The Last Magician Review

To start, I apologize for my seven month long absence. Life got a bit crazy and I need to get things back under control. But I did manage to complete one of my reading goals for the year with this book!! 500 pages!! Now the story is a whopping 498, but I decided to be an over achiever and read the acknowledgments also which totaled to 500. So shout out to my local book club for picking this beast as our July book!

I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible.

The Last Magician follows a young woman named Esta who has the ability to control time, not only can she stop it but she can also travel back in time. (I’m assuming everyone can pick up from the title that the book centers around magic). Esta is also a thief and A very good one at that. She goes back in time to steal powerful artifacts, this leads to her being sent back to 1902 to steal the most difficult thing she ever has. Along the way she meets a plethora of interesting characters and faces several challenges all while she believes she is helping to save her kind.

I went into this book with no information, which is probably best for myself. It started out very slow and that made me nervous considering the size of this book. But as it progresses it develops a steady pace, still on the slow side but manageable. The author focused a lot on the plot which was wonderful and constantly moving in the slightest ways. I never found myself pausing to question what had happened but I also never rushed to find out what was next.

The characters. In the beginning I found many of them hard to relate to but still enjoyable. Esta is a strong female which is nice to see, but she was described like every other strong female lead. Nothing really special about her except her ability. Harte who is the main male character, I enjoyed because he was an ass. Like the whole time. He had soft moments, but at the end of the day he was here to do what he needed to to regardless of who was involved. As the book progressed I just enjoyed Harte’s character more and more, he was the only one that I felt had character development throughout the book. He was a devious ass and a gentleman all at once and I really liked that about him. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Esta and Harte. There was tension but it was more along the lines of trust issues because they were both using each other to complete their personal vendetta. Their relationship never consumed the story as it does in most, the plot was the primary focus. Another character I liked was Nibs, he is mainly a side character. I would even consider him a background character at times. But there is always one whether it’s a background or side character that is just full of surprises. That’s all I’m going to say about Nibs.

I was a bit disappointed with the way the author approached the settings. I feel like this story was so focused on the plot that the setting was forgotten. And considering the main character CAN TRAVEL THROUGH TIME, you would expect the settings to be more detailed and have better representation. But I do like that the concept of the Brink limited the area in the story as it does basically trap everyone possessing natural magic in the city of New York. So that is the only place Esta can go, but she can go into any time period New York has existed in. When a character goes from present day to 1902, I want a drastic setting change because these are two times in no way similar other than geographical location.

The last hundred or so pages actually made me a bit on edge, I wasn’t sure if they were going to be able to steal the book that they spent the entire story preparing to steal. The book basically holds the power to control all magic, so it’s a pretty big deal. After 400 pages I was expecting them to have at least attempted once to get it, but in the last hundred pages is when everything really kicks into gear. Betrayal is everywhere!!! And plot twists!!! The first twist I saw coming but what made it better was the following twist. The author basically baits you in with a predictable twist, then you’re hooked and she catches you with another twist. Totally unexpected! It was refreshing, but through all of this the story had a steady pace.

Overall I gave this book a 4/5 Stars, the fourth star is solely for the plot twists at the last second. It was an enjoyable read but not fast paced, keep you up at night enjoyable. I loved reading about the magic and watching the story progress but the lack of setting is keeping it from being a full five.

Thank you for reading my rambles. I will try to post another review soon and next time,

Tiffany

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2017 Favorites and 2018 Reading Goals

Spoiler free as always!

In 2017 I have read 26 books, I am pretty proud of this considering I’m a very busy person. I am however disappointed in the content I have read. I feel like I was very generous with my ratings and reviews this past year, but looking back I wasn’t wowed by very many books. So picking favorites for the year wasn’t very hard. I only chose three and they are in no particular order. They are as follows; A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Walled City by Ryan Graudin and Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth. I do have reviews up for all of these so here is a brief summary of my enjoyment of these three!

A Monster Calls was a short, quick but emotional read. This is one of my favorites for the year because of the fact that I felt all of the emotions with this story. I cried a lot within the limited number of pages and I haven’t cried over a book in roughly two years! Also the illustrations in the book are beautiful! Walled City is a dystopian and I love dystopian! But lately they haven’t been making the cut with me, all of the dystopians I have read have been lacking. Walled City was refreshing with several unique characters and a fascinating setting! Also the authors writing is gripping. Carve the Mark. This book caused so many problems within the book community, it is so controversial. I loved it. The author reached with this story and it was gripping. I also loved reading about how everyone was so overwhelmed and upset by this book. You know the book is good when it causes a lot hype over controversial topics. I am a big fan of Veronica Roth so this was a win for me!

