The Giver by Lois Lowry

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Somehow I never got around to reading this book when I was younger. But a bunch of different people have recommended it to me over the years, and I knew right away it would be the kind of book I would like. I ended up buying it on my birthday and saved it to read over the summer as a reward to myself for finishing school.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A book that became a movie

Summary: Jonas is 12 years old, which means that he, along with all the other 12 year olds, will receive his job assignment. However, unlike all the other kids, Jonas isn’t sure what he wants to do or what he would even be good at. He ends up getting assigned to apprentice with the Giver. As he spends more and more time learning about the past with the Giver, he begins to see his society in a whole different way, a way that the others in his town cannot understand.

Likes: I found the world-building of this book to be the most compelling part of it. There wasn’t much of a plot, but the way the author described all the rules and history of the town made it feel like a real place. Additionally, the way that Jonas felt about the rules as he began to study with the Giver was really telling about just how messed up this dystopia really was.

Dislikes: There honestly wasn’t anything I disliked about this book.

TL;DR: This book is amazing and if you like dystopian fiction, you will like this.

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

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So, I’ll confess that I actually love the TV show based on this book, Legend of the Seeker. That’s how I found out about Terry Goodkind’s books. I first read Wizard’s First Rule back in high school–before I even had a blog–and I reread it recently because it fit one of the categories on the Popsugar challenge I’ve been doing this year. And my thoughts are pretty much the same.

Rating: [2-3/5]

Reading Challenge: A book based on or turned in to a TV show

Summary: Richard Cypher is a simple wood guide, but his life is turned upside-down when he meets a mysterious woman named Kahlan Amnell. She is from across the boundary, which separates Westland from the Midlands, and, more importantly, magic from normal life. After being named Seeker of Truth by the most powerful wizard in the land, Richard must use his powers to save the Midlands from Darken Rahl, an evil and powerful wizard who abuses his power and the people he rules.

Likes: Probably my favorite thing about this book is the relationship between Richard and Kahlan. They’re full of cuteness and angst and sexual tension. I’ve seen a lot of comments about implausibly their relationship develops, which I can understand, but this hopeless romantic likes it nevertheless. I also really enjoyed the magic and world-building in this book. The different creatures and types of magical beings and powers were really unique and interesting, in my opinion.

Dislikes: One thing that has been hugely problematic for me both times I’ve read this book is the way the author deals with rape and sexual abuse. One of the minor characters is literally a pedophile, and the only point this serves in the book is to characterize him as a villain. Not only is this incredibly disgusting, it’s lazy writing. Second of all, [potential SPOILERS ahead] Richard becomes involved with one of the Mord Sith, a group of women who use pain and bondage to torture and enslave men. Some of this involves sexual encounters. While it’s pretty clear that the author is trying to portray a BDSM-type experience, Richard does not consent to these acts. Which makes it rape.

TL;DR: I basically liked everything in this book, except for the several ways in which the author handled rape, which was disgusting and lazy. That’s why I can’t really decide what to rate it as.

The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis

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I’ve been reading bits and pieces of this book all semester for my history course. Though I assumed we’d read the whole book, we read all but one chapter. That just bugged me, so I sat down and read the last chapter so I could say with good conscience that I’d actually finished it. You can call me a nerd; I know it’s true.

Rating: [2/5]

Reading Challenge: A nonfiction book

Summary: For this book, Gaddis was asked to write a short but comprehensive guide to the Cold War. This book covers everything from the dropping of the bomb in 1945 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. He focuses on how ideology shaped the actions of world leaders and impacted world history from a social, economic, and political standpoint.

Likes: This book really does have it all. Going into it, I did not have a good understanding of the Cold War. After reading it, I can definitely say that I have learned a lot about this important part of world history. I think it definitely did a good job of explaining how everything was tied together and how the cycle of fear continued for so long.

Dislikes: Because he focuses so much of ideology, the book is not in chronological order. For me, that was a bit confusing at first since I did not have much of an understanding of the Cold War. However, it shouldn’t be a problem if you are familiar with the topic. Additionally, the prose was a little dry and hard to get through at times.

