September Reading List

September Reading List


Books Read

War Storm – Victoria Aveyard

Ash Princess – Laura Sebastian

Strom Dragon – James Wyatt

Dragon Forge – James Wyatt

Dragon War – James Wyatt

MEM – Bethan C. Morrow

Mirage – Somaiya Daud

Falling – Tara Benham

Impact – Tara Benham

Rising – Tara Benham


Poem Collections Read

to make monsters out of girls – amanda lovelace

the sun and her flowers – rupi kaur

The Soul Collector Series Review

The Soul Collector Series Review

This is my review of the series as a whole. It’s essentially a summation of my thoughts on the books in general. Check out the individuals, if you want to see them.

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

Spoilers ahead!

That being said…




The Soul Collectors Series by Tara Benham

Reviews

Falling

Impact

Rising


What I Liked:

Mephistopheles aka Meph. I really liked him. Did I like a few of the things he did? No. But he felt the most other to me. He’s supposed to be other; he’s a demon.

Declan, for all it’s worth I did find him charming.

The other demons: Cain, Apollyn, Edra.

The humans at least felt human, and at least Gray’s purpose was tied greatly but not by much.

Aniston, for the little we had of her? I liked her.

The cover progression. White wings on black to black wings on grey and finally grey wings on white. It perfectly mimicked the progression of the books. I appreciated this.

What I Did Not Like:

Bayla, our MC. I get that her gaining emotions was so key to the coming of times, and the changes of balance. What I don’t get is why they came flying at her and why as a highly trained Angel, she didn’t do a thing about it? Why wasn’t she like, “What are these? Emotions? I should cut those off, but they still seem to leak through.” I would get that. I would get her caring for Haddy, and this being a major shock to her. I would like for her to have these realizations but instead it feels more like she is simply experiencing them with little thought. Plus the amount of times she cries or passes out (not from being  knocked out) puts me off. She is Bayla The Great, but I felt that was more a title than an actuality of who she was.

The time differences. 1:9.5 Heaven week to Earth years. 1:1 Earth to Hell. “two weeks for us was about 19 years for the humans on Earth.” This means for one Heaven year it is 494 Earth years. Why? I know the book reason why, but why was this truly necessary? I feel as if the book would have been the exact same, had the times been 1:1:1. In fact, I think I would have understood Bayla’s random wave of emotions better because it would have been so much more shocking to her. Along these lines, the Journal entries of her mother were far too modern for me, especially if her mother had her 9,386 years ago. I’m also 100% certain that you would not be meeting Lucifer at a bar and the waitress taking your  order would not have a pen, 9,386 years ago. 9,386 years ago would be 7,300BCE. We had just domesticated dogs in 7,300BCE. We were still Hunters and Gatherers in 7,300BCE. We did not have the concept of bars, of waitresses, of those likes. We didn’t even have domesticated sheep. There were not pens to drop in 7,300 BCE, even if you want to fight me that there could have been a similar concept of a “bar” where you could stop by for “lunch.”

The Love Triangle or just love in general? Bayla has been around for 19 Heaven years. How does she know what love is? Let alone true love? Who thought it was smart to let the 19 year old leader of Hell, marry someone so quickly after she got her emotions? I don’t know about you, but emotions are killer and if Bayla’s emotions send her into fainting when she experiences them too much? I don’t think it’s wise for her to rush head long into anything. See how fast she fell for Declan? See how fast she fell for Meph and then switched to him from Declan? Read: about two months. A parent wouldn’t want their child marrying the dark and dangerous guy who they met two weeks ago. I didn’t find it romantic. I found it taxing, and childish. Perhaps Meph was her soulmate. I can accept that. I would have just liked a bit more distance.

The general plot, but I feel this is a more “this book wasn’t written for me” than it was that the book series was bad. I felt that there were scenes that were odd for the age group, and conversations oddly placed? I get why the demons and angels had to act like humans, but even when they were on their own they still felt very human. Why? They are angels and demons, not humans. There should be an alienness to them. It wasn’t an overly complicated plot in general. I would have liked more Heaven and Hell politics, but did not receive them.

Were the random quotes at the top of each chapter necessary? I don’t think they were. In fact, I skipped most of them because I didn’t think they were important. I have seen series use quotes or definitions at the top of each page, but I feel that they should have more of a purpose other than that they match the aesthetic.

Why You Should Read:

Up to you, really. I wouldn’t recommend this book probably to anyone in my age group but perhaps younger? I feel that this book is written for younger readers, in which case I’m being too critical. I think a much younger Marlena, would have liked this book. Perhaps when she was in Middle School or Ninth grade, although I’m not sure. I was still very picky about my novels then too. You can see my rating, and this isn’t a 1 or a 0, so I do not feel that I wasted my time reading these books. They really were just… not for me.

Total Time Taken To Read

3hrs and 10min

Rating: 2.5/5

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Rising Review

Rising Review

 

This is the third book in the Soul Collectors series, but you can find the whole series: here.

