Book Review: Sacred Seas

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes a book catches you by surprise, grabs hold of you and takes you on a beautiful, emotionally charged journey. This is how I felt throughout the entirety of The Sea Monster Memoirs trilogy. Tangled Tides set the foundation for it all, giving us a story about finding oneself, facing challenges head on and getting the love that you deserve. Dangerous Depths took that foundation and shook it hard, testing the characters even more and forming this beautiful tale of sorrow and perseverance. Sacred Seas came along, taking the best of both of those books, and added in new emotion, depth, trials and pushing the characters to their limits, setting us up one hell of a ride.

I do not normally read emotional books, yet Karen’s writing style allows me to enjoy feeling those emotions along with the characters. Getting that pulse of happiness, sorrow, anger, fear, elation, and that everything those characters experience, I experienced and it made me love the characters and the story even more. There is something almost refreshing when a book causes you to pause while reading and reflect on what it must be like to go through such trials and to come out the other side as a stronger person.

Let’s talk characters for a moment. One neat aspect of this trilogy, is that each book has a different set of narrators. While Yara is always one of the narrators, the other two change in each book. I feel like this really helps to showcase different aspects of the story and world, to present a well rounded tale. Having a multitude of perspectives spread throughout three books is surely a challenge to write, and yet Karen has tackled that and done it well. Her writing style has changed since the beginning of the series, and it’s a wonderful thing to see not just the story and characters evolve along the way, but the writer as well.

Then there is the Kraken. He is a force to be reckoned with. Though Yara and the others have had their fair share of obstacles to overcome, he brings a whole new meaning to the word challenge.

One aspect I really enjoy in this book is the character flaws. Of course we want characters to succeed. But not everything can, or should, come with ease. Things that may be obvious to us readers, aren’t always obvious to the characters, and when they do make those bad decisions (I’m looking at you Rownan!) there is bound to be consequences down the line. What they do when faced with those consequences really makes them grow as a character. I am glad to see these flaws included, because it makes the characters more realistic. No one is perfect.

The flow of this book is great. A little slow to start with as things are set into place, but then it picks up and doesn’t slow down. Each chapter pulls you along, diving into the next challenge that the characters must face and propelling you closer to the end. I couldn’t put this book down, since I kept wanting to know what would happen next, how would Yara, Treygan, Rownan and everyone else manage to get past their next major roadblock.

Scared Seas is a gift. Much like Medusa’s agape pearl, this story truly shines throughout. With it’s stellar fast-paced plot, multifaceted story, wonderful character growth, and a healthy dose of magic, myth and finding that delicate balance between love and loss, triumph and tragedy, and light and dark, Sacred Seas is the series ending that we deserve. This series has solidly placed itself in my list of favorites.

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Book Review: Fairest

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Villains have always been my favorite part of books and movies. So whenever there is a story that focuses on a villain, I want to read it. I have really been enjoying The Lunar Chronicles, but was feeling that I didn’t quite know enough about Levana to truly appreciate her role as villain in this series. So when it was time to read this book, I was excited to see exactly what pushed her to be the woman we all know her to be.

This book is quite short and I was able to read it in one sitting. One thing I did find strange was that there were no chapters in this book. Yes, there were breaks put in at different parts, but the lack of actual chapters was weird.

I really enjoyed getting to see Levana as a young child and teenager. It helped to really paint a full picture of what her life was like before the events of the series and gave up a look at what she was like before she became this evil queen we all know and love. What really made this book was the various relationships it’s showed that shaped Levana’s life, from her parents to her sister and the man she loves, they all help in their own ways to push her into becoming the woman we see in The Lunar Chronicles.

One part I really found interesting was that she has something in common with Cinder. I can’t really go into detail about it, but it definitely tied the two women together beyond their shared blood.

Overall, I thought this was a great book. It really adds something to the series as a whole to finally find out what made Levana into the woman we know, why she does what she does and helps to fill in some gaps that otherwise would have been left unanswered. If you haven’t started this series, I would recommend that you do. They are all fantastic book and I cannot wait to finish them.

