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Book Review| Uprooted by Naomi Novi

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Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I received this book from my OTSP Secret Sister, though I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now. It’s always caught my eye when I walked into a bookstore, but I can be choosy when it comes to my fantasy books. I always heard great things about it, though, and now I know why. It took me a few days to really get into, but once school ended, I was really able to give myself to the book completely.


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The Woods: Novik uses The Woods in the common archetypal way: they’re the source of evil, a place where people go in but don’t come back out. Within literature, forests are places of the unknown. Nobody knows the origins of Novik’s Woods, or why the woods are magical. Woods are usually a place of transformation, which is a recurring theme between many different characters.
The “unknown” part of this can also be attributed to The Dragon, since the townsfolk know little to nothing about it.

Agnieszka: Taken by The Dragon, we soon find out she’s actually a witch, but she finds the spells The Dragon tries to teach her just don’t fit well with her. She’s your typical “main character” of our time; she isn’t beautiful or pretty, she’s constantly dirty; she doesn’t find herself “special”; she defies The Dragon often and can be pretty temperamental. However, being our main character, she easily fits into The Hero archetype, specifically that of The Initiate.

The Dragon: A powerful magician whose job is to protect many towns and provinces, his dislike for Agnieszka is immediate. He is constantly demeaning her; he scowls at her dirty clothes, yells at her when she can’t figure out a spell (and yells when she does), and he finds comfort in the orderly way magic is – until Agnieszka shows him otherwise. The best archetype I could find for him was the Evil Figure with the Ultimately Good Heart. We are introduced to The Dragon as a thief of young women, but the more we read, the more we learn about him.

Kasia: The ignored “chosen” girl, Kasia is constantly spoken about in high regards. Agnieszka finds her to be almost perfect; Kasia is braver, prettier, more talented, smarter – the list goes on. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER However, she’s captured by The Wood and is possessed by the evil within it. Before being taken by The Wood, she would fit more into the Platonic Ideal archetype. In fact, for most of the story she would. The only time she would fit into another archetype, The Creature of Nightmare, is when she’s possessed. The character who embodies the Creature of Nightmare throughout the book would be Queen Hannah/ The Wood-Queen.


final-thoughts

Uprooted was an enchanting novel filled with fascinating, complex characters, each one completely different from the next. The writing alone was spellbinding; each sentence pulled me deeper and deeper into the world Novik created. While there were a few city names I found difficult to pronounce, Novik kept the general world knowledge as a need-to-know basis. No map was needed, nor was a glossary. I did end up reading over the words used for spells rather than trying to sound them out; I know I would just butcher them, so I didn’t even bother.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, books that aren’t parts of trilogies, books with a hint of romance, complex characters and storylines that keep you questioning until the very end, I would highly recommend Uprooted.

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Book Review| Me Before You – JoJo Moyes


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Published: Dec. 31, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit
369 pages
Goodreads Rating:  4.30
My Rating: 5.0

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

I really only picked this up because the movie was coming out and I’d enjoyed other JoJo Moyes books in the past. Once I saw the trailer for the movie, I was a little put off. I still have yet to see the movie, but Emilia Clarke’s acting in the minute-long trailer just seemed very over the top.

I needed a good romantic book to help get me through the beginning of my husband being away due to his military career. I was completely unprepared for how much I would love this book.

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS MAY BE AHEAD

what i liked

Louisa’s Family Dynamic

Louisa’s family is very typical of a lot of families. There is a lot of love, and some repressed anger. There are secrets and intense moments of truth. Louisa’s parents, as much as they want to support her, need her to support them. It says a lot that somebody living in the United States can relate to the Clark family’s financial problems; we all know how one bad economy can affect the world.

This family was very authentic in everything they did. From the parents choosing a favorite child (even if they won’t admit it), to Louisa and Treena’s constant back-and-forth, this was one of the few literary families that didn’t feel too happy, too sad, or too melodramatic.

The Traynor Family (or,more specifically, Mrs. Traynor)
If there is anybody misunderstood in this book, I think it’s Mrs. Traynor. She loves her son the way most mothers love their sons; completely, if not a little too much. There is a constant feel of tension between the two, as if she has babied him all his life and he resents her for it. I picture the two of them at his college graduation, and she’s licking her thumb to wipe a smudge of dirt off of him or to tame a cowlick.

She is used to being the matriach, the person in charge of the family.With Will taking that power from her, I think she felt very lost. For the first time in a long time, she has no control over what is going on with her family. I think that’s why she was harsh and cold towards Louisa.