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

Spoilers ahead!

That being said…




Rising by Tara Benham

Synopsis From The Book

The battle is coming.

Bayla has survived everything that has been thrown at her, but new friendships come with new feelings. As secrets continue to be revealed, Bayla is forced to reexamine everything she has ever thought, felt, or been told.

With everyone she loves in danger, Bayla is faced with having to choose between following the path she has always been shown…or listening to her heart.


Short Synopsis By Me

The conclusion to the Soul Collectors Series, Bayla is faced not only with an impending war, but what it means to be a true leader.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

I am so happy that this is a trilogy. Book series that are longer sometimes put me off, unless I’m invested before hand. I also, love how the covers went from black to white. It’s very pretty. Accidentally read the last line of this book when I was checking total pages (and to see if it was the last book). The last line gives me hope for an exciting series!

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

I am happy I got through it. In truth it was not badly written. I’m just mentally tired. It was a different type of journey than what I had expected.

What I Liked:

This book goes through the war and the aftermath of the war. Perhaps having the most events out of all the books thus far.

I am happy that the book goes into what happens after the war. How do the lives change? What happens? It was a good conclusion to the narrative, other than an “it’s over.” I liked this. I liked being able to see Bayla take on her new role. I liked

Still liked the same characters as before.

I really liked the Elder’s reveal to all be creatures with emotions and living in the “grey.” This was cool to me. The idea that the most “good” creatures were the “grey” ones was excellent.

What I Would Have Liked or Changed:

Apparently the plot reasons for Bayla’s drastic change were necessary. Her taking to characters and falling in such intense emotions so quickly were necessary. I wish this came out earlier. I wish that her moods weren’t so dramatic. I’ve never heard of a girl having such an emotional response to learning new things as to pass out. This wasn’t anxiety or panic induced, or falling asleep after crying. This was the shock of learning so much news that she passed out. Like her mind couldn’t handle or fathom it, kind of like it broke her. I figure this was suppose to be the emotions changing her, but I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it.

Everyone died, then some came back to life? Well that’s fantastic, but it sort of takes  away the weight of their deaths. I, personally, could have lived without it. Let the weight of their deaths sink in, or bring them all back. Picking and choosing isn’t really fair. Personally I would have liked them all dead. The weight of it is what is important.

Bayla has know Meph for years, falls for him in weeks and then marries him six months later? Talk about a quick romance. I’ve heard of people falling in love and marrying in six months, but when you were mortal enemies at one point for years? Sure. Okay. Soulmates. I’ll buy it, I suppose…

Why You Should Read:

To finish the series. In truth I think this book may have the most development out of all the books, plot progression wise.

Time Taken To Read

50min

Rating: 3/5

Notable Quotes:

“Emotions are new to you. It’ll take a while to learn complete control over them, but don’t stop having them. They will make you a better leader. They may  not always be fun, but they will serve  you well. They have already  served you well. You are strong, you just need to remember that.” – Father Paul to Bayla

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Impact Review

Impact Review

This is the second book in the Soul Collectors series, but you can find the whole series: here.

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

Spoilers ahead!

That being said…




Impact by Tara Benham

Synopsis From The Book

The mission has been completed, and the earthquake has happened.

Bayla wakes up in the last place she ever thought she’d find herself after Mephistopheles takes her away. She is unsure if she has successfully completed her mission until Meph wake her to share the truth with her.

Secrets that were long kept from her are revealed, and the impact of them is life-changing. Those secrets will challenge everything she has ever believed about herself and her purpose.

Not only does Bayla have to discover who – or what -she is, but she must also decide what she believes. Will she stick to seeing decisions as only a choice between black and white, or will she learn that the truth come in many shades in-between.


Short Synopsis By Me

Immediately after the events of Falling, Bayla wakes in Hell to discover the truths that led her there. She discovers more about herself and the world she once knew, than many Angels dream of knowing. She is then given a choice, to remain as she had or to become something more.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

This is the second book in the series. I was planning to read this series in one go, so we will see if I am able to pull it off or not.

Edit after reading first: I really hope this one answers my questions. Truly.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

It’s like the author heard my rant for Falling  and answered all questions within the first few chapters. Who is Declan and what is his mission? Answered. Why is Gray important? Answered. What is Balya’s importance? Answered. For an Angel who is trained in combat there is a ton of combat training in this book.

The plot doesn’t deviate much. After learning the answers we are given a glimpse: make sure Heaven wins the impending war between Heaven and Hell. Bayla is the daughter of a high ranking angel and Lucifer. Excellent, great, awesome.

I’m not sure anything really happened.

What I Liked:

The demons. I still really like them. I really like Meph, Cain and the others. I realize I didn’t say this in the first, but Meph is Mephistopheles.

Declan is still pretty great.

