The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli Review

 

“Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?“

I am a dude who likes video games, action movies, etc., but I will admit this is probably the cutest book I have read. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli is a cute, emotional, and great young adult novel without being depressing or bleak which was a bit refreshing.

Molly is the narrator for the novel and as such, you see the events unfold through her eyes and hear her thoughts. I do like when an author uses a first-person narrative as it allows the reader to know the character’s thoughts and feelings about events. It really allows the reader to get to know the character at a more personal level. I liked Molly as a character and reading her thoughts and reactions to events in her life was realistic, yet at times a bit annoying. I cannot fault Molly for being annoying at times as reacting and overreacting to events as is what many people do. Her development from a pessimistic and innocent girl to someone who is a bit more matured and a bit more optimistic felt earned. Reading the book from her perspective really helped make the novel feel more personal and as a result, the payoff is satisfying. Her relationship with her sister, Cassie, plays an important part in the novel and was well done. As Cassie gets closer to Mina, Molly finds herself on the outside, something she is not comfortable with considering they are twins. Seeing Molly make mistakes and at times, screw up their relationship was refreshing. People make mistakes and I feel that some books make their protagonist too perfect and this novel highlights Molly’s mistakes.

I felt there would be a love triangle when I began the book, but, fortunately, there really isn’t. It becomes who Molly prefers fairly early on with the love triangle only resulting from Molly’s hesitation and reluctance. The other supporting characters such as Nadine, Olivia, etc. were good, but they are not as developed as Molly, Cassie, and Reid. Speaking of Reid, I found him to be pretty cool and relatable being a fellow nerd like him. His dynamic with Molly was adorable and believable which can be hard to pull off. The plot is fairly predictable, but for a book like this that does not really matter. The characters take center stage with the plot serving as a way to develop the characters.

  The Upside of Unrequited is an adorable young adult novel that is sure to satisfy many readers with relatable and realistic characters, good character development, and pretty cute moments.

Rating: Must Buy

 

Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Caleb Nation Review

“Bran Hambric was found alone in a locked bank vault when he was six years old. He doesn’t have a clue how he got there, or any memory of his past. There’s only one explanation: Magic. But magic is outlawed in the Great and Glorious City of Dunce.

Eight years later, a twisted, hissing creature confronts Bran and his foster father, Sewey, on their rooftop. Sewey believes it’s a gnome, but not Bran. (Sewey isn’t the brightest Duncelander to begin with.) Bran soon discovers that whatever leapt onto his roof is connected to the he never knew…and that Bran himself is the missing link in a plot so secret and evil that those behind it will stop at nothing to hunt him down.

Armed with wands and weapons, Bran’s enemies are about to attack–with all the power of a horrible curse and a terrible crime. Magic won’t be the only law broken in the City of Dunce…”

   Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Caleb Nation is a bit of a hidden gem for magic/fantasy readers. I read this a while ago, but found myself wanting to write a review on it upon discovering it in my room and I wanted others to know more about it. It was released around the peak of Harry Potter with the movie series nearing its end. While there are similaritites to the Harry Potter series, it does enough to satisfy and thrill readers.

   Bran Hambric was a solid protagonist who has to come to terms with his newfound powers. His journey from beginning to end is a bit generic, but is fairly effective. There will be comparisons with him to Harry Potter (newfound powers, siblings who hate him, etc.), but he does enough to stand out as his own character. His struggle to accept himself and his past was well done and the main driving force of the character. The other supporting do well although I found Astara to be one of the better ones. She becomes Bran’s friend and helps him throughout his journey. The rest are fine and do what they are supposed to do, but they do not really stand out.

   The plot is fairly standard for a fantasy novel and does take some time to pick up.  Although, I attribute it to world building. It does get a bit heavy in the second half in terms of plot and characters which can lose you. The world Nation creates is pretty awesome. It does have the standard goblins and monsters with some gnomes mixed in, but the history behind it, as Bran continues to uncover secrets of Dunce, is fairly interesting and stands out from other magical novels. It is a fairly well written book considering the book was started by Nation at 14 and continued throughout his teen years which is pretty impressive. 

   Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse is a solid and well done magic novel. There will be comparisons to the Harry Potter series and I admit there are similarities to it, but Nation does enough to make this novel stand out in the crowded genre.

Rating: Must Buy for Magic/ Harry Potter lovers. 

For everyone else, Check It Out


Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer Review

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“Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard.

What could possibly go wrong?

An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin… and not, y’know, die or anything.”

Sometimes you just need to read (or in my case listen) to something fun, something akin to a popcorn movie and Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer is just that. It’s funny, entertaining, and above all, fun. It’s a book where you turn your brain off and just enjoy the ride.

Martin was a solid protagonist who discovers something wonderful. While he does discover a file that alters the world, he is by no means a genius and that does make him quite relatable. He is not some genius, he is a normal guy who just happens to have stumbled on quite a discovery. His journey from an average joe to a good wizard was fairly effective even if expected. Philip serves as the mentor to Martin and I found their interactions and conversations to be quite hilarious. The book really starts to pick up when they meet one another and seeing their relationship grow was quite nice. The other supporting characters such as Gary provided their own funny moments and lines. Merlin or Jimmy serves as Philip’s main rival and their rivalry provides some of the funniest moments in the book. While I did like the characters, they are not the most complex or layered characters and they should not be for a book like this. They have their own quirks and traits that make the likeable and entertaining, but they are not ground breaking. This is not a con, just a heads up for those looking for deep characters. I listened to the audiobook and found the narrator to be pretty good. His variety of accents and unique voices really helped elevate the book, so I do recommend the audiobook.

