March Wrap Up

I ended up reading over 5 books which is always my goal per month. Although I was not able to read all 5 from the March TBR as some books came available in my library that I had to read.

Total Books Read: 8

March TBR Completion: 3/5- Still yet to read The Kite Runner  and took a break from Tell Me How Ends This Well. I found it to be a bit boring and a bit too preachy which is fine considering it’s brutal view of the future. But it might just not be for me. Still I will continue reading.

Here are some of the books I read and my short opinion on them:

Carmer and Grit was a fantastic fantasy novel. While it does nothing new, it’s majestic world and great main characters keep it head and shoulders above traditional fantasy novels.

The Travelers was an ok book. Pavone’s slick writing style keep it from becoming an even more mediocre book that is bogged down by an extremely slow start and underdeveloped characters. Only read it if you like Pavone or the genre.

This book honestly surprised me. I found myself thoroughly entertained with the narrator’s over the top narration and solid characters. It’s like a big and stupid action movie. It’s loud, exciting, and never takes itself seriously. 

All in all, I reached my goal and read some fantastic books besides one particular book *coughs* Dead Man Rapids. 

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Carmer and Grit: The Wingsnatchers By Sarah Jean Horowitz Review

  “Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis. When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition. But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly.”

   I was fortunate enough to get an ARC from the publisher. 

   Carmer and Grit by Sarah Jean Horowitz was a great and captivating fantasy novel. It’s well-written characters and majestic world buoy the predictable plot.

   Felix Carmer III loves to tinker. He is constantly experimenting with new items while helping his mentor, Antoine the Amazifier. Felix was a very likeable character. He was witty, smart, and the emotional heart of the book. You really wanted to root for him. Grit is a faerie, in fact she is a princess. Contrary to Carmer, who is a bit on the quiet side, she is head strong and fiery. She provided a nice foil of sorts to Carmer. When they inevitably meet, they have some nice moments. Obviously, the two come from different sides but find that they form a nice pair together. The side characters such as the Amazifier and Kitty were good and charming in their own way, but they were a bit standard. The same goes for the villain, who I will not name because of spoilers. You know instantly that he is the bad guy and he never deviates from it. However, I’m pretty sure the intended audience is younger than me and will have no problem with the characters that I mentioned above.

   The other magnificent part of the book is the world Horowitz creates. It’s this steampunk world mixed with some magic. Horowitz never dumps the world on you, instead she slowly builds it, releasing information as the story progresses. In that sense, like Carmer, you get to know about the world as if you were just exploring it for the first time.The faeries had some interesting elements that I hope will get explored in future installments. Now as I said earlier, the plot is predictable. For someone who has read a lot of fantasy novels and watched fantasy movies, I knew what was going to happen. However, the intended audience will probably love the plot and I found the ending to be sweet and left open an interesting plot point that could be explored in future books.

   In conclusion, Carmer and Grit was a fantastic book. I had a great time following Carmer and Grit as they solve the mystery. Their development and chemistry was great and the world created was even better. While the plot was predictable and some characters were a bit standard, they were done well enough that it did not hamper the book.

Rating: A Must Buy

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab Review



Official Summary:

“Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.”

   This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab follows Kate Harker and August Flynn, two teenagers on opposing sides of a divided city. While that does sound familiar, Schwab creates a fantastic world with superb characters that grabs you from the start.

   To begin with, August and Kate are great characters. While they do come from different backgrounds, they form a nice pair. August wants to be something he isn’t: human. That’s pretty tough for a monster with supernatural powers coming from a family filled with said monsters. Kate wants to be able to prove that she more than lives up to her father’s legacy. Ironic the monster doesn’t want to be one and the human wants to be a monster. Schwab does a fantastic job of illustrating the internal conflict that August always carries. He constantly struggles between doing what is right and doing what is expected of him. Kate is a much more brutal person doing whatever it takes to prove she is a Harker. But Schwab shows that Kate is a much more tethered person than she shows herself to be. She just wants to prove herself, something some of us can relate with. When the two inevitably meet, there shocking realization that they aren’t all that different from one another provides some great moments throughout the second half of the book. The supporting characters were also well done. The only real problem I had was Leo, August’s older brother. He felt kind of generic and the twist involving him was predictable. Also, I wished there was more to August’s and Kate’s fathers as I found them to be really interesting and I wanted more time with them.