What I Would Have Liked or Changed:

Bayla is still a big inconsistent but at least she realizes it. She internalizes how she was perfect until the last mission — even if I can’t justify it. Her back story is the bulk of this plot and it makes sense to me, but the reveal wasn’t much of a shock.

There are journal entires of her mother within the plot that at the time of their writing, the language would have been different. I suppose I am just stricter when it comes to historical writing, and I do not believe that an angel from the early ADs or BCs would write the way she did. In fact if we look at the timing, Bayla was 19 Heaven years. This means she was born 9,300+ years ago. There would not be bars, or waitresses with pens if we are going with this time line. Just saying.

Love Triangles. Nothing irks me more than love triangles. Have I been involved in plots with them? Yes? Do I particularly like them? Not so much, but I do understand the appeal to them. I think what irritates me the most for this one is the whole “fall in love with me to save him” premise given by Meph to Bayla about Declan. I also can’t really accept the time line of the falling in love. Bayla knew Declan for perhaps two maybe three weeks, and was certain she was in love with him and that he was The One. Then after a few short weeks of being with Meph, she likes Meph too but still is certain about Declan? I know some people fall in love fast but for her to fall for a presumed demon, a sworn enemy, in three weeks? That’s not love, angel, that’s lust.

Bayla gets told to learn to deal with the consequences of her actions, as if she shouldn’t already know that.

Some how this Earthly drama applied to angels is extremely off putting to me. I don’t know but the idea of romance and such human teenager problems is just… far too human.

Why You Should Read:

It answers the questions left in the first. I do think this is better than the first, perhaps because of the emphasis on the demons and the Heaven vs Hell politics.

Time Taken To Read

1hr 10min

Rating: 2.5/5

Notable Quotes:

“It’s nice to be with you on your side this time.” – Meph to Bayla

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Falling Review

Falling Review

 

My first book series review! Hurray! This is the first book in the series, but you can find the whole series: here.

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

Spoilers ahead!

That being said…




Falling by Tara Benham

Synopsis From The Book

An earthquake is coming, soon.

A small town in Kentucky is set to be destroyed.

Bayla, Heaven’s Soul Collector, has been given two tasks; make sure the earthquake happens according to plan, and also make certain Gray Ellison, a teenaged human, survives. Bayla has a perfect record for completing missions; so, when another angel is added into the mix, she begins to question the Head Council’s faith in her.

Just as she is getting used to working with Hadraniel, her unasked for back-up, she has to face another hurdle. When Declan shows up with the mission to make sure Gray doesn’t survive the earthquake, he starts to challenge all of Bayla’s beliefs and plans. Declan isn’t your typical demon. He’s gorgeous and arrogant, but there’s something about him that Bayla can’t quite put her finger on.

Declan’s presence threatens the mission to save Gray, and Bayla herself. Will she be able to complete her assigned mission successfully despite these new obstacles, or will Gray be lost to Hell forever?


Short Synopsis By Me

I’m just going to go with the synopsis above.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

At Penned con, I was walking around looking at the books, hearing authors talk, and talking to my best friend when I spotted this cover. I said “feathers? Angels.” I was tempted to walk on, but something about the aesthetic of the cover drew me in. Now my best friend isn’t drawn by titles or covers, but only content. Typically I’m not so drawn to covers either but this one drew me. After a second of starring at the books, the author, Tara Benham, caught my eye and I realized either I walked away or talked to her. I talked to her, and ended up walking away with the series later that day after giving it some thought. In truth I am looking forward to this series. It is fantasy enough even if I believe it is a fantasy romance. I got through The Fallen Series by Lauren Kate, and The Hush, Hush Saga by Becca Fitzpatrick, pretty easily actually. I liked them when I read them, and this? This seemed to me, reminiscent of those series.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

Well… I think I’m more confused than settled for a first book. I am left with so many questions. Why was Bayla important? Leading on with the “I’ll tell you later” is odd BS especially when everyone else seems to spill the truth at every moment. Why was this earthquake so important for the Soul Collectors? Why is there only one Soul Collector? Time. Lines.

What I Liked:

The demons. I liked Meph, and Declan (who is not a demon, but I’m not entirely sure what his mission was). I liked their characters. Perhaps this was because Meph was a overarching antagonist and Declan was sassy but charming.

What I Would have Liked or Changed:

Before I go into my changes, I want to talk what this plot is in brief: Bayla, an angel, is sent on a mission to earth to save the life of a boy named Gray. Gray is apparently super important, we don’t find out why really. Bayla turns out to be more important than simply her job as a Soul Collector. Soul Collectors are angels, or demons, who take the souls that go to Heaven or Hell after death. The plot makes sense. Get to earth. Save the boy. Make sure the demons  don’t get him. Now…

Time Lines. Okay so I read this and my first thought was “what?” The time difference between Heaven and Earth is approx. 9.5 years to 1 week. This means it’s roughly 494 years on Earth for every 1 year in Heaven. Bayla, our main character, says she had her Pompeii mission four years (Heaven Years) before the start of the novel. Pompeii was in the year 79AD. Four years ago Heaven time would have been 1,976 years ago or (assuming this book takes place in 2018) 42AD. Let use assume however that we do not know the year, and work backwards from 79AD. 79AD plus 1976 years is 2055AD. This book undoubtedly takes place in modern times, but not a future world. It seems odd to me. I get that the math is close enough for it to be okay. I get that she could have been roughly estimating the time as four years, but this bothered me a lot when reading and I can’t really explain why? Something about this time change is unsettling to me.