The plot is fairly predictable and some decisions make you scratch your head, but it does enough to keep you going. It does take some time to pick up, notably when Philip and Martin meet which is where the actual magic begins. Now I do appreciate the creativity of the world that Meyers creates. The magic itself was quite different from most fantasy books. It is a bit more sci-fi that fantasy in that regard. The magic requires manipulation of the file and the wizards can even create macros to help them cast more complex magic which is quite unique and a bit refreshing. The humor in this book clicked for me, yet it can be quite silly. What people find funny is different from one another and others may find it silly and at times, crass.

I have been reading some pretty heavy books recently and reading Who Let The Gods Out? and Off To Be The Wizard was a good change of pace. Off To Be The Wizard is not going to win any awards for literature excellence, but not every book should be. It’s fun, funny, and extremely entertaining.

Rating: Must Buy (I can’t believe I forgot the rating)

Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans Review

Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

  Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans presents a genuinely funny and adventurous book that satisfies kids and adults. I just had a blast reading this novel and laughed frequently.

Elliot was a very likeable protagonist. His determination to take care of his ill mom will resonate with many people and his wit is sure to make people laugh. He is pretty much the link between the audience and the book. Virgo was a fairly solid protagonist who serves as the fish out of water. It was fairly entertaining and funny to see her interact with people and the world we mortals live in. I do feel she takes a bit of a backseat in the second half of the book, but still served a sizeable role in the novel overall. The supporting characters are mostly gods and goddesses from Greek mythology. Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, etc. were very funny and a good chunk of the funny moments came from them. Thanatos serves as the main villain and he was fine. He had some funny moments, but other than that he did what he was supposed to do. I liked how Evans modernized the gods. They were accustomed to living in our world and even had their own phones called the iGod.

The novel’s plot is fairly basic with the “we have to find these items before the villains does,” but it was still fairly effective.  It is Percy Jackson-esque with the gods and goddesses and mythical powers and prophecies, but other than that it is fairly different. I was surprised at some of the adult jokes in this novel, but there were still funny and for kids, it provides some good replay value if they decide to read it in the future. There were some nice action sequences including a weird, yet awesome sequence involving the queen of England. While the books was fairly funny, I felt it went for the joke too much at times and the climax was a bit unsatisfying.

Who Let The Gods Out? was a funny and entertaining novel that kept me laughing throughout and engaged with its likeable characters and modernized take on the greek gods. It was genuinely a blast to read.

Rating: Must Buy

 

August TBR

1. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Abertalli

  

With some luck, I can get this book in my library. I really hope I do.

2. The Assault by Various Authors

I found the first book, Invitation, to be a fairly entertaining sci-fi novel. I hope this can continue to improve on the foundation.

3. Who Let The Gods Out by Maz Evans

This book gives off some Percy Jackson vibes and I found the premise to be certainly interesting.

4. Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer

I purchased the first two novels of this series on an audible sale after hearing some good things about it. Hopefully, my money was well spent.

5. The Boomerang Effect by Gordon Jack

I heard some good things about this novel and read the first several pages at my library. Time to go back and check it out.

July Wrap Up

July was a fairly productive month. Although I did only read 5 books, I felt I was a bit more active with my blog and read more often even if I did not complete as much books as I had hoped.

Total Books Read: 5

Books Read from TBR: 4/5

Book Highlights:

1.  Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

Summary:

Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut…

We never saw them coming.

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy’s tactics are changing, and Earth’s defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.”

My Thoughts:

    “Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black is a solid sci-fi novel that does enough to shake the familiar sci-fi novel. With some solid characters and an extremely detailed world, Ninth City Burning should satisfy any sci-fi fan.”

2.  The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Summary:

  “Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia, neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending- one that will rock his life to the core.”

My Thoughts:

“After reading the fantastic Goodbye Days, I decided to go back and read Zentner’s debut, The Serpent King. While I believe the former to be the better novel, The Serpent King presents an emotional and brutal coming of age novel.”

3. Champion by Marie Lu

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Summary:

He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.”

My Thoughts:

“With every beginning, there is an end and Champion completes the Legend trilogy with an exciting and fast-paced novel that keeps you reading until the end.”

Tags/Awards:

The Blank Book:

 

I hope August brings an even better month and more reading. Here’s to a great August!

 

 

Magyk by Angie Sage Review

The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?

The first book in this enthralling new series by Angie Sage leads readers on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters and magykal charms, potions, and spells. Magyk is an original story of lost and rediscovered identities, rich with humor and heart.”

There’s nothing wrong with reading a solid book from time to time. It may not do anything new, but it provides some entertainment. For better or for worse, Magyk by Angie Sage is exactly that. Solid, but unspectacular.

While I do feel there are some good characters, such as Boy 412 and Aunt Zelda, there are way too many characters. There are some characters, such as Stanley the messenger rat, who show up, get some time, then do not show up for the rest of the novel. It’s fine if there are characters that only show up for a purpose, but when you begin to give them time and then never show up again, it feels underdeveloped and unnecessary. Boy 412 was my favorite character and his character arc from a quiet soldier boy to a magyk user was fairly well done, yet familiar. Aunt Zelda was a cool character with some interesting history that I wanted to know more of and this applies to Marcia as well. The villain was your standard evil villain, fear me type. The other characters such as Jenna and Nicko were fine, but I did not really find them all that interesting.

The plot is pretty standard for a fantasy novel and this book does get comparisons to the Harry Potter series (which happens for every magic series, it seems) which is mostly right, as it does borrow some elements from it. There is a bit of a twist by the end with a red herring in the middle, but it becomes quite obvious once it is when a certain character is introduced. The actual magic parts of the book was cool and I thought it was a bit of a nice touch to highlight the magic words (I can’t think of a word to describe it) and were the most entertaining parts of the book.

Overall, Magyk is a solid, yet unspectacular book that provides some nice magic moments and a few solid characters.

Rating: Read if you like the genre