Quick Review: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

two dark reigns This series was originally planned to be only a duology.  I’m glad that Kendare Blake decided to extended it two more books because it’s truly delightful.  Two Dark Reigns begins a few weeks after the end of of One Dark Crown.  Katherine is crown Queen of Fennbirn.  Mirabella and Arisone escaped the island and trying to fit in on the Mainland. Jules is reeling from the death Joseph and is back and Fennbirn.  The island is shielded by the Mist but the Mist is acting up and turning on the island.  Probably because Katherine became Queen without actually killing her sisters and still possessed by the dead queens of the past.  Her sisters escaped the Island and Jules is being propped up as the symbol of a new revolution.  I still like the original Queens Katherine, Mirabella and Arisnoe and Jules is growing me but she’s still not favorite.  Jules is legion cursed.  Meaning she has two gifts that will make her crazy because her powers are so strong.  This is partly why people think she is also a queen and that the Goddess of the Island is trying to change the bloodline of the Queens and change the course of the island.  Of course the Island has another idea.  Mirabella and Arsione may have escaped the island but the island isn’t finished with them yet.  Arisone is being sent visions about the Blue Queen who created the Mist.  She is haunted by her that forces them back.  Jules and her new warrior friends are in direct conflict with each other.  We still Queens against Queens but the battle lines are drawn and the fate of the island is at stake.  Let’s just say, the last book is going to be a doozy.

Review: WildCard by Marie Lu

img_1381 I read this as an ARC about a month ago.  Thank you to G.P. Putnam for making it available to me to read.  **May contain minor Spoilers**

Where we left off after Warcross, Hideo had betrayed Emika and really everyone else who uses his Nuerolink lenses by releasing his algorithm that effects how people think and makes it impossible to commit crimes.  Zero who was Emika’s original quarry might now be the ally that she needs to stop Hideo but can he be trusted because after all, he did try to kill her.  That would put a damper on any relationship.  Can she ever forgive Hideo for what he is doing? And who is Zero and the blackcoats?  Are their goals really the same as hers?

If that wasn’t enough, her actions in the Warcross championships has made her the hero to some and cheater to others.  Emika has a lot going on but that doesn’t stop her from doing what she thinks is the right thing to do, even if that means going against the man she loves.  A lot has happened to Emika in her short life.  Her father died and she was placed in foster care.  She ran away and lived on the streets only to support herself by becoming a bounty hunter.  She’s an incredible hacker that is what brought her into this to begin with but she’s used to everything on her own.  The greatest growth that she had was learning that she doesn’t have to do everything on her own.  That she has friends who are willing to carry some of the load for her and when things get even more complicated and she doesn’t know who to trust that friendship becomes even more important.  In Wildcard, we finally learn what really happened to Sasuke, Hideo’s younger brother and it’s even more heartbreaking than anyone assumed. More under the cut. Continue reading

Movie Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

to all the boys So I finally got around to seeing To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix and it was delightful.  It was every bit as charming as the book was and the casting was truly spot on.  Lana Candor is the perfect Lara Jean. She’s sweet, shy and romantic.  She’s unassuming and comfortable being in the shadow.  Noah Centineo is the perfect Peter.  He just oozes the big man on campus charisma.  You can’t help but fall in love with him, which it seems like everyone on the internet has.  The story is the same.  Lara Jean is 16 and is about to start her Junior year in high school.  Her big sister is going off to college making her the big sister at home.  Her mother died when she was young so it was just her and her sisters and her dad.  Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend but she’s had a few crushes.  She wrote her crushes a letter that was never meant to be read until they were.  Two of those letters went the Josh, the boy next door who dated her older sister Margot and Peter, her former friend from Middle School.  Peter and Lara Jean decide to fake date to make Peter’s ex girlfriend jealous and help her avoid Josh.  All goes well until of course she starts to have feelings for him.  The movie goes by at a pretty clip.  Establishing both Lara Jean and Peter and their relationship.  As they spend more time with each other we see what a great couple they are for each other.  They allow each other open up to each other and be honest about their feelings that they can’t be with each other.  I also love that while Peter asks Lara Jean to do things outside her comfort zone like go to parties, he never asks her to change who she is.  Obviously in the book we see more development of their relationship then we do in the movie because of time constraints it still comes out.  They relationship may have started as pretend, you can see from the beginning that there was always something there. If there is one thing I wished there was more of was Kitty.  Kitty was always my favorite character in the book and I think she needs her own series.  *cough Jenny Han cough*  I can only hope that Netflix greenlights a sequel so we get more of Kitty, Lara Jean and Peter in the future.  The movie is not earth shattering but it is so cute and charming that i feeling it’s going to be on heavy rotation in my Netflix queue for now on.