Bayla’s character consistency. She is introduced as relatively stoic, and one to ignore conversations of others. She doesn’t seem the type to fall in love easily, or to care about people she’s just met when she doesn’t care about her own roommate. Then she does fall for someone she just met. She becomes super close to another angel, Haddy, in a few short weeks (which is only a few hours Heaven time). She cries a lot, and freaks out over learning new information on her mission? She has a perfect track record, and has dealt with all the major casualty events in history. You’d think she’d be more composed when learning of new things. Perhaps this has to do with why she is so valuable. I don’t know. It’s never explained. If she is the most feared angel in all of Hell, the only angel of her type, why does she act the way she does? Why does she simply break protocol so easily when an angel she just met almost dies? Why does she care so much for him, she just met him? This is a moment in her life for singular, highly important mission, but she’s dealt with them before. I don’t understand.

Gray’s purpose. I get that he’s super important and it’s supposed to be some sort of mystery of why he’s so important, but I’d at least like to have a bit more information than simply that. Especially if this is the closure to his story.

Other things:

  • Were the quotes by other authors and people necessary for the start of each chapter? I loved the quotes, but I didn’t think they added to the story in any way.
  • Some of the dialogue was interesting to say the least.
  • The whole Truth or Dare scene really threw me off.
  • Bayla revealing the truth to Hannah. 1. Yes, a person would so simply believe it without proof, simply because of the feeling involved. 2. Kinda against Bayla’s training and protocol, is it not?

Why You Should Read:

It’s not bad. I feel that there are a lot of things I would change, but it was pretty well written. I also probably may not be the target audience for this book. It read very young YA, to me and I haven’t been doing all that hot with a majority of YA novels lately. I may just be overly critical.

There is room for growth and questions that have left me wondering things, and I did accidentally read the last line of the third book before I started.  Thus, I want to see where this is going. I would recommend trying the first book, perhaps if you are a younger reader. There aren’t any exceedingly suggestive themes or notions in the book.

Time Taken To Read

1hr 10min

Rating: 2/5

Notable Quotes:

“I wrote I loved you in the palm of your hand.” – Declan to Bayla

“You were like water to someone who was dying of thirst. I couldn’t drink in the sight of you enough to ever be fulfilled.” – Bayla to Declan.

“The stars this side of Heaven are so beautiful. They are my favorite thing about  this place. If ever you are missing me, look to them. And if you see on falling, it’s me.” – Bayla to Declan

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MEM Review

MEM Review

 

Can I just say I love this cover? Its essentially translucent to show off the beautiful design on the hardback. I picked this up at Book Fest in St. Louis.

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

Spoilers ahead, fair warning.

That being said…




MEM by Bethany C. Morrow

Synopsis From The Book

The Roaring Twenties are in full swing, and technological advancements have led to a rather unusual but fashionable practice: the elites of Montreal are having unpleasant memories extracted  from their minds, but the memories exist as mirror images of their sources, creatures known as “Mems.”

Elsie, otherwise called Dolores Extract No. 1, is the first Mem with the ability to create her own memories. She is granted special privileges  and allowed to live on her own in the city, away from the Vault where all the other Mems are kept — that is, until the day she is suddenly summoned back. What happens next is a gorgeously rendered, heartbreaking novel, announcing an exhilarating new voice in speculative literature.


Short Synopsis By Me

Elsie is a Mem, short for “memory” also known as an extraction of unwanted memory from a human Source. Typically Mems are brainless, lost only in the moment of and surrounding their extraction (the memory from which they come). Elsie is sentient, able to create her own memories outside of those as her identity as Dolores Extract No. 1. For almost two decades Elsie was granted the freedom to live on her own as a person, but that all changes when she is recalled to the Vault — the lab where all Mems are kept and created — due to the deterioration of her Source. Mem explores the concepts of identity, memory, and existence in a way that may leave you breathless.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

I saw this on a table of books and was not immediately drawn, but when the table supervisor started introducing the books on the table I picked it up having to look inside. I saw Roaring Twenties. I heard sci-fi. I saw “memories extracted.” I said yes. Out of all the books from my trip to St. Louis this is hands down the one I was the most excited for, which could perhaps have been a bad thing. I didn’t care. I let the hype fester within me.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

Scream. That’s what I did after reading this book. I screamed. I screamed because the ending had my heart and shook it, making me feel so much. So I screamed to let it out. This book was short at 182 pages, but within those 182 pages I saw a world. I was faced with questions on existence that I never thought I’d have. I was faced with thoughts on memories that have sit within me.

