Book Reviews: March 2019

March wasn’t a very active reading month for me. There were almost two weeks in between finishing the last 400 pages of Oathbringer and picking up another book. Sanderson always puts me in a reading slump, plus I started my millionth Game of Thrones rewatch to prep for Season 8 (!!!!) so that took up most of my free time. Everything I read after Oathbringer was quick to get through.

All reviews (especially Oathbringer) have spoilers - you have been warned.

  • Oathbringer (Stormlight Archives #3) by Brandon Sanderson

  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

  • Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith series by Charles Soule

OATHBRINGER (STORMLIGHT ARCHIVES #3) BY BRANDON SANDERSON

Oathbringer is the third installment of Brandon Sanderson’s ten book Stormlight Archive series. After finishing #3, I am very grateful I read the Edgedancer novella (#2.5) first. It’s not necessary, but I highly recommend reading in that order.

DSC_0356.jpg

I’m honestly not sure what to say about this series at this point. It’s quickly become one of my all-time favorites. Oathbringer focused on Dalinar’s backstory; which I loved, and I’m glad we got it in book #3 because it made “You cannot have my pain!” so powerful. It wouldn’t have been such a strong ending without knowing all Dalinar had suffered - but more importantly, all the suffering that he had caused.

I liked the humor in this installment. Kaladin worrying about Syl hanging around whenever he eventually got a girlfriend and he had sex, Pattern’s “No mating!”, and every single scene Lift was in were all really funny. I generally read with a resting bitch face, so if I crack a smile when reading that’s equivalent to actually lol-ing in real life. I smiled a lot.

Sanderson has got to the point where he writes mental illnesses very, very well, while at the same time managing to keep his character’s illnesses from being their one defining trait. Depression and alcoholism are prominent, but the one that was most interesting to me was Shallan’s issue. Dissociative identity disorder is probably the best term, but the most intriguing part is how it fits into the world building. Are all of Shallan’s order members like her? Is it really a “disorder” thanks to her upbringing, or is that just what happens to Lightweavers? Who is she, really? And most importantly - is she really worthy of precious Adolin?

Stormlight Archives is just…everything. I’m all caught up now and I’m dreading the long wait until book #4, but I trust Sanderson. Even though I’ve been emotionally damaged by other authors (cough GRRM), I have complete faith that Sanderson will see this through.

And for fun, a few quotes I thought worthy of marking:

“Hesina clutched her infant child in her arms, and her expression was one of pure delight, an awespren bursting around her head in a blue ring.”

-Page 90 (Y’all I cried at this moment.)


“Would you defend them, after what they did to you?”

“They’re my people.”

“That’s no excuse. If one of ‘your people’ murders another, don’t you put them in prison? What is a just punishment for enslaving my entire race?”

-Page 314 (Just to note if you’re reading this and haven’t read the series, “race” here isn’t referring to black or white humans. The speaker is non-human. Sanderson does a great job of making his story’s moral issues reflect the real world.)


“They will try,” Jasnah said, “to define you by something you are not. Don’t let them.”

-Page 401


“Relax, grandpa. Steal the rock. I can do that.”

-Page 1109

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

ELEANOR & PARK BY RAINBOW ROWELL

I won Eleanor & Park in a Goodreads giveaway a couple years ago and figured it was high time I started it. After my Oathbringer reading slump, I didn’t want anything mentally taxing.

DSC_0367.jpg

Eleanor & Park started out promising but about one third of the way into the book I lost interest. Every interaction between the two characters seemed the exact same. They never really progressed beyond “I have a crush and it’s exciting.” There were a few cute moments I loved, like the two sharing comics on the bus and excitement over their first phone call.

Some things weren’t addressed fully. Was Tina the one who flushed Eleanor’s clothes? It was never really confirmed. I guessed who was the writer of the creepy textbook notes about halfway through, and although those came into play at the very end they felt underutilized in 90% of the story. I thought that dynamic with the stepdad could’ve made the story better if it had been fleshed out just a bit more. Park being Asian was something else I had high hopes for but it would only be mentioned quickly and the characters would move on. I like reading about mixed race relationships, being in one myself, so I wanted more.

I hesitate to say “do not ever read this” because I know some people really like YA. I tend to like YA better if it has a fantasy or dystopian element to it; I think I just need to give up completely on contemporary YA. It does nothing for me, unless it’s something like The Hate U Give which I thought was great - T.H.U.G had a purpose and excelled at it. But if you like the YA genre overall and romance you’ll probably like Eleanor & Park better than I did.

Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars (Rounded to 3 on Goodreads)

DARTH VADER: DARK LORD OF THE SITH BY CHARLES SOULE

This is a different comic series than the one I reviewed previously. That series (Darth Vader) takes place between Episodes IV and V, while this one (Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith) takes place right after Episode III. Yeah, the names are confusing. I chose to buy Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith in the paperback volume version, so that I don’t get it confused with the other, which I bought in single issues.

DSC_0382.jpg

I’ve only read the two Vader series, but I’m enjoying the new canon comics so far. They add a lot to the Star Wars universe and my man Vader is a badass in them.

My biggest complaint about this series is the artwork in Volume 1. It was very cartoon-y, almost a bit childlike. I mean, I know these are comics, but the art in the other series was wonderfully dark. Thankfully, Volumes 2-4 had a different illustrator and I was very happy with the change.

My favorite Volume was 4, because Vader’s fortress is just so evil and sinister; I loved getting the backstory on how he got it. The possessed Sith helmet was also an interesting idea that I liked a lot as a plot device as I was reading, BUT I’m THRILLED about it now that the Episode IX trailer has been released. Maybe that laugh we heard at the end of the trailer will come to us in a similar way? *chills*

Rating: 4 of 5 stars for Volumes 1 & 2, 5 of 5 stars for Volumes 3 & 4

Book Reviews: February 2019

This might be my shortest review since I switched to monthly round-ups. I technically only finished one book, and I don’t have a picture of it to share because I didn’t have time to take one in the chaos of moving from DC to Salt Lake City.

I don’t feel bad about just one book since I got 800 pages into Oathbringer this month. I still have 400 pages to go but I’m loving it so far.

So! My one book in February was:

  • The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins

THE LIFE WE BURY BY ALLEN ESKINS

In The Life We Bury, college student Joe Talbert is struggling with balancing family, work, and school, when an English assignment prompts him to interview a Carl, a Vietnam war veteran. The things he learns about Carl’s life change the trajectory of his own.

*pretend there’s a picture of the book here*

This was my last book for my DC book club (!!!) which I was in about 3.5 years. According to Goodreads, I read 26 different books while in this club. Sometimes I missed meetings and sometimes I went to the meeting without having read the book. Overall, I loved the club because it introduced me to many books I probably wouldn’t have read on my own.

The book was...okay. It felt like Eskins just had a list of things that make a good book and tried to cram it all into one. Tragic murder? Mysterious neighbor? Sick war vet? Family problems? Financial woes? Check, check. Throw it all in there! I don’t have a problem with any of those things individually, but all of it together (especially with that over-the-top ending) kept me from loving it. The most compelling part of the book was Joe’s relationship with his brother. If it had focused more on that and Carl instead of trying to be shocking, I probably would’ve liked it a lot more.

The Life We Bury is one of those books that keeps you entertained for a couple hours and is easy to get through, but it’s not going to offer anything unique in the world of thrillers.

Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars (Rounded up to 3 on Goodreads.)

Book Reviews: January 2019

I only had a book in hand for about 7-8 days of January. My husband and I have been preparing to move across the country since early December (and he’s already in our new city) so I only had the mental capacity for light reading.

Thrawn review has minor spoilers.

  • Thrawn #2: Alliances by Timothy Zahn

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


THRAWN #2: ALLIANCES BY TIMOTHY ZAHN

Thrawn: Alliances is the second book in the new canon Thrawn series by Timothy Zahn. The first book followed Thrawn’s rise through the ranks of the Empire. In Alliances, Thrawn and Vader team up to take out a disturbance the Emperor has sensed.

547DF66A-BAD6-48B1-B17B-6295D7371E56.jpg

Alliances was a great read, mainly because Vader was in it and Eli Vanto was not. Picture this in Jean-Ralphio’s voice: “Eli is the woooooorrrssst!” Seriously the most bland character in all of Star Wars and Thrawn had to explain EVERYTHING to him in the last book. He made canon Thrawn #1 the worst of the five Thrawn books. I loved having Vader instead.

The part I most appreciated was Anakin’s refusal to listen to Thrawn and Padme as he was destroying the mine. That was a chilling moment that highlighted where he was in his decline toward the Dark Side. It’s been several weeks since I read it, but it’s still stuck in my mind.

I did have a few issues, though. I’ve been picky lately.

