Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I waited a little bit before doing this review because it is such a heavy topic. This review will touch on 13 reasons why and the topic of suicide to forewarn anyone who does not wish to read about that. The review will focus solely on the book, a review of the show will come later.

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Thirteen Reasons Why is a book by Jay Asher that follows Clay, a classmate who knew Hannah. After her suicide Clay receives some tapes in the mail telling about why she did what she did and if you had the tapes you were one of the reasons.

The book follows Clay through out the whole night, as he listens to these stories of classmates he knows, and the rumors he had heard; wondering how he fit into the picture. He spends a night in agony, learning the horrible truth behind Hannah’s death, dreading how he is the cause of it and hating everyone who was involved. As the mystery unravels and we learn the truth as to why this happened our eyes are open the the consequences of both our words and actions.

I had first read this book when I was in college. I had seen it around a few times on occasion but no one had ever recommended it to me just yet. A friend of mine told me that they loved this book and lent it to me. I finished it in one setting, I couldn’t put it down. Never before had I read something like this or something so intense. The writing was truly wonderful as well, spelling out situations from high school as if the author had just been a teen himself. At least they felt real and relatable to how teens would really act. Thankfully I had gone to a high school that was not overly cliquey but I still had known the concept and dealt with it on several occasions.

I loved how the story followed Clay, and how he had to listen to all these tapes learning things that he should have never learned. He sees his classmates in a different light, learning the truth behind teenage cruelness and he learns that things like this can be helped and prevented if only someone would step up and care, or just not be so harsh. The tapes left Clay with many “what if” questions which added to the story and the pain of the reality of suicide.

I want to tackle the topic of the tapes in this review as well. I have seen many sides to what people think of this and it is a huge thing that Hannah had sent the tapes around. Some say it was cruel and no one deserves that, it’s petty and rude and there was no point it just glorified suicide. I felt differently, I felt as if the author was trying to get the point across that death is not the end all to pain. By Hannah doing this she set in motion so many consequences she could never have imagined. By sending out those tapes, a girl who was so hurt she desperately wanted people to know what they had done, she showed people what their actions could do. Should she have done it? Probably not, it was kind of a terrible move on her part. But Hannah is gone, she isn’t an active character. She had pain in her life and the only way she could think to deal with that pain was to place the blame where she felt it belonged. It added a human element to the story, and showed that even the victims are not perfect people.

The book itself deals with a very heavy topic, and while very good and well written it is very hard to read. I don’t recommend this book to just anyone. I would only recommend this book to people who can handle it, who are actively interested in learning more about how to prevent and people who can fully understand that this is not just a story to read and go “that was good” and pass it up. It is a learning experience, and it takes a lot out of the reader. But it’s a topic that often goes silent for too long. It needs to be talked about and I feel as though this book does a fairly decent job. I don’t think it glorifies anything, I think it shows that raw pain behind a choice like this. It is not the be all end all of books on this topic, there is always a better way to talk about suicide. But the topic tackled it in a unique way that got the readers attention, and did a decent job discussing things about the damage left behind.

I rated this book a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, I really enjoyed the book. It definitely opened my eyes up, and it made me think about things I hadn’t before. Again, it’s a hard book to read. It is not as hard to read as it is to watch the show though. If you want the story but don’t want it super graphic then I recommend to read the book. It is definitely worth the read. But again, it is not for everyone and not everyone enjoys it or sees it the same way that I do.

 

*Please keep the comments nice, I do not mind if you have a differing opinion but please do not comment on a post like this with negative and abusive comments. If you didn’t like the book or story find a way to portray your thought and feelings without telling me that mine are wrong. Thank you.

Poetry from the Pew by Robbie Nagle

Poetry from the Pew by Robbie Nagle

A friend from my college recently published a book on amazon, and me being the reviewer that I am said I could read it over and review it for him. He made a collection of 28 poems from sermons that he had heard in 2015. The book is called Poetry from the Pew by Robbie Nagle, and you can find it here on Amazon or Goodreads.