What does it mean to exist? What would it be like to extract a memory that is unwanted? I thoroughly believe that it is the experiences we face that shape us to become who we are as humans. When I was younger I would often say “the experience is always worth it.”  In recent years I have begun to question whether this is true. Is the experience truly always worth it?  Even the horrible, the disastrous, the life shattering? I do not know it it is worth it, but I know the experience will always shape me.

So what happens when you don’t remember those experiences? What happens when you forget those changes? Do you remain stagnant? Do you try to fill in the gaps and perhaps lose yourself along the way? What becomes of you? What becomes of those memories, and are they worth it?

I’m not sure, but I am sure that this book will leave me thinking about it for a long time to come.

What I Liked:

Elsie and her existence. She is not an anomaly she exists within the frame of the world, but as an existence who thrives like all others. She is constantly growing and she is the light that her Source eliminated. Elsie is the light that all of us have within us that changes. Elsie is not a memory. She is an epiphany. She is the evolution of thought, memory, and knowledge. She is the cumulation of existence. She is just like you or I. Elsie is not a thing.

The philosophical questions in this novel are ones that leave me wanting to posed this book to far more people. They are questions I want to know other’s perspectives on. I want to know more, see more, ask more and understand how memory shapes others.

The other characters in the novel drew me in, with their perceptions of memories. A Mem was a possession, an “it,” a record. Mems were virtually abandoned. They serve as a self-serving existence and are a fascination. Some characters look at Elise as an existence within her own and fight to protect her, while others see her as a lie, an anomaly, as a product. This book focuses on Elsie’s survival, and her existence she has accepted. Where other characters fight for her, she fights for herself in a way that is entirely her own. She does not try to be her Source, and she reminds others that she is not. How the others take that is up to them, but through the book you can see how her existence shapes others.

Harvey and his decision. Harvey is a Banker (Scientist) and the son of a Banker, now dead, who once cared for  and scientifically observed Elsie. He, Harvey, is the one who Elsie falls for. He, too, loves her for who she is, but knows he can not love her for she is a memory. She will never age and he will. She will exist and he will die. They are star crossed and his decision in the end is what left me screaming. I do not want to spoil, so I will not.

It was a simple plot, a simple world. It was filled with a disjointed narrative (cut ins from the past or other times), that I am fond of. I know this throws people off, so take note. The story came from the premise. The existence of what is identity. MEM‘s story telling is vivid and I find that a first person narrative was perhaps the only way to accurately tell this story.

What I Would Have Liked or Changed:

I wish Dolores, the Source, and her story line had ended differently. I understand its necessity. I just wish she could have been helped.

Why You Should Read:

Philosophy. Beautiful characters and thought provoking stories are always a plus, but for me if I had to give you just one reason? It would be for the questions on existence and memories.

This book redefined to me, at least, a pride in my story. Bad things can happen to a person, and that’s what makes them human. It’s how we grown, change, and recover that defines us.

Time Taken To Read

1 hr and 20 min

Rating: 5/5

Can I give a 6/5?

Notable Quotes:

” ‘If people are imperfect enough to destroy their minds, perhaps they cannot perfect the procedure that allows them to do so.’

Harvey dismissed my logic. “That’s rather literal. It’s more a matter of scientific integrity. Regardless the invention in question, regardless what it does — if we’ve created it, we must strive to perfect it, if we can.’ ” – Elsie to Harvey

” ‘What’s it like to know there’s something you’ll never remember?’ ” – Ettie, a worker at the Vault

“This is the first universal truth I have ever come  by on my own and it multiples like fire. Because if this is possible — if sudden death is no respecter of person — so must every horrid thing be.” – The memory that created Elsie.

” ‘ I began as one epiphany and I never stopped having them; I’ve been having them all along, growing brighter every time while other Mems fade and expire. Real people have glimpses of me, realizations they then digest — the moments fade or time erodes them. But I am the realization separated from Dolores before I could be changed… No matter what her father hoped, extraction means I cannot be forgotten.’ ” – Elsie

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Mirage Review

Mirage Review

 

Time to get cracking on that Fairy Loot Box read, and it was fantastic.

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

Spoilers ahead, be warned.

That being said…




Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Synopsis From The Book

The crown of Dihya had been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken.

But I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way back home.

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, sixteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation, and of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day she, too, will have adventures and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes, it’s not what she expects. She is kidnapped and taken in secret to the royal palace. There, she discovers she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double to appear in public, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty — and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter and the royal court believes  a world of violence and fear, and she soon realizes that one wrong move could lead to her death…


Short Synopsis By Me

For Amani the day she becomes an adult is the day that changes her life. Living under the regime of the Vathek Empire — one that has taken so much from her people already — it is one of the few moments of true happiness to remain. Marked with the blessing of her family and history, she is ready to step forward into her new life but it comes to her in a way she least expects it.