TL;DR: I would definitely recommend this book to history buffs or anyone who is interested in studying the Cold War or modern history.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

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This is probably my favorite Shakespeare play ever. I’ve seen all the film adaptations and I love every single one of them for different reasons. In high school, I even got the chance to act in this play. So I was really excited when I found out we were reading it in my Shakespeare class. Basically, I think it’s hilarious and Benedick and Beatrice are one of my most favorite fictional couples ever.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A classic romance

Summary: After returning home from war, Count Claudio enlists the help of his friends to win the heart of Hero. Once he is engaged to her, Don Pedro plots a distraction to keep the couple entertained while they wait to marry. They will each trick Benedick and Beatrice, sworn nemeses, into falling in love with each other. While they plan to bring this couple together, Don John, the prince’s bastard brother, has his own plot to tear Claudio and Hero apart.

Likes: Benedick and Beatrice. They are so funny and their chemistry is incredible. Plus, Shakespeare strongly hints at the back story of their relationship, which makes their banter all the more interesting.

Dislikes: Claudio’s treatment of Hero during the end of the play is pretty problematic, and the ending seemed kind of abrupt to me.

TL;DR: This is a great play and I would definitely recommend it.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello

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Oddly enough, I had to read this graphic novel for my Mythology class. We were discussing myth in the modern world and so we did a unit on Wonder Woman, reading the first two issues of the original comic book series, watching the pilot of the Lynda Carter TV show, and finally, reading the first volume of the new 52. Needless to say, this has definitely been the most fun school assignment I’ve ever had.

Rating: [4/5]

Reading Challenge: A graphic novel

Summary: Diana is sucked in to a war between the gods when Zola, who’s pregnant with Zeus’s child, shows up in her room one night. In her quest to protect Zola, Diana returns home to Paradise Island, bringing bloodshed right along with her. After discovering the secret to her parentage, Diana must figure out how to keep Zola and the baby safe from Hera and prevent war among the gods.

Likes: I love the character development, especially compared to the other two versions of Wonder Woman I’ve seen. I also really like how Greek mythology plays a larger role. Plus, the art style is absolutely gorgeous.

Dislikes: They switched artists in issues 5 and 6, which made it feel a little weird.

TL;DR: Definitely read this if you like comics and superheros.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Okay, I’m going to be really honest here. When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded stupid. But then I kept seeing it everywhere and book bloggers whose opinions I respect were all gushing over it and so I started rethinking my opinions. And then it went on sale on Amazon, so I thought, why not? and bought it. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE EXCITED TO BE WRONG IN MY LIFE.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A book set in the future

Summary: Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing. She’s also a cyborg living with her adoptive mother and two stepsisters. When the prince himself comes to her stand and asks her to fix his android, she can hardly say no. But that same day, plague breaks out in the city and people close to Cinder begin to fall ill. However, Cinder soon discovers that she may hold the key for a cure to this dreaded plague–and with that, she may finally be able to escape the city and find her happily ever after.

Likes: Disabled woman of color as the protagonist. That was literally one of the main reasons why I finally decided to pick up the book. Plus, all those plot twists. Seriously, I am kind of amazed at how much plot the author managed to fit into that book and still have it make sense. Lastly, I really liked how the author adapted the fairy tale and yet still managed to subvert expectations and make the characters and story fresh.

Dislikes: I really did not appreciate the massive cliffhanger at the end of the book, but that’s only because I can’t afford to buy the second one right now! :)

TL;DR: Read this book. All of you. Right now.

Never Look Back by Sabine Bummel

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I received a request from the author to review this book.

Goodreads | Amazon US

Rating: [1/5]

Summary: Jen Butler is an author of self-help books. She met the man of her dreams, Will, at one of her book signings and they began a yearlong relationship. However, Jen wakes up one day and discovers that every trace of Will has disappeared from her life. Thinking that she made the past year of her life up, she is determined to search for him and discover the truth. With the help of her ex-boyfriend, Cameron, she soon finds that Will may not have been who he said he was.