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I really enjoyed this book and it didn’t take me that long to read over. The book was about 40 pages spanning about 2 pages per poem. The poems themselves were really good, they seemed to flow together really well and had connections among the poems as well. They came from a place of deep thought and consideration for what was being said in the sermons the author listened to.  They were thought provoking and interesting and I enjoyed reading through them. I don’t think these are poems that are just to be read once though, I feel as though these can be read over and over and applied to everyday life as well.

As a Christian myself, I found these very intriguing; especially to see someone else’s take on church and the sermons that were preached there. The only thing I could think of that I didn’t enjoy about the book was that the author didn’t date the poems or give the topic/ bible verse that went along with these poems. I would have loved to see what inspired the topic that the author was talking about. But the flow was lovely all the same, and the extra things I wanted weren’t really needed. Sometimes it was better just to let the poem flow by itself and try and see if you knew what the topic was. It was just something that I would have been interested in knowing, especially to know more about the poems and their origins. I like to know background information in things that I read. 23e—–=

I would recommend this book to poetry lovers, especially those looking for some Christian content to read. They have some great thought provoking lessons, and great takes on one persons perspective of things. If you’re interested on Christians point of views too then this would be a good book to read, if you wanted a perspective on the Christian faith or just wanted to know a little bit more about what Christians believe in and how they process it in their minds.

I rated the book a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, poems always fascinate me and they were really enjoyable to read. If this sounds like something that would intrigue you I highly encourage you to pick it up as well. It is just 10$ on amazon for paperback and 5$ for eBook. And if you do read it then please write a review and post to amazon and Goodreads as this is the authors first book the feedback will be very helpful.

City of Secrets by Mary Hoffman

City of Secrets by Mary Hoffman

The fourth book in the Stravaganza series and the plot is getting more and more complicated with each book.

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This time we follow young Matthew, a teen who has sever dyslexia. He’s drawn to an old book in an antique shop and Matt has no idea why. He can’t read it. Suddenly he finds himself transported to another world at University in Padavia. With new laws threatening society and their ways of life Matt must come face to face with the dangers and purpose of being a stravagant. The Di Chimici are hot on pursuit and dangerously close to making a breakthrough on the stravagant secret.

I like this series and more and more as they go on, and the story keeps getting more intense as they go on as well. I say it every time but Hoffman is a genius when it comes to this series and I can’t understand why these books are not more popular or more widely talked about. I especially loved this story because the main character has dyslexia and I can relate to some level with him. Obviously the character has a more severe form of it, where as mine is a very mild case, but I felt like I could connect on some level and feel for the character more than others. Matt was an interesting character to read and I real felt as though I could connect and relate to him on a personal level, he is one of my favorites by far.

The story is getting a lot of build up to, as the story line goes on and processes it gets harder and harder for the teens to keep this a secret in their own world and in Talia as well. With more and more joining the botherhood each year they have now formed their own little clique at school, not without strain on their regular lives either. It’s getting complicated for them, having to lead double lives. Having to keep secrets in both worlds as well as trying to blend in natural in a different time and place.

I had first read the first book way back when I was like 15 and I loved the story so much, it intrigued me. I had checked out the book from the library because the cover was pretty and the description was good. I fell in love, the book was so good. Since then my library had remodeled and I had lost track of the books and the memory of the titles began to fade. But I never stopped thinking about them. A friend of mine had the whole series and was kind enough to lend them to me, which is when I started reading and reviewing them. They are wonderful books with a wonderful story and they really made me think. Even now, I start to read them and I keep thinking about they are going to end, what is going to happen. That is how a book should be, always keeping you wondering until the very end. I love it.

These books are truly wonderful and so worth the read. I highly recommend these to pretty much anyone, if you like action/adventure/sci fi/ fantasy then you will definitely like these and if you are looking for diversity in your books these are definitely a good read for you. I say this every time but I feel like these books do a good job of covering a wide range of characters and characteristics. The author never just focuses on one side she covers many sides and its amazing. I rated this book a 5/5 on Goodreads, I really loved the action in this one and I loved how intense and in depth it was getting as well. I am really excited to read the last two and finally see how this series ends.

City of Flowers by Mary Hoffman 

Continuing on with my review of the Stravaganza series as I (slowly) read through them. City of Flowers is the third book in the Stravaganza series and so far my absolute favorite. So much happens in this book, it really jumps into the thick of this story and world now. 