Will & Louisa

I mean, obviously. Their relationship was absolutely amazing. Starting off with an awkward meeting and continuing on until Louisa decides she is done dealing with Will’s nonsense. I think I really connected with this relationship because it wasn’t an immediate attraction. It took most of the book for the two of them to realize their feelings for each other. The wole wedding scene was so frustrating for me because all I wanted was for them to kiss and reveal their feelings. Unfortunately they were both too afraid and unsure of the other that nothing happened.

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The Ending

This isn’t entirely true. I liked the way the book ends. I think it’s great because it isn’t a typical happy ending. The thing I didn’t like was how quick it ended. I wish that there had been more time between the island scene and the Switzerland scene. It felt like so much was left unsaid between them and, as somebody who loves to talk and talk and talk about their feelings, it killed me.

Louisa’s Reaction on the Island

My god, girl. First, how the hell are you going to leave a man who can’t walk ON A BEACH with a lot of SAND?! IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. I get being hurt and upset and whatever, but poor, poor Will. Or, as my Spanish I class taught me, p-p-p-pobre Cenicienta. I have never felt such sadness for a character before. He depends on Louisa for so much, and he knows how much this will hurt her, but he can’t lie to her or lead her on. He knows his mind and he knows his heart. All I can picture is this poor man confined to a wheelchair, watching the woman he loves walk away from him as he tries to talk to her about this. He’s calling out for her and she’s just ignoring him. It’s not as if he can run to her, scoop her into his arms and tell her how wrong he was.

I completely understand the hurt and pain Louisa is feeling here, but my empathy lies more with Will at this point.

The Beginning

It’s not that I didn’t like the beginning so much as it just didn’t suck me in. Until Will became a larger part of the story, I felt like I was slowly trudging along. I’m not exactly sure why I could not get into it at first. Maybe it was just the whole angry, despondent feel of the book after Louisa lost her job and can’t find a new one. I am very glad I pushed through the beginning because this book literally brought tears to my eyes. final thoughts

Concerning the Controversy

I am not in any way shape or form trying to say how people should feel. When the movie first came out, a lot of people were angry and called it something along the lines of, “suicide porn.” People were angry because they felt the book and the movie showed that handicapped people were better off just killing themselves. I don’t think that was what JoJo Moyes was trying to convey at all.

As somebody who has dealt with depression and anxiety for years, I have come to realize that you can’t save everyone. Sometimes people are beyond help, some people don’t want help, and sometimes people don’t realize help is out there. To me, Will did not want the kind of help Louisa and his family wanted to give him. I am a huge proponent of assisted suicide. If a person is in their right state of mind, is in pain or is terminally ill, who are we to deny them the dignity of death before they lose themselves?

All in all, I loved this book. I might give it a 4.5 rather than the full 5, but it’s still a book I would recommend.

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Book Review| I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

malalaPublished: October 8, 2013
Genres: Nonfiction, Biography, Memoir
327 Pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.01
My Rating: 5.0

Synopsis from Goodreads

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

Since the fateful shooting back in 2012, Malala has been one of my idols. The shooting did not stop her message, but gave her a larger platform to spread her message. Malala doesn’t advocate for girls alone; her goal in life is to see that all children have the opportunity to go to school.

I’m not going to post a “Did/Not Like” section because, as a biography, I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. Instead, I’d like to just give a general rundown of what I thought with a few quotes in there that really stood out to me.

Prologue

When Malala describes her attacker as, “a young man in light-colored clothes,” I was surprised. tumblr_mig49zyqzJ1rzlgoko1_500 I always pictured the man to be in typical Taliban garb – black clothes, terrifying looking, just like in the comics posted on the internet (right). It never occurred to me that, to Malala, the young man on the bus was not a threat. The Taliban did not rush the bus, screaming, “Allahu Akbar,” and threatening everyone. After the shots were fired, the bus driver immediately rushed them to the hospital, where Malala’s months in the hospital began.

I’ve always had issues when people decide to take artistic license with history. Obviously some are “necessary” for the audience of the story, like Maus. Even that stuck to history in  a way that a younger audience could appreciate. Art Spiegelman, the author of Maus, didn’t shy away from the harsh realities his father faced during the Holocaust, and it didn’t sugar coat or intensify scenes for shock value. This comic, however, seems to be perpetuating a stereotype about terrorists – that you’ll know one when you see one. The truth is, you won’t.

 

Chapter 10
“My father said the Taliban presence in Swat was not possible without the support of some in the army and the bureaucracy. The state is meant to protect the rights of its citizens, but it’s a very difficult situation when you can’t tell the difference between state and non-state and can’t trust the state to protect you against non-state.
Our military and ISI are very powerful and most people did not like to voice these things publicly, but my father and many of his friends were not scared…. ‘A state is like a mother, and a mother never deserts or cheats her children.'”