Book Review: The Last Olympian

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I almost didn’t read this book. I had pretty much lost interest in this series with the previous book and wondered if I should even bother. But then it started to bother me, knowing that there was just one book left in the series and that if I didn’t read it, it would be forever unfinished. So I sucked it up and read this book.

No surprise here, I didn’t like the book. I had stopped caring about the characters and their problems, I stopped caring about whether they could stop Kronos or not. I just didn’t care.

I will admit, that I am a bit bummed that I didn’t love this series more. It started off strongly but then just got less and less interesting with each progressive book. I guess all books in a series can’t be stellar. Ah well.

But you know what, I read it, so at least I can say I read the entire series. However, now I’m wondering if I should bother with the Heroes of Olympus series or not.

Book Review: Cress

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For some silly reason, it took me a full month to read this book. Mostly it was because I was busy with other things, you know how life gets in the way of a good book, yeah that’s what happened, and then when I did have time to read I would pick up other books (generally short manga’s that I could read in one quick sitting). I wanted to read this book so badly, but everything seemed against me finishing it. Luckily, I did manage to get it done a whopping thirty days after starting it, and I really enjoyed it.

I’m not going to go into much detail with this, but I will cover some key points. First off, I thought Cress was a great character. She had her quirks, some faults and a definite zest for life. There is a lot of character growth for her over the course of this novel and I think the Cress we will see in the next book will be even better. I still hate Thorne. Not as much as I hated him in Scarlet, but I still really, really don’t like his character. He has redeemed himself some through his actions in this book, but ugh I just can’t stand the man.

Like the previous novels, everything has been coming together smoothly, perhaps not for the characters, but in the sense of all the story lines intermingling and joining into one very strong and appealing plot. It’s this aspect alone that has made me enjoy these books so much. I honestly didn’t think I would like this series at all, and didn’t see how these retellings would work in any way, and yet here I am loving these books and looking forward to reading the next one.

Am I the only one that was disappointed that Cress’ hair got cut so early in this book? I get why it happened, but I was hoping to see more Rapunzel-ish action.

Overall, this was a really good book. I only wish I could have read it in more of a one sitting fashion instead of it taking weeks to complete. Even so, I loved it and am really looking forward to finishing off this series, and yikes the end is so close I almost don’t want it to end. If you haven’t read this series yet, I would recommend checking it out, as it has great characters and a wonderful story line.

Series Review: A Silent Voice

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A few months ago, I was watching trailers for various anime looking for something new to watch and to check out what movies were coming out in the future. Among the many that I watched then, was the trailer for A Silent Voice. I was intrigued by this anime and added it to my list to watch. Since it was based upon a manga, I wanted to read the manga first before eventually watching the movie, mostly so I could experience the original content first.

It took me a little bit to get into the story. One of the issues I had, right from the start, was how similar the two main characters names were. Shoya being the bully of Shoko, and they both occasionally went by the nickname of “Sho”, so sometimes it was confusing as to which Sho someone was referring to.

The series consists of seven volumes, with the first one setting up the backstory for the main characters, establishing Shoya as the bully and Shoko his unfortunate victim. As a bully victim myself, I sometimes have a hard time reading about bullying, and yet at the same time I wish there were more books out there that dealt with this issue. That is why I was drawn to this series, because so much of it’s story revolves around bullying, both the act as it happens and the long term effects it has on everyone, from the victim, the bully and the bystanders.

One thing I liked about this series is now it shows that the bully can also be deeply affected by what they have done. We all know the bully victim takes a beating every day, and that there are often long term side effects that stick around for many years, if not the rest of their life. But many people think that the bully is never affected in any way by all of them. Perhaps for some that’s the case, and they go on with life without any ill effects from what they did to others. But in the case of Shoya, he did feel shame and regret over what he did and wanted to make things right again.