City of Flowers follows Sky, a young teen (who also goes to the same school as Lucien and Georgia do) who stumbles across a perfume bottle. Tired and worn out from taking care of his mother who has MS disease, sky stumbles into the world of Talia in the city of Giglia. Disguised as a monk and thrown into a feud between the DiChimici and the Nucci that has lasted years Sky must discover his purpose as well as stay alive. 

I loved this book in particular becuase the action really took a leap in this. Now we not only have the issues from the last books to deal with but a family feud between two warring families that must also be dealt with all the while keeping the Stravagante community hidden from the DiChimici Duke. 

Once again Mary Hoffman has captured my heart with this story, as well as a love for the fantasy world of Talia. I enjoy this books for many reasons, especially for the amount of work and research she did for them. Diversity plays a role in these books as well, which makes me love them even more. Once again diversity is a hot topic in the book community and these books definitely have that- with a variety of main characters as well as multiple supporting characters that all come from different backgrounds and races/ethnicities. These are wonderful books and I love the story so much. 

While these books follow a common theme they still vary widely between the sequels and I love that so much. Each book follows a different character, story line and city in the world of Talia. It also connects all the stories across the books as well, with tons of world building and story build up I feel as though I can never get enough of reading these books. I highly recommend them, especially for lovers of fantasy/SciFi novels. 

I rated a 5/5 on Goodreads, this book had so many action scenes I was immersed for the majority of the book, hooked and on the edge of my seat. This is a wonderful read and amazing series. 

A Song of Fire and Ice: Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin

A Song of Fire and Ice: Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin

Okay I read this book a LONG time ago and it took me a while to even find the motivation for the review; mostly because I had waited so long to even write it. I had to remember everything that I wanted to right about, and I probably have done a review on this at some point (either the show or the book) but I had deleted it from my old blog. Silly me.

This has been one of my favorite series, mostly the tv show since that is what I started first but I love the books as well. I am currently on the second book because they take forever to read, but they are so good.

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Goodreads Summary:

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. 

In the first book we are introduced to the world of Westeros and the characters that are in in. We follow King Roberts reign and his friend Ned Stark as well as the entire Stark family, the Lannisters and even the Targaryens (what is left of them.) We follow through al the intrigue of the crown and the death that seems to surround it, the start of a great (or not so great war) and the simple evil of humanity at it’s finest.

This book series is extremely complicated, if you’ve ever read Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit then you know what a complicated fantasy book is. Believe me though, these books are far more complicated than any of the Lord of the Rings books. They are amazing though, very well written and definitely worth the read. There is a lot going on, and the story is packed full but the quality definitely makes up for the mind mush the reader gets from tackling such a series.

Welcome to the world of Westeros and the seven kingdoms.

There is not single main character, and there are several stories going on. We follow several characters, from Ned Stark to all his children and his wife, to Dany Targaryen and her brother with their adventures with the Dothraki. This is a story of power and struggles, the fight to win and to gain. If you love fantasy or medieval stories then you will definitely love this.

I love being able to get more than one story, and as the story progresses and the separate houses split up and do their own things then we get to see how they travel through out the world and what they are doing while everyone else is doing something else.Not having a single main character can be a very good thing, or it can be a very bad thing. It can be hard to follow so many story lines and so much that goes on at any given time but it also really cool to see how all the story lines tie into each other and effect the rest of the Westeros world.

The writing in these books are simply amazing, and the more research I do on the author definitely adds to my love of this series. While the author writes about rather horrible things in this world he created, he is still a resectable man (at least from what I have seen). The writing is detailed, giving enough back story for the reader to understand the depth of the tragedies that are happening in this story as well as allowing the reader to connect with the characters and the relationships that were already built into the story from the start. I am really not that into fantasy books, they have always seemed rather daunting to me; and while this story is most certainly daunting and packed full it is amazing and 9 times out of 10 the reader will fall into this world easily.

There definitely is an adult theme in this book, but I felt as though this was done gracefully. I didn’t feel like any of the adult themes (the violence or the sex) were over the top or even unnecessary. Especially in the book and being able to read about it. There seemed to be a point with each encounter or more violent discussions. Everything ties in with each other at some point in this book. Sometimes you just have to wait for a while to be able to see how it fits into the story.