   I really liked the world that Schwab created. It’s gritty, brutal, and above all, compelling. While there is some explanation as to how the world is, I kind of wanted more. The various types of monsters were fairly interesting, but a bit generic. However, Schwab does a good job of fleshing their backstories to keep them from feeling too similar. The slow world building paid off as it left me wanting to know more about the world. While the plot is a bit predictable until the end (which was awesome by the way), this book is a lot darker than most YA novels that I have read. Blood, guts, and violence is fairly common in this book and it was a bit refreshing to read a YA novel that wasn’t afraid to get messy.

   In conclusion, This Savage Song was a fantastic novel that kept me entertained throughout the entire novel. It’s complex characters and unique world was well-written and interesting. It’s dark tone made it a nice change of pace from traditional YA novels. While the plot was a bit predictable, the ending was shocking and left the book in an intriguing way for the sequel to begin.

Rating: Must Buy

Apocalypse All The Time By David Atkinson Review

I was voluntarily given a free audiobook by the author.

Apocalypse All the Time was a very funny, charming, and satirical book. Marshall just wants the apocalyse to end, but it constantly happens on a weekly basis with it ending to an anticlimactic climax of being solved all the time. As a result, the perilous becomes a boring and mundane routine.

Going into the book, I thought it would be a typical apocalypse book. But I was extremely wrong. It flips all of the Apocalypse tropes and pokes fun at it. Marshall is a likeable character and you get why he feels even though I would constantly be afraid in his situation. I mean constant possible death is quite scary. Bonnie proved to be a nice conplementary character to Marshall. She, like Marshall, is sick of the apocalyse. Once they get together, the adventure truly starts. The narrator was perfect, capturing Marshall and his boredness with the apocalyse as well as Bonnie’s. The book just has this charm and quirkiness to it that I have rarely seen in books.

I will say the only real problen I had with the book was the huge exposition at the beginning of book. It did pick up after the long exposition, but it still slowed the pace down more than I liked. Although I did understand as to why Atkinson did that. The book essentially changes the history of the world beginning to when time was still BC. As the book goes on, each apocalypse gets crazier and crazier, yet Atkinson tethers a bit of it to reality. It never feels too ridiculous, just controlled.

In conclusion, Apocalypse All the Time was surprisingly funny and satirical book. The main character was likeable and understandable and the narrator was perfect. It was a funny and entertaining book with a unique charm to it.

Rating: A Must Buy (Especially for Apocalypse lovers).

How To Make A Good Plot

Plots are an essential part of making a good book. It is essentially the story. It is what happens in the book and how it happens. I have seen good books filled with well-written characters and setting only to have a muddled or convoluted plot drag it down. Plot helps enhance the characters when the reader knows what is happening. So let’s begin.

1.Be Concise

   Sometimes an author will make an convoluted plot filled with several subplots and characters that are contantly introduced. As you can guess, it can get quite messy. Don’t get me wrong, it can work, but more often than not it over complicates the story. Keep it simple. It’s ok to have a few subplots, but make sure to prioritize the main story. When you lose sight of the main conflict, you can end up losing the reader. If he/she ends up confused and has no idead what is happening, they will more than likely lose interest in the book. Sometimes authors add so many twists that I end up losing track of what is actually happening. I certainly see the appeal of a plot twist and when done correctly can add some depth and trigger many emotions (mostly shock). But do not add a plot twist for the sake of having a plot twist. If there is no context to the plot twist or any hints from previous chapters, the plot twist can end up hurting the book more than it helps it. I have seen movies that introduce plot twists and when I though about it, the plot of the movie just unraveled. Go ahead, add some subplots, but do not lose track of the main plot.

2. Keep the plot moving/ Advance the plot

   This kind of relates to the first point. While priortizing the main conflict is important, keep the plot moving. Essentially, advance it. Now every page or maybe even every chapter does not have to keep the plot moving, but never ever stick too long in one place. It’s ok to have a chapter dedicated to devloping the character, in fact I prefer that you do. This becomes more apparent in books with tons of exposition. I get that your world has interesting lore with years of history behind it, but do not dump it to us all at once. Slowly develop it as the characters visit these interesting places or add it in moments. Now as I mentioned before, subplots are fine. When done correctly, they can add depth to a character or contribute to a shocking twist. But make sure to actually develop it. Spend a few pages making sure that the subplot is still advancing. YA novels usually opt for a romance as a subplot. Romance can be a tricky subject to handle and without advancing it or providing some interaction between the two or three(Warning:triangles usually suck) characters, it can feel rushed and provide little to no substance. Keep the plot moving, or if the story never moves, the reader will get bored.