Seeing the characters change over the course of this series really was great. It showed that people can change, that the bully can feel remorse, that the victim can forgive them. It also showed various reactions from those who had watched it all happen, and perhaps even participated a bit in the bullying themselves. I did have a few issues with it. For example, I find it really hard to accept that a bully victim would become friends with their bully later on in life, and even go as far as to have slight romantic feelings towards them. I can’t say that this would never happen in real life, but as someone who was bullied before, I can safely say that I would never ever be friends with the people who tormented me – I could forgive them, but never trust them enough to let them close to me. I also didn’t care for Tomohiro, someone who becomes friends with Shoya in the second volume, because I felt he was too much like a bully and was only going to complicate things – and in a way he did but not completely.

I feel like the one thing that didn’t translate well in the art was the sign language. Obviously it’s hard to draw people communicating through sign language when in manga form. It’s the one aspect of the series that I think will be better expressed in the movie.

Overall, I enjoyed this series. I didn’t absolutely love it, but it was good. The artwork was wonderful. I would recommend this series to anyone interested in it, and those looking for books that have bullying in them. I feel like it does a great job is portraying it. I will one day watch the movie to see how it compared to the manga. I will also be on the lookout for more by this author.

Book Review: Moving Target A Princess Leia Adventure

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When I received this book in May, sent to me by my amazing OTSP Secret Sister, I had to read it right away. I love Star Wars, have for many years, and Princess/General Leia is definitely my favorite character, so a book that focuses on her is high on my priority list. Plus I was looking forward to seeing more story added to the new canon, which in my opinion is lacking in overall appeal when compared to the old Expanded Universe. However, I was a bit disappointed when the story focuses on something that happens between Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi. For a book labeled as “Journey To The Force Awakens” I was expecting something to fill in that 30 year gap, not go between two of the original movies. That being said, I still enjoyed this book.

It’s an interesting thing to get essentially a reboot of a series. And that is what is happening with the new canon books. Because of this, we get a whole new look at what happens before, during, between and after the movies. So while I was hoping for something between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, it was also nice to see focus on Princess Leia and what she had to do to ensure the success of the Rebel’s plans that would come to fruition in Return of The Jedi.

This story shows off Leia ingenuity, bravery and her willingness to put herself into the line of fire for the greater good of the Rebellion. Now obviously we all know Leia isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, to do what must be done to try to put an end to the Empire, but I feel like this book did a good job of showing just far she was willing to go. Not only that, but it showed how others rally to her in times of need. Of course, not everyone agreed with Leia’s idea initially, but she was able to convince them that not only that it had to be done, but what she was a key component of it all.

Really the only reason why I didn’t give this book a higher rating is because I wanted the story to help fill the huge gap between the original trilogy and The Force Awakens. Sure, this was still a good and very quick read, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I hope to see more Leia focused stories as the canon books come. For those who enjoy Star Wars, this book is a must read. I’ll be looking to read the rest of the Journey To The Force Awakens books – especially the two that focus on Han and Luke, in the future.

Book Review: The Battle of The Labyrinth

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

There’s not much to say about this one. I started off this series a couple months ago really enjoying the first book, but with each book I liked it less and less. I don’t know if it’s series syndrome, where the first book is the strongest and nothing can hold up to that, or I’m just missing something that makes me under appreciate the story as it progresses.

This book felt so darn slow. I was constantly waiting for something to happen, especially something amazing that would lift the book up to the level that The Lightning Thief was. I kept reading, waiting for that something to occur, and I kept reading, and kept waiting, and still nothing felt like it was happening. The whole traveling through the labyrinth part felt like the author was just trying to make the book the same length as the previous book, but while there were some things happening during that large portion of the book, I just didn’t care. I’m starting to hate Percy and even Annabeth is getting on my nerves.

I’m glad that this series is almost over. Part of me just wants to stop here, but with only one book remaining, I will eventually continue on so that I can say I finished the series, but I’m honestly not looking forward to it.