This world is a magical, yet altogether terrible place and the author did a fantastic job of portraying that. I do not recommend this book lightly, I realize that it is not for everyone. As much as I love this book I know that a lot of the themes and events in this book are very hard to handle. The book alone has a reputation for killing any and all characters, which I can confirm is very true. I don’t love this book because it is perfect and everything is nice. I love this book because it gets down to the nitty gritty, it’s real. I feel as though this could be an accurate portrayal of  a world like that, of people doing anything they can to get whatever they want. The characters are human and flawed and the story is not a happy one. It doesn’t take things lightly and that is why this story is such a great one.

I rated this book a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, it truly is a beautiful piece of work. Again I do not lightly recommend this book, it is definitely a bit cleaner than the show but it still has some very mature themes that might be hard to handle. If you love fantasy books though this might be the one for you. Especially if you are looking for a more realistic rough and tough and vastly serious book. It really is a great read and a wonderfully written book.

I will get the review up on the next book as soon as I can but it might be a while it is taking me a long time to get through these books.

City of Masks- Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman

City of Masks- Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman

I am back, after a lengthy but much needed break I am ready to jump into the blogging game again. I am kicking the restart of my reading and book blogging with a review of one of my favorite childhood books that I was recently able to re-read due to a friend loaning the series to me.

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City of Masks is the first book in the Stravaganza series and the first book in a wonderful fantasy series. Find the book on Goodreads here.

The book takes place in London following Lucien, a 15 year old boy with cancer. After being given a notebook from his father with Italian origins Lucien discovers that he is a part of a group of people called the Stravaganti. He is able to travel across time and different dimensions (best way I can describe that.) to a different reality and time based on the real life Italy. In this different Italy, called Talia, Lucien is no longer sick. He isn’t tired, weary or any of the things that he is in his mortal life. As he enjoys this new found freedom and cure, he explores the complex world of Talia and the City of Bellezza.

This book is unique in the sense that I haven’t actually read a whole lot of books on time travel, mainly because I am not that into Sci-Fi books or even the huge fantasy books that take ages to read. I love them once in a while, but when it gets to the sci-fi aspect of things I just haven’t found an author that I really like while reading about things that like. I loved this book though, and it didn’t really drag on for me. I felt like I could really get into the story without being overwhelemd by the time traveling and different dimensions of the book. The book was a fairly quick read I managed to read it in one day while doing other household things as well. That’s not to say that it’s not good, the first book is just a little smaller than the others and it took no time at all to get through.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, we didn’t always follow Lucien throughout the book and I enjoyed being able to get glimpses of other characters and what was going on in a world like that. Obviously being set in the 16th century (the alternate universe at least) things were a lot more complicated and definitely more tricky to deal with than just in our regular lives. There were different more strict rules, as well as feuding families and plots to overthrow certain powers.

The author was also really big into Italy and that whole culture, so it really tied over into the book and her writing. She made things very different yet almost the same as real life Italy, and it definitely added to the story and her writing. You could tell that the author knew a lot about what she was writing about, and it flowed over very nicely into the book. It didn’t seem as though it was far fetched, but as if that world she created could be real. The rules and the customs of that particular culture were complex and well thought out. World building is not an easy task but it was definitely pulled off very gracefully in this novel. Being able to capture the aspect of a culture while still making up a culture that parallels is amazing and Mary Hoffman did a wonderful job.

I loved the mystery and the intrigue of this book, although I can not tell you if it was shocking to me since I have read this book before. I remember when I was younger I was so glued to this book though, and re-reading it was amazing. Even knowing what was going to happen I was still anticipating the plot twists and the inevitable events that would happen. I didn’t feel like there really was a dull moment, as there was so much to learn in the book- about the culture and the world that was built- I didn’t feel as though a part of the book drug on or slowed down. There wasn’t any fluff or padding, just a heartfelt story and introduction to the world of Stravaganti.

If you love fantasy books, especially if you are looking for something equally good but not as dragging or draining as other books, this is definitely a good read. There is a great historical aspect to it as well, with all the research that went into it. It’s a great read, and I felt as though the author pulled off the concept to this book very well. I am eager to dive into the rest of the series as I have never actually finished this series before. This book is not for everyone, I have seen some complaints about not being terribly complex or thought provoking but I had no trouble with it. If you love the long fantasy books and need something extremely complex to read then I do not recommend this book. I really enjoyed this because I felt that the author did a wonderful job and it was refreshing to read a fantasy book that didn’t make me want to go into a months long reading slump. I rated this a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, partly because I really loved it and partly because of the nostalgia of reading it as a kid.

 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I read this a while back but I don’t think I ever did a review on it and if I had it was on my old blog that I had deleted without thinking to back anything up. So yeah, I want to actually get a review out on this.

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The Sun is Also a Star is about Natasha and Daniel; Natasha is a hardcore science and fact lover and Daniel is a poet. Natasha is 12 hours from her family being deported back to Jamaica, Daniel is late for a college admissions meeting that his mom wants more than he wants. Thrust together in a chance meeting on the streets and suddenly those things seem very forgettable. The universe and fate play a huge role in these two young lives, and now it’s up to them to play out how this story is going to be written.

This book really caused a lot of inner turmoil for me, mostly because I didn’t love it while everyone else seemed to instantly fall hardcore for it. But it didn’t click with me, and while I really enjoyed it as a book to read I just couldn’t connect with the characters or with the story. There were a lot of things that I loved, more things I didn’t see fit in the story and even more things that I just didn’t like.

The writing was amazing, I am going to start with that because as a want to be writer I admire all forms of writing and this book was just genius in the writing lay out sense. I loved it, each character had their own chapter and own back story. We got already developed characters but the author still allowed us to know their back story, to get to know why they were developed in the way that they were. Instead of being thrust full on into a world of already made characters we got glimpses of the past and the things that made them who they were.

There were also chapters on other characters, side characters that had played a role in the story, and they fit. I loved it so much. There was a point when they mentioned black hair beauty shops being run by mostly the asian population and they had whole chapters on the history of hair and how it played in the story. I am a sucker for some good history and this definitely added to the story.

I wasn’t a fan of the story itself, the whole premise of being thrust together randomly and how falling in love instantly is a huge thing just didn’t do it for me. I have never had any experience with that actually been true, nor have I known anyone who has lived that either. Love takes time, and I didn’t find it believable at all that you could meet someone on the streets and just love them. And that was the whole premise of the book, it was laid out pretty clearly in the description. There were just too many “what ifs…” in my mind about this instant love that I couldn’t fully enjoy it.

The characters weren’t all that likable either, while they were very developed I just wasn’t that into who they were as people. We have Natasha who doubts everything to the point of slamming your head into a wall and wondering how people can be THAT into hard facts and science. Then Daniel, who is such a pushover he doesn’t know what to do with his life until suddenly he  drops all that and becomes a full time poet when he meets a girl. Which by the way said girl mocks his poetry throughout the entire novel anyways.

It just didn’t seem to fit, it really didn’t. To me nothing made sense in this book, or was even a realistic play of how things would actually happen. The only thing that seemed to hold any reality for me was the end when Natasha gets let down by a real human error. I won’t spoil anything, but the ending was very real.

I did end up really liking the ending, I thought that it ended on a very good note and it definitely had a twist that I saw coming but still loved anyways. And the ending felt more like an alternate ending, because it wasn’t from Daniel or Natasha point of view, so I loved that it had the option of being the ending; or not if you so chose. It was a beautiful way to end such a story.

While this wasn’t my favorite book, I still enjoyed reading parts of it. It was still a fairly quick read too. I ended up with a rating of 3/5 on Goodreads mostly because I just couldn’t click with the story. But I would still recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light (with hints of heavy) read or a pick me up book. Its a romance/contemporary read so if you are looking for something different, romantic and cutsey/cheesy this is a really good book to pick up. It’s very well written and very well done, I just hadn’t connected to the characters as much as everyone else had. My favorite parts definitely had to be the side characters/history chapters they were just so well done, so if you like some historical context or side character back stories in your books then I would highly recommend this as well just for that. It definitely made the book for me.