2018 Reading Goal and Challenges!

Over the past few months I have noticed my reading tastes changing. I have been focused a lot on reading as many books as I can regardless of if I enjoy it. This year I want quality over quantity! I will set a goal of 18 books but I want to enjoy what I’m reading and I want the stories to stick with me. I’m not going to be so generous with ratings and reviews and if I am not enjoying it, it’s ok if I don’t finish the book.

But I am going to challenge myself while reading. Here is my short list of challenges:

Read a book with 500+ pages. Large books intimidate me but I really want to tackle this one! Read an award winning book, quality over quantity again. Read a classic, this will always be on the challenge because I forever skip it. Re-read a favorite, I want to avoid slumps because I had three this year and reading favorites again always helps with slumps. And finally finish two series! I love stand alones but I have so many unfinished series!! For additional challenges I have decided to try to read 5 books from my tbr shelf and 5 books from my kindle. As for my blog…I will try to post once a month and I would like to improve my content, advice welcome!

2017 was not a good Reading year for my but I am going to try to make 2018 better! Embrace slumps and changes in tastes and fears. It’s going to be positive. As always thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany

Broken Moon Review

This book was kindly sent to me for review by the author. Thank you.

***spoiler free***

Broken Moon follows Naiya, a young girl with a mysterious future ahead of her. She and her two brother encounter some interesting new friends while on the run from the society they grew up in. This story reads very much like a dystopian novel with some science fiction aspects. I’ll begin with what I liked about this book.

It’s very fast paced. It took me three days to read, if I didn’t have to work it would be finished in a day. The characters are constantly moving and there are new characters being introduced all the time. I felt like I was reading loads within a relatively short period of time. Pacing is a big thing with me in books, if it’s too slow I will automatically DNF (did not finish) the book no matter how great if it’s too slow. There was a lot to take in!

But this is where I found a lot of issues for me in the book. Starting with there being so much to take. I like that there is so much going on within the story, but there are loose ends everywhere. Another topic or problem is introduced without one being finished. There also isn’t a lot of detail explaining the new topics so you are left a bit confused for a few chapters. I kept reading excited to find out what all these things the character were discovering were and how they were going to play into the plot and I didn’t get as much of that as I wanted. The copies of the people that are being made is very interesting and I can see how that may blend with the concept of Terminus which seems to be this dimension between life and death, but I wish there was more details so we can theorize where the plot is going, how a war is going to happen in a place like that and what our main characters have to do with all of it. Now obviously this is going to be a series, there is no way all those loose ends are just going to sit there without further explanation. That makes me happy.

Details. I wanted more details the entire time. I felt like everything was explained only to the bare minimum. Clues, new info the characters picked up, fight and chase scenes, the stand offs and even the setting. I’m a big setting person, I want to be submerged in the story with the characters and world building is how I do it. Basically all that was explained is that everything is metal and everything goes up. The rich live on the bottom the poor in the top. And the wall surrounding the city, I understand that’s a big thing with science fiction and dystopian novels. Being trapped in your city and encountering outsiders at some point. But there is so much more to be done with the dystopian concept. The idea of dystopian is a fallen utopian society. So why does every fallen society have to have this wall? It’s driving me crazy! I feel like it limits the story and makes it blend in with all the other books in the genre. Give me something that stands out.

Another thing that bothered me was there was very little character development. The only development was Naiya becoming aware of this power she possesses. Not growing into it, which I did like that the author didn’t rush that. But there was no personal development for Naiya. She already is the “perfect character” she doesn’t need to develop confidence or determinations because she has them already. Her only character flaw seemed to be that she has a strange crush on the main male character Enoch who is her adoptive brother. I was excited for this to be told from a sibling perspective so her crush kind of weirded me out for awhile but the love story was not the center focus of the story which is fantastic!

Overall I gave this book a 3/5 Stars. I enjoyed where the story is going and hold out hope for future books. I am curious to find out where all these loose ends will go and how the characters play into the strange ongoings.

As always, thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany

The Widow Review

***Spoiler Free***

The Widow by Fiona Barton is a physiological thriller that really makes you think. 

The story is told through multiple perspectives as we follow these people in the search for a missing two year old girl named Bella. Along the way horrible secrets are uncovered and we get to see how that slowly drives people apart.

