Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Title: Renegades (Renegades #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release November 7, 2017
Bought Hardcover
Rating: 4/5

Summary

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both (Summary from Goodreads).


Review

You guys can't fathom how excited I get every time I hear about a new book coming from my favorite author, Marissa Meyer. I have been waiting months for this baby, and I had a blast reading Renegades. Marissa Meyer could write about poop, and I would still read it because I can always rely on her to create a story that completely sucks me in.

"One cannot be brave who has no fear"

From the first chapter, I was connected to our main female character, Nova. After she witnessed a tragic incident as a child, it became Nova's mission to overthrow the Renegades and instill self-sufficiency back into society. I found Nova's views extremely interesting. She believes that the presence of the Renegades makes the ordinary people lazy and unwilling to handle their own problems. I don't usually get political, but I admired her views because I am sympathetic to Libertarian ideas of relying on yourself rather than government to handle your issues. I would not go so far as to say I want complete anarchy the way the Anarchists do in Renegades, but the general idea is something that I admire. I also liked that, despite Nova's determination to fulfill her mission, she questioned her beliefs as she learned that the Renegades were not exactly what she thought they were. Honestly, you may find yourself unable to decide which side is "right." The Renegades and Anarchists are two sides of the same coin. I was happy that Meyer did not choose to give Nova some AMAZING power. Instead, she relies on her fighting abilities and skill at inventing guns and various equipment.

"There was the potential for evil everywhere, and the only way to combat it was if more people chose goodness. If more people chose heroism. Not laziness. Not apathy. Not indifference."

The book switches POVs between Nova and another main male character, Adrian. Adrian is such a PRECIOUS cinnamon roll. I will not go into too much detail about him because I want you guys to experience the book as I did. What I will say is that Adrian will make you ship the ship with all your heart. His goodness and faith in the Renegades bringing justice to the world is what prompts Nova to occasionally have second thoughts about her mission.

For those that like to see diversity in your books, I think you will appreciate this one. Nova is half Italian, half Filipino. As a fellow person of Italian descent, it was nice to see an Italian character in a YA book! Adrian's ethnicity wasn't explicitly given, but his skin was described as dark. We also have gay adoptive parents.

Overall, I thought the pacing was reasonable to me and did not feel rushed. The beginning was slower as Meyer built up the world and characters, and the second half ramped up the story progression which made it so difficult to put the book down! I like to savor Meyer's writing, so the length of her book (over 500 pages) did not bother me at all, but it might bother some people. The only reason why I docked a star was that the side characters did not feel built up enough, and some of the action toward the end was as exciting as I have experienced with Meyer's other books because it was a bit too predictable. Usually, predictability does not bother me all that much, but since others were complaining about it in their reviews, it started to get to me as well. Other than that, I LOVED this book, and I cannot wait to finish the duology once the second book is released next November.
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Title: Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10)
Author: Agatha Christie
Released 1934
Bought on Kindle
Rating 5/5

Summary

"The murderer is with us - on the train now..."

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.

Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again... (Summary from Goodreads).



Review

Hercule Poirot is an amazing detective with a fabulous mustache.  Honestly, why would anyone commit murder on a train knowing the best detective in the world is present?  Well, I guess we wouldn't get a story as thrilling as Murder on the Orient Express.
Seriously look at that magnificent mustache.
I love Agatha Christie's writing because she can make an otherwise boring setting exciting and weave a great mystery in less than 300 pages.   There are a couple key things that I really enjoyed about this book.  First, the characters.  
Pages of dialogue can get tedious, but I found the dialogue to be extremely interesting because of the way Poirot questions the characters.  Through the questioning, we gain a view at the other character's lives and little tidbits of information that are important later in the book.  Although the characters were rather stereotypical, each had their own diverse background.  I felt like I could imagine being on this train with these people.  It is great to read books written so long ago in that time period, as opposed to a writer today writing a story based in that time period, because you know that the language used by Christie and the objects described were common back then.  It makes everything more believable.


"The impossible cannot have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances."
Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham

On that note, the second thing I really liked about this was how the character's backgrounds unfolded in such a way where the suspicion is spread to everyone.  It is very satisfying at the end to look back and see all the little clues that point to the guilty person/persons.  I can't wait to see the new movie adaption this weekend and compare!  I know from the trailer that there are definitely some differences, as expected.  Nonetheless, the cast looks amazing, and I'm looking forward to seeing Daisy Ridley in another role.



I included the new movie trailer below - I thought the part where the character's roles hover over the actors was pretty cool!