Review: Barely Breathing by Pamela Clare

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Hoo boy, this book. This is the story of Lexi Jewell who returns to her hometown to help her father try to win his wife back and keep her from divorcing him. She keeps telling herself that its temporary and that she’ll go back to Chicago in a few weeks when everything back home is settled. For better or worse, she has the freedom to make this extended trip back to Colorado because she’s recently resigned her post at a big accountancy firm following a scandal. Of course, things are complicated back home by many things. Her father and her step-mother are prideful, cantankerous coots. The local Mountain Search and Rescue organization is having some financial difficulties and need an accountant. Oh, and her ex-boyfriend Austin is a park ranger and a member of the volunteer Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue organization and is stupidly hot.

So, shenanigans and many sexy bits ensue. There’s a heart-warming ending. This is exactly what I was looking for. Its a lovely, little romance novel. It is a series and I might even read the next one, which is about the Park Ranger’s best friend, who is the fire chief!

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

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So, I enjoyed this book immensely. It was so, so good. Its critique of society was subtle, but apparent, its heroine was super likable. Man, I love when a book is this enjoyable.

I think my favorite part was how Frankie grew and learned while the novel progressed. I also think it was great how she clearly struggled with wanting to be a part of something and wanting to create her own path and do her own thing.

Anyway.

This book is the story of Frankie Landau-Banks who, at the outset of the novel, confesses to conceiving of a series of pranks/vandalism that took place at her elite boarding school and were carried out by The Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds, a secret society at said institution. From there, they go back to the beginning and lay out exactly what happened to bring her to this confession. The pranks are fun and the way she goes about getting them accomplished is pretty genius. Or, if not genius, is pretty clever.

I enjoyed this so much, and if you like reading about high school shenanigans and social commentary, I think you’ll like this one, too.

Joint Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 on Broadway

Beth and I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 this week on Broadway! It was an exciting, if long experience. The play takes place after the final scene of the seventh film. We’re going to keep this review spoiler-free. It was an experience and definitely worth seeing, if you are a huge Harry Potter fan. We don’t want to ruin the magic for anyone.

What was your favorite part?

Kate: The magic, maybe. I think they did a great job making the stage really feel like the wizarding world.

Beth: Agreed.  The stage craft was on full display.  How they were able to create the feel of the wizarding world without special effects of the movies was very impressive.

What about the costumes did you like?

Kate: I want capes to be a thing in everyday life now. There is just so much drama and flair in wearing a cape. I could use a little more flair in my life.

Beth: OMG! The Capes!  The way they moved and swayed I’m so jealous.  We should bring back the capes.

What did you like about the staging?

Kate: The special effects were really neat but they didn’t distract from the story. I really liked that.

Beth: I thought it was so well done.  I loved how they did the moving stairs.

Kate: OMG! The stairs were so good! I liked how the stairs and the movement made the space feel so much bigger and more dynamic!

Who was your favorite character?

Kate: Scorpius Malfoy, hands down. He was amazing. Draco comes in second, but possibly only because I was really impressed by how much his character developed from when we last saw him at Hogwarts.

Beth: Yeah!  Who would have thought that a story with Harry, Hermione and Ron that Draco and his family would turn out to be the most likable.  Scorpius was the real heart of the story.  He brought most of the laughs and kept the story going.  I’m hoping that if they do a new movie series after Fantastic Beast, it should be centered on him.

Kate:I would watch Scorpius Malfoy movies. I love that little nerd.

Any last thoughts?

Kate: I still have some questions about various bits and pieces of the story. But, I really enjoyed the spectacle of it, so I’m willing to forgive (though, if you follow us on twitter, clearly not forget) some of the more plot-hole-ish things.

Beth: I’m with you on this.  There were some pretty noticeable plot-holes that fans should easily notice and since I’m guessing that most people who see this are big fans, then we are not the only one who has issues with it.  That being said, sitting in the audience with other people who came dressed up in their Hogwarts finest, made it more enjoyable.  We all knew what was going on.  We all got the easter eggs they dropped.  We all gasped at the same time.  It was like a community experience.  Harry Potter fans, I think this is a must see (plot-holes and all) and theater geeks, too, because the staging is in a class of it’s own.

Kate:It was so good to see people turned out in their Hogwarts finest! You are so right! I loved seeing everyone’s outfits! And, everyone who turned up in their cape in August, I have so much respect for that. It must have been so hot.