Of all the characters I had two favorites: DI Sparks and the Widow, Jean. DI Dparks is the detective handling Bella’s case and it had not only engrossed him mentally as a detective but it begins to take a massive effect on his emotions. The author does a wonderful job of describing and displaying emotion with her characters. I believe that is another factor that makes this story so consuming, these areaverage people and as you read, you feel these emotions with the characters. Sparked also Reads people very well and is persistent.

The Widow. Jean is a very dynamic character. She begins as every normal person is, loves her husband and her job. But as the story progresses and she learns things about her husband she never knew and how involved in Bella’s disappearance he is we get to see her slowly unwind. Watching a character come undone is fascinating to me. It usually happens in one of two ways: they snap quickly or they try to make sense of these things as they slowly being to unravel. For Jean it’s the later. At first she stands by her husband but as time progresses we see her losing her vigor to maintain his lies and excuses. Her character development through the story and finally her ending result is astonishing. 

Fiona Barton is defiantly and author I will pick up again. Her writing style is beautiful and smooth. The way she executes her plot is outstanding. 5/5 Stars. 

As always, thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany

Reading Vs. Adulting

This is not a review, I just want to talk about life and incorporating reading into it. 

For those of you who don’t already know: I’m 22 years old, a full time student, I work four part time jobs and I’m happily married. For my age, that is a hefty amount of things on my plate. It could be worse, yes, but I am extremely lucky to have this life. With all of that my favorite thing to do is read. Before I decided to “become an adult” I averaged between 70-80 books a year and could get through about two books a week. Now a days, I’m lucky if I start the book club book before the meeting. 

Reading has always been so important to me, it is comforting and relaxing and fills me with an overall sense of joy. And I will forever be greatful for the privilege to do that. But in the past few months I feel like reading has been placed on the back burner. Having all these adult responsibilities not only to myself but to others as well has really taken a toll on my reading frequency. Between classes, homework, five-six hours at this job, five more hours at that job and making time to actually see my husband I get a total of maybe twenty minutes to read. If that. 

But the fact of the matter is when you are in the middle stage of life, or as I like to call it, the getting yourself together stage, it is truly hard to just sit down and take a moment for yourself and read. You’re tired, cranky and have a million things to do. 

Maybe I’ll get my life in order soon or maybe not, but please bare with me. I will try to get more reviews up as soon as I can or I’ll try to add more hours to the day. Who knows. But if you have any ideas about adding more time to read into my day please let me know. I just needed to rant a bit. 

As always thanks for reading my ramble and until next time, 

Tiffany

Salt to the Sea

Spoiler Free 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is a World War Two historical fiction following a plethora of characters as they make their way across the country to board the Wilhelm Gustloff and flee the terrors of war. 

The book is read through multiple character perspectives each coming from a different background. I loved being able to get glimpses from everyone without there being an odd pause in the story. The characters were well developed and easy to fall in love with.

The story progression was wonderful! It didn’t happen in the blink of an eye but it wasn’t too slow either. The author put enough descriptions into the writing to make you feel as though you are traveling with the characters at times but not so much as to find it boring. This is the first book I have read by Ruta Sepetys and I loved the flow of her writing and the way she words things. She surrounds you with beautiful and disastrous images. 

Many people don’t know the the Wilhelm Gustloff was an actual ship that was attacked by Russian submarines and sunk in the Baltic Sea. This novel centers around this little known disaster and the brutal journey that millions of people took to reach it. 5/5 stars for this heartbreaking story, but it is definitely one of my favorites of the year so far. 

As always, thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany

The Creeping Review

Spoiler free, as always I will warn you before if any should arise! 

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy follows Stella, a girl who is about to enter her senior year of high school. She is also the girl who came out of the woods following the disappearance of her friend Jeanie. At the age of six Stella, Jeanie and her friends live in the small town of Savage. The play games and hunt monsters in the woods behind Jeanies house, until Jeanie disappears and Stella returns with no memeory of what happened. Jumping forward to the present in the story, Stella has made new friends and is popular in school. Just like a normal teenager, until another little girl is found dead at a party. We follow as Stella and her friends try to uncover whether the deaths of Jeanie and Jane Doe are the work or human sickos or something supernatural living in the forest, preying on little red-headed girls. 

I love the concept of this story! I like the idea of the monster living in the woods and all that supernatural junk. I was racking my brain the entire time trying to make the murders the work of a human, while the author tries to convince you otherwise. The pace of the story was smooth, never slow or too quickly. This is great for mystery stories like this, it gives you time to assemble your own theories. 