  1. Padme running off on her own mission in the middle of a war seemed odd. In the prequels she was often away from Coruscant, sure, but she at least always had people with her even if that someone was C-3PO. What about her meetings? Wouldn’t she have emails to respond to?

  2. Zahn has this habit of waaaay over-explaining some of Thrawn’s thinking by having Thrawn teach his commanders strategy. Which would be fine if it wasn’t such basic stuff. On the other hand, someone would get shot or something would be wrong with a ship and I would only have a vague idea of what happened, and the story would continue without explanation.

  3. Zahn dumbed down Vader somewhat to make Thrawn seem smarter. I think Zahn just likes his villain best.

Even with the issues above, I still really enjoyed reading Alliances. It was (mostly) mindless Star Wars fun with my favorite character of all time making an appearance as both Anakin and Vader. It doesn’t take much more than that to make me happy.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars (Rounded to 4 on Goodreads.)

THE HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY BY SUZANNE COLLINS

I was on a plane back to DC when I finished the Thrawn book above, and I didn’t have anything new on my Kindle...but I did have the Hunger Games trilogy! I first read these books at the end of 2011 and it was what got me back into fun reading toward the end of my senior year at VT. I was an English major, so I did a lot of reading but very little outside of class. I read through this series probably at least seven times in that first year or two after I found it, mainly because it’s so quick to get through. My first job after college also had many periods of downtime so I’d read it on the Kindle app on my phone.

The Hunger Games is not the most well-written trilogy. It took me less than a week to get through all three books again. It’s very action based and I’m always wishing there was more detail. (YA in general does that to me, though.) That being said, I truly love this trilogy. I actually have Catching Fire listed under my all-time favorites; I remember being unable to go to sleep when the Quarter Quell was announced. I’m still Team Peeta, but I had a bit more sympathy for Gale than I did in my last read six-ish years ago.

Rating: 5 of 5 stars for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, 4 of 5 stars for Mockingjay

2018 Book Summary

I set my 2018 book goal at 45 books and I sort of reached that goal. If you count all the comics, a few plays, and a short story then I exceeded it at 68! But that number is mainly just because Goodreads counts everything read as one “book.” I always add comics so I can track when I first read them, but really I only read 37 books this year.

I’m glad I switched to putting my 2018 book reviews in a monthly post, instead of a post per book like I was doing. I still got to write my reviews but it was a LOT less stressful.

Below are the books I read in 2018 that I own, minus the comics.

DSC_0262.JPG

Click here for my 2017 book summary.

Click here for the full list of what I read in 2018. If you don’t want to click the link, here’s a quick breakdown.

  • 42 books

  • 26 comics (Darth Vader & Saga #9)

  • Of the 42 books…

    • 4 were Shakespeare plays

    • 1 was a short story (The Star)

    • The rest were “normal” book length

    • 11 were non-fiction or memoirs/autobiographies

  • Everything was new to me, except for Black Beauty and The Star

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 2.07.19 AM.png

In random order, my 2018 favorites:

  1. The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson - Last year, Mistborn made the cut and in 2018 I loved loved LOVED The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and Edgedancer. I’m very much looking forward to Oathbringer.

  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - This book is just beautiful. I feel inadequate to have read it, much less review it. If I were an English teacher, I’d teach it.

  3. Star Wars media - I finally read one of the Darth Vader comic series and adored it, plus the original Thrawn series and one of the newer books. (I still have Thrawn: Alliances to get to.) Being back in the Star Wars non-movie universe was like being back home.

For the first time since I started this blog, I thought I’d share my least favorite reads from this year. I don’t want to be negative, because we all have our preferences, but this also helps me look back and remember.

  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - This is Twilight for eighteen-year-old boys who socialize mostly through video games and have never had a girlfriend. Listen, I was a late bloomer myself and I’m an introvert. I’m not trying to be mean, but this was poorly written and books that are basically just a list of 80’s references aren’t my cup of tea.

  2. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab - People on bookstagram love this one so I had high hopes, but even my normal leniency toward the YA Fantasy genre couldn’t save it. It was boring, the magic was completely undeveloped, and by the end the only thing that had caught my attention was the flippy coat.

So that’s it! My 2019 Goodreads goal is 40 books. That goal is high enough to keep me motivated to read and not just browse the internet in the evenings, but it’s not such a high number that I stress out.

For fun, my Instagram top 9 is below! All were book related except my two year wedding anniversary post.

2018 best nine.jpg