Stripped from her family, her culture, and blessing, Amani is forced to become the body double of the cruel Vathek Princess Maram, with whom she is almost identical. Her role is be perfect so none may tell the difference. To fail would mean her death. To succeed may change the world.

It is here in the palace of fear that Amani is taught forms of love that she did not know, and how to care for those she once did not. It is here in new identity, stripped of all that once made her, her, that Amani learns that masks made hide the heart, but the marks of one’s blessings are never truly erased.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

Space? Check. Evil Empire? Check. Body doubles? Check. This was going to be a ride. I could tell. I already love sci-fi (although I suppose you wouldn’t know that with  my lack of sci-fi on my  recommended reading list). Something about space operas is fantastic. I’m not typically one for star-crossed lovers. I don’t tend to like the drama. However, it’s a sci-fi with an evil empire. Body Double stories are so interesting when told well. I figure keep an open mind and everything will turn out fine.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

Space? Check. Evil Empire? Check. Body double? Check. This whole star crossed lovers that I don’t typically like: sign me up! Perhaps I’m biased, simply because this is a sci-fi novel, but I was in love. The cultures, the history, the religion. It was  simplistic to understand, with a premise that is no where near complicated to follow. Girl gets taken by the royals for something she can’t control, made to play a part she never wanted, and brought into the rebellion. Sound like a bunch of books? Probably.

I can not wait to read the sequels that will come out. I can not wait to see where the story goes. Chances are it will end  in a way  much like these novels tend to end, but I am excited.

What I Liked:

What Mirage does so clearly, is it builds the world. I’m have a great love for beautiful histories and cultures. Spoiler: this book had that. The world is established instantly. You are thrown in, jargon and all, with no room to do anything but hold on and keep going. The religion is solid, clear cut, and mythical. The cultures are vastly different and in their own ways charming and understandable. Then there is the history that is simple, but very important. Together we get a very well established world for what we do see.

Speaking of culture I want to talk about daans. What is a daan? It is the marking of a skin (think tattoo) that marks a child into adulthood. In Kushaila culture the designs are elaborate, beautiful, with symbolism, heritage, and blessings wrapped up into one marking upon the face: the daan. What strikes me as so important about a daan is the cultural significance. In Kushaila culture it is so packed full of meaning but for the Vath? For the Vath, our beautiful evil empire, it is savagery or barbaric. They are considered ugly amongst so many other things, and within the few remaining Kushaila nobles: outlawed. It is an erasure of their culture and from my perspective I understand both sides. Perhaps the Vath did it because of their lack of knowledge on the markings, but for an empire such as their’s, I’m more inclined to believe it is because they did know. What better way to take a person’s identity and history, than to literally strip it away. I’m a sucker for beautiful metaphors wrapped in culture  and myth.

Our main character Amani is stripped of her culture, identity, and existence in a multitude of ways when she is taken to be Maram’s body double. The cumulation of this stripping happens in the early chapters when her daan is taken from her.  Amani  changes. She hardens. She becomes unlike the village girl she once was, with sharp words and a mastery of cruelty. Only she can never be truly cruel, and that shows in the way she treats others and treats her own culture and identity. Her change to become Maram may change her, but it does not erase her, only strengthens her. Early in the book Amani reflects that she will never be like her mother who was hardened by two wars having to survive horrors Amani could never fathom. The trails Amani faces and will face will harden her to become someone like her mother: hardened.Too often in books like these I’m dragged along trying to believe that the main character is smart, or changed, or different with little to no real belief on my part. I find these transformations of MC beginning to MC end, as little more than a farce — at least as of late. I don’t feel as if the main character has changed despite how much she says she has and repeats she has to herself. Amani feels changed to me, changed in a way will retaining what made her Amani, and that is important for me. How she develops from here will either break or reinforce my beliefs, but I have hope.

Amani, however, was not my favorite character but before we get to Maram, I will speak of the other characters. I liked this cast. Idris was dreamy, Nadine was horrific, and Tala was a great support. Each character played their role of support, with Idris getting a lot of development — which I loved, by the way. I can not wait to see how each of them go on from here.

Maram. When I was introduced to this character I knew I was going to like her. I did. I love her. I still love her. I see her. I see her hardened heart that was starting to open before Amani sealed it shut and I say to her, “I still love you.” This is a girl hated on one side (Vath) for not being pure, and mourned on another (Kushaila) for not being her mother. This is a girl who was taught to be cruel because she believes everyone hates her. This is a girl forced out of both cultures because she doesn’t belong and she can’t embrace the other while trying to belong. (i.e. she can’t embrace her Kushaila to be Vath.) She is hard. She is cold. She is cruel. She is beautiful. She is a true ice princess, and she will be Queen. This is to say I hope she becomes Queen. I hope in some way Amani is able to redeem her trust, and get Maram to be the Queen the people deserve to have, the Queen she is destined (in my opinion) to be. I believe it is possible. I love her and I will go down loving her.