Malala’s father is a constant source of reason in her life. Had she been born to different parents, her life could have changed in so many ways. It’s passages like the one above that show how much her father saw through the false promises of these militants and his own government. Living in the U.S., it’s so hard to understand how absolute the corruption is in countries like Pakistan. If more people around the world knew about it and were able to do more, it would help the people of Pakistan (and countries like it) more than wars would.

final thoughts

The more I read this book, the more I realized that education is the key to stopping terrorism. Terrorism is an idea, just like racism is. You cannot fight ideas physically; no matter how many people you kill or bombs you drop, you won’t be able to stop people’s thoughts. However, if you were to fully educate people against the ideas and ideals of terrorism, you wouldn’t just educate one person – you would educate whoever that person educated, be it their children, siblings, friends, or family members.

Malala has been an idol of mine for years, but only after reading her book did I begin to truly understand her message. This is a book I believe everyone should read. If you really want to help the people under the control of terror, you need to understand why terror came into power in the first place.

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Graphic Novel Review| The Wicked + The Divine

 

• Published: Nov. 1, 2014
• Genres: Graphic Novel, Comics, Fantasy
• 144 Pages per Volume
• Goodreads Rating: 3.92
• My Rating: 5.00

Volume One:
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

Volume Two:
The second volume of the award-winning urban fantasy series where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. Following the tragic and unjust death of Lucifer, it takes a revelation from Inanna to draw Laura back into the worlds of Gods and Superstardom to try and discover the truth behind a conspiracy to subvert divinity

Working at a bookstore is the worst form of torture. My To-Be-Read list never shrinks; for every one book I finish, three take its spot. It’s especially difficult trying not to buy everything I see. Thankfully, the On The Same Page Secret Sister project helps. Now, whenever I see a book that looks interesting, I put it on my wishlist and keep my hands away from it in hopes that my Secret Sister will send it to me.

In my first box for this round, my Secret Sister sent me the first volume in this series, as well as Sex Criminals. I enjoyed both graphic novels, but The Wicked + the Divine has so many of the things I love: mythology, sassy characters, fighting, foul language and a mystery.

what i liked

The Pantheon
The 12 gods of the Pantheon don’t stick to one mythos. Of the twelve, no one religion reigns. There are gods from Norse, Irish, and Greeks myths, and gods from Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Japanese myths. From what I gathered in the story, any of the gods can be part of the Pantheon – it just depends on whose turn it is. In the beginning of Volume One, we see the previous Pantheon 90 years ago, but aren’t given many clues on who is who.

Their interactions with each other are interesting as well. I would love to see how “Jehovah” interacts with Lucifer. Are the Gods who are enemies in myth also enemies in this life, or do they realize how short their two-year existence is and simply move on from their past? It’s interesting that certain gods can be a three-person god (like the Morrigan and  Urðr), but they manifest differently per god.

The Artwork
I am picky, and I am stubborn. If I don’t like the artwork in a G.N., I usually don’t pick it up. On the other hand, if I’m invested in the story and they switch artists, I’ll keep reading. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the artwork at first. The more the story progressed, the more I began to love the artwork. Each character is distinctly different, with their own facial expressions and quirks. This may sound like a small expectation, but I’ve found with many graphic novels that artists have a hard time giving characters their own looks. (See: The Walking Dead).

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The Backgrounds
If there’s anything I love, it’s a story with a good amount of backstory. With the first two volumes of tW+tD, we don’t get a lot of backstory for the gods before they were turned, or even for the last time the pantheon was on earth. I’m sure most of that will be revealed in the next few volumes.

 

final thoughts

I am completely obsessed with this series. I can’t wait to read the next volumes in this series. Have you read The Wicked + the Divine? Did you love it or hate it? What are your opinions on the gods? Let me know in the comments!

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Top Ten Books To Read If You Like Historical Fiction

I have been slacking so much with these and I am so sorry! I promise to be a better blogger. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the lovelies at The Broke & the Bookish, is all about book suggestions! I picked suggestions based on a genre because I read a lot of different books. I do have a few genres I generally don’t pick up, like romance and mystery, but I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. I picked historical fiction for the theme today because it’s one of my favorite genres and it can host so many different books. So here are my ten suggestions if you enjoy historical fic!

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Have you read any of these? Do you have any favorite historical books you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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Top Ten Tuesday| Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you by our lovely people at The Broke & the Bookish, is all about the top 10 authors I’ve read the most books from. I’ve tried to list the authors I either have read the most from or plan on reading the most from (because I love their work and just want to read all of it). There is no real order here either! On to the top 10!