Likes: The book felt like I was reading a Michael Bay movie. Everything just seemed totally blown out of proportion and fantastical. It was full of expensive cars. exotic locales, fine foods, and a lot of sex. So, overall, I enjoyed the over-the-top Hollywood feel of the story.

Dislikes: There were a lot of misspelled words and grammatical errors. It was to the point that sometimes I could not tell what the author was even trying to say. The plot dragged at points and the characters all seemed exactly the same to me. But most of all, I feel the author asked the reader to take too much for granted and many times the situations were so implausible that it was too difficult to suspend my disbelief long enough to really get into the story.

TL;DR: I don’t think I would recommend this book to anyone, quite honestly. I just couldn’t take the story seriously.

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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I really wasn’t sure what to expect going in to this book. Overall, I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction or of war literature (there are some exceptions of course), so I’m really not sure why I decided to buy this book in the first place. However, I’m really glad I did because it completely subverted all of my expectations and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A book that made you cry

Summary: Verity is an English Special Operations Executive during the beginning of World War Two. She and her best friend, the pilot Maddie, are shot down over France and Verity is taken prisoner by the Nazis. In order to stop the Nazis from torturing her, Verity agrees to tell them everything she knows. Through her account of British military secrets, she weaves a tale of how she and Maddie came to be best friends in the middle of a war.

Likes: I absolutely love the characters. Verity and Maddie are both so wonderful and different. They’re strong and brave and yet still feminine. I also really love the unreliable narrative style. It took me a little bit to get used to at first, but once I realized what the author was doing, I loved it.

Dislikes: There was a lot of military and technical jargon that was sometimes hard to get around. Plus, the beginning of the book was a little difficult for me to get into.

TL;DR: I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes war or historical fiction, or who loves strong female characters.

The Emergence by A.O. Khalil

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I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: May 19, 2015

Goodreads | Amazon US | Website

Rating: [3/5]

Summary: In the wake of natural disasters and mass disappearances worldwide, sinkholes begin to open up without explanations. There rumors of strange creatures emerging from the holes, but no one believes them, until it’s too late. When the creatures stage a massive attack on the human race, Jayson must do whatever it takes to protect his family and keep them away from the creatures.

Likes: For me, the concept of the book was really intriguing and the author kept a lot of the mystery secret throughout the boo, only revealing tidbits here and there. For me, that was enough to keep me reading. Plus, the book was really excellently paced and full of action, so it never felt dull or dragged out. In my opinion, the concept, plot, and pacing were definitely the book’s strongest points.

Dislikes: There were a lot of grammatical and spelling errors throughout the book, which normally bothers me a lot. However, the book itself was compelling enough to keep me reading. If that’s something that bothers you as a reader, then you may have a difficult time with this book.

TL;DR: Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action, dystopian, or post-apocalyptic type stories.It was a quick, exciting read with one heck of a cliffhanger.

Henry V by William Shakespeare

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I’m actually seeing a production of this at my school tomorrow. I go to a woman’s university, so King Henry is genderbent. While I didn’t really enjoy reading this play as much as I have some of the others, I think I’ll like watching it more. At least, I hope so.

Rating: [2/5]

Summary: In this play, Henry has decided to invade France on the grounds that he’s very distantly related to a French monarch. Because the French government refuses to acknowledge his claim, Henry gathers an army to take control of an important port city despite the ridiculous odds facing him and his men.

Likes: Katherine is basically the only redeeming part of this play for me. Her dirty French puns in the one scene plus Henry attempting to “woo” her at the end were really the only parts of the play that I enjoyed.

Dislikes: For me, this play was very difficult to follow. The historical context of the play needs to be known in order to understand the storyline. I frankly didn’t enjoy it very much at all.

TL;DR: I don’t know if I would recommend this particular historical play.