Other things

  • Amani’s love for Idris and vice versa was nicely developed, in my opinion, and was not the focus of Amani’s story.
  • Poetry is so big in this book. I love it.
  • The imagery and other metaphors
  • The jargon that you are thrown into. I can not reinforce that for me, the best built worlds are the ones that exist outside the bounds of the pages.
  • The book begins where it ends, which is always nice for me. I love it, when things  come full circle.

What I Would Have Liked or Changed:

I want more on the Vathek Empire. I want to know more of their history and culture  outside of what I know about the royal family. Amani doesn’t know much, other than their cruelty but they were not always cruel. It was alluded to that at one time they were peaceful upon their own planet. I want to know what God or Gods they worship. What histories and myths do they tell? Where does the cruelty come from? I want more on this empire so I can understand them better outside being the “evil empire.”

To say I was surprised with the King, King Mathis, having killed his family to succeed the throne, would be a lie. I am not angry with this plot development. I feel that it is placed to make him seem cruel and redeemable, but I don’t always like this plot. I want to know more of why, other than just a want for the throne. However, I would have been more angry by this if it was his only displayed form of cruelty. However, his immediate decision to kill hundreds of people when dissonance occurred later in the book was good enough for me. He is cruel. I suppose I’d just like to have seen more of him.

More Vathek politics. What is happening with the other colonies? What is happening with the other planets?

I don’t particularly love first person narratives, but I do understand when they are necessary. I do think, however, that this book could have been told in the third person.

Why You Should Read:

Culture, world building, and strong female leads. If what all I said above interests you, then that is fantastic. Mirage captivated me, and held me in. It made me excited from beginning to end. I would recommend this to my friends in a heart beat. Maram as a character is enough to recommend this to my friends. If you love Sci-fi and a bit of romance, this book is for you. Does it read as a Sci-fi novel? No. It reads more like a fantasy.

Only that matters naught, for fantasy and sci-fi are often one in the same.

Time Taken To Read

2 hours

Rating: 5/5

Notable Quotes:

” ‘I wonder which of us is more cursed,’ She said, soft enough that Nadine would not hear. ‘You for looking like me, or I for looking like my mother?’ ” – Maram

“Silence is the most damning criticism.” – Idris

“Change takes bravery…” – Naimah, a woman of Kushaila

“And so I lost the game before it ever began.” – Amani

“All may see the stars, but few will see their forebears. And to those whose eyes see golden fire We say  heed Us and listen.” – Words of Kushaila

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the sun and her flowers Review

the sun and her flowers Review

 

My first review, and on poetry not a YA novel. I’m really excited for this to be my first official review. Let’s jump in!

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

That being said… I capitalize author names like the way they are in books.




the sun and her flowers by rupi kaur

Synopsis From The Book

(On the inner pages of the work, done to not ruin formatting)

the sun and her flowers is a

collection of poetry about

grief

self-abandonment

honoring one’s roots

love

and empowering oneself

it is split into five chapters

wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming

– about the book


Short Synopsis By Me

See above.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

Excitement. I have been waiting to get my hands on this for forever. I loved milk and honey but do not own it. I still need to buy it and for me to buy this first is, in truth, not surprising. I love poetry, especially her poetry. There is something so tangible, but untouchable about poetry in general. It reminds me of the deepest parts of myself and gives me strength I can never truly put to words. The anticipation to read this collection was the kind of mouth watering need that you have when you crave your favorite food. I could taste it, but I still wanted it and my soul did too.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

Yes. There isn’t much I can say other than “yes.” This was everything I thought it  would be and more. Tears. Tired soul, but also a new found passion. I feel that there are many things I could say about this, but poetry affects all differently. I hope others will read her work. Always.

What I Liked:

  • So many of the poems that I have picked specific ones if you aren’t into reading full books of poetry.
  • Art –> Like always
  • The continued themes
  • The female and self empowerment.

What I Would Have Liked Or Changed:

N/A

Why You Should Read:

Poetry, in my opinion, opens the soul to a new array of emotions and thoughts that typically literature or novels does not. There is a certain rawness to it that can stick with  a person and really get into them. I think you should read this book, because perhaps you can learn something. You can learn something about others, about yourself, about the world, about so many things. What I’ve learned is perhaps not what you will learn and vice versa.

Self care is always important when reading poetry, as poetry, by nature, can be visceral. There are many triggers within these pages that many may feel off put by, and may need time to work through.

Time Taken To Read

50 minutes

Rating: 5/5

While I did like milk and honey better, there were quite a few noteworthy and heart wrenching moments within this.