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November TBR

You guys, it's been six months since I wrote a TBR post! 😯

I know, it's terrible! But guess what??  I think I've finally broken out of my reading slump! If you guys remember my post about reading slumps, I tend to break out of them when I'm in the midpoint of a school semester, and this was no exception.  The thing is, I've not only been busy with school, but I was also prepping for job interviews like CRAZY.  I am happy to report that I have a big girl job next year! Woohoo!

Now that I am past the recruiting season and am *mostly* caught up with school reading, I have been getting into a routine every evening where I make time to read for at least a half hour.  I've been pretty successful thanks to this app called Routinist.  No, I'm not getting paid to sponsor them.  I'm just one of those people that like to try out apps for improving productivity and thought I'd share for my fellow productivity geeks.  I find that having structure to my evenings and mornings really helps me to stick with a bed time schedule and be motivated in the morning to do the majority of my work. 

Anyway, I've gotten severely off topic. Now for my November TBR:

1. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie - Just in time for the new film adaptation, I've decided that the best way for me to get out of my slump is to read a relatively short mystery by the legend Agatha Christie.  I've read one of her other books, And Then There Were None, back in middle school.  I have to say that it was one of my favorite mysteries (I was a huge mystery nerd back then).  I started reading this last week and thought it was appropriate for getting in the Halloween spirit!







2. Renegades by Marissa Meyer - Another reason I am able to get out of my reading slump is that my queen Marissa Meyer is releasing her new book on November 7th!! You guys best believe I've preordered this baby.  I still haven't recovered my feels from Heartless.










3. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff - I honestly had no idea what else to read this month, so I turned to one of my favorite booktubers, Little Book Owl, for ideas.  After watching her review on this book series, as well as the high reviews on Goodreads, I was sold!  I'm taking a bit of a risk, since fantasy books tend to put me in a reading slump if I'm not clicking with the writing.  However, this seems too interesting to pass up! Plus, that cover looks pretty damn cool.








Since I'm getting my evening routine together, I've also been knitting and listening to Big Little Lies again.  Hopefully I will have that audiobook done within the next month or two!

Wow, it feels so good to blog again, even if nobody actually reads my posts 😊

Friday, August 18, 2017

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Title: Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas #1)
Author: Dean Koontz
Released in 2003
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4.5/5

Summary

"The dead don't talk. I don't know why." But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

Maybe he has a gift, maybe it's a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd's otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo's sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it's different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world's worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd's deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

"His heavy face indeed had the quality of
a fungus, but a meaty variety. Very portobello."
Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock 'n' Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares, and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

This is one of the few fictional books my brother has ever read, and had been pushing me to read it for the last few years. Me, a stubborn panda, had my own plans. Even after seeing the film adaptation a few years ago, which I loved btw, I only just decided to read Odd Thomas.  Side note: I tagged this as "adult," but I think it could be considered "new adult" since Odd is only 20 years old. It makes me feel weird being a year older than this character!  

Odd (Anton Yelchin) being a cute little shit. 
This is such a comfy book to read. It is written like a memoir by Odd, and I adore his "voice." The great characterization is one of the reasons why I loved this book so much. Odd is a likable, quirky, and funny character. Despite his upbringing with two parents that don't seem to care about his well-being, he is amazingly positive. I couldn't help but be charmed by his humorous dialogue and thoughts even in the most suspenseful and serious situations. Despite his macabre humor, you can tell how deeply affected he is emotionally by the traumatizing events throughout the novel. I think his humor is a coping mechanism for dealing with his sixth sense. In fact, he admits he would be emotionally unstable if he didn't lead his life as simply as possible in the small town of Pico Mundo as an amazing short-order cook with three of the same pairs of shoes.

"It takes a while to realize what a lonely world it is, and when you do...then the future looks kinda scary."

Although Odd is the only one with such an "odd" name, every side character in Pico Mundo is quirky in one way or another, and Koontz builds up every characters' background so you feel the same familial connections with them that Odd does.  Even if Odd didn't have his sixth sense, I would still consider him a hero by the way he genuinely cares about the other denizens of Pico Mundo and his overall humbleness.


Gorgeous Stormy Llewellyn portrayed by Addison Timlin.
His relationship with Stormy is beautiful *sobs*. Their dialogue is wonderfully cute, and the chemistry is real. I actually felt so sad after finishing this book for reasons that would be spoilery, but also because I just loved the writing and felt like I was truly experiencing Odd's strange life. I'm looking forward to continuing the series so I can experience more Odd.

RIP Anton Yelchin. When I heard of his death, I was deeply saddened. His performance as Odd in the film adaptation was memorable, and I couldn't imagine anyone else portraying his character. I just bought the DVD so I could watch it again with fresh eyes after reading the novel.

Amazing performance by Anton, and also
my feelings after reading the novel and seeing the film.

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