10. J.K. Rowling

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As a child of the ’90s, I loved Harry Potter as a kid. I read the 734-page Goblet of Fire when I was in the fourth grade in about a week. I was so proud of myself for that. I’ve been toying with the idea of reading some of Rowling’s “adult” books, but I’m not a huge fan of mysteries in general.

9. George R. R. Martin

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I love fantasy. Love it. How could I not love Martin’s whole A Song of Ice and Fire series? Of course, I do find some books harder to read than others, and I admit that I will skip some chapters. I can’t wait to finish the series though. Dany all the way!

8. Gillian Flynn

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I’ve only read Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, but I own Dark Places. I’m reading one book before I start it but I want to read it before I see the movie. I had heard such good reviews about Gone Girl but didn’t really think it’d be as good as it was. Flynn writes each character so well that I constantly have conflicting emotions while I read.

7. Joe Hill

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I am a huge fan of Joe Hill. I found out about him because of Nos4a2. When I realized what it said (Nosferatu, for anyone having a hard time), I felt like I needed to read this book. The title alone was genius. I think I finished it in three days. Heart-Shaped Box is my favorite horror novel, and probably my favorite Hill novel. It’s the only book to really scare me.

6. Sarah J. Maas
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I am always more than a little hesitant when it comes to YA fiction. I’ve been let down before and just hate not being able to finish a book. When Throne of Glass was suggested to me, I decided to give it a shot. A story about a female assassin? It can’t be that bad, right? SO RIGHT. I read The Assassin’s Blade after the first three, so I can say without a doubt that Maas is the one author who I’ve read the most from (if you count all the novelas that go into TAB).

5. Kristina McMorris
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McMorris is my favorite WWII author. I really just can’t read enough of her work. These are some of the books that have made me teared up as an adult which, frankly, rarely happens. Her stories are heart wrenching and the characters are so easy to fall in love with.

4. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
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These I read as a teenager. The picture doesn’t include In the Forest of the Night or Demon in my View, two books I loved as a kid. Hawksong, though, was my ultimate. I loved the idea of two completely different cultures coming together to end a centuries-long war, and I really loved the two main characters.

3. Peter Clines

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As a fan of both superheroes and zombies, it doesn’t get much better than Peter Clines’ Ex-Heroes series. Clines has created a world filled with wonderful characters that I can’t get enough of. Stealth, a supermodel-turned-assassin, is like Batman + Wonder Woman, but with a much more relatable past (as a woman, at least). I really hope Clines writes another Ex-Heroes book, and soon!

2. Jodi Picoult
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My husband thinks Jodi is my favorite author. While I do enjoy her books a lot, they can be a little too emotional for me. I like emotional stories, but there is always a deep pain in Picoult’s books. I don’t think I’ve ever read two Picoult books one right after the other because I just can’t take the emotional roller coaster they put me on. I usually need a good fluffer in the middle.

  1. Sarah Addison Allen
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When it comes to “Magical Realism,” Sarah is your girl. Each book as a hint of magic in it, just enough to make you believe that it could be possible. Her books often remind me of the movie Practical Magic in that it’s set in our world, focusing on people who happen to have a little magic in their life. Allen writes beautifully, and I am often transported to this world she has created, wanting nothing more than to be able to experience these subtle magics at work.

So those are my top 10! Do any of them match any of yours? Do you plan on picking up any of the ones I have here? Let me know in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday| Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish. This week is all about the last ten books to come into your possession, either by buying, trading or borrowing. The books featured all come from a used book store called the Book Trader here in Groton, CT. It’s mostly used books, but I found a few new books in there for a great price. Aristotle and Dante was $7.95 new, compared to it’s original price of $10.99. I may have gone slightly overboard, but I just couldn’t pass up these deals.

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• I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
• The Black Jewel Trilogy – Anne Bishop
• Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman
• The Winter Sea – Susanna Kearsley
• Queen of Camelot – Nancy McKenzie
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz
• The Hunter’s Blade Trilogy – R. A. Salvatore
Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
 Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

I know the list is only nine, but I didn’t count the trilogies as separate books. The pile on the left is mainly for me, while the pile on the right is mainly for my husband.  Did I need new books? Not really. Unfortunately, I am an addict, and the drug is books. It’s bad. Like… really bad. Oh well. I’ll just have to avoid bookstores (and the library!) at any and all costs for the next month or so. If I can do that, I might be able to make a real dent in my huge TBR list/shelf. One of these days I’ll post a picture for you all.

What are some of the newest books you have? Did any of these make the list?

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