Notable Poems/Quotes:

Time pg 55

Untitled Poem pg 59

“It takes monsters to steal souls / and fighters to redeem them” – Home, pg 71

Growth is a Process pg 87

The Art of Growing pg 94-96

Self-love pg 105

Untitled Poem pg  114

Accent pg 139

Untitled Poem pg 179

Untitled Poem pg 202

Legacy pg 213

Human pg 225

A Simple Math pg 229

Timeless pg 234

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Reviews Information

Reviews Information

 

As I start up my reviews, I would like to note a few things for others to understand.

I have mentioned before that I read a lot. I also read quickly. I am able to read what most people would not be able to even fathom in a single day or night. This is to say my reading speeds may not seem normal to you, but I am reading. Slowing myself down actually makes me less inclined to read a book.

This is why I love reading plays and poetry, because they typically flow quickly.

This is also why if your YA book of 300 type set pages at a specific font for books takes me more than a few hours to read, chances are it hasn’t grabbed me. This does not happen often, if at all,  but it has.

Secondly, I read cover to cover. This means I like to read a book from start to finish and there are rare exceptions to this: text books, rereads, books that I love but are massive and taking time for me to read (exs: Lord of the Rings, The Night Angel Trilogy).

I am someone who likes to remain completely immersed in books, for good or for bad. Take that as you will. Here are some recent reading times for you in order to understand.

I read Brent Weeks’ The Night Angel Trilogy in 5 days, where I read the first book in two days and then last book in two days, but the middle book in one. These were not continuous reading hours, due to work more than because of the story. If I had the time to read them in one sitting, I would have.

The Endgame series by James Frey (3 books, plus  3 companions): 2 days, and I probably was reading other books in the same time and at the beach.

On Average:

1 to 2 hours for a book of poetry, depending on the poetry

1 to 4 hours for a play, depending on the play and it’s complexity.

1 to 4 hours for YA novels. Depends on the length, the complexity, and how much I like the characters.

I haven’t really read a lot of non-YA in a while so I  don’t have an average time for them. I know that I read The Night Angel Series in a week, but the last “adult” novel I read before that was Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches Trilogy (The Witching Hour, Lasher, Taltos) and I remember it taking me a week once I got through the beginning of The Witching Hour. (The beginning of the Witching Hour is rough.) I will try to keep an eye out for times, with this next set of novels.

 

My reviews will not be overly elaborate. I don’t feel that I can write beautiful and eloquent essays about every single book that I read. Instead I’ll write it with a sort of format.

  • Customary warning and all tags for the books
  • Name, Author (Obviously) and a picture
  • Short Synopsis from the book and Short Synopsis by me
  • Initial thoughts before reading
  • Initial thoughts after reading.
  • What I liked.
  • What I would have liked or changed
  • Why you should read.
  • Time Taken to read
  • Rating scale on a ?/5 rating
  • Notable Quotes:

I will be making a more eloquent version of this as a set page for reviews in the future. Thanks!

I think that will be it for now, and if formatting changes. I’ll let you all know. Thanks! Happy reading!

 

Starcrossed Swoons: Fairy Loot Box

Starcrossed Swoons: Fairy Loot Box

This was my first Fairy Loot Box, and it’s theme was: Starcrossed Swoons.

What was inside?

  • Customary Spoiler Card, with September’s Art
  • Art for the book with Letter from the Author
  • Customary September Edition Insider Scoop booklet
  • Bella and Edward Candle by Nerd Poured Candles
  • Mal and Alina Shea Butter
  • Prythian Shoelaces designed by Fictiontea Designs based on A Court of Thorns of Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Dreamer Apron designed by Literary Life Co. with a quote from Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  • Love Rune Enamel Pin for Shadowhunters by Fictiontea Designs
  • Angelic Fire Candle Matches by Fictiontea Designs
  • Bookmarks: Fairy Loot September Bookmark, Tempests and Slaughter Bookmark, Mirage Bookmark
  • Swoon-worthy Postcard Set with art from various artists based on various titles
  • Muse of Nightmares postcard
  • Constellation Notebook with a quote from The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
  • Queen of Air and Darkness sampler
  • Book of the Month: Mirage by Somaiya Daud with exclusive cover, sprayed edges, and signed.

Image: (I would retake for the Shea Butter but I did not)

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The book this month is Mirage by Somaiya Daud, which I find hilarious. Before I opened this box, I had listed it down on my “books to buy” list because I wanted to read it. Surprise! I got the book. Cue happy dance.

Will I love the book? That is yet to be known. The recent YA novels that I’ve read haven’t really been making me giddy. This is not to say they are bad, just that there is little “hype.” I still look forward to the read, and when I do, I’ll post my review.

Things in this box I can’t use: candles. My father has an allergy to scents (candles, perfumes, body lotions) and since I am still living at home, this makes candle usage difficult. It’s okay, I got an apron as well and a journal.  One can never have too many journals, after all.

Will I buy a Fairy Loot Box again? I want to, but they are expensive for what I do get. Plus I’m shipping from the UK to the USA so even more expensive. I will buy again in the future for a theme that I just must have. Until then, I’ll collect the book titles and keep a look out on where to find them.