My one problem with this was the characters. The characters were aweful. Stella was an ok main character, she was annoying at times because of how wishy-washy she is. I feel like she can never make up her mind. I will say that about half way through the book Stella had some fabulous character development and growth and I found her less annoying after this. Zoey I did not like at all. Her attitude was rude and her personality was frustrating. She is the high school girl who is too worried about boys and popularity and her overly large breasts. At times she was very unlike a best friend towards Stella. She had some character development towards the end and she became more loyal but other than that, nothing. I did however like Sam, Sam was a great side character! Loyal, supportive, and at times stubborn. He wasn’t over bearing and he showed up at the right times. Stella’s dad bugged me. I don’t understand this character at all. How on Earth do you pay so little attention to daughter who was involved in a previous disappearance of a six year old child when another body shows up so similar to her case? He literally isn’t there for anything! As a parent, when something like this happens and your child becomes so involved, you should be more concerned with their safety than with anything else and he was absent or didn’t care. 

I was a little disappointed by the ending nothing major just because I was holding out hope that this creature who snatches little kids was found at the end. I wanted it to exist so much for the creepy factor, but the ending was satisfying and a bit shocking because it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Surprisin none the less. 

I gave this book a 3/5 stars because I couldn’t get over the characters. If it was one particular character I could put it aside but it was several. The story was great and the concept was wonderful. But with so many character issues, I couldn’t let that go.  As always, thanks for reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany

Code Talkers Review

Code Talkers by Joseph Bruchac follows the life of a Navajo Marine from his days in school to his days as a marine in World War Two. I will attempt to keep this as spoiler free as possible!

We follow Kii Yazhi a young boy from a Navajo tribe who goes to the “white mans school” where he is forced to learn English, history, math and science. The basic things you learn in school. He is also taught that the Navajo way is bad. Being an Indian is bad. Speaking his native language is forbidden. All through his schooling he maintains his knowledge of his sacred language while learning to speak English. Then, one year when he is fifteen a marine recruiter shows up at his school looking for Navajos 17-25 who are proficient in both languages. They are needed for a special job in the war. Wanting desperately to join but being too young, Ned Begay (he was forced to change his name in the school), goes to his parents to ask for their blessing. After waiting a year, Ned joins the marines and goes through extensive training to become a Navajo Code Talker. From then on we hear stories of his experiences with his unit fighting in the pacific. 

I was beyond happy to finally pick this book up! I haven’t come across many books that embrace the Native American culture or their contributions in World War Two. Being Lakota, I have decided that I really want to read more books with Native American characters, cultures and customs.  I have heard people talk about the importance of the Code Talkers in the war but most of the time the topic is just glazed over. Especially in a recent history class that I took, there was a whole section about them and I was genuinely excited to get to it, but the professor just flew over it. For those of you who aren’t away what a code Talker is, they were Native American Maribes in World War Two who were trained to transcribe their native language into codes that code be sent over radio, but these codes had to be so secure that the Enemy couldn’t figure them out. And this worked! This book was really heart warming and reached past the expectations I had for it! 

This book in particular had a unique writing style, the words themselves flowed very smoothly but the narration is what got me. It begins as if Ned is about to tell his grandchildren the story of his life and he does. The middle is a giant flash back to these days and the end picks up like a story to the children again. The author made sure all of the events were in chronological order and gave just enough detail to paint the scene in your head without going over board. 

Overall I gave this a 4/5 stars, mainly because I really wanted more of his life after he returned home. The ending was slightly abrupt. But I enjoyed this thoroughly and plan on reteading this again. Thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany 📚

The Walled City Review

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin.  

Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. This set of rules stamped on the cover of this book had me sold. I had heard a few things about this book but nothing more than action packed. I went into this without knowing much and that was a great decision! 

This story is told through three view points: Jin, a young girl disguised as a boy who snuck into the Walled City to find her sister. For someone so small, she packs a punch. Jin is full of determination and perseverance and such a strong desire to find her sister that she really instills her strong value for family regardless of her parents mistakes. Mei Yee: a sister who was sold by her father into a brothel as a prostitute. Throughout the story we really get to see major character development for Mei Yee. She starts out as very survival based. Keep your head down, obey the master, take your clients, bite your tongue, but as the story progresses you see her come into her own. She wants to fight back and escape and is willing to risk death to do so. And Dai: a boy from the City Beyond, no one knows how or why he is in the Walled City. He has a past that haunts him and he spends the book trying to redeem himself in the eyes of the City Beyond, if he fails he spends the rest of his life behind bars and he knows it. He is a strong and clever character eager to throw himself in harms way. 