Review: Embassytown by China Mieville

9780345524508_p0_v1_s550x406 The last book of my Pop Culture Assignment and I don’t even know where to begin.  There is a lot going on and I think it needed a glossary for all the new terms he made up for this world.  Our Protagonist Avice, is an immerser that knows how to control the immer but it was never really explained what that is but it has to do with space travel.  Her ability allowed her to leave Embassytown and return but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Avice is from a colony in the middle of nowhere.  There lives an mysteries species called the Hosts that have a peculiar way of communication called language.  Only few people know and few can speak it.  The few who can are Ambassadors are two people modified to think as one.  It’s complicated.  Avice has a rare place in language as she was once used as a simile.  The Hosts can not lie.  They can only speak the truth so for something to be said it must has a place in the world so they make people or things a simile to help explain things.  It’s very complicated.  Anyway, Avice leaves Embassytown only to return with a new husband who is a linguist and seems more interested in language than Avice but whatever.  As soon as they return things get crazy.  The end of the world crazy.  The nation that oversee them decides to bring in their own Ambassador and well, things don’t go as planned and all hell breaks loose.

It was an interesting read but it was very confusing.  I felt like so many things that were left unexplained like the immer that we are just expected to understand.  Language too is very complicated that it does take the whole book to understand but that also might have been the point.  It took a while to get into because the world building was immense and once I got past that I really enjoyed it.  I was still left confused on several things but still enjoyed it.

Review: The Last Speakers by K. David Harrison

9781426204616_p0_v2_s550x406 My pop culture assignment from Kate is to delve into her world as a linguist. Linguistics has been referred to as a social science.  What does that mean exactly?  The first book, What Language is by John McWhorter was more of the scientific side of the linguistics, explaining what they look for when they study languages.  How languages are built and how they became to be and continue to develop. The Last Speakers is the social side of linguistics by discussing why the study of languages are important to understanding who we are and the world around us.  Both aspects are important to discover how we communicate to each other.  K. David Harrison set out to study endangered languages because the knowledge of the natural world they contain that we have lost by no longer speaking them.  He learns from indigenous people words that describes the world around us.  How they can speak or sing to animals to get them do what they need them to do.  Plant life that are now extinct.  Medicinal methods that have vanished in the wake of modern medicine.  If we lose these last speakers we lose more than just a language being spoken.  We lose a great deal of our own knowledge of our world that we will never get back.  The book reads like a travel memoir as he details his work around the globe but it’s also a plea to the world to not abandon these languages.  He and his team document these languages and do everything then can to keep these languages alive long after the last speakers pass away but also bring to light new or remembered words of our past.  I like that he isn’t to be the white savior.  He goes to observe and document and help where he can.  He defers to the people in how they want to documented.  Not all people want their languages to be shared with outsiders and he understands their reasoning without judgment.  It’s their language and culture and they should have the final say on who gets to know it and learn it.  It was an interesting book, with some great stories and I’m fully support more documentation of last speakers from all over the world.  We have so much more to learn.

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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This book hurt to read. It is the story of Finch and Violet, who meet on the top of the bell tower at school when one of them saves the other one’s life. From there, its a love story. But, it’s also a story about dealing with tragedy and with things that have happened to you. It is also a book about mental illness and suicide. The writing is great. Finch is charming and Violet is awesome. The romance is precious. I’m glad I read it. Behind the cut is spoiler city.

Continue reading

Review: Ripper by Isabel Allende

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This novel started off well. Amanda, a high schooler, is sure her mother has been kidnapped by a serial killer who has been stalking the streets of San Francisco for the past few months. Then, the story flashes back to before the first of the murders and you get to meet Amanda (who is a little bratty, but lovable), her grandfather (who is awesome), her mom, Indiana (who is flighty) and Amanda’s online friends who all play an online role-playing game called Ripper. Indiana is a healer at a clinic (she does massage, magnets, and aromatherapy) and some of her patients, her ex-husband and his secretary, her former in-laws, and her boyfriend figure into the tale as well.

 

This novel had a huge cast. Maybe its the Summer of Novels with Huge Casts?

 

I liked this well enough at the beginning. But, the more of it I got through, the more there was about it to dislike. I wasn’t really sure what was going on with the online role-playing game. Also, Indiana was a little grating. Finally, there is a twist at the end that was soapy, stereotypical and garbage-like and then another twist that was telegraphed and obvious. Meh. On the positive side, Edoardro Ballerini who read the audiobook did an excellent job of

 

I wanted to like this book, because I’ve liked other Isabel Allende books in the past, but it wasn’t for me. For everything that was good about it, there was at least one thing that was equally bad or worse about it. I was not a fan.