3. Use all the characters

   Characters are another crucial part of a book. Now the main characters will be in the majority of the story, but do not be afraid to dedicate some time to some of the supporting characters. Using some subplots or interaction between them can really develop the supporting characters creating a full cast of unique characters that can immerse and satisfy the reader. There is nothing to wrong with having too many great characters. Not only that but developing characters and having them all involved can create an emotional connection with the reader. It can make every action that affects them, punch that much harder. When you don’t advance a character’s arc and let’s say they die, the reader will shrug it off with little to no care. Developing all the characters can make the plot matter much more.

   So that’s what I think makes a good plot. I probably did not cover all of the points, but these are what I believe to ve the most essential.

Legend by Marie Lu Review

                   

   Legend by Marie Lu focuses on two protagonists, Day and June. When June’s brother is supposedly killed by Day, she sets out to find him. The story takes place in a dystopian future where the western United States is the home of the Republic, a nation constantly at war with its neighbors.

   It is a fairly interesting premise. And the book delivers on it. While the plot was a bit predictable, I expected it as this was one of the first dystopian series to really blow up. Many have followed this series’ formula. The book has a breakneck pace  with tons of action and good character development. Day and June are well rounded protagonists who complement one another. While the first half of the book pits them on opposing sides, it allows both of them to develop into standout characters. When books pit two characters together, sometimes when one of them is not involved, the other character can really suffer from it, it’s as if how good they are depends on the two always being together. Fortunately, this does not happen here. And when they do inevitably meet, they never ever feel like they depend on one another. Lu takes the time to develop them into distinct characters, so when they do meet they can each stand on their own without needing the other character to be considered good. They both have motivations that are relatable and by the end of the book, you genuinely care for both. It is a bit refreshing to see both sides of the law. Lu slowly creates an interesting world that makes you want to learn more about it. It is carefully crafted and it pays off. While Lu’s writing is nothing revolutionary, she has a tight and fluid style that keeps you hooked and focused. 

   Legend does nothing new, although I believe that is due to it being one of the first true YA hits. Many have followed its formula. The premise is fairly interesting and is executed extremely well. Day and June are good protagonists that you can get behind and there is a ton of action. Its breakneck pace keeps wanting you to read more and more. Honestly, at this point, there is not much I can say that has not already been said. Overall, Legend is a great and entertaining book thay every YA fan should read.

Rating: A Must Buy – at this point, the book is fairly cheap and every YA fan should read it.

The Travelers by Chris Pavone Review

   The Travelers by Chris Pavone was a solid thriller. It follows Will Rhodes, a travel writer for the Travelers, as he gets looped into a plot with world-changing implications.

   First of all, I loved Pavone’s writing style. He has this smooth and descriptive style that seems to flow into one another. However, he does overwrite from time to time. There does not need to be that much adjectives to describe a simple task. It’s as if he’s trying to show off. Now, I felt Will was a relatable character and you felt for what he was going through. He is a bit standard, but effective. Chloe and Malcolm were much more interesting characters, in my opinion. They had this mysterious aura to them, that feeling that there was something they were not telling. The rest of the characters were either stock or under developed. Gabrielle could have been a great character, but she is left to the background and was dropped off near the end. Elle was ok, a bit generic. Although Pavone did a good job keeping what side she was on a mystery until the end.

As for the actual story, it was predictable. The typical everyday guy getting roped into something bigger plot. It was a bit cliché. The changing perspectives and locations allowed Pavone to add some bigness to this story, I guess. You felt that it was taking place around the globe. But the changing perspectives made it hard to understand and at times, you forget that a character even exists in the first place. While it can lead to some mystery between unknown characters, it more often than not confuses you. To add to that, Pavone will skip a few events and retell what happened a few pages later similar to a TV show called Leverage (loved that show). However, the biggest problem with the book is its slow start. It takes almost 2/3 of the book for anything interesting to happen. It is a slow burn and I mean really slow burn, but has a mostly effective payoff.  The ending, while tied things together for the most part, was a bit rushed and seemed that it set up something more interesting than the actual book. 

   Overall, The Travelers was a solid thriller. It has its ups and downs, but it is competent enough to satisfy fans of the genre.

Rating: Check it out if you like thrillers