The Walled City, Hak Nam, is where all of the criminals flee to in order to avoid arrest, its dirty, diseased and dangerous. There is no government, no laws, and no one to help if things take a turn for the worst. The City Beyond has no jurisdiction over Hak Nam and won’t send anyone inside to help. I really like where the author found her inspiration for such a setting, which came from Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. The fact that she derived this whole story or survival around one very real location just shows how powerful the human imagination can be. The world building at the beginning of the story is wonderful but what really blew me away was that she continued to World build throughout the story. The author pays a close eye to details not only in describing the world but the characters, situations and scenes as well. 

He different view points make the plot a bit addicting because each character wants something different. But when Dai convinces Jin to help him with drug runs for the most dangerous man in the Hak Nam, this helps both of them. Dai is able to get into the brotherhood to look for needed info and Jin gets to search it for her sister. The whole plot is based around survival and secrets. You are kept on your toes. 

There is a strong caste system in place while reading but it’s very subtle when discussed. What I mean is, when it’s mentioned you can feel how heavily it ways on the characters but the author doesn’t spend every two pages making sure you know who is higher up on the chain of command. 

I also really loved that there was no insta-love in this story at all!! I hate instantaneous love, you don’t just fall in love at first sight. But it’s a very prominent trope in the ya community so I deal with it. I usually won’t comment on it but I have to with this one. Dai and Mei Yee meet and you can see they are interested in each other. The scene is something similar to a princess locked away in a tower but less cheesy. Mei Yee wants Dai to help her but knows that it may not happen. And there is no “my heart skipped a beat when I saw him/her” type of feelings or commentary and I believe this is due to the characters being so focused on survival. 

I also want to mention a much smaller character who I fell in love with. His name is Chma and he is a cat. Yes, a cat. This little stubborn ball of fluff is a light comic relief when the scene gets tense and he provides so much character comfort that people tend to skim over because he is just a cat. I have noticed this with animals in other books but I think this one really stuck out to me because now I have a cat that is really coming into his personality and it just warms my insides. So anytime Chma was mentioned my heart melted a little bit because I can relate now! 

Over all I gave The Walled City a 4.75 out of 5 stars. I didn’t give it the full 5 because there were scenes that I wish had a bit more to them, and the same scenes I wish had more where a bit slow for my liking, but everything else was solid for me! I love this book and look forward to reading more from the author. Thank you reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Review

Jonathan Safran Foer is known for writing such meaningful and brilliant novels, his work is highly praised across the globe. I was so excited to finally read something of his and I had such high expectations for this book, unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. 

When picking up this book, all I had heard was how absolutely wonderful it was! It held so much meaning and it was whimsical! While the book did hold those qualities, they didn’t strike me as hard as I had hoped for. 

We follow a nine year old boy by the name of Oskar. Oskars father died in the attacks on 9/11. This heartbroken boy stumbles upon a key in his late fathers closet and is determined to find what it opens. He wonders maybe his father left it for him to find. He spends well over eight months scowering the city of New York to find its lock and meets wonderful people along the way. But I’d ultimately let down when the key is unrelated to his father. 

I was bewildered by the fact that we had a book that took place around such a large American Tragedy. The attacks on the World Trade Center are not something we see in literature, especially young adult literature and it astounded me that the author thought to base a story around one young boy who was so effected by this event. I loved the fact that we followed such a young character, who is experiencing a plethora of emotions and is searching for answers he may never get. That will hit anyone in the feels, regardless of where you are from! 

I feel for Oskar, he is depressed and this key gives him something to put his mind to for awhile and helps him cope with his lose. I was really hopting to see more symbolism in this story, as I am sure there is. I just missed it. I don’t think I read this book at an appropriate time in my life to see all of it. It took me nearly a month to complete. But the symbolism I did see, I loved enough to want to reread this later in my life. I loved that Oskar was scared to show his mother the recordings he hid of his dads calls. I loved that his mother knew that he was walking around New York City searching for this key and never told her son she would call all these people he would meet ahead of time to keep him safe. I love the deep and profound love his grandmother has for him. I think I enjoyed reading the tidbits we get from Oskars grandma the most. We get an onsite into why his grandfather left and what an odd relationship they had, we get to see a man trying to redeem himself to be in his grandsons life. There are so many touching moments in this story and it saddens me that I didn’t get the impact I was expecting. 

Overall, at this point in time, I gave the book a 2.75/5 stars. I will round that up, 3/5 stars. The writing was beautiful, but slow at times. I love the symbolism I did see and hope to see more when I reread this at a later date. I feel like we lost sight of the plot at times, some of the events in the book just didn’t fit. This book was way over hyped though and I believe that is part of the reason I am still holding out hope. But I will continue to hold that hope. Thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany