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.

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Hostile Hospital

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Hostile Hospital

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Alright so now we are on book eight, and things are looking extremely grim for the children. Having run away from the village who tried to kill them and frame them for murders they did not do the Baudelaire’s are now on their own stuck in an empty waste land with no where to go. With their friends the Quagmires stuck on a floating home with no way down they are more alone than they have ever been. Suddenly they have a run in with an organization called V.F.D and going on very little hope the children team up with them to become volunteers at the local hospital. With hope that they will be able to finally escape Count Olaf and get answers the children embark on yet another journey.

The books have become even more complicated, and the plot is has changed pace entirely. No longer are these children just trying to escape from Count Olaf and his crew they are now trying to piece together the mystery of V.F.D and what role their parents had played in the organization in which they can never find out the name for. The books are now longer and quite such a breeze to blow through in an hour. Their lives are drastically changing and things are getting harder and harder each new place they go. The Baudelaire children are on a carnival ride that only goes down.

The writing as always is superb in this series, while it is targeted towards children the style of writing is interesting and definitely holds the readers attention. At points it does tend to drag on and repeat itself but then again it is a children’s book, and the whole point of the book is the author (narrator) trying to get you to stop reading the book because there is nothing but misery and despair. It’s quirky and funny, but also sad and depressing. The story line is an intriguing one, however much despair is in the Baudelaire’s lives.

I would definitely recommend this book and this series, it is perfect for readers of all ages and is not just limited to it’s target audience. I rated this book a 5/5 stars, I find myself loving the children and wishing with each book something better will come of their lives.

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

I finished this book early in the week (Monday I think) and I had to do a review on this. My goal this year is to try and write a review for all the books that I read. So here we go!

If you have not read the other books then I highly reccommend not reading this review because there will be definite spoilers for the previous books.

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City of Glass is the third book in The Mortal Instruments series and the continuation of the effort against Valentine. Clary, Jace and the lightwoods travel to Alicante in search of the warlock who has the spell to awake Clary’s mother. With the tip from Madeleine Bellefleur on how to wake up her mother Clary has hopes that this will work. Valentine is still on the rise in search of all of the Mortal Instruments and the Clave is still stubbornly refusing to accept that they are in danger.

I am loving this series, especially as the books go on. The first book was slow but after that I felt like the pace picked up and really got the story kicking. The third book was even better than the first two. As the author expands the story she also expands her writing in it as well. As I have mentioned before in my review of City of Bones I really love the third person. I feel like I say this way too much, but I can not get over how much I am loving it right now. This is one of my favorite aspects, seeing all sides of the story and being able to get more than one story going on at once. The characters are switched all the time so at one point you are focusing on Jace and the next it’s Simon or Alec. It really works well in this story especially with so much going on.

There is so much action in this book, I felt like I couldn’t set it down at all for fear of losing steam in the story or losing track of what was going on if I wasn’t constantly reading. To me that was a wonderful feeling, a book should be so good and so intense that the reader just doesn’t want to have to put it down. I was hooked with this book, the action scenes get better and better as the story goes on and with each book. I am always down for a good fight scene and this book took it to an all out war. Marvelous.

The character development in this book was also super amazing. The characters grew more into who they are, discovered how they felt about things and each other and I loved it. The friction between Clary and Jace as brother and sister was SO frustrating and so perfect all at the same time. It was hard and infuriating to read them have to go from almost lovers to brother and sister in just a matter of three books. The way they handled their frustrations was all to real, possibly a little weird as well, but so perfectly written.

All in all I loved this book so much, and it was an amazing conclusion to the first three books. I finally got some peace with this series, so I can take a short break before I head into the last three books. I am so excited to finish this series off this year. I gave this book a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, I have no reason to hate this book and I am falling in love with this series and with this world. Truly an amazing read.