm.   I have not been able to look at scones without smiling and thinking of this book.

 

I would recommend this book for any fan of Young Adult books, romance, steampunk, and fantasy.  Also, for those who enjoy listening to the audiobook.  The actor Daniel Sharman (of the Teen Wolf and Fear The Walking Dead fame) does a fantastic job of narrating.  I also would recommend reading this series in order, starting with Clockwork Angel, because the books evolve on things introduced in there.
I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended by violence, sexual scenarios, mild foul language, kidnapping, drug abuse, and demons.

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum- a 5/5 Star Review!

Have you ever loved a book so much that every time you see the cover of it you just sigh happily?  Perhaps even swoon?  That is my current state with What to Say Next by the very talented Julie Buxbaum.  She has a way of hitting a reader right in the feels.  I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I felt a wide range of emotions.  I had this similar reaction with her previous book Tell Me Three Things (which I also highly recommend-see my Goodreads review: here ).  Also, there was a big plot twist that was unexpected and essentially had me locked into the book, racing along until the perfect ending.

This was a great book that dives into the tumultuous waters of high school drama and then the riptide of loneliness catches you and makes sure you stay.  It made me feel the grief, loneliness, and hope that the main characters, Kit and David, felt.  These two were opposites in many ways, yet each of them have their worlds flipped upside down, which brings them together.  It is a fresh reminder of the discomfort of finding yourself at the brink of adulthood.  It abuses the heart, really, as it is heart-wrenching at times, yet you feel your heart swelling at other times.   All in all, a must-read that is different from other YA romance novels in that it presents an exceptional approach of mixing humor with grief to the common struggle of finding yourself.

I enjoyed that there were unique attributes about the characters that set them apart from the general population in the book, particularly David’s Asperger Syndrome attributes.  I cannot say whether or not these features were accurate, however, I do enjoy the respectful and charming way of which his character was developed.  I would recommend this for any reader high school age and older who is a fan of innocent romance and deep situations.  I would also recommend this book for readers who are fans of math and science as David’s narrative is heavy in those fields.  On the other hand, it was not so heavy that those who are not strong in the math and science fields (including yours truly) could not follow along.

For those who may be offended: there was foul language, brief violence, infidelity, bullying, alcohol use, brief mention of drug use, and an overarching theme of grief.

The Waking Land by Callie Bates- a 2/5 Star Review

It was a great start but quickly lost stamina for me. There were a lot of characters that I could not keep track of as well as inconsistencies with the personality of the main character, Lady Elanna Valtai. She was confused yet she was certain. She was loyal to the King that raised her like a daughter yet barely fought for her best friend. She was defiant and stubborn with everyone except the (conveniently handsome) sorcerer Jahan. I understand that she was supposed to be immature as she is a young teenager who is just now discovering that her whole life was a lie. However, her character was too erratic for me to be able to enjoy. I gave it two weeks to try to finish and I still cannot bring myself to, so I am moving on and marking it as a DNF at 31%.

Please note: an electronic copy was generously provided for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thanks!).